Why Use the PCOA?

In addition to satisfying ACPE’s requirement outlined in Standard 24: Assessment Elements, the PCOA offers the following benefits.

  • Provides data on individuals’ knowledge in four major content areas (as recognized by ACPE) and 28 subtopic areas.
  • Score reports
    • include a comparison to national samples,
    • supply the schools and colleges with a tool to provide constructive feedback in relation to the examination outcomes, and
    • allow the schools and colleges to track individual scores from year to year and document their growth over time.
  • Serves as a component of an evaluation plan, as suggested by ACPE Guidelines, that:
    • has formative and summative measures,
    • provides for collective analyses of findings,
    • evaluates trends over time, and
    • includes standardized instruments and data.
  • Can provide documentation of improvement in individual performance after a curriculum has been modified or updated.
  • Imparts score data that can be used in research and correlational studies with existing assessments such as the National Pharmacy College Admission Test, academic proficiency, and future NAPLEX scores.

School/College Registration

The PCOA is administered five times each year. Each participating school selects a date (Monday through Friday) within a four-week assessment window to administer the PCOA and designates the site(s) where the assessment will be provided.

The PCOA will be administered during the dates listed below. Please note the school registration deadlines for each of the testing windows.

2019 Windows

  • August 19, 2019 – September 13, 2019
    • School registration closes May 21, 2019
  • November 11, 2019 – December 13, 2019
    • School registration closes August 13, 2019

2020 Windows

  • January 13, 2020 – February 15, 2020
    • School registration closes October 15, 2019
  • April 6, 2020 – May 16, 2020
    • School registration closes January 7, 2020
  • June 15, 2020 – June 27, 2020
    • School registration closes March 17, 2020
  • August 17, 2020 – September 12, 2020
    • School registration closes May 19, 2020
  • November 9, 2020 – December 12, 2020
    • School registration closes August 11, 2020

To register, participating schools should:

  • Submit a completed PCOA Registration Form for each testing session within a testing window.
  • Send the completed registration form to NABP by the school/college registration deadline of your preferred testing window.

After the assessment date is confirmed by NABP, the school should notify students to register online via the NABP website. A flyer with PCOA information for students is available for download and may be distributed as a handout or via email, or posted to your school or college website.

After students register, a roster for each administration will be available to the schools through NABP e-Profile Connect. Schools and colleges need to verify the eligibility of individuals to take the PCOA.

The PCOA Registration and Administration Guide for Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy provides detailed information on the PCOA and includes the following:

  • Registration instructions
  • Test administration information
  • Score report explanations
  • PCOA content areas
  • Americans with Disabilities Act testing accommodation information


The PCOA is provided at no cost for individuals nearing the completion of their didactic curriculum. Please note that individuals in this group qualify to take the assessment one time at no cost. If the school/college chooses to schedule an additional administration, the current fee of $75 per individual will apply. The assessment fee per individual in other curriculum years is $75.

Testing Accommodations

NABP abides by all applicable federal and state regulations relating to the testing of eligible individuals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and amendments (ADAA). To ensure the security and integrity of the assessment, NABP will evaluate accommodation requests.

To submit a request, students fill out NABP’s accommodation request form and submit it to their school/college of pharmacy for completion. The school/college of pharmacy then submits the completed form to NABP for final review. Complete details are provided in the PCOA Guide for Schools and Colleges as well as in the PCOA for Students section.

PCOA Content Areas

The PCOA has four content areas and 28 subtopics for the 2017 administration, which are based upon the outcomes from the 2015 US College of Pharmacy Curricula Survey. The 2016-2017 PCOA Content Areas and subtopics, as well as sample item types, are available on the PCOA landing page and may be reviewed in preparation for the test.

A white paper, The 2015 United States Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy Curricular Survey – Summary Report, provides an overview of the process for conducting the 2015 curricula survey and analyzing the survey results.

Score Reports for Schools

Scores for the PCOA will be made available to the schools and colleges within two weeks after the school’s testing session. NABP does not issue reports directly to the students.

NABP provides a thorough analysis of the data provided to the schools and colleges to evaluate outcomes at the student and institutional level. NABP issues two types of reports to the colleges and schools:

  • The Individual Student Score Report details student outcomes and provides a comparison of individual performance with national results by program year.
  • The School of Pharmacy Score Report includes data on results of the overall performance by year at the institution level, with comparisons to the national reference group.

Download the PCOA Sample Score Report or contact help@nabp.pharmacy for more information.

Highlights for Schools

The 2015-2018 PCOA Administration Highlights include an examination summary, reliability and validity evidence, and a psychometric summary.