The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is a comprehensive tool developed by NABP to provide an independent, objective, and external measure of student performance in United States pharmacy curricula.
The PCOA is suitable for students in all professional years, and provides data to the schools and colleges that may facilitate review of an individual student’s performance and progress from year to year in relation to the curriculum. The PCOA also provides data on national results for comparison. As part of the schools and colleges of pharmacy commitment to continuous improvement, the PCOA may help evaluate if a school’s curriculum is meeting the desired outcomes of its doctor of pharmacy program.
The PCOA is now required for all individuals nearing the completion of their didactic curriculum to meet Standard 24: Assessment Elements of the ACPE Accreditation Standards and Key Elements for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Standards 2016).
Administration and Format
The PCOA is administered in a computer-based format. The schools provide the test location and facilities needed to assist NABP in securely administering the PCOA to the students. Detailed guidance is provided in the PCOA Information for Administrators section.
The PCOA Content Areas and subtopics for the 2016-2017 academic year are based upon outcomes from the US College of Pharmacy Curricula Survey that was completed in 2015. The 225-question assessment is composed of four content areas that are broken down into 28 subtopic areas.
The content areas of the PCOA are as follows:
- Basic biomedical sciences (10% of the assessment)
- Pharmaceutical sciences (33% of the assessment)
- Social, behavioral, and administrative sciences (22% of the assessment)
- Clinical sciences (35% of the assessment)
For a representative sample of the item types, download PCOA Sample Items.
Each participating school selects a date (Monday through Friday) within the assessment windows to administer the PCOA and designates the site(s) where the assessment will be provided.
Registration Deadlines for Administrators Versus Students
Administrators and students have separate registration deadlines within each window.
- Administrators can see their registration deadlines on the PCOA Information for Administrators page.
- Students can see their registration deadlines on the PCOA Information for Students page.
The final administration window for 2016 is:
- November 14, 2016 – December 9, 2016
The administration windows for 2017 are:
- January 11, 2017 – February 10, 2017
- April 10, 2017 – May 12, 2017
- June 19, 2017 – June 30, 2017
- August 21, 2017 – September 15, 2017
- November 13, 2017 – December 8, 2017