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Best PCAT Prep Books In 2021: The Ultimate Guide

I know you must have heard this multiple times, but I can’t insist enough that your PCAT score significantly determines the future of your pharmacy career.

And it’s because of the weight that this exam holds, that various test prep companies have come up with different preparation guides.

From study books to online courses, you simply have to pick the ones that suit your needs.

That’s why I have come up with this best PCAT prep books review article, to help you choose the right prep books for your study.

Best PCAT Prep Books

Kaplan Crack the PCAT Peterson’s Master Barron’s PCAT PCAT Secrets Test Prep Books
Price $35.49- $249.95 $10.94 $12 $32.22-$66.84 $22.94
Number of Practice Questions Numerous, but not indicated 2400+ Numerous, but not indicated Multiple, but not indicated Multiple, but not indicated Numerous, but not indicated
Number of Full Exams 2 10 2 2 Not indicated None
Number of Pages 888 none 753 400 344 391
Format Paperback, online access eCourse( downloadable software) eBook Paperback Paperback Paperback
Kindle Edition? TICK CROSS TICK TICK TICK TICK
Difficulty? TICK CROSS CROSS CROSS CROSS CROSS
Video CROSS TICK CROSS CROSS CROSS TICK
Test-Taking Strategies? TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK
1. Kaplan PCAT Prep Plus 2020-2021

There’s no doubt that Kaplan is a leader when it comes to test prep resources.

And their PCAT Prep Plus isn’t any different.

The company enjoys an official endorsement by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) as the only official PCAT prep provider.

That should tell you something, right? Its materials must be suitable.

The package comes with 2 practice tests.

Additionally, there are proven exam-taking strategies to help you deal with time management issues, anxiety, etc.

Not to mention giving you online access to more resources as well.

Also, this edition takes into consideration the minor timing changes on the PCAT exam made in July 2018 to ensure their full-length tests to match the real test expectations.

So expect to see more passage-based questions for every section, complete with well-explained answers to help you understand why some answers are wrong and others right, despite their similarity.

You will also gain access  to the present PCAT Blueprint so that you get an idea of what to expect of exam day.

It’s also affordable costing $35.49- Paperback 888 pages and $38.99-Kindle.

Pros
  • Updated testing and timing of their practice tests
  • Enormous passage-based questions
  • Excellent presentation of real-life problems, which will come handy in quantitative reasoning.
  • Comes with 2 full-length practice tests
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Access to additional online resources
Cons
  • You might need extra resources for in-depth coverage of organic chem and math. They’re shallowly covered.

Check Current Price on Amazon

2. Crack the PCAT 2020-2021 Premium Prep Pack (eCourse)

Yes, this isn’t a book, but I find it too outstanding, not to mention.

The package gives you access to 2400+ practice questions, and you get to watch various video explanations for every set of PCAT questions you take.

I also love the fact that this software can effectively track your progress based on your practice test results.

It then proceeds to give you video explanations on how to improve on your weak areas.

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With this package, you can efficiently study on-the-go with the unlimited access of content through personal devices such as your smartphone.

This makes it ideal for non-traditional students, who wouldn’t mind a 6 months membership.

It contains 10 full-length practice tests, and you will appreciate the comprehensive solutions.

The good news about this software is that it doesn’t expire, but you keep receiving upgrades to access new features.

Be, however, ready to spend around $249.95, which I find quite expensive for budget students.

Pros
  • Study guides for better conceptual understanding and review
  • Includes practice tests, practice issues, and video explanations
  • Access on mobile devices
  • Detailed answer explanations for every question.
  • Tracing of progress
  • You get to compare your results with others
Cons
  • Only online-based program

No products found.

3. Peterson’s Master the PCAT 1st Edition

The Master PCAT book is another famous book that you should consider investing in when preparing for the PCAT exam.

If you have less time to prepare for the PCAT exam, then you will love the preciseness of this book.

The contents are presented clearly and straight to the point, to give you ample reading time.

Plus, it covers all the crucial sections and contains several practice tests, complete with a detailed explanation of the answers.

You also gain access to a diagnostic test that will help you identify your strong and weak areas.

