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5 Must-Know Biology Concepts

One of the main reasons why it’s so difficult to prepare for the MCAT is the wide breadth of material covered on the exam. The MCAT isn’t like a final exam that only covers the material you learn in one college class. Instead, the MCAT encompasses many classes, including general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. That’s a lot of quarters/semesters of classes and the MCAT is one big exam that tests them all. So, yes, the MCAT is a tough exam. The good news is that reading this post will help you out. Here, we describe 5 must know biology concepts for the MCAT.

Must Know Biology Concepts

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5 Must Know Biology Concepts

The most tested subject on the MCAT is biology. That’s no surprise, as medicine involves more biology than any other scientific discipline. Five concepts are certainly not enough to tackle all the biology questions on the MCAT. So here, we’ve provided instead five broad areas of focus for biology on the MCAT.

  1. Cell Biology. Biology is the study of living organisms and all living organisms are made of cells. For the MCAT, you need to be familiar with organelles, cellular transport, cell division, and cell signaling.
  2. Microbiology. Humans consist of eukaryotic cells that interact with a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses. These two can be pathogenic and are the source of many illnesses. You will need to know about the structure of these microorganisms, how they replicate, and how they can cause disease.
  3. Genetics. Genetics is a topic that many students are introduced to at an early age. You may have heard about DNA as early as elementary or middle school. As you continued onto high school and then college, you delved deeper into the material, learning more advanced genetics concepts. The good news is that you do not need to know genetics to the same depth as a college genetics class. However, there is still quite a number of genetics concepts on the MCAT, which is why we’ve written a whole entire post on what you need to know about genetics for the MCAT.
  4. Physiology. Human physiology is the study of the organ systems within the body and is more relevant to medicine than any other topic on the exam. It’s a lot of material but developing a good foundation of the basics will help you in medical school. For the MCAT, you will need to know all the organ systems, including the nervous, endocrine, circulatory, hematologic, respiratory, lymphatic, immune, renal, gastrointestinal, muscular, skeletal, integumentary, and reproductive systems.
  5. Hormones. From studying physiology, you will learn about the important role of hormones in regulating all the organ systems. It takes a lot of effort to memorize all of the hormones but you will have to do it for the MCAT. As another major topic on the MCAT, we also have a dedicated post on what to know for MCAT hormones.

Additional MCAT Biology Topics

The five topics that we’ve described above are not all guaranteed to show up on your exam. They are must-know biology concepts because they have appeared the most frequently over many administrations of the exam. On average, students do see these concepts more often than the others. However, your test may not be like the average exam. You might get unlucky and end up with questions on less common topics. To best prepare yourself for the exam, you will want to make sure to review all of the topics described in the AAMC Content Outlines. This documents contains a list of all the concepts that can be tested on the MCAT. If you are in a time crunch though, these 5 must-know biology topics should definitely be your priority!

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