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If you're a college student or graduate thinking of applying for admission to pharmacy school, you'll need to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). This national, standardized test is designed by Harcourt Assessment and is used by schools to measure prospective students' aptitudes and abilities to handle the rigors of becoming a doctor of pharmacology. The PCAT test is given three times a year in locations all over America. You can check with the school you're applying to for specific dates and locations, and the information is also online, and you can register for the test online.

The test takes approximately four and half hours to complete, and consists of 280 multiple choice questions. It's broken down into five subject areas, plus an essay. They are: Verbal Ability-58 questions on analogies and sentence completion. Biology-58 items on general biology, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. Reading Comprehension-48 questions measuring your ability to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate written material. Quantitative Ability-58 questions on algebra, geometry, probability, statistics, pre-calculus, and calculus. Chemistry-58 items about general and organic chemistry.

The PCAT test is scored in a range of 100-300, with the average person scoring around 200. Of course, each school sets its own standards for a minimally acceptable score, and because of the competitive nature of pharmacy school admissions, some require scores in the 80th percentile and higher. You do have the option of voiding your score before you leave the testing facility if you don't feel like you did very well on the test. Keep in mind, though, that the test is only offered three times a year, and waiting for a retake could seriously delay the start of your pharmacy career. You and your school should receive your score about a month after you take the PCAT. Because of the importance and difficulty of the PCAT, it's strongly advised to get a good study guide and spend some serious time preparing for the exam. offers an exclusive free, downloadable PCAT study guide to the Internet community for the PCAT test. The guide is in PDF format, so you'll need Adobe's free Reader (already installed on most computers) to view it. Anyone is free to link to this page or the study guide on our server to let students know about this resource.

Click here to download's free PCAT Study Guide

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PCAT Test Questions

PCAT Practice Questions

1. Which of the following diseases is a neural tube defect?

  1. multiple sclerosis
  2. Alzheimer's disease
  3. spina bifida
  4. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

2. Identify the feature of protein synthesis that differs between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

  1. the amino acids used
  2. the structure and composition of the ribosomes
  3. a requirement for the expenditure of metabolic energy
  4. the code that specifies which amino acid should be added to a growing protein chain

3. Optical isomerism occurs in compounds that

  1. are enantiomeric
  2. are symmetric
  3. have multiple isomers
  4. have only one isomer

4. A condensation reaction between two carboxylic acid molecules produces

  1. acetic anhydride
  2. a mixed anhydride
  3. an anhydride and water
  4. maleic anhydride

5. In a scale drawing of a room, 1/4 inch on paper represents 6 inches of wall. If the line on paper is 11.25 inches, how long is the wall?

  1. 2 feet 3/4 inches
  2. 22 feet 6 inches
  3. 16 feet 1/2 inches
  4. 45 feet

6. A cellular phone company offers unlimited data usage for $149.99 per month, or $59.99 per month for the first 5GB of usage and 5 cents for each additional MB of usage. What is the minimum number of GB, to the nearest hundredth, a customer needs to use each month to make the unlimited plan a better value? (1GB = 1024MB)

  1. 1.75
  2. 1.76
  3. 6.75
  4. 6.76


  1. fascinating
  2. silly
  3. unlikely
  4. impossible


  1. strength
  2. bone
  3. muscle
  4. arm

9. After _____ her considerable number of debts, Renee was better able to manage the single monthly payment.

  1. ignoring
  2. exceeding
  3. consolidating
  4. accumulating

10. Justin was so _____ that he actually thought the company would fall apart without him, but his _____ was exposed when sales increased after he left.

  1. pompous, folly
  2. capable, candor
  3. humble, incompetence
  4. antagonistic, vulnerability

Read this passage, then answer the questions that follow it based on the information it contains.