The package also comes with 2 full-length practice tests that you can use to track your progress.

You will also love the detailed explanations that come with the answers, as they will help you improve your skills and achieve a clear understanding of the tested areas.

I also love the fact that this eBook contains an appendix that provides you with all the essential terms in the pharmaceutical sector.

It goes for $6.15 (Kindle) and $10.94 (Paperback) and is 753 pages long.

Pros
  • Clear and to the point
  • Includes a diagnostic test
  • Has numerous practice questions and 2 full-length practice test
  • Detailed explanations of answers
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Poorly edited sections/typos
  • Not updated to the current new exam patterns.

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4. Barron’s PCAT Test Prep 7th Edition

Barron’s have been around for a while.

If there’s anything they are famous for, then it’s their set of practice tests that mimic the patterns of the PCAT real test.

They also provide thorough written questions at the end of each section.

And then provide well-explained answers to point out the advantage of specific answers have over others and why they end-up correct.

If you take your time to examine the practice test feedback, then you’re bound to increase your PCAT score.

The Barron’s package also comes with various useful test-taking strategies and tips that will help you curb exam anxiety and face the test with confidence.

You will find the two full-length practice tests useful, and the updated directory of pharmacy will come in handy.

You will purchase this manual at around$12(Paperback) and $15.99 (from other sellers.)

But I find the manual quite shallow to cover all essential sections, having only 400 pages.

Pros
  • Provides in-depth explanations for solutions
  • Applicable exam-taking tips and strategies
  • Affordable
  • Numerous practice questions
  • 2 full-length practice tests
  • Updated list of Pharmacy colleges.
  • Well-structured and easy to understand.
Cons
  • The review could have done better with more sections’ coverage
  • Not yet updated for the new exam

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5. PCAT Secrets Study Guide Pap/Psc St Edition

The PCAT Secrets study guide is an ideal pick for students who wouldn’t mind studying on their own.

It comes with comprehensive coverage of all critical sections to help you ready for the real exam.

But, it doesn’t come with many example questions.

So, you should consider getting it only if you’re good at grasping concepts through thorough reading and not drills.

Or if you plan on using it with other study materials such as Kaplan and others. But generally, it contains almost everything that you will need to prepare for the PCAT adequately.

With this PCAT test, prep package comes excellent video links that guide in reviewing various content.

I find this super useful for non-traditional students.

The detailed analysis of both the quantitative reasoning and critical reading sections will boost your final score.

I also love the user-friendly nature of this guide and the practice tests.

The Paperback is 344 pages at $32.22-$66.84 and $66.85 Kindle.

Pros
  • Embedded videos for in-depth video reviews
  • Easy to use.
  • Excellent breakdown of explanations of answers
  • Generally informative and detailed
  • Useful tips and strategies of study.
Cons
  • It would have been nice if it came with examples of problems
  • Reports of few errors in the math section

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6. Test Prep Books PCAT Prep Book 2020-2021

Test Prep Books are famous for helping students achieve high scores in their PCAT tests.

This package comes with a quick review of what to expect from the guide, plus useful test-taking strategies that will help you crack the exam.

You also get to learn everything you need to know about the PCAT test, and their study prep plan will come handy.

The guide comes with numerous practice tests.

These come in handy in weighing your capabilities, so that you get to pay more attention to your weaker areas.

Also, most students confess loving their detailed answer explanations, which make it easy for you to figure out why some of your answers were wrong and work towards improving.

When you purchase this Test Prep Books PCAT  guide, you get to enjoy the services of the best customer support team.

Also, you gain automatic access to PCAT review materials and practice questions, giving you a glimpse of how the real exam looks like.

I just wish it could come with at least one full-length exam.

Paperback is only 391 pages and costs $22.94. The same price applies to Kindle.

Pros
  • Includes a study plan
  • Covers all the must-know sections
  • Amazing test-taking tips
  • Numerous practice tests with expounded answer explanations
  • Comes with a free CD and common prescription names
Cons
  • No full-length practice test
  • Not for individuals searching for detailed explanations of concepts.

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Best PCAT Flashcards

1. Mometrix PCAT Flashcard Study System

The Mometrix Flashcards are ideal for busy students who are working on a tight review time-frame.

