Including the assessment of nontraditional factors in pharmacy school admissions

Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Apr;39(4):721-6. doi: 10.1345/aph.1E498. Epub 2005 Mar 1.


Objective: To review the relevant literature regarding the predictive ability of cognitive measures (ie, Pharmacy College Admissions Test [PCAT] scores and prepharmacy grade point average [GPA]) on both academic and clinical performance and discuss the inclusion of nontraditional assessment during the admissions process.

Data sources: Articles were identified through searches of International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970-April 2004), MEDLINE (1966-January 2004), and ERIC (1966-April 2004) using the key words admissions variables, predictors of success, Pharmacy College Admissions Test, grade point average, cognitive variables, and noncognitive variables.

Study selection and data extraction: Cross-sectional, longitudinal, and retrospective studies, as well as reviews, regarding pharmacy school and other higher education admissions' variables were included in this review.

Data synthesis: Many pharmacy school admissions committees give a majority weight to the traditional cognitive markers of prepharmacy GPA and PCAT scores when selecting viable applicants. Doing so may be problematic due to the magnitude of the relationship between traditional cognitive predictors and pharmacy school performance.

Conclusions: Based on this review, a cogent argument is advanced for the need to examine, in addition to PCAT scores and GPAs, such nontraditional factors as empathy, citizenship, and ethical behavior. This may increase the predictive ability of preadmission factors on pharmacy school didactic and clinical performance. Schools of pharmacy can do this through questionnaires and interviews designed to assess nontraditional variables.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Interviews as Topic / standards
  • School Admission Criteria*
  • Schools, Pharmacy / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards