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What Is in the Biological Sciences section?

Like the concepts in the Physical Sciences section, the biology and organic chemistry concepts included in the Biological Sciences section of the MCAT exam are considered basic; they are taught at the introductory level at the vast majority of undergraduate institutions. As on the Physical Sciences test, passages may discuss advanced level topics, but the answers to the accompanying questions will not depend on knowledge of these topics. Note: Advanced coursework in biology and organic chemistry is not required for this test.

The concepts and principles of biology and organic chemistry that you will need to know in order to solve the problems on the Biological Sciences section are found in the Biological Sciences Topics listing. While the outline defines the scope of possible topics in the Biological Sciences section of the MCAT, you will not be tested on every concept or principle included.

As with the Physical Sciences section, you should know those equations and constants commonly used in introductory courses as well as those listed specifically in the content outline. Other necessary constants and conversion factors are provided with the test questions. Mathematics skills necessary for solving some of the problems on the Biological Sciences test are identical to those for the Physical Sciences section.

The content outline may differ in several important ways from the content of your introductory biological sciences courses. Refer to the Biological Sciences Topics listing.

The passage formats used in the Biological Sciences section are identical to those used in the Physical Sciences section.

The biology portion of the test will concentrate primarily on two major groups of living organisms: the vertebrates and the microbes. Within these two general groups, your study should focus on concepts and information common to the life processes of organisms. These concepts include basic principles of molecular biology, cellular structure and function, and genetics and evolution. Additionally, vertebrate systems will be approached from the organism or body-system level of organization. In this context, topics may focus on some aspect of the structure or function of a given body system, on the interaction of two or more body systems, or on the effects of an external factor (for example, a disease or an environ-mental influence) on the total physiology of an organism.

Organic chemistry plays an important role in the understanding of many biological reactions. You will be expected to call upon your knowledge of organic compounds and reactions to explain results, arguments, and experimental procedures in terms of reactions or principles of organic compounds. Because nomenclature, classifications of functional groups, and reaction mechanisms are important to the understanding of organic reactions, these areas will also be tested within the scope of the categories outlined in the Biological Sciences Topics listing. Roman numerals indicate major topic areas; alphabetic subdivisions describe each topic in greater detail.