PCOA Exam Requirement


This requirement applies to all PharmD students.

PCOA exam

The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is a standardized exam developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB) to provide an external measurement of student performance in pharmacy curricula. As outlined by the Accreditation Council on Pharmacy Education (Standards 2016), the PCOA is required for all students nearing completion of the classroom-based portion of the PharmD curriculum.

At UCSF, students take the PCOA exam upon completion of the core didactic curriculum prior to beginning APPEs. After taking the PCOA exam, students receive a comprehensive performance report, which provides information about individual performance and benchmarking against local and national norms. Additional information about the PCOA is available through the NABP website. Successful completion of the PCOA is a requirement for entry to Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs).

Exam effort

NABP reviews all PCOA results to ensure that each student has put forth an honest examination effort.

Any student deemed by NABP not to have put forth an honest effort will have a professionalism concerns report (PCR) completed and placed into their student academic file. Additionally, in this case, a student will not be allowed to progress into any APPEs until the student has retaken the PCOA exam at the next available test administration within the program. This action could also result in a delay of graduation.

Exam completion

The School recognizes that unforeseen events could result in a student missing the scheduled PCOA examination. Any student who is unable to take the exam must contact the PCOA Exam Coordinator in the Office of Education and Instructional Services (OEIS) in advance of the testing date and time to discuss their absence. Students may be required to provide additional documentation in order for the school to verify the legitimacy of the absence.

Students who miss the PCOA exam for any reason will be required to take the exam at the next available test administration within the program.

Any student who does not have an excused absence for missing the PCOA exam at the conclusion of the didactic curriculum will be allowed to progress into APPEs under the conditions set forth by the School. A student who does not take the PCOA exam as outlined will be removed from APPEs and his/her graduation may be delayed.

Approved by CEPC July 2018; updated April 22, 2020.

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