Are You Ready for the Test?
Kaplan's PCAT Comprehensive Review, 2004 Edition comes complete with a targeted review of all the tested material on the PCAT plus Kaplan's highly effective test-taking strategies. With this powerful combination, PCAT Comprehensive Review, 2004 Edition can help you get the high PCAT score you need to get into pharmacy school.
Intensive Science Review
Verbal Ability Section
Exclusive Tips & Strategies
Detailed Test Preparation
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Chapter One: Introduction to the PCAT
The PCAT may not be a perfect gauge of your abilities, but it is a relatively objective way to compare you with students from different backgrounds and undergraduate institutions.
Take out a No. 2 pencil...Do not make any stray marks on the grid...What is the acceleration due to gravity of a mime thrown from the Empire State Building if...You've faced these tests before, so you know the drill, right? Wrong. The Pharmacy College Admission Test, affectionately known as the PCAT, is different from any other test you've encountered in your academic career. It's not like the knowledge-based exams from high school and college, whose emphasis was on memorizing and regurgitating information. Pharmacy schools can assess your academic prowess by looking at your transcript. The PCAT isn't even like other standardized tests you may have taken, where the focus was on proving your general skills. Pharmacy schools use PCAT scores to assess whether you possess the foundation upon which to build a successful Pharmacy career. Though you certainly need to know the content to do well, the stress is on thought process because the PCAT is above all else a thinking test. That's why it emphasizes reasoning, critical and analytical thinking, reading comprehension, data analysis, and problem-solving skills. The PCAT's power comes from its use as an indicator of your abilities. Good scores can open doors. Your power comes from preparation and mindset because the key to PCAT success is knowing what you're up against. That's where this section of this book comes in. We'll explain the philosophy behind the test, review the sections one by one, show you sample questions, share some of Kaplan's proven methods, and clue you in to what the test makers are really after. You'll get a handle on the process, find a confident, new perspective, and achieve your highest possible scores.
Talk to your prepharmacy advisor to find out about the latest PCAT administration schedule and how to register for the test. If you don't have an advisor, contact the PCAT Program Office. They'll send you a registration packet, which contains important information about PCAT fees and score reporting.
PSE Customer Relations -- PCAT
19500 Bulverde Road
San Antonio, Texas 78259
1-800-622-3231 or 210-339-8711
Don't drag your feet gathering information. You'll need time not only to prepare and practice for the test, but also to get all your registration paperwork done.
ANATOMY OF THE PCAT
Before mastering strategies, you need to know exactly what you're dealing with on the PCAT. Let's start with the basics: The PCAT is, among other things, an endurance test. It consists of five sections as well as an experimental section that is not scored. Add in the administrative details at both ends of the testing experience, plus one break halfway through the test, and you can count on being in the test room for over 4 hours. It's a grueling experience, to say the least. If you can't approach it with confidence and stamina, you'll quickly lose your composure. That's why it's so important that you take control of the test.
The PCAT consists of six timed sections: Biology, Chemistry, Quantitative Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Verbal Ability, plus the unscored experimental section. Later we'll take an in-depth look at each PCAT section, including content, sample question types, and specific test-smart hints.
Biology-50 Questions in 30 minutes
Chemistry-60 Questions in 30 minutes
Quantitative Ability-65 Questions in 45 minutes
Reading Comprehension-45 Questions in 45 minutes
Verbal Ability-50 Questions in 30 minutes
The PCAT is offered only three times a year, usually in January, March, and October, so be sure to give yourself lots of lead time for getting information.
Be a Control Freak
The PCAT should be viewed just like any other part of your application: as an opportunity to show the Pharmacy schools who you are and what you can do. Take control of your PCAT experience.
Time: 30 minutes
Format: 50 multiple-choice questions (approximately)
What it tests: the knowledge of the concepts and principles of basic biology with an emphasis on human biology
Time: 30 minutes
Format: 60 multiple-choice questions (approximately)
What it tests: the knowledge of the concepts and principles of inorganic and elementary organic chemistry
Time: 45 minutes
Format: 65 multiple-choice questions (approximately)
What it tests: skills in arithmetic processes, which includes fractions, decimals, and percentages, and the ability to reason through and understand quantitative concepts and their relationships, including applications of algebra (but not trigonometry or calculus)
Time: 45 minutes
Format: 45 multiple-choice questions (approximately). There are generally 5 or 6 passages with 6-9 questions to follow.
What it tests: the ability of the student to comprehend, analyze, and interpret reading passages on scientific topics
Time: 30 minutes
Format: 50 multiple-choice questions (approximately)
What it tests: general, nonscientific word knowledge using antonyms and analogies
Each PCAT section receives its own score. Biology, Chemistry, Quantitative Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Verbal Ability are each scored on a scale ranging from 100-300, with 300 as the highest.
The number of multiple-choice questions that you answer correctly per section is your "raw score." Your raw score will then be converted to yield the "scaled score" -- the one that will fall somewhere in that 100-300 range. These scaled scores are what are reported to Pharmacy schools as your PCAT scores. All multiple-choice questions are worth the same amount -- one raw point -- so there's no penalty for guessing. That means that you should always fill in an answer for every question, whether you get to that question or not! This is an important piece of advice, so pay it heed. Never let time run out on any section without filling in an answer for every question on the grid. Your score report will tell you -- and your potential Pharmacy schools -- not only your scaled scores, but also the national mean score for each section, standard deviations, national scoring profiles for each section, and your percentile ranking.
The percentile figure tells you how many other test takers scored at or below your level. In other words, a percentile figure of 80 means that 80 percent did as well or worse than you did and that only 20 percent did better.
