Classes to Prepare for the MCAT

by Gale Thompson, Demand Media
Philosophy and composition courses can help students succeed in the MCAT Verbal Reasoning section.

Philosophy and composition courses can help students succeed in the MCAT Verbal Reasoning section.

A competitive score on the Medical College Admission Test is a crucial part of the application process for medical school applicants. This four-hour long multiple-choice standardized exam assesses the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary in the medical field. The three current sections are Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Verbal Reasoning, since the Writing section was removed in 2013. The right classes and ample preparation time will be invaluable for obtaining a good MCAT score.


There is no math section on the MCAT, but many of the questions involve a background in math through pre-calculus, including college algebra, statistics and trigonometry. Calculus is still recommended, however, both because a large number of medical schools do require calculus for admission. These courses will be helpful in advanced science classes as well, as they study the use of formulas and the collection and analysis of data.


The Biological Sciences portion of the MCAT requires at least two semesters of general biology complete with labs. The 52 multiple-choice questions in this section assess cognitive skills and knowledge of biological concepts in disciplines like anatomy, genetics, physiology, molecular biology and evolution. More advanced coursework like microbiology, molecular biology, anatomy, physiology, genetics and immunology is recommended once the introductory sequence is complete.


One year of general physics with labs is necessary to prepare for a portion of the Physical Sciences section. This 70-minute, 52-question segment tests students' knowledge of concepts in energy and matter like momentum, gravity and electromagnetism.

General and Organic Chemistry

The MCAT requires at least one year of general chemistry for the Physical Sciences section as well as one year of organic chemistry for the Biological Sciences section. Additionally, these courses are generally required for admission into any medical school in the United States. MCAT content taught in general chemistry classes includes the periodic table, electrochemistry, phases of matter, acids and bases and electronic structure. Organic chemistry deals with the chemical processes of living things, and therefore is crucial for the MCAT and for medical school.

Critical Thinking Courses

The Verbal Reasoning section of the exam assesses critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills. Courses like philosophy, literature and composition, psychology or sociology that prepare students in the comprehension, evaluation and application of new information will be helpful for this section.

About the Author

Gale Marie Thompson's work has been published in "Denver Quarterly," "Los Angeles Review" and "Best New Poets 2012." Thompson holds a BA in English and creative writing from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is working on a PhD at the University of Georgia.

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