The MCAT is an exam that encompasses virtually your entire premed course curriculum. That’s a lot of material.
How can one possibly master that much in just a couple of months?
The answer is you don’t.
By the time you are taking the MCAT, you should have taken most of your prerequisites. Therefore, you are really only reviewing the stuff you have already studied.
When it comes to studying for the MCAT you want to make sure you are focusing most of your effort on high-yield material. This is what you want to know inside and out. Everything else needs to be reviewed but not as thoroughly.
But how do you know what the high yield MCAT content is?
You find out what the high yield material is by asking a bunch of experts and students who have taken the MCAT. And that is exactly what we did. We surveyed 25 high-scoring students and researched dozens of MCAT sources to put together our ultimate list of MCAT high yield topics!
Can You Focus Only On The High-Yield MCAT Topics?
Before we go over the high yield MCAT topics, I want to give you a quick disclaimer.
Can you focus ONLY on the high-yield stuff?
No. Although there is a high probability that these questions will appear on your MCAT, there is always the chance that low-yield topics can pop up. Nothing is 100%.
That being said, when you have a limited amount of time to study for the MCAT, you should devote more time to these topics.
There is a higher chance they will appear on the MCAT so it only makes sense that you are extra prepared for those.
The MCAT is a standardized test. This means that your grade is based on how well everyone else does.
You won’t get every question right and that’s okay. You just want to make sure you are getting more questions right when compared to everyone else.
Therefore, studying high-yield MCAT topics is extremely valuable. You will be statistically more likely to run into familiar concepts and increase the percentage of questions you answer correctly.
The High-Yield MCAT Topics (Based on over 25 test-takers)
We surveyed and researched 25 MCAT test-takers as well as another dozen or so MCAT resources to find out what the high yield MCAT topics are. Here is what we found:
(We have listed the most high-yield to the least high-yield topics from top to bottom per category)
- Amino acids
- Enzyme kinematics/categories of enzymes
- Receptors and Hormones
- Biochemistry of proteins
- Metabolic pathways
- Kidneys and associated hormones
- Glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, and the pentose phosphate pathway
- Nucleic acids
- Digestive system
- Menstrual cycle/pregnancy
- Transcription and Translation Eukaryotes vs bacteria
- Molecular biology
- Cellular respiration
- Oxidative phosphorylation
- Fetus development
- Nerves/Action potentials
- Lineweaver Burk plots
- Plasma membrane
- Immune system
- Stomach pH role
- Endosymbiotic hypothesis
- Heart physiology
- Bone remodeling
- Blood typing
- Sympathetic vs parasympathetic
- Cholesterol -> Steroids
- Fast-twitch vs slow-twitch fibers
- Transformation vs Transduction vs Conjugation. F+ and F- plasmids
- Acids, bases, and titration
- Rate law, determining the order of a reaction from experimental data
- Periodic table trends
- La Chatlier’s principal
- Gibbs Free energy
- Separation methods
- Phase diagrams
- Electron configuration
- Lab techniques
- Functional groups
- SN reactions/bonding
- Basic IR peaks. OH broad 3300, NH2 sharp 3400, Carbonyl 1700, and CN 2200
- Fischer projection/stereochemistry
- Carboxylic acid derivatives
- Kinematic forces
- Buoyancy forces
- A1v1=A2v2 for fluids
- Bernoulli’s equation
- Doppler effect
- Elastic vs inelastic collision
- Social behavior
- Learning and memory
- Group psychology
- Stages of development
- Attitude and behavior change
Super High-Yield MCAT Topics (The Short List)
We gave you all the high yield MCAT topics based on reports from actual MCAT test takers.
If you are super crunched for time and need a laser focused list, here it is.
These are the MCAT topics recommended by the highest percentage of test takers we surveyed:
One final note, the AAMC, creators of the MCAT, produced their own high yield list when studying for the MCAT. Essentially their version of high-yield MCAT topics. It’s not very specific, but still worth looking at.
Covering The Topics Alone Is Not Good Enough
Although it’s important that you have a good understanding of these high yield MCAT topics, covering them alone is not good enough.
You see, the MCAT is an exam that challenges your critical thinking. Pure recall of information is actually a very small portion of the exam.
You need to perfect your critical thinking abilities. How do you do this? By practicing.
Practice makes perfect with the MCAT. Our study methodology revolves around this concept: Take a bunch of MCAT practice tests, review them, and go over the content you struggled with.
If you are interested in learning more about our study method, read the instructions below on how to obtain a free copy of the guide.
What Are The Hardest Sections On The MCAT?
This is going to depend a lot on the student.
Many premeds find the CARS section to be the most difficult. This is because CARS is completely reliant on your test-taking abilities. You can’t simply study everything there is to know.
If you aren’t good at taking tests, you’ll struggle more. If you are a good test taker, you will breeze right by CARS.
The best way to prepare for the CARS section on the MCAT is to do a bunch of practice passages. People recommend you do 3 passages a day of CARS alone while you are studying for the MCAT.
Another section that students find difficult is the psychology/sociology section. This is largely due to the fact that most premed students don’t take a significant amount of psych/soc classes.
If you have not taken any formal psych/soc classes, make sure you are properly preparing for this section. The premed Reddit community put together an awesome study guide.
We also made a step-by-step guide for improving your psychology/sociology MCAT score, check it out here!
Is Anatomy and Physiology On The MCAT?
Yes, concepts from both anatomy and physiology are on the MCAT. This doesn’t mean you need to take a dedicated anatomy and physiology course, everything you need to know is covered in your general biology courses.
That being said, it certainly helps to have taken an upper-level anatomy and physiology course if you have the time!
Generally speaking, most upper-level biology courses will help you with the MCAT it’s just a question of whether or not you have the time to take them before you take the MCAT.