WHAT'S A GOOD SCORE?
There's no such thing as a cut-and-dry good score. Much depends on the strength of the rest of your application (if your transcript is first rate, the pressure to strut your stuff on the PCAT isn't as intense) and on where you want to go to school (different schools have different score expectations).
For each PCAT administration, the average scaled scores are approximately 200 for each section; this equates at the 50th percentile. You need scores of at least 225 to be considered competitive by most Pharmacy schools, and if you're aiming for the top, you've got to do even better and score 250-260 and above.
It's important to maximize your performance on every question. Just a few questions one way or the other can make a big difference in your scaled score. You should make an extra effort to score well on a test section if you did poorly in a corresponding class. So, the best revenge for getting a C in chemistry class is acing the Chemistry section of the PCAT.
WHAT THE PCAT REALLY TESTS
It's important to grasp not only the nuts and bolts of the PCAT so you'll know what to do on Test Day, but also the underlying principles of the test so you'll know why you're doing what you're doing. We'll cover the straightforward PCAT facts later. Now it's time to examine the heart and soul of the PCAT to see what it's really about.
Most people preparing for the PCAT fall prey to the myth that the PCAT is a straightforward science test. They think something like this:
"It covers the two years of science I had to take in school: biology, chemistry, and basic organic chemistry, plus math and freshman English. The important stuff is the science, though. After all, we're going to be pharmacists."
Well, here's the little secret no one seems to want you to know: The PCAT is not just a science test; it's also a thinking test. This means that the test is designed to let you demonstrate your thought process as well as your thought content. The implications are vast. Once you shift your test-taking paradigm to match the PCAT modus operandi, you'll find a new level of confidence and control over the test. You'll begin to work with the nature of the PCAT rather than against it. You'll be more efficient and insightful as you prepare for the test, and you'll be more relaxed on test day. In fact, you'll be able to see the PCAT for what it is rather than for what it's dressed up to be. We want your test day to feel like a visit with a familiar friend instead of an awkward blind date.
THE ZEN OF PCAT
Pharmacy schools do not need to rely on the PCAT to see what you already know. Admission committees can measure your subject-area proficiency using your undergraduate coursework and grades. Schools are most interested in the potential of your mind.
In recent years, many Pharmacy schools have shifted pedagogic focus away from an information-heavy curriculum to a concept-based curriculum. There is currently more emphasis placed on problem solving, holistic thinking, and cross-disciplinary study. Be careful not to dismiss this important point, figuring you'll wait to worry about academic trends until you're actually in Pharmacy school. This trend affects you right now because it's reflected in the PCAT. Every good tool matches its task. In this case, the tool is the test, which is used to measure you and other candidates, and the task is to quantify how likely it is that you'll succeed in Pharmacy school.
Your intellectual potential -- how skillfully you annex new territory into your mental boundaries, how quickly you build "thought highways" between ideas, and how confidently and creatively you solve problems -- is far more important to admission committees than your ability to recite Young's modulus for every material known to man. The schools assume they can expand your knowledge base. They choose applicants carefully because expansive knowledge is not enough to succeed in Pharmacy school or in the profession. There's something more, and it's this something more that the PCAT is trying to measure; every section on the PCAT tests essentially the same higher-order thinking skills: analytical reasoning, abstract thinking, and problem solving. Most test takers get trapped into thinking they are being tested strictly about biology, chemistry, etc. Thus, they approach each section with a new outlook on what's expected. This constant mental gear shifting can be exhausting, not to mention counterproductive. Instead of perceiving the test as parsed into radically different sections, you need to maintain your focus on the underlying nature of the test; each section thus presents a variation on the same theme. The PCAT is not just about what you know. It's also about how you think.
WHAT ABOUT THE SCIENCE?
With this perspective, you may be left asking the question: "What about the science? What about the content? Don't I need to know the basics?" The answer is a resounding Yes! You must be fluent in the different languages of the test. You cannot do well on the PCAT if you don't know the basics of general chemistry, biology, basic organic chemistry, and math. We recommend that you take one year each of biology, general chemistry, and one semester of organic chemistry before taking the PCAT and that you review the content in this book thoroughly. Knowing these basics is just the beginning of doing well on the PCAT. That's a shock to most test takers. They presume that once they recall or relearn their undergraduate science, they are ready to do battle against the PCAT. Wrong! They merely have directions to the battlefield. They lack what they need to beat the test: a copy of the test maker's battle plan! You won't be drilled on facts and formulas on the PCAT. You'll need to demonstrate ability to reason based on ideas and concepts. The science questions are painted with a broad brush, testing your general understanding.
TAKE CONTROL: THE PCAT MINDSET
In addition to being a thinking test, as we've stressed, the PCAT is a standardized test. As such, it has its own consistent patterns and idiosyncrasies that can actually work in your favor. This is the key to why test preparation works. You have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with those consistent peculiarities and to adopt the proper test-taking mindset.
The PCAT Mindset is something you want to bring to every question, passage, and section you encounter. Being in the PCAT Mindset means reshaping the test-taking experience so that you are in the driver's seat:
Some overriding principles of the PCAT Mindset that will be covered in depth in the chapters to come are as follows:
That's what the PCAT Mindset boils down to: taking control, being proactive, and being on top of the testing experience so that you can get as many points as you can as quickly and as easily as possible. Keep this in mind as you read and work through the material in this book and, of course, as you face the challenge on Test Day.
Now that you have a better idea of what the PCAT is all about, let's take a tour of the individual test sections. Although the underlying skills being tested are sim...
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Book Description Kaplan Publishing, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110743247558
Book Description Kaplan Publishing. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0743247558 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1993840