Students interested in attending U.S.-based pharmacy graduate programs must, in most instances, sit for the Pharmacy College Admission Test. That test, known commonly as the PCAT®, is a series of standardized tests that take either one full morning or one full afternoon to complete. The process of registering for the PCAT® is relatively straightforward, but it is precise: it requires several steps and a lot of information, which means registrants should approach it carefully. PCAT® registration forms typically span several pages, and must be filled out completely and correctly. They can be submitted either online or by mail, but must be received by the published deadline and with all required fees and supporting documentation in order to be processed.
All PCAT® registration requirements are set out in a guidebook published by the PCAT® test creators. That guidebook is available for free download on the official PCAT® admissions test website, or prospective test-takers can call the testing center office to request a free copy by mail. Many guidance counselors and career centers also have copies.
The majority of PCAT® registration forms are submitted online, via the official PCAT® website. There is always a fee for registration, which must be paid before a form can be processed. Online registration and hard-copy registration require exactly the same information, but online submission is faster and costs less. The PCAT® administrators typically charge an additional hard-copy premium on top of the ordinary registration fee for test-takers who elect to mail their materials.
PCAT® registration gives test-takers an opportunity to name up to three schools to which official PCAT® score reports will be sent. The registration form requires more than just the school name, however. All pharmacy colleges that require the PCAT® have codes, made up of numbers and letters, that serve as their PCAT® identifiers. In order to have scores sent to schools, registrants must correctly enter those schools’ codes as well as their names on the registration form.
Most of the time, once a registration form has been submitted and received, nothing about it can be changed. Test date and location cannot be changed without canceling the registration outright. Errors in name and address are an exception, but still can only be corrected within a certain limited window, and usually only in writing. School reports cannot typically be canceled or redirected. Exam takers can always elect to add on additional schools for a fee, but once submitted, named schools will receive any PCAT® score that is logged.
The PCAT® exam administrators cap the number of times any one test-taker can sit for the standardized tests at five. Taking the PCAT® for a sixth time usually requires a special petition. That petition must be supported by pharmacy college or counselor staff, and must typically be mailed—most of the time, the online PCAT® registration system will not permit automatic registration of applicants seeking a sixth sitting.
Special forms must also be mailed for any unusual requests, including alternative test dates, as for religious reasons; special test-day accommodations, as for applicants with special needs; or alternative testing locations, as for applicants living in remote locations. If these forms are not submitted along with the regular PCAT® registration, the registration may not be processed properly. Like most graduate admissions tests, the PCAT® requires a certain degree of detail in the application process. Students who take the time to read the instructions before filling out and submitting the forms can ensure a smooth registration, and can prevent headaches later on in the process.