MCAT Lipids: Everything You Need to Know

Oil bubbles representing MCAT lipids - image by Magoosh

How can you best prepare for MCAT lipids and MCAT biomolecules questions on the Bio/Biochem section of the test? Check out our brief but comprehensive overview of lipids below, including lipid functions, structures, and more.

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MCAT Lipids: A Brief Intro

First and foremost, you’ll need to know that the primary functions of lipids are:

  • Energy storage
  • Membrane structure
  • Signaling

You’ll also need to know that monomers = glycerol and fatty acid (FA).

  • Key point: glycerol and FAs are linked by an ester bond

    Naming convention: (# of Carbons : # of double bonds)

Fatty Acid Structure

fatty acid structure diagram - image by Magoosh

Note: FAs can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated depending on the number of double bonds.

This diagram is also helpful for understanding MCAT biomolecules:

Amphipathic diagram for MCAT lipids - image by Magoosh

Impact of Fatty Acid Structure on Physical Properties

 Melting PointStructure at Room Temperature
Long Chain (more carbon)HigherSolid
Short chain (fewer carbon)LowerLiquid
SaturatedHigherSolid
UnsaturatedLowerLiquid

Summary of Biologically Important Lipids

summary of important MCAT lipids - image by Magoosh

MCAT Lipids: A Final Word

When studying for the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section of the MCAT, it’s important to study the interrelatedness of of systems and concepts. When it comes to lipids and biomolecules, you’ll want to focus on their functions and structures and how these play a role in larger organ systems and bodily functions.

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Happy studying and good luck!

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