What College Classes will Help You on the MCAT?
- Sep 26, 2019
- MCAT Blog, Pre-Med Support
Written By Kathy Dai, Blueprint MCAT (Next Step ) Tutor
As the semester starts and new classes begin, one of the most common concerns that students have is how to strategically manage their time. Pre-med students, in particular, tend to struggle with balancing a heavy load of classes, MCAT studying, and many extracurriculars—all while trying to sleep enough and maintain their sanity.
One major piece of advice is to set clear priorities early on in the semester. This means understanding which classes will be important to focus most of your energy on – i.e. committing the material to long-term memory and reviewing this material even after the class ends – and which classes you can save yourself some stress on. With the forthcoming Medical College Admission Test looming over you, it should bring you some relief to know there absolutely are college classes that can help you with some of the subjects on the exam.
Of course, you should always aim to do well in all your classes, whether they are high-yield subjects or not! Your GPA is just as important as the classes you took. However, if you find yourself as a History major with a newly discovered dream of becoming a doctor, our online MCAT course, and private MCAT tutors can help teach you what you need to know to pass the MCAT.
First and foremost, you should develop a good understanding of what’s tested on the MCAT. The MCAT includes 1 critical reading section, called “Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS),” and 3 science sections:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Let’s break down these science sections with their complex names into subjects that you would study in college:
- General Inorganic Chemistry (eg. Chem 101); most students take 2 semesters
- Intro Organic Chemistry; most students take 2 semesters
- Intro Physics; you should take a semester focused on mechanics and another semester focused on electricity and magnetism
- Intro Biology (eg. Bio 101); most students take 2 semesters
- Intro Biochemistry; 1 semester may be enough
While most of the classes above are classic pre-med courses, the MCAT also tests topics that are often not covered in basic science courses. Therefore, we also recommend that you take and master the following courses:
- Intro Psychology or Neuroscience; 1 semester
- Intro Sociology; 1 semester
- Intro Human Physiology; 1 semester
Identifying the MCAT-related classes early on–both in the semester and in your college career–will contribute to your vital science GPA. Thus, you can strengthen two major components of your medical school application just by prioritizing these classes and giving them your best effort.
That being said, classes that fall outside of the obvious STEM subjects should still be taken to foster your individual interests and become a well-rounded medical school applicant. Many medical schools value applicants who come from non-science majors because medicine is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. If you see yourself staying engaged in an interdisciplinary field as a physician, such as narrative medicine or bioethics, it is certainly worthwhile to put in effort in the humanities classes. In addition to demonstrating a great grade in Ethics 101 on your transcript, for example, you may also develop a strong relationship with a professor through the class or even pursue undergraduate research within that field. And don’t forget about the CARS section–taking a reading/writing-intensive class could significantly help your performance in this section, as well as give you a competitive edge when you start writing your med school application essays.
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