Best Tips and Tricks for MCAT Biochemistry

June 25, 2024

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MCAT biochemistry is among the most challenging subjects that most test-takers dread because there are so many chemical terms and compounds to learn and memorize.

 Aside from the fact that the compound’s names seem to be identical and confusing, learning the different properties and structures is extremely challenging.

Therefore, extreme planning and knowing the best and most effective techniques and strategies on how to get the MCAT biochemistry questions correct is a must. To save time and effort, you must understand how to get the most out of your MCAT biochemistry study. 

This article focuses on the best tips and tricks for MCAT biochemistry. If you want to know what they are and how they can help you ace the MCAT, please stay on this page.

What is MCAT Biochemistry?

Understanding the chemical processes that occur inside of and are related to living beings is known as biological chemistry, sometimes known as biochemistry

The sciences of structural biology, enzymology, and metabolism are all included in this branch of biology and chemistry. The final decades of the 20th century saw biochemistry improving at describing life processes through these three disciplines.

The basic objective of studying biochemistry is to comprehend the chemical principles that allow biological substances to result in the activities that take place both within and between living cells. This information is crucial for understanding tissues, organs, as well as the structure and function of organisms due to its significance in the field of medicine. Hence, it is one of the topics most evaluated on the MCAT.

The two MCAT sections  that cover biochemistry are Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems and Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems.

Twenty-five (25) percent of the MCAT Chem/Phys section requires you to have the knowledge and skills in biochemistry. There are 59 questions in total in this section, and 15 of them are biochemistry-related.
  • General Chemistry                                     –                       30%
  • First Semester Biochemistry               –                        25%
  • Introductory Physics                                 –                        25%
  • Organic Chemistry                                     –                        15%
  • Introductory Biology                                 –                           5%

Additionally, 25% of the bio/biochem-related questions on the MCAT are about biochemistry. There are also 15 (out of 59) biochemistry questions in this section.

  • Introductory Biology                                –                         65%
  • First Semester Biochemistry               –                        25%
  • General Chemistry                                      –                           5%
  • Organic Chemistry                                     –                            5%

Summary Table of Biochemistry Distribution in the MCAT

MCAT Section

Chemistry Subject


Number of Questions 

(out of 59)

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

First-Semester Biochemistry



Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

First-Semester Biochemistry



Total Number of MCAT Biochemistry Questions: 30

Biochemistry Topics to Study for the MCAT

To properly prepare for the MCAT chemistry, you must be familiar with the wide spectrum of topics covered in MCAT biochemistry. Spend enough time studying these topics to ensure a high probability of getting a strong MCAT score

The MCAT includes the following MCAT biochemistry-related subjects:

15 Best MCAT Biochemistry Tips and Tricks

It might be difficult to prepare for the many MCAT subjects, including MCAT biochemistry. But even while it might appear challenging, it is possible to make it easier than you think. 

To make learning more convenient and efficient, it is important to be aware of the various tactics and strategies.

Here are some of the best MCAT biochemistry tips and tricks that you should keep in mind:

While Preparing and Studying for the MCAT Biochemistry

1. Be Familiar with the Codes, Structures, and Chemical Properties of the 20 Amino Acids

This suggestion is one of the most effective pieces of information you will ever hear because it is almost probable that you will encounter questions on amino acids in both the MCAT chem/phys and bio/biochem sections.

The structures of the twenty amino acids should be understood, but it is also critical to comprehend the characteristics that each structure confers on the amino acids. 

Learn everything there is to know about amino acids to get a good MCAT score.

2. Draw and Visualize 

Make linkages, for instance, between amino acids and processes. As you read an MCAT biochemistry passage, jot the instructions down on your scratch paper. 

Create a "flow chart" of sorts so that you won't have to read the paragraph again and become confused when you get to the questions. 

Make everything into a narrative; once you get the hang of it, you'll realize how simple it is to do with topics like MCAT biochemistry. 

Visualize in order to properly acquire this ability of big-picture thinking. MCAT bio/biochem is fantastic since it allows you to mentally "see" a lot of what you are learning. This is especially helpful for portions that are descriptive rather than experimental.

3. Gain Familiarity with Charts, Figures, and Tables Using the TAID P Technique

TAID P stands for Title, Axes, Independent, Dependent, and Patterns

You can determine the significance of the data if you can spot these components in a graph, figure, or table.

Try to identify the TAID P components for the given figure within 15 to 20 seconds. The objective is to comprehend the big picture without becoming mired down in the particulars. 

Stop and continue reading the passage or move on to the questions if you find yourself deliberating for longer than 15 to 20 seconds.

4. Use Flashcards to Aid with Recalling Names, Properties, and Structures of MCAT Biochemistry Compounds 

When you have nothing to do — for example, while you are waiting in line, in between classes, or at other times — use these flashcards. As you start your MCAT preparation, you should be adding to your library of flashcards

But starting a few weeks before the MCAT, you need to reduce your stack ever so slightly. Remove the flashcards you have learned and replace them as necessary with fresh ones.

5. Employ Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are proven to be an effective way to help you remember and memorize MCAT biochemistry concepts easily. While there are a lot of mnemonics available from the different MCAT prep online resources, fortunately, you can change them to suit your learning style and preference. 

When you use mnemonic devices, make it a point that you recite them regularly until such time that you have mastered an MCAT biochemistry concept. 

Remember, however, not to focus on memorization only. Learn when and where to apply these concepts.

6. Pay Close Attention to Processes and Big Ideas to Understand Metabolism Integration

Many students wrongly think that in order to understand metabolic pathways like glycolysis, they must be familiar with every enzyme, reactant, product, and their structure. Retaining and maintaining the memory of these facts will require time and effort.

