With so many PCAT review books on the market, how can you decide which is best?
The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a specialized exam that helps identify qualified pharmacy school applicants by measuring general academic ability and scientific knowledge.
With so many PCAT review books on the market, how can you decide which is best? I personally reviewed each of the following books and present my ratings.
1. Kaplan PCAT Test Prep
Exclusively endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy as the official PCAT prep provider, Kaplan offers everything you need in a PCAT review book. At just under 1000 pages, Kaplan PCAT Test Prep is broken up into 62 chapters, providing a thorough review of all subjects on the test.
Within each chapter, there are a number of review problems with explanations so that you never fall behind in any particular category. The book also contains strategies to increase your PCAT score, as well as an invaluable condensed study sheet organized by subject.
Another strength of this book is its detailed information on the PCAT essay. The book provides instructions for success and sample essays with scores based on PCAT grading.
With the purchase of this review book, Kaplan offers free online access to 2 full-length practice exams with detailed explanations. The book is also updated every year, so you will always be reviewing the most up-to-date material.
Although it is slightly more expensive than the other review books, Kaplan PCAT Test Prep is the most complete review book on the market.
My Rating: 10/10
2. Cracking the PCAT by Princeton Review
This is an extremely comprehensive PCAT review book. It consists of 750 pages covering all PCAT topics, including general biology, microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, general and inorganic chemistry, math, statistics, vocabulary, and analogies.
Cracking the PCAT also contains helpful chemistry formula sheets, practice questions after each chapter, and access to 2 full-length online practice tests. The book also offers helpful test-taking tips to maximize your PCAT score.
The main disadvantage is the fact that the most recent edition was published in 2011.
Although there haven’t been too many changes in the core chemistry, biology, and anatomy sections, the book doesn’t incorporate recent changes to the PCAT exam itself. For example, the PCAT has implemented a number of changes on exam formatting in the past few years, which is not covered in this review book.
Regardless, Cracking the PCAT is still a thorough and very affordable review book.
My Rating: 7/10
3. Master the PCAT by Peterson’s
Published in 2012, Peterson’s Master the PCAT is a fairly comprehensive review book. With 500 pages of review material and 200 pages of practice questions, the book reviews all necessary PCAT components.
Peterson’s offers a helpful diagnostic practice test to help determine your strengths and weaknesses before reviewing the core material. Each chapter concludes with summary sections that help support key learning material.
One major disadvantage of Master the PCAT is that certain sections are much less comprehensive than similar sections in other books. For example, the verbal section is only 28 pages, and the reading comprehension section is just 10 pages.
My Rating: 6/10
4. Barron’s PCAT
Updated to prepare pharmacy school applicants for success on the PCAT, this book presents 2 full-length practice tests with thorough explanations of answers. The 6th edition was published in 2014, so it reflects current PCAT testing requirements.
At 400 pages, Barron’s PCAT also contains expert strategies to increase your PCAT score, an explanation of how the test is scored, and an up-to-date directory of pharmacy colleges across the country. The book also describes pharmacy training programs and offers advice on planning a pharmacy career.
The glaring issue with this review book is the lack of necessary exam review material. The book contains an outline of material that you will need to know for the exam, but it does not review those topics like the other review books on the list.
Overall, Barron’s PCAT is a great option if you’re only looking for practice questions, but it should not the only PCAT review book you use for studying.
My Rating: 4/10
5. McGraw-Hill’s PCAT
Published by one of the biggest educational publishers on the market, McGraw-Hill’s PCAT offers students an affordable review book option. At just under 500 pages of core review material, it feels less comprehensive than the other review guides at times, but it still covers all major PCAT topics. The book also contains a full-length practice test.
The major limitation of McGraw-Hill’s PCAT is that the most recent edition was published in 2008, so it is the most outdated review book on this list by far. Upon review, the book also contains some noticeable errors in the math section.
Although this review book can certainly help studying for the PCAT, I would not recommend using it alone.
My Rating: 3/10