Prepharmacy predictors of success in pharmacy school: grade point averages, pharmacy college admissions test, communication abilities, and critical thinking skills

Pharmacotherapy. 2001 Jul;21(7):842-9. doi: 10.1592/phco.21.9.842.34566.


Good admissions decisions are essential for identifying successful students and good practitioners. Various parameters have been shown to have predictive power for academic success. Previous academic performance, the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT), and specific prepharmacy courses have been suggested as academic performance indicators. However, critical thinking abilities have not been evaluated. We evaluated the connection between academic success and each of the following predictive parameters: the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) score, PCAT score, interview score, overall academic performance prior to admission at a pharmacy school, and performance in specific prepharmacy courses. We confirmed previous reports but demonstrated intriguing results in predicting practice-based skills. Critical thinking skills predict practice-based course success. Also, the CCTST and PCAT scores (Pearson correlation [pc] = 0.448, p < 0.001) were closely related in our students. The strongest predictors of practice-related courses and clerkship success were PCAT (pc=0.237, p<0.001) and CCTST (pc = 0.201, p < 0.001). These findings and other analyses suggest that PCAT may predict critical thinking skills in pharmacy practice courses and clerkships. Further study is needed to confirm this finding and determine which PCAT components predict critical thinking abilities.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Education, Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Pharmacy / trends*
  • Regression Analysis
  • School Admission Criteria / statistics & numerical data
  • School Admission Criteria / trends*
  • Students, Pharmacy / psychology
  • Students, Pharmacy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Thinking*