According to the MCAT Essentials for Testing Year 2016, anyone that is planning on applying and attending a health professions school may take the MCAT. Asides from this requirement, there are no formal MCAT prerequisites. That being said, it’s not wise to take the exam without sufficient preparation. Here, we’ll describe the informal MCAT prerequisites that students should aim to complete.
Informal MCAT Prerequisites: Courses
In our previous post What’s on the MCAT, we discussed the subjects tested on the exam. Here are the courses students should take to prepare for the MCAT and fulfill general medical school admissions requirements:
- Biochemistry, general chemistry, and organic chemistry: a total of four semesters equivalent of chemistry that must include general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. You may choose how to divide up the four semesters so long as you take at least one semester of each. For example, you could take two semesters of organic chemistry and one semester each of general chemistry and biochemistry. General chemistry and organic chemistry should also be taken with laboratory components.
- Introductory biology: two semester equivalents of general biology with laboratory components
- Introductory physics: two semester equivalents of physics with laboratory components
- Introductory psychology: one semester equivalent of introductory psychology
- Introductory sociology: one semester equivalent of sociology
You should take note that these are informal MCAT prerequisites. The admissions requirements for medical schools vary with each school. For example, the subjects that were introduced on the new MCAT (biochemistry, psychology, and sociology) are currently not required by most medical schools. This is likely to change in the future though. These subjects are still tested on the new MCAT and taking these classes is helpful preparation. However, it is up to you how many of these classes you want to take before your MCAT. Generally, the more classes you take, the more prepared you are for the exam.
Additional Courses That Can help
The list of classes that we have listed as informal MCAT prerequisites isn’t very long. With four years in college, you have space in your schedule to take many more classes. If you want to take additional classes to help with the MCAT, consider taking more advanced biology classes. These include physiology, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cancer biology, endocrinology, and more. Your general biology classes will cover these topics but only briefly. Taking advanced classes will give you a much better understanding of the material, which will help with the MCAT. This is also true of the other subjects tested on the exam but is particularly effective for biology. Besides these formal courses, there are many online resources, like Magoosh’s MCAT prep, to help you prepare.