How to Use AAMC Content Outlines

If you don’t know what is tested on the MCAT, you should definitely take a look at the content outlines created by the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges). These content outlines are very informative to anyone who wants to do well on the exam. When reading these outlines, there are two key things to pay attention to:

  • The foundational concepts listed for each section of the test
  • The practice questions demonstrating the scientific inquiry and reasoning skills tested on the exam

Foundational Concepts on the MCAT

You might have heard that the MCAT tests a lot of concepts and that’s true. To prepare for the exam, Pre-medical students are often told that they should take the classes tested on the MCAT. It’s great advice but also not perfect. College classes differ drastically from college to college. What you learned in your general chemistry class is likely different from what another student learned at another university. In fact, you might have learned different concepts from your peers at the same school if you took the class with different professors. The big question then is, did you learn everything that you need to know for the MCAT?

To be honest, the chances that you learned everything in your classes that you need for the MCAT is low. It’s mainly because your college designs your classes while the AAMC designs the MCAT. Your college and the AAMC are two entirely separate organizations. They do not necessarily agree on what they believe a student should learn from a general chemistry or physics class. This is why you need to read the AAMC content outlines for the MCAT. This 128-page file includes the full list of concepts that students are expected to know for the MCAT for each subject. As you study for the MCAT, you should make sure to go through the entire document and compile a list of all the concepts that are foreign to you. These are likely topics that you did not learn in your college classes but are still important for you to learn.

Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills

From the content outlines, you will see that the MCAT tests a lot of science. However, a student that can only recite scientific facts will not do well on the test. Students are also expected to be able to understand scientific reasoning in the context of research experiments. In addition, there are questions that require students to think critically about novel information introduced in the passages of the exam. These skills are tough to learn by reading and are often better attained by doing practice problems. The AAMC content outlines do contain practice questions designed to illustrate the reasoning skills required for the exam. Students should make sure to answer these questions in preparation for the MCAT.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to use the AAMC content outlines for the MCAT. If you are looking for more study tips, make sure to check out the top five strategies for MCAT success and the biggest study mistakes on the MCAT and remember that Magoosh also offers our own MCAT prep.

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  • Ken

    Ken is a former blog writer for Magoosh who left to focus on developing novel and effective ways to help students achieve success on the MCAT exam.

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