Do you know what classes to take before taking the MCAT?
Preparing for medical school is the next step toward your goal of becoming a physician, researcher, scientist, or counselor. To get there, however, you’ll need to first pass the MCAT. And to pass the MCAT, you’ll need to take the right classes first.
MCAT is short for the Medical College Admissions Test, an entrance exam that most medical schools require candidates to take before applying. To do well on it, you’ll want to have the experience and knowledge of several core courses offered at most colleges and universities.
Are Certain Classes Required Before Taking the MCAT?
Students often wonder if they must take any specific classes before the MCAT, and the answer is no. There is no requirement to have completed any particular courses. However, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) does recommend that anyone taking the exam first complete specific introductory-level courses (which we’ll explore below).
If you don’t have these courses at your school, you should speak with your pre-health advisor to learn about the specific coursework recommended to meet your MCAT goal. Make sure to take as many of these courses as possible for the best score.
What Are the Recommended Classes to Take Before the MCAT?
Again, while nothing is explicitly required, some classes are highly recommended as they cover all of the content found on the MCAT exam.
These preemptive courses include:
- Chemistry: General Chemistry 1 and 2 with lab and Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 with lab
- Physics: Physics 1 and 2 with lab
- Biology: General Biology 1 and 2 with lab
- Psychology: Intro to Psychology
- Sociology: Intro to Sociology
This video below from MCAT Self Prep goes over the classes you can take and strategies you can use to try to score in the 99th percentile and could be a great resource to those preparing for the exam.
Are Labs Important?
Yes, the labs are a vital component of the above classes as they offer hands-on experience and knowledge that many questions on the MCAT will specifically cover. As long as you take your undergraduate science labs, you will be fine!
Do AP Courses Count?
AP courses are a great way to get a head start on your college work, but they’re not the best replacement for college-level classes on topics like physics and biology when you’re preparing for the MCAT. AP classes don’t go into as great detail as college courses do, so you should plan to take the college versions of these courses before the MCAT.
Classes to Take Before MCAT: The Details
Are you wondering what these recommended classes are all about? You’re not alone!
Here’s some more information on what these important courses cover so you can prepare for the MCAT questions.
General Chemistry 1 and 2 are usually standard classes for all pre-med students. However, not everyone will need to take General Chemistry 2. If you’re unsure, you should ask your advisor or older pre-med students to determine if it’s crucial for a good MCAT score.
Altogether, your general chemistry and organic chemistry classes should cover the following topics:
- Chemical bonds
- Atomic/electronic structure
- Chemical bonds
- Intermolecular forces
- Acids and bases
- Solutions chemistry
If your General Chemistry 1 class covers all of these topics, General Chemistry 2 may not be necessary.
Physics 1 and 2 should be taken by anyone considering taking the MCAT without exception. In Physics 1, you’ll cover Newtonian Mechanics, which includes fluids and waves, kinematics, work and energy, and forces.
In Physics 2, you’ll usually cover electricity and magnetism, electrostatics, geometric options, and quantum mechanics.
Sometimes, students can choose between a calculus-based version of physics for engineering students and a non-calculus version for medical students. While the non-calculus version may be easier to pass, the calculus version is more thorough in its MCAT preparation, so consider that.
General biology is essential knowledge to have, but your school’s specific coursework will determine whether you need to take both General Biology 1 and 2 or if General Biology 1 will be sufficient.
At some schools, Bio 1 covers all medically-related topics, while Bio 2 covers things like plant matter, which aren’t crucial for the exam.
Many students also elect to take more advanced biology courses to cover more details that may appear on the exam. Some of these courses include immunology, cell biology, physiology, or microbiology.
Biochemistry is critical to success on the MCAT. In both the Chemistry/Physiology portion and the Biology/Biochemistry portion, biochemistry makes up 25% of the topics,
This percentage makes biochemistry the second-highest-tested natural science subject found on the MCAT exam, just after biology.
Psychology is another class that can be highly beneficial for those who want to take and do well on the MCAT exam, but it’s not required by the testing company or any medical school. Psychology covers topics on neurobiology, learning and memory, psychological disorders, neurobiology, and more.
Some sociology topics covered on the MCAT comprise 30% of the Psych/Soc section of the exam and may include:
- Social interaction
- Social structure and stratification
- Social processes and behavior
- Social thinking and attitudes
An introductory sociology class at your college or university will likely cover the majority of these topics. Still, feel free to take more advanced courses if you think that will prepare you better.
In essence, no classes are required to take the MCAT, but it’s a good idea to take biology (general and organic), physics, chemistry, biochemistry, psychology, and sociology first. You may also want to consider taking other, more advanced-level courses to give you a leg up the first time you take the exam.
Do you have further questions? Be sure to leave a comment down below, and we’ll be glad to answer them.