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects mainly postmenopausal women, although it can affect men and younger women as well. The word comes from the Greek osteon, meaning "bone," and the Latin porus, meaning "pore." Osteoporosis causes a decline in the density and mass of bones, leaving them porous, thin, weak, and vulnerable to fractures. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis today. The disease causes about 1.5 million snapped wrists, broken hips, crushed vertebrae, and other bone fractures annually. In addition, another 34 million Americans have osteopenia, or low bone mass, and are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Because it produces no obvious symptoms until it is well advanced, osteoporosis is called the "silent disease." It can go undetected for years, finally revealing itself in a sudden bone fracture. In addition to broken bones, signs of advanced osteoporosis include "dowager's hump" (a rounded hump in the upper back), stooped posture, loss of height, a curved spine, and severe back pain. Each of these conditions is the result of vertebrae that have collapsed under the strain of supporting the body.

Osteoporosis is a significant cause of disability and death. Of the 300,000 Americans a year who break a hip because of osteoporosis, about 150,000 will subsequently permanently rely on canes or walkers to get around. Twenty percent will have to go to a nursing home. About one in five patients with hip fractures die within a year, usually due to complications related to the fractures. Furthermore, studies have shown that people who have osteoporosis have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

The best treatment for osteoporosis is prevention-building the densest, strongest bones possible during the peak bone-building years (up to about age 20), and then maintaining bone mass and density after that. To do this, a person has to eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, perform plenty of weight-bearing and resistance-training exercise, and avoid smoking and excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol. If a person has not followed this regimen and is diagnosed with osteoporosis, he or she can reverse or at least reduce the effects of the disease by adopting these habits. In addition, certain medications can also help restore bone density. Bisphosphonate drugs such as alendronate (brand name Fosamax), ibandronate (brand name Boniva), and risedronate (brand name Actonel) are often prescribed. These drugs are so new, however, that their long-term effects remain unknown. Some controversy surrounds their use.

11. The demographic group that is most susceptible to osteoporosis is

  1. young women.
  2. young men.
  3. postmenopausal women.
  4. Greek and Latin women.

12. Based on the information in the article, you can infer that an osteopath is a doctor who treats

  1. muscles.
  2. older people.
  3. pores.
  4. bones.

13. Osteopenia is a condition that is ______ osteoporosis.

  1. less serious than
  2. more serious than
  3. about the same as
  4. harder to treat than

Use the following information to answer Question 14:

I. "dowager's hump."
II. back pain.
III. snapped wrists.
IV. loss of height.

14. Vertebrae that collapse under the strain of supporting the body cause

  1. I and II
  2. I, II, and III
  3. I, II, and IV
  4. I, II, III, and IV

15. The number of patients with hip fractures who die within a year is about

  1. 150,000
  2. 60,000
  3. 1.5 million
  4. 300,000

Use the following information to answer Question 16:

I. heart disease.
II. cancer.
III. stroke.
IV. Alzheimer's disease.

16. According to the article, people with osteoporosis also have an increased risk of

  1. I and II
  2. I and III
  3. II and III
  4. II and IV

17. Based on the article, you can infer that smoking

  1. causes lung cancer.
  2. can help restore bone density.
  3. has unknown long-term effects.
  4. has a negative effect on bone density.

18. Controversy surrounds the use of bisphosphonates because

  1. their long-term effects are unknown.
  2. they do not help restore bone density.
  3. they are new.
  4. they have no effect on osteoporosis.


1. C: Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when, during development, the neural tube fails to close and develop into a functional spinal cord. This leads to neuromuscular defects whose severity depends upon the extent of the closure defect. Multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) generally occur in adulthood and involve the loss of the ability of neurons within the brain and spinal cord to cause muscle contraction (MS) or to control muscular movement (ALS). Alzheimer's disease is seen later in life and involves characteristic lesions of the brain.

2. B: A major difference between prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells are the proteins and RNA molecules that make up the ribosome. Eukaryotic ribosomes are termed 80S ribosomes to distinguish them from the smaller 70S ribosomes found in bacteria and other prokaryotes. The difference between 70S and 80S ribosomes is significant and is the basis by which a number of antibiotics can kill bacteria without affecting animal cells. In contrast, the other aspects of protein synthesis are very similar among all living things: protein synthesis is an energy-requiring process using a universal genetic code to assemble the same 20 amino acids into functional proteins.