Due to their nature, they usually contain precise information that will remind you of the in-depth details you grasp from your prep books.

So, you should use the flashcards for supplementary purposes and not entirely rely on then for adequate preparation for the PCAT exam.

When you purchase these flashcards, you gain access to useful information in each section, including analogies, critical thinking, algebra, general chem, and much more.

There’s always something valuable about repetitive learning. It makes the mastering of information easy.

The more you retain, the more you’re likely to remember during the actual test.

I love the fact that these cards don’t include jargon, plus they’re large enough to fit into your hands perfectly, so you won’t struggle reading.

Also, they contain a little bit of explanation, which is way better than one-word answers.

It contains 666 pages.

Pros
  • Easy to read font
  • Great explanations instead of one-word answers for lovers of detailed content.
  • Covers all essential sections
  • Portable
  • Straight-forward language
  • Micro-perforated edge to protect you against paper cuts
Cons
  • Too wordy for brief notecard lovers
  • Doesn’t come with a table of content
  • No particular order of topics, which some students find quite disorganized.

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2. PCAT Flashcard Book with Online Quizzes

As its name suggests, the PCAT Flashcard book isn’t the typical physical flashcards. It’s actually a book, which contains summarized questions to help you remember important concepts.

However, the content presentation is similar to that of physical flashcards, making it a perfect choice for students who prefer book-size review content.

The presentation of questions is pretty impressive, and they cover all the essential topics.

When you purchase these flashcards books, you will benefit from 350+ practice questions, and of course, the various themes usually covered by the PCAT exam.

Also, there’s online access where you can take 4 diagnostic quizzes at the REA study center.

The results of these quizzes come with detailed explanations for each answer. Therefore it can be of great help to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

It contains 480 pages and currently costs $13.74 on Amazon.

Pros
  • Comprehensive coverage of critical sections
  • Access to an online diagnostic test
  • Book form for individuals who prefer book-format test prep resources
  • Affordable
  • Opportunity to create flashcards and access through smartphone or computer
Cons
  • The book is quite dense.
  • Too much information for a read-on-the-go review resource.

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3. Editors of REA PCAT Flashcard Book

If you want to get a high score, then you must be willing to go the extra mile in your PCAT test preparedness.

One of the ways is to use flashcards as supplementary materials to your prep books/ courses.

The REA flashcards will help you examine your test-readiness by posing questions from the sections you’ve covered to see if you remember.

The book comes with over 350 essential questions.

Complete with answers that cover all the significant categories as tested by the PCAT.

With this package, you also gain access online access to 4 diagnostic quizzes, to help you identify your strengths and improve on your weak areas.

The flash book contains 480 pages and goes for $7.59-39.73 in Amazon.

Pros
  • Concise review book
  • Excellent collection of questions and detailed answers
  • Online access to 4 diagnostic quizzes
  • Summarized book-size flashcards for individuals who prefer large study materials
  • Covers all major topics
Cons
  • Reports on some wrong answers
  • Few reports on typos
  • Too bulky for some students.

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Overview of the PCAT Exam

The PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) is an assessment test that examines the skills and abilities of students interested in joining pharmacy school.

Most Pharmacy schools require you to achieve a specific score in this test to gain admission. So, let’s take a look at the critical areas of this test;

Sections and Duration

The main objective of the PCAT test is to test your basic knowledge of various standard scientific terms and concepts.

And this cuts across the following subjects;

  • Verbal
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Skills, Math, and Critical thinking skills.

On the day of the test, expect to take 192 questions, which are mainly multiple-choice. There’s also a single writing topic, bringing to a total of 5 separate sections that you will be tackling.

The total test duration is usually around four hours, and you will get only one break.

Expect to take the test exclusively on your computer as it’s presented in a computer-based format.

Here’s a breakdown of how your schedule will look like on test-taking day.

Questions Time (minutes)
Writing  1 30
Biological Processes 45-multi-choice 45
Chemical Processes 48-multi-choice 45
Break Optional 15
Critical Reading 48-multi-choice 50
Quantitative Reasoning 28-multi-choice 50
Total 195, 1 writing 220 ( 3 hrs 40 mins)

PCAT Scoring

Your final PCAT score will comprise of all your performances in the sections mentioned above.

