Sunday, February 23, 2014

I had a terrible PCAT score - should I just give up?

Question: Hello!
I applied to pharmacy school for this fall, and I have some major concerns. I just received my PCAT scores not too long ago for January, and they are HORRIBLE. And I knew they would be. I studied and have great understanding in a lot of the areas, but I was definitely very time pressured and shocked by the types of questions asked with the limited time for each question. I don't know what each pharmacy school weighs more on, so I wanted to ask what my chances are for getting accepted with such lows scores on my PCAT.
My Composite SS-382 PR-11

My GPA, that was just recently calculated by PharmCAS, is at 3.42. I currently am enrolled in my last classes for pre-reqs - Organic Chemistry II w/ lab, Microbiology w/ lab, and Anatomy and Physiology II w/ lab. So with that, if all goes well, should bump up my GPA a little more. Would this help my chances?

I have worked in the medical field since I was 16.  Will this help my chances?

I had 3 LOR written for me. If all recommendations are extremely positive, will that increase my chances?

I feel that if they were to give me a chance for an interview, they would see how serious and passionate I am about this career and take my grades into more consideration vs. my PCAT scores, as they are FAR FROM reflecting how I perform in school. I have great verbal ability and feel I have the right personality for the field since I have been working in the medical field for so long.

I'd love to hear back from you with an honest answer. I am worried, but hopeful. I hope the other factors outweigh my PCAT scores and that I am still given the opportunity to further prove myself to the school I applied to.

You ask some good questions, but unfortunately there are no obvious answers. I think your GPA is poor enough that it will keep you from being admitted despite your experience and other beneficial parts to your application. I think you need to retake it and score much better. You might ask your LOR writers to amend the letters they submitted to indicate that despite your low PCAT scores, they believe that you are a capable student with the necessary aptitude to succeed in pharmacy school. Sometimes, that helps.

Good luck-

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What should I wear to my pharmacy school interview?

Question: I wanted to know for an interview is it PC to only wear like neutral colors or can I wear something a little different. I'm wearing a suit but do I have to wear a typical white/blue collared shirt underneath or can I wear something that stands out a bit. The reason I ask this is I've worked in HR and I've found that people that come dressed extra nice and have a little color or "Stand out" I remember them more so then the typical black suit white shirt applicant. I know this is a random question but one school, one application, one shot... I have to make it the best shot I give.

Answer: I should preface my response by telling you that I am not terribly up to date on current fashion trends. However, since you ask, I would recommend the standard issue business suit. Ladies should wear something professional. A pant suit or dress would be appropriate. I would strongly recommend against wearing anything very revealing. You should consider this a job interview - and a very important one at that.

If wearing something a little bit unique fits your personality, go for it. Just don't overdo it. Wear a unique tie, but stick with the white or blue shirt.

I would probably only remember an applicant's clothes if they were in poor taste or inappropriate. What I typically remember about the student is how they answer questions and what kind of "vibe" I get from them.

Dress professionally and you'll be fine.

Good luck with the interview.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How do I overcome a very low GPA that resulted from failing courses my freshman year?

I have come across your blog while looking for information about the strength of my application. I have a decent application - except for my GPA. I have an 87 composite for the PCAT (lowest was 51 in math), 7+ years of experience as a CPhT, and strong LoR's from 3 different pharmacists. My GPA, however, is abysmal; PharmCAS reports it as a 2.16 for overall and 2.41 for science. This is mostly due to failing two semesters my freshman year, where I lacked any direction or dedication for college. I don't have any F's in the core classes, but no A's either - mostly a mix of C's and B's. I will be completing my bachelors degree this semester, and I have a total of 204 attempted hours, so I am not in a position where I can easily raise my GPA. 

What suggestions do you have for a case like mine? Should I retake some of the core classes I received a C in before applying? Should I apply, and then if I get rejected, call and ask them what I should I do specifically to improve my application? If a school has a minimum GPA, is that a hard line that they do not cross? I feel that outside of getting some community service the only thing to boost my application is to increase my GPA, which requires another 3 years of straight A's full time just to get in the 3.0 range. Thank you for taking your time to read this, and for providing the site for those of us with these hard to ask questions.

I think you understand the magnitude of having such a poor GPA - that alone will be enough to keep you out of many schools despite the strong PCAT and your work experience. What you must do is be able to show that the poor grades that resulted in the dramatic lowering of the GPA were isolated to those first two semesters of your freshman year. If you can do that and show progress and a trend upward since that disastrous start, you might have a chance. Admittedly, however, it will be an uphill battle - one you can overcome, but it will take significant effort on your part.

As far as retaking classes, I think anything you can do to show a better understanding of the key material will help you. If you had C's or worse originally and you can now point to an "A" in the same class taken more recently, it adds to the case that you are going to have to make.

Best of luck.