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What is the VCAT®?

By Andy Josiah
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The Veterinary College Admission Test, abbreviated as the VCAT®, was a standardized test specifically used for evaluating veterinary school applicants. The exam was used as one of the measuring tools to determine the level of candidates' academic ability and knowledge, in an effort to predict how successful they would be in graduate study. The VCAT® was similar to other graduate-level standardized tests such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which law school candidates use; the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is intended for medical school applicants; and the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) for prospective pharmacy students. The VCAT® was ultimately discontinued in 2003.

The VCAT® was administered by the Psychological Corporation, which was founded in New York in 1921 by James McKeen Cattell, a psychologist who was the president of the American Psychological Association at the time. The Psychological Corporation is a division of the Pearson's Assessment & Information group, which specializes in education assessment tools. The Psychological Corporation's veterinary test consisted of 300 multiple-choice questions, which awarded one point for each correct answer. These were split into five areas of testing: biology, general and organic chemistry, reading comprehension, quantitative capability and verbal skill. There was an additional sixth section, but it served as the experimental part of the test and was consequently not scored.

Most VCAT® questions had at least four choices, labeled A to D. A few of them, however, had more than four. Generally, test takers used about three-and-a-half hours, including breaks for lunch and rest, to complete the VCAT®.

The veterinary exam was offered two or three times a year, in October and November, with an occasional January offering. Test takers usually paid a $50 fee, and they had to register for the exam at the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) website. Similar to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the VMCAS collected VCAT® scores as one of the components to create streamlined reports for application to veterinary schools. Other items of the VMCAS report include undergraduate transcript and letters of recommendation, which are standard components of any application to colleges and universities.

In April 2003, the Psychological Corporation announced that it was discontinuing the VCAT®. The test effectively ended on June 30, 2003, and the organization provided transcript-reporting support for test scores through June 30, 2008. As of 2011, veterinary schools accept the MCAT or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the latter of which is the general standardized test for graduate school admission.

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