Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making a career change and my practice PCAT scores are low because I haven't taken the science courses yet. What should I do?

I am returning to school after 8 years (change of career). I am registered to take the PCAT in January. I have begun the PharmCas process and am currently taking necessary coursework. This upcoming semester I will be taking Chemistry and Biology. These are subsequently the low scores on the practice test (haven't had any chem or bio since HS). I am incredibly concerned. What can I do to get a snowball's chance at getting into a pharmacy school? Thanks for your help! 

This is a risk that we see sometimes when applicants make a career change and decide to retake classes (or take them for the first time) just before the PCAT. It's difficult for an AdCom to separate aptitude and potential. I suspect you have the motivation and potential to do very well in your coursework, but what the AdComs will see based on your probably low subset scores on the PCAT is that you aren't fully prepared for a rigorous academic program like pharmacy school until you have demonstrated proficiency in the core subjects like Chemistry and Biology (as well as Calculus).

My suggestion in cases like yours is to slow the process down. I know that is difficult because many applicants want to hurry and get the core classes done, take the PCAT, start interviewing and subsequently begin pharmacy school. However, what AdComs and schools see are oftentimes unprepared applicants who do not put their best foot forward because they are in such a rush. Is it better to rush and fail or take time and be successful?

If you feel unprepared for the PCAT, and I would suggest that you probably are since you haven't taken the necessary courses to be successful on the exam, delay taking it until you are adequately prepared. I would advise you to take a full year to prepare and do well in your courses and on the PCAT so you are a strong candidate rather than potentially waste the time and money applying to schools this cycle.

Best of luck. Please keep us posted.