Tips To Maximize Your Admission Chances

applicants in suits at tables listening to speakerBelow are links to tips for maximizing your chance of admission to a PharmD program.

These are adapted from Tip Sheet-Tips To Maximize Your Chances for Admission To A College of Pharmacy prepared by Dr. Michael W. McKenzie, University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

You might also enjoy the condensed version of these tips in the video on the How To Apply page.

Common Sense and Courtesy


  • Research prospective colleges online and request brochures and catalogs.
  • Read the AACP publications on pharmacy careers
  • Visit or speak by telephone with an academic adviser from your preferred college of pharmacy to have your questions answered.
  • Be smart about taking advice from other students. Confirm all information before making any decisions. Contact our office to discuss any questions about your candidacy.
  • Be familiar with the curriculum and history of each institution you apply to.
  • PCAT review books are available at the library, bookstores, and career centers.


  • Be certain to fulfill all the academic prerequisites.
  • Maximize your exposure to a variety of test preparation materials for the PCAT and plan to review over a prolonged period of time. Take your admission test preparation seriously and start preparing early.
  • Register to take the PCAT only when you are maximally prepared to perform at your best. Completion of the general chemistry and general biology course sequences is recommended, as well as a semester of organic chemistry, calculus, microbiology and anatomy and physiology.
  • Take the initiative to make sure your professors know who you are in every course you take; you may wish to ask them for letters of recommendation later.
  • Make a habit of attending classes diligently and attempt to sit in rows near the front of the class.
  • Study hard and learn as much as you can in all of your classes. Earn high grades as a function of learning a lot.
  • Maintain your commitment to studying hard even though the course or professor may not be the most interesting or enjoyable. Remember learning in courses is the primary goal, not being entertained or liked by the professor.
  • Demonstrate maturity by doing well in courses that you do not find the most interesting or challenging.
  • If you are having difficulty in a prerequisite course, evaluate your options. Consider using tutors, visiting with the professor during office hours, changing study habits, setting appropriate priorities for study time, studying with peers, withdrawing from the course and taking it at a time when you have more time, or whether there is another professor from whom you might learn more effectively.
  • Take higher-level science course work to better prepare for pharmacy school.
  • Demonstrate a sustained record of 14-16 credit hour loads per term with two or more sciences. Use common sense in your coursework schedule. Do not take overloads in credit hours per semester in an attempt to complete prerequisites ahead of time.
  • Maintain a comprehensive master calendar and exercise sound time-management skills.

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  • Avoid procrastination in the preparation of your application materials packet. Complete all applications as early as possible. Submit online applications before the deadlines to insure no technical diffculties exist.
  • Pay close attention to details such as policies, procedures, due dates and deadlines. Follow instructions completely and accurately.


  • Be sure to gain some clinical exposure/experience by shadowing, volunteer experiences or employment in your area of interest. You need to demonstrate an understanding of the life of practicing pharmacy professionals.
  • Consider participating in one or more preprofessional organizations on campus. The UA College of Pharmacy has a Prepharmacy Club
  • Establish an authentic record of service to others through volunteer experiences, extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, tutoring, active membership in service organizations, etc. (as opposed to a "paper chase" list of organizations you have joined).
  • Be a self-starter. Don't wait for others to tell you what to do. Be well-informed and get off to a good start.


  • Demonstrate good balance between your academic life and your personal life.
  • Remember that if you work full-time or part-time, the strenuous effort involved in maintaining a job and going to school should result in above average academic performance, sound preparation for the PCAT and involvement in your school and community. Being out of balance with emphasis on work, even if it is in a pharmacy setting, can result in unsatisfactory academic performance, inadequate preparation for the PCAT, and a noncompetitive portfolio of service. Pleas to the Admissions Committee to take into consideration the number of hours per week of work as an excuse for a noncompetitive grade point average and/or poor PCAT scores will not be well received.
  • Develop a financial plan for your pharmacy education. Consult the financial aid advisers about federal, state and private resources to assist in the cost of your education. If you must work full-time, develop a savings plan for your education. It may be better to work full-time for several years, save money and then go to school full-time while working only 10 to 15 hours per week.

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  • Focus on this in your narrative or autobiography, but let reviewers know what motivates you to be a pharmacist. You should have more than one or two reasons and you should place these in priority as you discuss them.
  • Remember that motivation cannot make up for unsatisfactory academic performance or low scores on the PCAT. Motivation for pharmacy as a career should translate into above average academic performance and competitive PCAT scores.


  • Take advantage of all seminars, workshops and/or videotapes dealing with the application and interview process. Be relaxed, be yourself, but be prepared. You need to have a sound understanding of the interview process. This is a first impression exercise, and you need to come across as calm, self-confident, emotionally stable, bright, mature and disciplined.
  • Be certain to retain copies of all school specific narratives and familiarize yourself with what you wrote before you interview.
  • Review your autobiography carefully before each interview.

Common Sense and Courtesy

  • Avoid phone calls and drop-in inquiries related to your uncertainty, anxiety and uneasiness as the admission process evolves. Do not attempt to force responses sooner than others are prepared to offer them! Patience is a real virtue in this arena.
  • Study hard. There is no substitute for good grades. Learn as much as you can, but make sure you enjoy doing it. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices to make sure you can compile a competitive academic and non-academic record.
  • Study hints:
  • Set study hours per week.
  • Study at least one hour outside of class for every hour in class.
  • Study between classes.
  • Study consistently and review notes as soon as possible.
  • Study in a quiet, well-lighted place.
  • Do not mix socializing with studying.

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Originally posted: September 28, 2014
Last updated: August 3, 2015
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