Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pharmacy school application questions

Question: I have a BS in chemistry. My overall GPA is 2.75. My pre-pharmacy math/science GPA is 2.88. Since some schools give you an exempt from core curriculum (such as history, government, social sciences, etc.) are they going to look at my overall GPA or just the math/science GPA ? I have mostly B's, 4 C's and 3 A's in math/science.

Some schools take an average grade if you retake some classes. So if I manage to replace those C's, I can get a 3.0 math/science GPA. With a low 2.75 overall GPA, should I bother to try ? I have lots of research experience and no pharmacy experience. Do the administration look at research experience ? What's the minimum pharmacy experience that I should have ( a year, a semester ) ?

Answer: I can only speak to my experience, but I believe it to be similar to most schools. We look at the overall GPA, with emphasis on the science and math prereqs. If you failed a civics or government class as a freshman, this won't ruin your application.

As far as retaking classes, we don't take the "average", but we count both grades (which essentially averages them). In a blog entry, this was addressed. If you get the chance, you can review the previous entries and check it out. Certainly, I believe that improving your GPA > 3.0 would be beneficial. (see link:

Different AdComs look at research experience differently. Personally, I don't look at it as being all that helpful to one's application. However, I know some members who do. Pharmacy experience would be preferred.

As far as how much pharmacy experience? The more, the better. But, even one day of shadowing is better than nothing. For more information on pharmacy experience, you can use the search function above and find quite a few posts on the topic.

Good luck.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Low Verbal score on PCAT - chances?

Question: I recently received my PCAT scores and my composite was 51 my verbal ability dragged down my score as it was only 15 however, my bio was 76 and my Chem was 77 I have a solid GPA of 3.8 with A's in Chem an O Chem. I also have worked in a pharmacy for 2 years as a certified tech. I have LOR's from 2 pharmacist and one teacher. I have leadership in being an athletic team captain and also volunteer work in my mom's nursing home. I am nervous however that with my modest PCAT score that I will not get in. What is your professional opinion?

Answer: A 15 verbal is a concern, obviously. As an AdCom, I would also be interested in your Reading subset and your Writing score. If these were more "normal", I might be able to gloss over the verbal score to some degree. I know some who would not, however. You are fortunate to have such strong Bio and Chem scores as those are infinitely more important to most AdComs. Your Orgo scores and Tech experience are also huge +'s for you.

Where do you plan to apply. So much of the application process boils down to where the student wants to attend. Will a 51 Composite get you into the most competitive schools? Probably not. But it would probably be enough to get you in somewhere or at least get you an interview and then it's up to you from there.

I hope that helps. If you have more info you can share, I'll try to provide additional assistance.

Good luck.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Concern about a letter of recommendation

Question: I have a question about a L.O.R that I am quite concerned about. Okay so here is the story. A while ago I asked a pharmacist who I volunteered with for one of my two required L.O.R's and he agreed. I was confident that he would give me a positive recommendation from our past experiences so I felt comfortable asking. Very shortly after, I put his information into the PharmCAS Reference section.

I was planning on giving him a copy of my resume and a few other papers later on in the week and I even told him he had until November to finish so I did not expect him to complete it so soon. This was his first recommendation so that might also be a reason why but long story short, there was a misunderstanding and he finished the recommendation in 30 minutes, which I timed between two e-mails that I received! I was very alarmed at how quickly he finished, especially because there was a comments section like you mentioned in the blog and I'm pretty sure he didn't have the letter typed already. In his last e-mail, he told me that he "highly recommended" me for admission but didn't mention the comments or the other sections, only that he finished and received a confirmation email. I checked pharmCAS and the status for his rec is "complete".

I waived my right to see but I'm guessing he put only a few sentences in the comments section and then submitted. I haven't asked him anything yet because it's pretty late. Should I be very concerned about this? I'm guessing because he already got a confirmation email, he can't make changes to his recommendation anyways, is this true? I was hoping something like this wouldn't happen.. do you think my application is shot because of this? And I know it's not his fault at all, he was only trying to help. It was my fault for being so careless and assuming but is there anything at all that I can do now? What would you recommend that I do in this case? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Based on the number of emails we have received, you are not the only applicant with concerns and/or questions about their LORs. Here is my take: If this pharmacist highly recommended you, that should be good enough and I wouldn't stress too much.

Would we like for all of our LORs to be heartfelt novellas about our character and work ethic? Sure. However, he may have had a "stream of consciousness" and just knocked out a very supportive letter for all you know.

As a lesson, your situation does provide a nice case study for others. As noted in previous entries, we encourage you to first explain the application process and what you hope to have your reviewers do to benefit you. Give him/her a copy of your CV or resume and have a brief discussion of what it means for you to be accepted into pharmacy school. An honest, frank request for a positive evaluation is usually well received and I have found myself more likely to provide a student with a thorough and supportive letter when they have given me adequate reason to do so.

All in all, what's done is done. I don't think you have any reason to worry. A high recommendation from a pharmacist will serve you very well even if his comments are on the light side.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Online Discussion #9

Please Join us on Sunday, November 7 at 9pm ET for our 9th online discussion. Everyone is welcome. Please take a moment to register on the forum ( - you can click the mortar and pestle -------> to get to the site) and use your registered username to enter the web discussion on Sunday.

See you then.