What Classes Should You Take Before the MCAT? [9 Essential Courses]

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Let’s be clear – there are no required classes that you need to take before sitting for the MCAT (though there are course requirements for medical school). That said, there are some classes that you can take in college that will be extremely helpful for you on the MCAT. As a pre-med student, you should be taking some, if not all, of these recommended courses that we have listed by MCAT section. In addition to these college courses, we’ve provided some suggestions of supplemental books or practice tests that have been proven to get you up-to-speed on these key concepts:

 

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Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

-General Chemistry

-Physics (Two semesters)

-Biochemistry

-Organic Chemistry (Two semesters)

-Intro Biology

 

This section shakes out to be 65% introductory biology, 25% biochemistry, 5% general chemistry, and 5% organic chemistry. The classes to take for this section of the MCAT should include a lab component, as the MCAT will test for knowledge of experimental techniques that you will acquire with this component.

 

Recommended supplemental books for this section:

MedQuest Fastpass

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

The same courses you take in college to prepare for the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems will be tested on the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems. Please note the classes listed above carry over to this section of the MCAT as well. This MCAT section is comprised of 30% general chemistry, 25% physics, 25% biochemistry, 15% organic chemistry, and 5% biology.

 

Recommended supplemental books for this section:

The MCAT Physics Book

Sterling’s Chemical & Physical + Biological & Biochemical Foundations

 

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

-Psychology (First Semester)

-Sociology (First Semester)

-Intro to Biology

 

For the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, a first-semester introductory class of Psychology and Sociology will provide you with the main concepts tested on this section of the MCAT, which take up 65% and 30% of the section, respectively. With 5% of this test comprised of introductory biology, it’s best to get an intro to bio class under your belt for this section of the MCAT.

 

Related: Medical School Application Timeline 

 

Recommended supplemental books for this section:

Sterling Test Prep MCAT Psychology & Sociology

Biology Coloring Books 

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CARS (Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills)

-Philosophy

-Ethics

 

To strengthen your comprehension and analytical skills, some recommended classes to take in college for the MCAT’s CARS section are Philosophy and Ethics. Essentially, what you want to find to prepare for the CARS section of the MCAT is a class that will require lots of reading, analysis, and then writing about what you read. Philosophy and Ethics are two great options, but other humanities-based courses should provide a good background in the skills and concepts you need here.

 

Recommended supplemental books for this section:

AAMC’s CARS Question Pack

 

As you are working your way towards taking the MCAT and medical school, you should be thinking about your application and ways to stand out. The MCAT score is important, but there are other factors that play into your admissions chances including GPA and volunteering hours. As you make your way through these classes before the MCAT, it’s wise to begin planning on when to take the MCAT so that you can prepare adequately!