3. A: Optical isomers are properly termed enantiomers; molecules whose structures are exact mirror images of each other but that cannot be superimposed on each other. Such molecules have no planes or axes of symmetry, and are therefore asymmetric. An optically active compound may have only one isomer or it may have many. The number of possible isomers depends on the number of asymmetric carbon atoms in the molecule.

4. C: In a condensation reaction, two molecules are bonded to each other as the components of a water molecule are "condensed" from them. An -OH group is eliminated from one molecule and an H from the other, to produce H2O as one of the products. When this occurs with carboxylic acids the acid anhydride is formed. "Anhydride" means "without water".

Acetic anhydride is specifically the anhydride of acetic acid.

A mixed anhydride is an anhydride formed from molecules of two different carboxylic acids, but these rarely form.

Maleic anhydride is specifically the anhydride of maleic acid.

5. B: Set up a proportion:

¼ inch/ 6 inches = 11.25 inches/ x inches
Cross multiply and solve for x: ¼x = 6(11.25)--> ¼x = 67.5 --> x=270
This is the number of inches. To convert to feet, divide by 12: 270÷12, which is 22 feet 6 inches, because half of a foot is 6 inches.

6. D: At the rate of 5 cents per MB, a customer would have to spend an extra just to break even. Divide this number by 5 cents to get the number of additional MB the customer would have to use to break even: $9.00/$0.05 = 1800 MB. You are told that 1GB = 1024MB, so divide to find the number of GB to break even: 1800/1024 = 1.7578125. Add this to the original 5GB of usage that is included in the plan, and you get 6.7578125GB as the break even point. Rounded to the nearest hundredth, 6.76GB of usage will make the unlimited plan a better deal.

7. A: In this analogy based on synonyms, irksome means about the same as tedious, just as intriguing means about the same as fascinating.

8. C: This is another "type" analogy. Progesterone is a type of hormone, and a bicep is a type of muscle.

9. C: Renee started out with a "considerable number" of debts; now she has a "single" payment. The only way that could happen is if she consolidated, or merged, them. Choices A, B, and D can be eliminated because they do not explain why she now has a single, more manageable payment.

10. A: The position of the first blank indicates that the correct word will describe Justin, who exaggerates his value to the company. Looking at the first word in each pair of answers, we can immediately eliminate choice C, because Justin is obviously not humble. We can also eliminate choice D, because there is no suggestion that he is antagonistic, or "ready for a fight." This leaves us with choices A and B. Justin might be capable, so we cannot eliminate choice B until we look at the second word in the pair. Candor, or "honesty," does not make sense in the sentence, so we can eliminate B as well. The only choice that makes sense is A. Pompous means "puffed up with self-importance," and folly means "foolishness."

11. C: The answer is found in the opening sentence of the article.

12. D: Knowing that the Greek word osteon means "bone," you can infer that an osteopath treats bones.

13. A: Because people with osteopenia are "at risk of developing osteoporosis," you can infer that the condition of osteopenia is less serious than osteoporosis and is an earlier, less advanced version of the condition.

14. C: Support for this answer can be found in paragraph 2. Knowing that the vertebrae are the bones in the spine, you can easily eliminate III as an answer choice, thus eliminating choices B and D. Choice A is correct but, but choice C includes all possible correct answers.

15. B: You have to do a little arithmetic to figure this one out. Paragraph 3 informs us that 300,000 Americans a year break a hip, and that one in five such patients die within a year. One in five translates to 20%, and 20% of 300,000 is 60,000.

16. B: The last sentence of paragraph 3 provides the answer to this one. Cancer and Alzheimer's disease are not mentioned, so you can eliminate any answer choice that includes II and IV. Therefore, cross out choices A, C, and D, leaving you with only B as a possible choice.

17. D: Because the author mentions the avoidance of smoking as a method of maintaining bone mass and density, you can infer that smoking has a negative effect on bone density. Thus, D is the obvious correct choice and B and C can be eliminated. We know that smoking causes lung cancer (choice A), but this fact is not mentioned in the article, so choice A can be crossed out.

18 . A: The answer to this question is found in the last two sentences of the article.

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