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Mcat 2015 Biochem (And Other Stuff)


oshaku

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Hey guys, I wrote the MCAT in April this year (a somewhat unnecessary endeavour as it turned out) and since there seems to be a lot of question about the new MCAT, I'm just making this post as a composite of all my PMs and posts on the subject in hopes of helping those who are studying get a better feel for the new sections of the exam.  Do note that I wrote the exam more than 2 months ago and I do not remember much of it anymore so this post is skewed by parts of the test that stuck out for me. 

 

BIOCHEM:

 

know thy amino acids!!

Know the 3 letter and 1 letter codes. Know it well and be able to recite it like your first and last name.  It's important.  

Know the charges/polarity/acidity, special groups (sulfurs, amide, benzyl, hydroxyl), behaviour of zwitterions, a general feel of the size of each amino acid (i.e. tryptophan is big, glycine is small), stereo chemistry is important (D vs L), and special features (i.e. proline is rigid and kinky, glycine is flexible).  

 

It's not enough to just memorize all that.  MCAT will ask you to reason with them. For ex. there may be some question about beta sheets.  You have to realize that proline can't be in there because it causes a bend, tryptophan can't be there because it's too big and too hydrophobic.  the amino acids in a beta sheet should be able to hydrogen bond, so you need to know which ones qualify. 

Another question may ask you about say replacing one amino acid with another and how it affects a specific function.  The one it's replacing may be positively charged, so you'd want to replace it with another positively charged amino acid to maintain its function or negatively charged amino acid to have the greatest disruption.

 

I would hazard a guess that amino acid based questions make up about 80% of the biochem section. For the other 20%, it's a scatter of topics on glycolysis, kreb cycle, fatty acid metabolism and pentose pathway, in order of importance. I would say it's a good idea to memorize the product/reactants and enzymes in glycolysis.  

 

PSYCH/SOC:

 

Know the names of the dudes who came up with the theories of stuff

Maybe it's obvious to people who've taken psych, but I never did and studied off of EK.  Turns out memorizing names of people and theories was rather important.  Overall I'm not sure how qualified I am to give advice on this section since it was the section where feeling like I knew my stuff by the exam told me other wise.  The difficulty with the psych and soc is that the MCAT questions didn't really matched the practice questions. At the exam, I knew all the concepts like what is the behaviorist approach and the self determinist approach but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the question were asking and how it related to the passage.  Psych and Soc was the only section that I felt was not reflected well by the AAMC practice exam.

 

PHYSICS:

 
was way easier than I expected.  They were very nice about giving you the constants in equations you'd have to use for calculations.  The MCAT actually gave me one of the formulas I thought I'd have to memorize and explained what it means.  
 
CHEMISTRY:
 
Expect the Lineweaver–Burk plot and understand how it behaves for different types of competitors/inhibitors.
 
BIOLOGY:
 
Did anyone know what cytochrome p450 was before the MCAT? I didn't.  It turned out to be important.
 
CARS:
 
It's touch and go for me and is different for everyone. I find that when I try really hard at CARS, it actually makes things worse. Over-analysis I guess... In the MCAT you don't really have time to read the passage more than twice (if you're fast). I try to do a quick once-over to get the main idea, then go for the questions.  Sometimes the questions point to a specific passage, I'll go back and reread and look for the topics the questions refer too. 
 
 
OVERALL:
 
STAMINA. I can't stress this enough.  It's 7.5 hour long and it is brutal.
 
The sections are in order: Chemical and Physical Foundations, CARS, Biological and Biochemical Foundations, and lastly Psychological, Social and Biological foundations.

 

Take your breaks to the fullest. Do jumping jacks if you're bored.  Do anything to keep the brain well-oxygenated.  

 

P.S.  I didn't write the old MCAT, so I can't offer any comparisons.. sorry.

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Thanks friend. Do you think a month and a few weeks is enough time to study?

 

It's hard to say since everyone studies differently and have different background. It took me about 6 weeks in between classes and research to study, so a month and a few weeks can be enough.  I only had the Psych/Soc to learn and the rest was review so that helped.

 

Thank you oshaku! That is super helpful. Good luck with your applications!

 

Thank you :)  I was actually accepted to McGill this year without the MCAT so no more applications for me!

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