Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Predicting Performance in the First-Year of Pharmacy School

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Predicting Performance in the First-Year of Pharmacy School

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) consists of 5 multiple-choice subtests (verbal ability, biology, chemistry, reading comprehension, and quantitative ability) and a writing subtest. Scaled scores ranging from 200600 are reported for each multiple-choice subtest, along with a composite score (an unweighted average of the 5 subtest scaled scores). Separate conventions of language and problem-solving scores are reported for the writing subtest. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, nearly 79% of the PharmD programs in the United States currently include PCAT scores in their admission requirements. (1)

An important method of evaluating high-stakes standardized admission tests such as the PCAT is to examine its criterion-related or predictive validity to determine how well the scores predict later academic performance. Studies conducted since the introduction of the PCAT in 1974 have found the test to be a moderate-to-strong predictor of subsequent performance, with predictive validity statistics comparable to those of other standardized admission tests commonly used by graduate and professional schools. (2,3) However, many older studies were conducted before the PharmD became the required degree for professional pharmacy practice, and relatively few considered demographic characteristics as predictor variables. (4) Most of the data for these studies were collected prior to the introduction of the current PCAT scaled scores in 2004 and the writing subtest in June 2007.

The purpose of the current study was to examine data collected from PharmD programs to determine the value of the current PCAT scaled scores, PCAT writing scores, and entering GPAs in predicting subsequent GPAs during the first year of pharmacy school. The study also addressed the issue of differing PCAT mean scores for various demographic groups by including demographic characteristics as predictor variables. The study examined whether a combination of PCAT scores and prepharmacy GPA constitute a better predictor of first-year pharmacy school GPA than either variable alone, and whether various demographic characteristics are related to first-year pharmacy school GPA.

METHODS

The 22 colleges and schools of pharmacy submitting data for this study included the following institutional types and program lengths: 12 public institutions; 10 private institutions; seventeen 2+4 programs (2 prerequisite years followed by 4 professional years); three 3+4 programs (3 prerequisite years followed by 4 professional years); and two 2 + 3 programs (2 prerequisite years followed by 3 accelerated professional years). The participating programs also represented the following regional representation (by US census regions): Middle Atlantic, 7; South Atlantic, 6; East North Central, 3; East South Central, 2; West North Central, 2; West South Central, 1; Mountain, 1.

For each participating pharmacy college or school, PharmCAS provided spreadsheets containing data for candidates who applied during the year prior to the fall 2008 term, including each candidate's most recent PCAT scores; previously earned cumulative, math, and science GPAs; date of birth, citizenship status, native language, sex, racial/ethnic identity, and parents'/guardians' highest level (s) of education; the candidate's level (2- or 4-year college) and type (public or private) of school most recently attended, and previous degrees earned. Following the 2008-2009 academic year, each pharmacy college and school submitted performance data for each student who matriculated into a PharmD program for the fall of 2008, including GPAs earned during the first year of pharmacy study and each student's enrollment status at the end of the first year.

Analyses of the sample data included descriptive, correlation, and multiple regression analyses. All analyses involving candidate and student data were conducted using the SAS, version 9. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.