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How to Study for PCAT In One Month: The Ultimate Guide

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is the standardized exam you will have to pass to secure a slot in a pharmacy school of your choice.

Most pharmacy schools have it as a requirement, so you really have no choice but to take the test.

And like any other exam, you’ve to prepare for the PCAT. There’re various study methods you can use, from study groups, review books, tutors to prep courses.

The method you choose is essential and should depend on the time you have before the actual exam.

While it’s common for students to spread the study sessions over a couple of months, some only have a month or less, due to unavoidable circumstances.

Does this sound like you?

Is 1 month enough time to study for the PCAT?

Honestly speaking, it all depends from one individual to another.

It all boils down to your life objectives and how “bad” you want to achieve them.

How far are you willing to go to ensure you join Pharmacy school? What’s your motivator? And how fast can you grasp new content?

You see, for some individuals, grasping material in a matter of weeks isn’t a struggle.

Others will really struggle to get ready even in two to three months.

If you belong to the first group, then this should be easy for you.

But, if you’re the latter, then you shouldn’t be discouraged. You can achieve anything you want so long as you put your mind to it.

I always believe that there’s power in committing to a vision. You have to know where exactly you’re going to work towards it.

And that calls for a lot of self-confidence.

The last thing you want is to waste those four weeks in a pity-party circle. The less you question yourself, the better.

Remember, you need 100% concentration to make up for the lost time.

If you use 50 or even 70% of that concentration to “beat” yourself, then the remaining 30% won’t help you cover all the essential areas you need to score highly in the PCAT exam.

Therefore, focus on being your number one fan. Fall in love with your ability to study for long hours.

Embrace your thoughtfulness from past similar events and use that energy to push yourself into emerging victorious.

But for this, you need to help yourself by getting summarized content. Don’t go for the much detailed prep resources. They will only strike fear, and that’s the last thing you want.

Also, be as realistic as possible about the score you want to achieve.

For a not so good student, an average score of 417-430 will place you in a highly competitive place.  But if you can, aim for 431+ to be among the top 10% of all test takers.

So, adjust your study plan effectively to cover as much content as possible.

Also, remember you’re up against students who have been studying for months. You don’t want to make it easy for them to defeat you.

Talking of a study schedule, here is how to come up with one;

How To Study for PCAT In 1 Month

Important Things and Materials you need

1. PCAT Prep. Books

PCAT prep. Books shouldn’t be difficult to find as there’re many of them in the marketplace (both online and physical stores)

The most popular choices, according to students’ ratings and experts are covered in our guide to the best PCAT prep books.

The test prep companies have been around for a while, and they come with numerous practice questions and tests to help you grasp concepts quickly.

For more online tests, this will come in handy with its numerous practice questions on various chapters.

PCAT Test Study Guide

That, too, free of charge.

You will find this guide at the studyguidezone.com, which is an excellent website to find test prep materials, practice tests, and study tips to help you ready for the PCAT exam.

The best part is that you don’t have to spend a dime to access the resources.

You also get fantastic tips on how to register and prepare for the exam.

2. PCAT Flashcards

Since you will be working against time, it means that every second count.

So, you would what to maximize both your study and “free” time.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading for lunch or waiting to catch up on your favorite TV show (which I doubt you will have time for); you can always fish out your PCAT flashcards and continue learning.

They usually have common questions and answers and are pretty affordable. Plus, the information is plenty and saves you the burden of carrying a large book whenever heading out.

You even get to choose between physical cards or an online version (which is much cheaper)

3. Summary Notebook

If you can’t afford the Flashcards, you can always opt to have a summary notebook. This is where you will be writing all the crucial points from your study sessions.

The book will come handy in helping you identify which areas you haven’t covered, and also on last-minute perusing of points.

You can also jot down the areas you had difficulties with while studying for later consultation or extra time allocation.

Also, if you can’t stand studying from your laptop/tablet/phone for long (or can’t afford one), the notebook is a sure bet as it won’t affect your eyes.

Choose a small one to fit into your pocket/handbag/purse.

Well, these are just examples of the materials and tools you will need to prepare adequately for the PCAT exam.

But, the list isn’t exhaustive, so feel free to add whichever material you find necessary.

That said, let’s now move into the next essential part (the most critical, actually)

PCAT Study Schedule Phase 1: Cover All Content

The 1st phase is meant for content review. You will have to go through all the vital chapters and master as much content as possible to score highly in the exam.

