Guide on How to Memorize Amino Acids (3 effective techniques)

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Amino acids are the building blocks of our body, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to remember! We have put together some tips on how to memorize amino acids as well as listed a couple of sources for amino acid flashcards to help you do better on the MCAT!

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How to Memorize Amino Acids

1. Mnemonics

One of the best and oldest trips on learning how to memorize amino acids are using mnemonics devices. Mnemonic devices help speed up the process of memorization because it helps you brain to better encode and recall important details.

Essential Amino Acids Mnemonics:

The ten essential amino acids can be remembered as: PTV HIM TALL:

Phenylalanine

Tyrosine

Valine

 

Histidine

Isoleucine

Methionine

 

Tryptophan

Arginine

Leucine

Lysine

 

Hydrophobic Amino Acids Mneumonics:

Pro GAV PIL

Proline

 

Glycine

Alanine

Valine

 

Phenylalanine

Isoleucine

Leucine

 

Amino Acids with OH-Containing Side Groups

SHOTT

Serine (OH)

Tyrosine

Threonine

 

S-Containing Amino Acids

SCUM

(S)Cysteine

(U)Methionine

 

Basic Amino Acids

HAL

Histidine
Arginine

Lysine

 

Amino Acids with Aromatic Side Groups

HTTP

Histidine

Tryptophan

Tyrosine

Phenylalanine

 

Nonpolar, Nonaromatic Amino Acids: AVGLIMP

Polar Amino Acids: STQNC

Aromatic Amino Acids: WYF

Positive Amino Acids: RKH

Negative Amino Acids: ED

Hydrophobic Amino Acids: FLAVI (like the virus)

Hydrophilic Amino Acids: REKHN (pronounced reckon)

2. Draw Them

Drawing (or coloring) the amino acids is actually going to help actually ingrain the knowledge versus a mnemonic device that will really only help you do well on the next test. There are 20 amino acids, so choose to draw one amino acid a day and you will have them all memorized within 3 weeks.

Because amino acids have the same basic structure, you really just need to remember their function group. After you know their function group, you just need to categorize them as polar, nonpolar, acid, or base.

Each time you write out the full name of the amino acid and draw the amino acid’s function group, write down the 3-letter code and 1-letter code. Try to think of ways that will help you remember these codes.

Here are some ways to remember some of the less obvious amino acid codes:

 

  1. Phenylalanine (pronounced like an f) = F
  2. Glutamine (pronounced like Q) = Q
  3. Aspartic Acid (pronounced AsparDic Acid) = D
  4. Arginine (sounds like arr -ganine) = R

 

The key in drawing these out is to learn how to memorize the amino acids through repetition and will help you to remember these acids well beyond the MCAT.

 

3. Use Amino Acid Flashcards

Using flashcards when studying for the MCAT can be a game changer, especially when it comes to memorizing the amino acids. Magoosh has free MCAT flashcards that include subjects: Organic Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. They even provide helpful mnemonics for learning new structures. 

> Get Magoosh free Amino Acid Flashcards

 

You can also check out these 24 free Amino Acids Flashcards from Varsity Tutors!


>Get 24 Free Amino Acid Flashcards

 

We also recommend these Amino Acid flashcards by Anki:

>Get free Amino Acid Flashcards 

 

Do you have any amino acid flashcards online that you’d like featured? Reach out to us by email info@testprepnerds.com

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