Afterward, the “raw score” undergoes conversion to fit into the official scaling score of 200-600.

You will then be allocated a composite score, which is an average on your score in each section.

This, however, doesn’t include the writing prompt as it has to be scored separately by two graders. After which their scores are averaged to give you a rating on a scale of 1-6.

The score you receive in each section will automatically give you a percentile rank, and this also applies to the composite score.

In this case, the percentile rank will help you know how you performed against other PCAT test takers. For example, if your percentile rank is 80, then it means you performed better than 80% of exam-takers.

The first score you receive immediately after the PCAT test is the preliminary report and is subject to change after standardization.

You, therefore, can’t use it to apply for admission to a Pharmacy school of your choice.

You will, therefore, have to wait for around 5 weeks (from the day of the exam) to receive the official online.

You can then use the official transcripts for your applications.

Exam Day Expectations

You will have to undergo a signing process before you start taking the exam. Therefore, purpose of arriving at least 3o minutes earlier than the scheduled time of the test commencement.

The last thing you would want is to arrive late and rush through everything, which can frustrate you and cause anxiety.

Remember, if for any reason you find yourself late by 15 minutes or more, you won’t access the test, and no refund will be offered.

Also, remember to carry your two original IDs, DON’T photocopy.  One should be government-issued and an Ex university ID for name verification.

There’s also a list of prohibited items, such as;

  • All electronic devices
  • All recording devices
  • Notebooks/rulers/papers and anything on this category
  • Snacks/ water/beverages
  • Watch, earplugs, and anything on this category.

Admission/Test-Taking Dates

The PCAT exam windows are usually in January, February, March, July, September, and October.

So, if you want to take your exams during any of the above mentioned months, all you’ve to do is register at the tpc-etesting website, and you’ll receive further instructions in your email within 24 hours.

Note; you should always bookmark the registration and Schedule deadlines to book your preferred test-taking time, date, and location, in good time.

How To Choose The Right PCAT Study Material For You

Now that you know which materials you need to study for your PCAT test, it’s also essential to understand how to choose the ones that suit your current needs correctly.

And that’s what I’m going to help you discover in this section.

          a) Do They Give Room for Self-Testing?

Yes, I agree theory is functional. But honestly speaking, you can’t be pumping a lot of content into your mind without testing if you’re mastering anything or not.

Doing that is like taking a ride to nowhere. And it won’t help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

A good PCAT prep material should include practice questions at the end of each small section, to help you question your retention abilities, before moving to the next section.

This allows you to repeat the procedure as much as necessary, learn from your mistakes, and do better analysis in the following areas.

Plus you get to familiarize yourself with sample exam format questions, which will come in handy on test-taking day

          b) Are the Explanations Detailed?

When you choose PCAT study materials, always go for those with comprehensive explanations, answers to questions.

It will help you understand why the seemingly correct answers turned out wrong.

Also, the detailed explanations will ensure you understand various subtle languages that will play a significant role in your real exam score.

It would be impossible to access this without some sort of test stimulation, complete with well-explained answers.

          c) Do They Include Cues of Your Overall Performance as Far as Your Study Schedule Is Concerned?

If you check out our previous article on “how to prepare for PCAT in one month,” you will realize that you need a study schedule/plan to study efficiently.

You, therefore, must know the importance of keeping track of your studies and knowing what you need to cover before exam day.

It will not only boost your confidence but also help you identify the various sections you’re yet to cover and how to allocate sufficient time to each of them before the exam window comes knocking on your door.

Therefore, a study material that comes with a study schedule will ease some weight off your shoulders.

Also, having these content coverage markers will help you in achieving your small sub-section goals, which will push into fulfillment your primary objective.

          d) Are They Up-To-Date?

Most test prep materials come in the form of editions. And they keep changing to suit the most current exam format.

This is especially critical when it comes to standardized exams such as the PCAT. Most of the time, the exam board undertakes audits to uphold quality.

When this happens, they add new questions and outdate some. So, be on the look-out for this when shopping for resources.  The latest editions make a perfect pick.