And the first step towards that is ensuring you have a customized study plan based on your experience. In simple terms, consider your academic background and, of course, style of learning.

Remember to approach the test preparations as you would any other tutor-led classroom. Only that this time around, you will be in charge.

Since you only have 4 weeks to study, aim at studying for at least 18-20 hours a week.

Check out the study tools I have recommended above and choose the one that works best for you. Work with at least two of them. A single method won’t be enough to give you a string score.

Let your schedule include 6 days of study (for at least 3 hours a day) and use a day to rest.

To identify your strengths and weaknesses, begin by taking a diagnostic test. Use the results to come up with a study plan that focuses more on your weak areas.

Don’t forget to make practice problems part of your studying schedule. This could be stand-alone questions, passage-questions, and much more. The more content you review, the more advanced you get with your practice tests.

The “small” practice tests will ready you for the full-length test, which you must purposefully take before the actual PCAT exam.

Divide the chapters in a way that suits you, such that you have content to cover each day for 5 days. Use day 6 to review your notebook and take the practice test.

  • Week 1

Settle for your test prep. Method and then do some critical reading, complete with a practice prompt.

Now, make a list of all the essential content you need to master for a good PCAT score. Tick the easiest to answer, the familiar ones, and the less familiar areas.

Take time to study;

  • Biological Processes1 (metabolism and enzymes, cellular biology, evolution, genetics)
  • General Chemistry1 ( electrons, atomic theory, and bonding, Periodic table, chemical reactions)
  • Quantitative Reasoning 1 (algebra, arithmetic, functions)

Remember to write the unfamiliar concepts in your notebook. You will need this for your weekly review before taking a practice test.

  • Week 2

Your week 2 goal should be to study;

  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry1 (substitution and elimination, isomerism, substitution, and addition)
  • Biological Processes II(circulatory system, microbiology, digestive system, respiratory, skeletal and muscular systems)
  • General Chemistry II (acids and bases, equilibrium, solutions, kinetic theory)

Repeat the other processes as in week 1(listing of unfamiliar ideas, a weekly review of content and practice test)

  • Week 3

The third week should be used to study;

  • Quantitative Reasoning II( precalculus, probability, and statistics, calculus)
  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry II( substitution and addition, isomerism, substitution, and elimination)
  • Biological Processes III (immune system, excretory system endocrine system, nervous system)

Repeat the other steps week 2, apart from the “small” practice tests.

It’s now time to take the full-length practice test found in your prep books or course of your choice.

  • Week 4

Study the following subjects:

  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry III(, proteins, spectroscopy and lipids, amino acids, DNA and RNA)

Take another full-length test, do some critical reading, and take a rest a day before the exam.

PCAT Study Schedule Phase 2: Practice Tests

I won’t talk much about this because I have already mentioned the practice tests in the studying phase above.

But, I would like to make one or two things clear;

  • The “small” practice tests you should take at the end of each week are based on the content you read throughout that particular week.
  • The full-length tests should be at least two. Take them on weeks 3 and 4. The results will give you an almost accurate score to help predict your PCAT score.
  • Take the full-length tests in one sitting so that you can monitor your time management skills.
  • If you come across some unfamiliar questions in the full-length test on the third week, take time to review that section on week four.

PCAT Study Schedule Phase 3: Mental Preparation

Mental preparedness is an integral part of scoring highly in your exam. That’s why I have insisted that you take a day off each week to relax and reflect.

The same case applies to the day or a few days before the PCAT exam.

Apart from that, here are a few tips to enhance your mental preparedness for the test;

  • Read first and practice later, this ensures you cover as much content as possible. There’s a given percentage of confidence that comes with knowing you’ve all areas covered.
  • Don’t compromise on sleep and rest. The more relaxed you’re, the easier it will be to recall information.
  • Positivity is key. Negative energy drains. Surround yourself with people who can do anything to encourage you and make you feel ready
  • Avoid alcohol and other energy-draining food before the exam. Instead, drink enough water and feed healthily. If possible, cook and carry your food.

PCAT Study Schedule In 2 Months

Since you have a little more time to study in the 2-months schedule, you can study for at least 2 hours a day.

Remember to study 6 days a week and use 1 day to relax fully.

The other weekly steps and tips are the same as those of the 1-month schedule above.

  • Week 1

Take time to come up with a study schedule. Do some critical reasoning studies.

