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Pharmacy at the University of South Alabama

Changes To The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

  I. Revised Test Blueprint
  II. Writing Prompts
  III. Revised Writing Scores
  IV. PCAT Registration Trends
  V. Four Test Dates in 2007-08
Health Pre-Professions Advisor
MCAT Format
  • Auburn University's Harrison School of Pharmacy will begin offering doctor of pharmacy degrees at the University of South Alabama with the first class starting in fall 2007. Graduates of the pharmacy program in Mobile will receive a degree from the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy at the University of South Alabama

    For more information, go to the Pre-Health Professions Pre-pharmacy page.
  • Harcourt Assessment will introduce several changes to the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) beginning with the June 2007 exam administration. The AACP PCAT Advisory Panel and Harcourt Assessment agreed to revise the proportions of test items per content objective, define the Writing section as Problem Solving, add an experimental Writing section, and report separate Writing scores for Conventions of Language and Problem Solving skills. These changes will extend the registrants' overall testing time by five minutes for a total of 240 minutes (4 hours), plus rest breaks.

    I. Revised Text Blueprint

    Harcourt will reduce the PCAT Verbal Ability, Biology, Quantitative Ability, and Chemistry subtests in length from 58 to 48 test items. The Reading Comprehension subtest will remain 48 items long. Of the 48 items included in each multiple-choice subtest, 40 will be designated as core items that count toward examinees' scores, and 8 will be experimental items that are field-tested for possible use as core items on future test forms.

    By reducing the number of multiple-choice items, Harcourt can add a second Writing subtest so that new Writing prompts can be continuously field-tested. Harcourt will report scores for only one of the Writing subtests to examinees and recipient schools. Scores for the experimental Writing subtest will not be reported.

    In addition, the Quantitative Ability subtest will no longer include geometry items. The new PCAT exam will include basic math items (fractions, percentages, decimals, unit conversions, and log base 10), and increase the number of probability and statistics items. The Biology subtest will have a greater number of items on genetics.

    The PCAT Advisory Panel approved the revisions to the subtests to better measure the appropriate skills and knowledge students need to succeed in the pharmacy degree program.

    II. Writing Prompts

    Beginning with the June 2007 exam, all of the PCAT Writing prompts will state a problem involving either a health issue; a science issue; or a social, cultural or political issue. Below are sample PCAT Writing prompts by category.

    * Discuss a solution to the problems resulting from insufficient supplies of donated human organs.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of providing adequate health care for the uninsured.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of promoting healthy dietary habits.

    * Discuss a solution to the problem of developing affordable alternatives to fossil fuels.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of protecting endangered species.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of dealing with global warming.

    * Discuss a solution to the problems resulting from a lack of participation in civic life.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of establishing fair immigration policies.
    * Discuss a solution to the problem of preventing terrorism in an open, democratic country.

    The examinees will be asked to present a solution to the problem in their essays. Examinees will be scored on how well they write an essay that is sufficient length to adequately explain a solution to the problem by observing the following:

    * Suggest a solution to the problem presented.
    * State a clear thesis and present relevant support that draws upon credible references from academic or personal experience, reading, or studies.
    * Discuss and evaluate possible alternative solutions to the one being suggested.
    * Use appropriate and conventional grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.

    III. Revised Writing Scores

    During the 2005-06 and 2006-07 testing cycles, Harcourt reported a single Writing score that reflected examinees' ability to use language conventions. The Conventions of Language score assesses examinees' use of appropriate and conventional grammar, punctuation, usage, and style.

    Harcourt will report a separate Problem Solving score that reflects examinees' ability to communicate a solution to a problem stated in the prompt, including the ability to develop a convincing essay in support of a specific solution. In this way, the Writing score will assess one aspect of critical thinking.

    The Writing scores for both Conventions of Language and Problem Solving will be reported on a scale of 0 through 5, with 5 representing the highest possible score, 1 representing the lowest possible earned score, and 0 representing invalid scores.

    IV. PCAT Registration Trends

    In the 2005-06 testing cycle, Harcourt experienced a record number of PCAT registrations. The previous decline in the number PCAT registrations in 2005 was offset by a high number January 2006 test takers. There were 27,844 examinees in the 2005-06 testing cycle (June 2005, October 2005, and January 2006) as compared to 25,340 in the previous cycle which represents a ten (10) percent increase. PCAT registration numbers often predict the percent change in the number of applications in the subsequent admissions cycle. Currently, 64 out of the 97 regular and associate AACP member institutions require the PCAT for all or selected pharmacy degree applicants.

    V. Four Test Dates in 2007-08

    To accommodate the additional number of individuals registering for the PCAT and the trend toward earlier application deadline dates, Harcourt will offer four test dates during the 2007-08 testing cycle. The four test dates are scheduled to allow students the ability to retake the exam during the same cycle, if desired. Last year, Harcourt also increased the number of seats available for each examination to accommodate the additional volume of PCAT registrants.

    2006-07 CYCLE:
    October 21, 2006
    January 20, 2007

    2007-08 CYCLE:
    June 23, 2007
    August 25, 2007
    October 20, 2007
    January 19, 2008


  • Dr. Stanfield, Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Health Pre-Professions Advisor. Her contact info:
    5721 USA Dr. North
    Health Sciences Bldg.
    HAHN 4004
    University of South Alabama
    Mobile, AL 36688
    (251) 445-9280
  • After the August 2006 MCAT, the MCAT will be computerized. Go to the AAMC web site for more information.

University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 445-9280
(251) 445-9281 FAX
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Date last changed: September 16, 2011 2:10 PM

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