Sitting the MCAT and wondering the kinds of topics that might be covered in each section? You’ve come to the right place! On this page, we explore the four MCAT sections in more detail.
MCAT Sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
This section tests your understanding of the functions of human organs and organ systems.
You will be expected to have knowledge of the following, equivalent to that learned in an introductory undergraduate course:
- biology, specifically cellular and molecular biology
- organic and inorganic chemistry
- research methods and statistics concepts
Don’t worry, you will have access to a copy of the periodic table during the whole exam!
A typical question might look something like this:
What should happen when a piece of copper is placed in 1M HCl?
- The copper is dissolved by the acid.
- The copper is dissolved by the acid with the release of hydrogen gas.
- The copper bursts into greenish flames.
- Nothing happens.
You can have a look at some more practice questions here.
MCAT Sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
This section tests your knowledge of biological and biochemical processes, such as:
- growing and reproducing
- maintaining a constant internal environment
- acquiring materials and energy
- sensing and responding to environmental changes
You will be expected to have knowledge of these processes equivalent to that learned in an introductory undergraduate course.
Below are two examples of typical questions on this section of the paper:
- What is the function of the movement of urea in renal tissue?
a) It aids in nitrogen excretion
b) It is an intermediate in anabolism of amino acids
c) It maintains blood pH
d) It aids in the metabolism of amino acids
- A cell is placed in a medium containing radioactively labeled thymidine. After the cells undergo replication three times, what percentage of the cells will both have strands of DNA labeled?
You can familiarise yourself with more questions, including passage-based questions, here.
MCAT Sections: Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behaviour
This section is designed to test your understanding of the impact of behavioural, cultural and social factors on human health.
You will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of:
- psychology and sociology concepts equivalent to those taught in introductory undergraduate courses
- biological concepts as they relate to mental processes and behaviour
A typical multiple choice question from this section might be as follows:
Which of the following statements accurately describes the terms “sex” and “gender?”
a) Sex refers to biological identity, whereas gender refers to psychological or social identity.
b) Sex and gender are interchangeable terms; both describe biological and psychological or social identity.
c) Sex and gender are interchangeable terms; both describe choices regarding sexuality and romantic partnerships.
d) Sex refers to psychological or social identity, whereas gender refers to biological identity.
Have a look at some more sample questions – including longer passage-based questions – here.
MCAT Sections: Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
In this section, you will typically be provided with a few paragraphs detailing a philosophical or sociological problem, and then have to answer a multiple choice question about it.
Sample critical analysis and reasoning questions can be found here.
You can find out more about the MCAT here.