How do I Score Well on MCAT&Reg; Chemistry?

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  • Written By: M. Walker
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 13 February 2020
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The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT®) is an exam for medical school admissions that features four main sections, including biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal, and writing. Chemistry is one part of the physical sciences section, while the subtopic organic chemistry comprises part of the biological sciences section. Potential medical students looking to score well on the general chemistry section should gain familiarity with the testing format, review basic chemistry concepts, and consider different study methods such as books, courses, or private tutors.

Reading up on the testing format is one simple way applicants can increase their confidence with the style and structure of the MCAT® chemistry exam questions. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides practice tests and sample questions that can be used to get comfortable with the style and level of difficulty of the questions. Many questions in the physical sciences section will feature scientific passages and journal-style graphs that test takers must interpret. These questions will often be grouped so that one passage or graph will correspond to a series of questions. Additional individual questions will generally be interspersed throughout the exam.


A basic review of important general chemistry concepts is also important for scoring well on the MCAT® chemistry section. Available on the AAMC website is a list of chemistry topics that could potentially appear on the MCAT® exam. Applicants should use this list to figure out which concepts they need to study or which concepts they will not be responsible for knowing when taking the exam. General chemistry textbooks, MCAT® test prep books, and premedical advisers can also provide insight into the most commonly tested topics.

Many applicants have found that studying with prep books, courses, and private tutors will also boost test performance. There is a wide range of test prep options that specialize in general chemistry for the MCAT®, including topic-specific books, course lectures, and MCAT® chemistry tutors. When choosing a study option, it’s best to consider learning and teaching styles, costs, and personal interaction. For example, some individuals may only require a basic review of the concepts and would benefit the most from a low-cost prep book, while others might benefit from one-on-one tutoring from an MCAT® chemistry expert.

General exam-day tips include getting a decent amount of sleep the night before, eating a healthy, routine breakfast, and arriving early to allow for any unexpected hold-ups. Students also benefit from bringing adequate supplies, such as earplugs, sweaters, or extra snacks. Test takers who feel comfortable, calm, and prepared will reduce the risk of test anxiety and improve their ability to concentrate.



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