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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How To Get Into Pharmacy School: The PCAT

I've decided to make this a 3 post series, and today I'll be writing about the PCAT. Yeah, I know I'm a few days late for the June PCAT, but whatever.

Anywho, here are some tips on doing better on the PCAT!

Oh shit! Remember all that information you didn't learn freshman year? Turns out you're getting tested on it. Whoops.

1. Get the Kaplan book.
It's like $26, and has all the information that you forgot 10 minutes after they tested you on it in school. In fact, I would recommend buying the Kaplan book instead of your university chem or bio books (Actually, buying a Gen Chem book was the biggest waste of my money ever, I returned it still in the shrink wrap). Don't worry about reading all of it, just make sure you're up on your basic algebra and plant biology, they seem to love asking questions about plant biology.

2. Learn how to name compounds.
Yeah, I know you haven't taken O. Chem yet, but trust me, knowing how to name compounds will skyrocket your Chem score.

3. Take the practice test.
Yeah, it fucking sucks, but take the practice test, and time yourself. Make sure you know how fast you need to answer the questions. Try to finish each test with at least 5 minutes to spare, this will come in handy later.

4. Do not go to bed early.
Go to bed when you normally do, you will be groggy and out of it if you get too much sleep. Drink a few (3 max) beers in the hour before you go to bed, since you've built up a tolerance it's not going to even produce a buzz, but it will calm your nerves. Once again, no Everclear. I recommend doing this instead of taking a sleeping pill because alcohol doesn't stay in your system as long, and you'll get more normal sleep cycles.

5. Eat oatmeal.
Or something similar. Something with a lot of calories and volume. You'll need the calories for this test, and you don't want to be distracted by a growling stomach.

6. Arrive almost late.
There's nothing worse than sitting and waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be time to start. Plus, somebody will come late, forcing the test to be delayed anyway.

7. Try to distract others.
Remember, the PCAT is percentile, so the worse other's do, the better you do. Plus, most of the people taking the PCAT in your room will be applying to the same schools as you. I can spin pens and pencils around my thumb. This mesmerizes people, they stare at it like they're in a trance. If you can't master the pen spin, anything that makes a small amount of noise will do, but you may be asked to stop by a moderator.

8. Finish at least 5 minutes early.
This way, you can either look over your answers (I don't recommend this), or, use this time to start the next test. NO, don't turn the page dumbass, instead, flatten the book out so you can see through the paper to the next page and figure out the answers to those, and if you can read backwards you can do the other side too. This is not cheating. It's strategy, plus the chem test is fucking hard, you need extra time.

9. Don't worry about the essays.
They just grade those by having a drunk chimpanzee whack a keyboard anyway. A standard 5 paragraph 8th grade essay will suffice.

10. Don't worry about it!
Everyone takes it, but it really doesn't have a huge effect on your admission to pharmacy school. Two of my friends got into pharm school with PCATs in the 60s. My school was super-secretive about the admissions process, but I found out through someone in the know that most of the emphasis is put on your GPA, and a "good" GPA is considered 3.6. This is just a "good" GPA, an "acceptable" GPA is a 3.2. After the GPA, the interview is the next biggie, then the PCAT, then the ethics test. How did I pass an ethics test you ask? I don't have a fucking clue.

So that's what I did to take the PCAT. I fucking bombed the chemistry section the first time, but all my other scores were pretty good. Do not take the August test, wait until October to take it again. Your score will just be lower in August than it was in June because you forgot everything from freshman year. I fucking bombed the chemistry section again in October, I actually got the same score, but my other scores were much better than before, and my cumulative ended up 5 points higher my second time. Go out and celebrate with the rest of your little pharmacy friends afterward. Try to finish off half your 1.75 of plastic-bottle vodka. Find out you can actually drink more than half before you puke your guts out and come to the realization that you really can't. Now go draw on your friend's face. Ah, good times.


  1. Good advice! I like the part about arriving almost late - sitting around waiting for things to start is the worst part of the PCAT.

  2. Does anyone know if schools get notified if you get accomodations?