Kat Thomson

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. You can also learn more about MCAT bio and biochem topics as well as the most commonly tested MCAT topics.

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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 Point Structure at Room Temperature
Long Chain (more carbon) Higher Solid
Short chain (fewer carbon) Lower Liquid
Saturated Higher Solid
Unsaturated Lower Liquid

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.

If you’d love more MCAT practice, check out Magoosh’s MCAT prep, including 380 lessons, 745+ practice questions, personalized email assistance, and much more!

Happy studying and good luck!


  • Kat Thomson

    Kat is the Senior Curriculum Manager at Magoosh with a specialty in the MCAT. She has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, where she earned the Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Kat has been teaching premed and nursing students since 2005 as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco, Bowdoin, and the University of California, Berkeley, while collaborating on multiple research projects and publications. In addition to the MCAT, Kat has taught courses in Research Methods, Gender, Global and Environmental Health, and others. She is passionate about increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine and helping students get into the medical schools of their dreams. You can join Kat on Instagram and YouTube.

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