Finding the best PCAT prep book and study guide is difficult but crucial if your goal is to gain admission to a top pharmacy school. To help you succeed and score high on the the Pharmacy College Aptitude Test (PCAT), our team scoured the market to find the best possible PCAT study guides for 2017. These are our Top 10 recommendations.
The thought of where to begin in studying for the PCAT can be overwhelming. This popular and up to date PCAT study guide by Kaplan offers an excellent place to begin and amazing value for money.
Weighing in at just below 1,000 pages, PCAT 2016-2017 Strategies, Practice, and Review with 2 Practice Tests offers comprehensive information on each of the test’s subsections (Writing, Verbal Ability, Biology, Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Ability). Nevertheless, there is a particular focus on Chemistry, perhaps the PCAT’s most challenging section, which therefore comprises almost 40 percent of the book. Kaplan’s PCAT study guide also offers exercises to complete their concise, yet detailed, coverage of each of the subtests. It also provides access to two online PCAT practice tests.
The only downsides to this book is that it sometimes goes overboard in its detailed coverage (for example in the Chemistry area) but doesn’t delve deep enough into others (like Quantitative Ability) and some of the practice exercises do not compare in difficulty to the official test. Nevertheless, this is the best way to study for the PCAT and garner a comprehensive overview and this resource is currently clearly one of the best PCAT prep books (and the most frequently updated) on the market.
PCAT prep can take different forms. For those of you that are visual and auditory learners, Crack the PCAT – the most trusted PCAT preparation software – is a perfect choice and an ideal companion to Kaplan’s or another publisher’s traditional prep books.
This software program, which downloads directly to your computer, offers various advantages. It simulates the PCAT’s computer-based environment, comes with 2,420 interactive questions, 70 subject tests, and 40 hours of detailed video tutorials that explain the material and provide strategy and test-taking skills. Crack the PCAT even estimates your PCAT score and allows users to compare their score against other test-takers!
We found the explanations to be thorough and easy to understand and the interactive environment highly intuitive. Most importantly, the level of difficulty for the offered practice questions is high, which means that test-takers tend to over-prepare to some extent and may then find the actual PCAT questions to be easier.
As a mechanism for driving up the fun factor for PCAT test prep, this software is one of the best PCAT study guides available. We recommend it based on its realistic and goal-oriented learning approach and also because it is more exciting than using only a book.
The trick to acing the PCAT is mastery not only of the content of the test but also in how to take the test. This is where the Princeton Review’s Cracking the PCAT comes into the picture. Quite simply, for strategy advice, tips and tricks, Cracking the PCAT is hard to beat. Although it has not been updated for some time, the tips provided are still applicable and helpful.
This book offers three dedicated chapters to strategies as well as extensive coverage of each of the PCAT’s six subtests. In addition, it offers access to two online PCAT practice tests, which are quite realistic (which also means difficult) and thereby provide ideal opportunities to test both the strategy and substantive content accumulated from reviewing the book.
Due to its balanced combination of focus on sophisticated strategy and thorough substantive content, Cracking the PCAT makes our list of as one of the very best PCAT preparation books.
Are you ready for the PCAT? How do you know?
One of the most useful tools for ascertaining your current level of knowledge is with a diagnostic test, a rarely provided tool in even the best PCAT books. There is however a notable exception.
Peterson’s Master the PCAT begins by providing test-takers with a diagnostic test that allows them to ascertain their strengths and pinpoint their weaknesses even before beginning to study. Accordingly, the focus of study for users of this guide falls on strengthening shortfalls in knowledge and allows for targeted studying. Moreover, the book also provides strong coverage of each of the PCAT subtests, particularly in the are of Quantitative Ability, which for many test-takers is challenging.
With its diagnostic test, exceptionally strong subtest coverage, and access to a full length practice-test with detailed explanations of answers, Master the PCAT is an effective tool for PCAT studying. This books is a bit shorter than some of the other guides and might also soon need a bit of an update. Still, it still deserves a spot on our list of reviews of the best PCAT books.
