PA-CAT Receives High Marks from Candidates for Exam Relevance and Study Support

Feb 16, 2024 | PA-CAT Activities

Emerging research suggests that the PA-CAT, now in its fourth year of deployment, has statistically predictive value as it relates to PA student performance during the didactic phase of their studies and training. While this outcome confirms the findings of our original PA-CAT developmental research, we now have over 3500 PA school candidates who have completed the PA-CAT.  So, in addition to the ongoing program-level research, we felt it would be useful and important to ask the candidates who took the PA-CAT what they thought of it.


Candidate Feedback Consistent with Objective Research Findings 

Building off of feedback received from an early candidate survey we conducted in 2021, we were looking for current feedback on such questions as whether the candidates felt the exam covered material they would expect to know or learned in undergraduate school? Did the exam cover material that was relevant to what these students are now studying in PA school?  Was the exam at an appropriate level of difficulty?  Were the Exam Master-provided study materials relevant and helpful to preparing for the actual exam?

In early January, a survey invitation was emailed to over 2800 PA-CAT exam takers.  Of this group, we had an impressive 60% open rate, and of these opens 63 candidates submitted completed surveys (3.8% response rate).  38% of the respondents (n=24) reported taking the PA-CAT within 6 months of the survey. 24% of respondents (n=15) reported taking the PA-CAT within the last 6-12 months.  6 survey respondents reported they had not yet taken the exam but did make some comments about the study materials.

The responses from the 2021 survey surprised us in that most respondents expressed rather favorable attitudes toward the PA-CAT.  Frankly, we expected more grumbling and pushback at that time.  We wondered, two years and thousands of completed exams later, would these candidate attitudes be different?  And, with a more robust set of study materials now available to candidates than before, were these materials deemed relevant and useful to these candidates preparing for this comprehensive assessment of academic preparedness?


Most Candidates Express Positive Attitudes Toward PA-CAT and Study Materials 

The results again were overwhelmingly positive.  This candidate’s response sums up much of the feedback we received:

I decided to take the PA-CAT because it is one of the requirements for the PA program I was applying to. The study resources included with the PA-CAT exam were the only resources I used and they prepared me well for the exam, especially the videos and the practice exams. While I was taking the exam I felt prepared and believe these resources are tailored for the exam and for future success in PA school. Other benefits to taking the PA-CAT exam is getting more knowledge to prepare you for PA school, I actually found it extremely helpful as I had a surprise mini quiz on my interview day, and was able to answer due to what I had just learned from my Exam Master resources.


Feedback on the available study materials was generally very favorable as well as exemplified in this response:

I took the PA-CAT because it best correlates to a high PANCE passing score more so than other entrance exams, such as the GRE, does not focus on any applicable skills or information. The included study materials were my primary source of content review and test questions. It is the best review material I have ever used. It is perfectly concise yet comprehensive and the explanations given for the practice questions made all the difference. The only change I would make is I felt the content review could have been more thorough for the general chemistry portion as it lacked in info needed compared to other subjects.


Some Contrarian Opinions About the PA-CAT

While the majority of responses were favorable toward both the PA-CAT and the Exam Master study materials, of course not all candidates thought highly of the study materials or the PA-CAT itself.  One candidate described the PA-CAT as just another hoop that candidates have to jump through to get into PA school.  Some individuals felt the PA-CAT was weighted too heavily in some subjects.  Some individuals felt that the study videos were too dry or not an efficient way to prepare for the exam.

While this survey was not intended to be a scientific examination of overall PA-CAT candidate attitudes about the PA-CAT, the survey responses indicate that many candidates felt the PA-CAT was fair, relevant, and more targeted than a more general admissions exam such as the GRE.  It also appears that our study materials generally hit the mark in terms of helping candidates prepare for the exam.

For, a complete set of de-indentified responses please click here.  If you have thoughts or questions about the PA-CAT please feel free to reach out.

Related Topics: PA-CAT
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