And then, take a diagnostic exam and identify your weak and strong areas.

Once you do, allocate more time for your weak sections and less time to familiar subjects.

Serious studying begins in week 1.

Below is an example of what you should draw;

  • Week 2

Study for;

  • Biological Processes1 (metabolism and enzymes, cellular biology, evolution, genetics)
  • General Chemistry1 (electrons, atomic theory, and bonding, Periodic table, chemical reactions)
  • Take your “small” practice test, and review your weak areas.

Week 3

  • Quantitative Reasoning 1 (algebra, arithmetic, functions)
  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry1 (substitution and elimination, isomerism, substitution, and addition)

Week 4

  • Biological Processes II (circulatory system, microbiology, digestive system, respiratory, skeletal and muscular systems)
  • General Chemistry II (acids and bases, equilibrium, solutions, kinetic theory)

Week 5

  • Quantitative Reasoning II (precalculus, probability, and statistics, calculus)
  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry II (substitution and addition, isomerism, substitution, and elimination
  • Take your first full-length practice test

Week 6

  • Biological Processes III (immune system, excretory system endocrine system, nervous system)
  • Review your strengths and weaknesses. Take a “small” Practice test.

Week 7

  • Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry III (, proteins, spectroscopy and lipids, amino acids, DNA and RNA)

Week 8.

  • Review the weak areas from week 7.
  • Take a full-length practice test and review the results.
  • Finalize your revision.

Take the last two days before the exam to relax and reflect.

PCAT Study Schedule in 6 Months

As always, take a diagnostic test to identify your weaknesses. This will help you come up with an experience-based study schedule.

More time means less time to study each day. So, one hour per day for six days a week will be okay.

  • Week 1

Read some critical reasoning material and then take a diagnostic exam.

Review the results and use them to prepare a study schedule.

  • Week 2-22

Here use the above schedule (PCAT study schedule in 2 Months) but multiply it by three.

For example, week 2 becomes weeks 2-4, week 3 becomes 5-7, week 4 becomes weeks 8-11, and so forth.

Remember, you have enough time to study. So, take sufficient time to go through the content.

Take your first full-length exam around week 12-15. The result should guide you on how to adjust the schedule in the coming weeks.

  • Weeks 23-24

Take this time for final touches on your weak subjects. Use practice questions to test your strengths and review the results.

Take more time on some topics as compared to others, depending on how easy/hard they seem.

Repeat your weekly steps and take 2-3 days off to relax and reflect before the exam.

You can also meet up with like-minded PCAT students for an objective discussion. But only a week before the exams, so that you don’t panic. NEVER attend a group discussion a day or two before the real exam.

This way, in case there’re some few polishes you had overlooked, you have time to review!

FAQs About How To Study for the PCAT

How long should you study for the PCAT?

Like I said earlier, it all depends on individual ability and, of course, the time left before the PCAT test.

Some can study 2-3 weeks straight and manage a 93% composite, while others need 2-3 and even 6 months to achieve the same.

Therefore, the best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge your test-taking skills; are they superb? Or have you been struggling in other tests?

Once you answer this genuinely, then you will know the amount of time you require.

The secret is to avoid pressure and be maximally productive. The time frame that allows you to do this is the best for you!

What is a good score for PCAT?

A good PCAT score is mostly dependent on which school you want to join. But to be on the safe side, a composite of 63 and above is good.

Some schools consider subject scores as opposed to the composite score.  For instance, some will recognize 50% in math and chem good enough.

So, it would help to research more about the school of your choice.

Do you get a calculator on the PCAT?

Yes, a standard nonscientific calculator will be available for you. All you will have to do is click on the left corner icon of your computer, and you will be good to go.

But, this option is available only when necessary and on the system. You can’t carry a calculator.

How much is the PCAT exam?

Currently, the PCAT exam will cost you$199.

But the pricing is always subject to change, and if you are late for registration, you pay &49 extra. This amount is non-refundable.

Conclusion

Like any other exam, you need to prepare for the PCAT test.

And although it’s advisable to start early, sometimes circumstances can’t allow, and you find yourself with only a month before the real test.

What next? Should you give up and postpone?

Of course not, you can still study and score highly; if only you put your mind to it and align your schedule with your vision.

The above 1-month study schedule is to give you an idea of how you can come up with yours. So, feel free to alter it to suit your needs and kick-start your test prep as soon as you can.

We wish you nothing but the best!

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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