PCAT Courses or Self-Study?


When preparing for the PCATs, otherwise known as the pharmacy college admission tests, students may weigh the benefits of taking a pharmacy standardized review courses offered from several institutions with the risks of investing a considerable amount of money. PCATs are required by most accredited pharmacy schools in the United States, and are an important gauge for pharmacy schools of the student’s knowledge of fundamental science principles needed to succeed in the profession. Therefore, potential PharmD candidates should take time to plan out their PCAT study schedule prior to taking the exam in order to achieve a score acceptable for admission committees. Therefore, students will have do to decide whether they plan on studying on their own with the cumulative study materials and notes acquired while taking pre-pharmacy courses, purchasing PCAT review books, or registering for PCAT preparatory courses offered by various institutions; of course, they have the option to do all of the above.

Self-study or independent study in preparation for the PCATs is obviously an economically agreeable approach as this requires little investment financially with the exception of purchasing PCAT prep books. Still, books are usually a lot cheaper than registering for a comprehensive review course. Students could take many different approaches for preparing independent of a review course. Students who are very disciplined could set a schedule of PCAT study time well in advance of the actual PCAT exam. Consistency of maintaining the study time is important; students may forget the material covered previously after long gaps between study sessions. Students could also use study notes or course notes taken from prerequisite courses to review material that could be found on the PCATs. They may choose to look over material that they may not be particularly strong in, and decide then to focus more time in those subjects. Many colleges and universities may have pre-pharmacy clubs or organizations for students to join. These clubs may provide information about the PCATs, helpful study tips, and other relevant helpful information linked to pharmacy schools. These groups are also a good way to network with other potential pharmacy school candidates, and possibly even pharmacy student or pharmacist mentors. Pre-pharmacy clubs may also allow students to collaborate within PCAT prep study groups.

PCAT review books are available from various publishers, and can be purchased online or within bookstores. Although review books may not contain the entirety of information covered in prerequisite courses due to its condensed size, they organize study material in an organized and nice format, especially for those that do not or have not kept study materials. It is a good idea to use review books in addition to looking back on courses takens from prerequisite courses on subjects the student may not be particularly strong in.
PCAT review books with many practice exams are something to look for when purchasing a PCAT book.

Signing up for preparatory courses may be expensive, but for some people they are a better fit for their style of learning. Many students prefer an instructor reviewing the fine points of PCAT preparation and need direction on how to study and what to study. They may also prefer the classroom format which allows for direct face to face discussion and immediate question and answers. It is also a good idea for the student to review their own materials from courses taken previously for subjects that they may be help in. The PCAT review instructor may be available for additional help.

Hiring a tutor can be very expensive. However, tutors will provide the students with one-on-one assistance and could probably better pinpoint the individual student’s weaknesses more so than a classroom instructor.

Some pharmacy schools may offer review courses as well as information for potential pharmacy school candidates. This is a valuable bonus for those that live near pharmacy schools. Regardless of all the aforementioned study methods, it is the individual student’s responsibility to study hard, study consistently, and study well in advance in order to better prepare themselves for the PCAT exam.

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