How Accurate are the Data and Information?

If you peruse through a PCAT review material and identify numerous wrong details, incomplete sentences, and even outdated info, then you better move on to the next pick.

Yes, sometimes errors do occur, but they should be minor enough to overlook.

To be sure, check out the credibility of the company and find out if they’re working with expert instructors.

Experts who understand how the PCAT works will want only the best for you and their content should be impeccable.

          e). Is the Content Well Organized?

Nothing can throw you off balance as disorganized studying material. It will even cut-short your learning curiosity, which is dangerous.

Always go for test prep resources that exhibit excellent organization skills. You will love the simple structure as you peruse through. You need all the reasons to keep studying.

          f). Any Highlights on The Most Essential Areas?

While it’s true that you can never know for sure which areas the PCAT exam will cover, there’re testing patterns that experts analyze to rank various sections.

Some areas appear more frequently in the exams than others and therefore require more focus as they’re likely to impact your score as opposed to the less tested areas.

A good test-prep material should highlight sections for you so that you know which ones matter most and vice versa.

FAQs About Best PCAT Prep Books

How Long Is the PCAT Exam?

The PCAT exam usually takes around 3 hours, 40 minutes. For more details, check out the above section breakdown.

How Is the PCAT Scored?

The test is scored based on what you get in each section. Afterward, a composite score is calculated on a range of 200-600.

However, the writing prompt is scored differently, and the results averaged after assessment by two experts.

Students are allocated percentiles, which gives them an indication of how they performed against other test-takers.

For more information, check out the PCAT scoring section in the main article.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the PCAT?

There’s no absolute preparation time for the PCAT exam. If anything, it depends on individual capability. And the time you have left before the actual exam.

Some individuals can quickly master concepts and have generally been good in sciences. Therefore, for them, 3-4 weeks of marathon study will be enough to prepare adequately.

Other students need to repeat concepts to master, and their performance in sciences has always been average. So, they might need 2-3 months to be ready for the test.

There are still many more examples I can give. But the point here is that you should never compare yourself with others. Instead, work with what suits you best.

If you need 6 months to get ready or can comfortably tackle the test within a month of thorough preparation, go for it.  The end result is what matters.

And remember it’s your future which is on the line, so never compromise to impress.

How Much Does PCAT Prep Cost?

PCAT prep can cost a few bucks to hundreds depending on how much you want to spend and the prep materials you need.

What is essential, however, is for you to understand that whatever material you choose should be in line with your budget and studying time-frame.

Some materials are more expensive than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they contain more details than the cheaper ones.

There has always been an aspect of demographics in society, so some students would still prefer class over the content.

Choose smartly, using the prep materials selecting tips I gave above, and you won’t go wrong.

Sometimes, the price isn’t everything, and it doesn’t automatically translate to quality.

Is Dr. Collins PCAT Worth It?

From the numerous positive reviews I am getting from the internet, I would say that Dr. Collins PCAT is definitely worth it.

Here are a few screenshots for your sampling;

pcat prep feedback

pcat prep student review

pcat prep books feedback

Are Kaplan PCAT Tests Harder?

The Kaplan PCAT exams are a bit difficult to depict the real exam. But sometimes some students feel that they’re harder than the actual test.

I think that isn’t bad, because if you can correctly handle them, then you can as well approach the exam with confidence.

Is Kaplan Or Princeton Review Books Better For PCAT?

For PCAT, Kaplan is definitely better. Otherwise, we couldn’t have ranked highly in this review.

Leave Princeton for MCAT.

Conclusion

Passing the PCAT requires adequate preparation. And that means purchasing the right review materials to help boost your final score.

But since the current marketplace is filled with numerous test prep resources, it might be difficult for you to choose the best, especially if this’s your first PCAT attempt.

That’s why I came up with this review; to help you effortlessly make a perfect choice.

I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, feel free to recommend it to your friends.

Otherwise, it’s a wrap from us.

Best of luck in your PCAT prep!

John Reed
My name is John Reed and I am the chief editor of TestPrepPal.com. I am alumni of university of of Pennsylvania and want to help future graduates with their tests.

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