Now it is true that you only need to take the MCAT prerequisites in order to be prepared for the MCAT, but there are benefits to taking a couple of upper-level biology courses as well. It is important to understand that the MCAT is not a test that can be aced with simple memorization techniques — the test requires an overarching understanding of the concepts.
The MCAT biology section is composed primarily of passage-based problems. Essentially you are given a few paragraphs of an article that describes some sort of reaction, test, or experiment. Following the passage are several multiple choice questions.
In order to solve the questions, you technically only need your basic foundation science. You can pull from that basic knowledge, and solve the more advance questions using reason.
This is where I find the upper level science helpful.
The idea of upper-level biology courses is to take your fundamental biology courses and apply them to more advance concepts. Not only does this teach you more information, but you also obtain a stronger grasp of the fundamentals which is essential for the MCAT biology section.
For instance, I had a basic understanding of how DNA, transcription, and translation worked, but after taking a full Genetics course I felt as though I could comprehend an advance research article on genetic studies.
Is it necessary?
No. But without a doubt it can help with the MCAT. I don’t mean to write this post in order to discourage those who are taking the MCAT without any upper level biology courses, but rather to encourage premeds who have the chance to take some.
In general this exam is about getting into an MCAT mindset, and I believe upper level courses helps achieve this.
Only the MCAT prerequisites (which are essentially the premed prerequisites) are necessary for the MCAT. However, you should take upper-level biology courses whenever you can. Upper-level biology courses will help you develop a better understanding of the concepts that appear on the MCAT biology section.