Practice, practice, practice makes perfect – and Barron’s PCAT gives you ample opportunity to do so.
Rather than providing extensive coverage of the PCAT subtests, this recently updated test study guide guide focuses more on providing practice questions (for each of the subtests) as well as two full-length PCAT practice tests. Barron’s PCAT also provides an introductory section on the nuts and bolts of preparing for a pharmacy career as well as information on how to plan and prepare for a pharmacy education.
While this book may need to be supplemented with another study book in order to achieve more extensive coverage of the subtest materials, it is still one of the best PCAT prep books for its extensive provision of practice questions. Moreover, the helpful information on life in pharmacy beyond the PCAT is definitely a nice bonus.
The PCAT essay is one of the areas of the PCAT that is neglected by most study books, which tend not to devote sufficient attention to this part. This makes Master the PCAT Essay a rare find.
This concise book, written by a former two-time PCAT test-taker and graduate of a pharmacy college, is devoted only to mastering both the techniques and content of the PCAT essay. Using an easy-to-understand style, author Alex Barker – who is also responsible for Pharmacy School HQ, provides a wealth of information on the PCAT essay, covering writing prompts, information on what (and what not) to include in the essay, how to structure the essay, and more.
Master the PCAT Essay also comes with free downloadable extras including additional writing prompts, pharmacy interview questions, and more than 750 biology terms.
This new book is a well-organized attempt to demystify the PCAT essay process. In our opinion, it’s an important tool in your PCAT arsenal and – given its great value and focused approach – also one of the best PCAT study guides.
This PCAT study guide is the second resource on our list that is not a book. Instead, TopScore Pro is a multimedia software CD-ROM bundle created by Scholarware, a company that also produces some of the best DAT study materials.
Featuring three complete practice tests, the TopScore Pro for the PCAT software program offers a chance for test takers to see how well they are prepared for the PCAT before actually taking it.
The CD-ROMs contain over 810 difficult PCAT questions and answers (although no explanations for answers). They also offer ample opportunity to hone in PCAT test taking skills, including the chance to learn to pace yourself in answering the questions.
This program, complemented with a substantive PCAT study guide, is a surefire method for improving PCAT scores. It’s not the best of the best PCAT study guides (when it comes to software based learning, we prefer Crack the PCAT) but still a very solid resource.
With over 350 test questions complete with explanations of the answers, these flashcards offer a convenient and fun way to master the PCAT material.
The questions are tough (often tougher than the actual PCAT) and promise to challenge you enough to keep things useful and interesting. Moreover, as a very welcome bonus, this study tool also offers four online quizzes that help test takers ensure that they have mastered the material.
While this resource must be supplemented by additional study guides, it represents a fun and convenient way to review and study for the PCAT at home or on the road.
Having studied using the commercial PCAT resources, are you feeling comfortable enough to write the official PCAT?
Wait, don’t start yet. Register for the PCAT and, once you have done so, you will be authorized to purchase the official PCAT study guide and practice tests from the testing company – Pearson. As the test writers, Pearson materials are among the best PCAT prep books available.
These booklets are rather short and should not be used on their own. Rather, supplementing them with the best PCAT prep books or software reviewed above is a necessity. Nevertheless, allow enough time to study these official guides as well. Good luck!
Best PCAT Prep Books
|Ranking||Publisher||Book Title||Pages||Year||Practice Tests||Price Range|
|1||Kaplan||PCAT Strategies, Practice, and Review||888||2016||2||$$|
|2||Crack Exam Preparation||Crack the PCAT 2016-2017 Edition||N/A||2016||10||$$$$|
|3||Princeton Review||Cracking the PCAT||800||2011||2||$$|
|4||Peterson's||Master the PCAT||752||2012||1||$$|
|6||Alex Barker||Master the PCAT Essay||84||2015||N/A||$|
|7||ScholarWare||TopScore Pro for PCAT||N/A||2013||3||$$$|
|8||REA||PCAT Flashcards Premium||480||2013||N/A||$|