While studying for the MCAT biochemistry, your time and effort are highly valuable, and you would be much better off focusing on high-yield material that is more likely to be assessed. 

Instead of memorizing every last detail, find out which enzymes control the rate at which the pathway moves—the route flux.

7. Instead of Memorizing, Concentrate on Application

Time is a valuable resource while preparing for the MCAT. As a result, you should study MCAT biochemistry for applicability to the example passages and unique situations that the MCAT will present you with rather than memorizing them.

You won't frequently be asked to remember random MCAT biochemistry information. 

The MCAT will instead present you with a passage from a condensed scientific article, ask you to critically analyze it, and then ask you questions that draw on both your past knowledge and the material from the passage.

8. Take a Lot of Practice Tests 

While preparing for the MCAT, answering practice exams is one of the best techniques you can employ. They are effective in identifying your MCAT biochemistry weak areas and at the same time, whether or not you are ready for the MCAT. 

You should take one exam every week for 12 weeks leading up to the actual MCAT. Think of the MCAT as a sport and yourself as an athlete. 

If you want to be prepared for the big day, you must practice, practice, and more practice. As you would for the MCAT, you might think about taking the exams on Saturday morning and then taking Sunday as a rest day! Within the following week (perhaps the Monday), make a day for practice test review.

9. Review and Evaluate Your Responses (in Practice Tests)

Students frequently believe that the more practice exams and practice questions they finish, the better they will do on the MCAT. 

Despite the fact that this is largely true, these students are not making the most of their scoring potential.

When answering MCAT biochemistry practice questions, you should devote at least the same amount of time to understanding it, identifying any questions you missed to avoid repeating them and studying the content to ensure that you are knowledgeable about it before the next exam.

10. Sign Up for MCAT Preparation Classes and Tutoring 

Taking MCAT preparation classes and working with a tutor is a wise investment if you have the money to do so, even if your budget is low. 

Whenever you are experiencing problems with MCAT biochemistry (and all subjects involved in the MCAT), it is wise to consult an expert whenever possible. 

These programs also include extra, trustworthy materials and resources created especially for the MCAT.

On the Day of the MCAT

11. Highlight Important MCAT Biochemistry Information

Top scorers frequently employ the strategy of strategic highlighting for the sciences portions. Among the best actions you can take is to highlight the subject you anticipate being asked about.

Your attention will be focused, for instance, if you emphasize terms like "competitive inhibitor" or "knockouts," etc. 

Additionally, it will keep you grounded and concentrated on basic science. There is a lot in these sections that are merely intended to divert your attention from the straightforward science (like vague genes and proteins). 

You can reduce your vulnerability by emphasizing crucial terms and concepts.

12. Read the Questions More Than Once 

Try not to concentrate too much on any one specific figure when reading the MCAT biochemistry passage or topic for the first time because there may not even be a question concerning it. 

The test creators may only include questions concerning Figures 1 and 2 in an MCAT biochemistry passage that contains Figures 1, 2, and 3.

Since the MCAT won't even ask you a question regarding Figure 3, you don't want to waste your time trying to fully understand it. This is a useful time-saving strategy, particularly for a timed test like the MCAT.

13. Address Basic Questions Before Reading the Passages

Utilizing your time as best you can for reading and comprehending a passage is possible if you finish these short-answer questions before moving on to the lengthier, more difficult multiple-question passages. 

Additionally, doing so will undoubtedly increase your confidence for the upcoming, more challenging, and possibly foreign, and more difficult MCAT biochemistry questions.

14. When in Doubt, Employ the Elimination Process

To select the appropriate response to questions that you find very difficult and cannot seem to find, use the elimination method. You can skip working out the right answer if you can see three erroneous answer choices.

This technique will save you an ample amount of time, especially on questions where you are finding it challenging to determine the right response. 

Remember that time is of the essence on the MCAT: every second counts.

15. Know When to Ignore a Question

You should finish all of the easy questions on the MCAT before moving on to the more challenging ones. Remember that every question on the exam is worth the same number of points. The MCAT also does not penalize you for wrong answers so it’s to your advantage to answer all the questions, even if you’re unsure!

Do not dwell too long on any one question. Guess if there isn't any time left! Nobody has ever taken the MCAT knowing all the answers with certainty. At times, guessing could pay off. You have nothing to lose.

MCAT Biochemistry Do’s and Don’ts 

In addition to the many methods and approaches listed above, we advise you to keep in mind the MCAT biochemistry DOs and DON'Ts listed below.

DO’s of MCAT Biochemistry

Use Your Time Well

The MCAT is a timed exam. Make sure that you manage your time as you answer not only the MCAT biochemistry questions but all 230 questions on the MCAT

As mentioned earlier, do not spend too much time on a specific question. To remind yourself of the time, make it a point to glance at the clock every now and then. 

Examine the MCAT Biochemistry Questions Quickly 

You should underline unfamiliar words, words that describe the main idea of each paragraph, words that are italicized, and any numbers. 

When you do this, you will not have to read the text again in order to find crucial information, which will save you time.

Have a Quick Look at the Options 

You may be able to get a basic idea of the answer by studying the potential responses while you read the MCAT biochemistry passages and questions. 

You will be able to get a sense of the possible equations you would need to solve from the available selections.

DON’Ts of MCAT Biochemistry

Don’t Panic 

The MCAT takes about 7 hours and 25 minutes with 230 questions to answer

While it may seem intimidating and overwhelming, remember the effort and time you put in to be able to make it on test day. Relax and tell yourself you can do it.

Don’t be Bothered by External Factors and Noise 

Some students have a tendency to lose attention and motivation, thus they would like to answer the questions as soon as possible. 

Don't be one of them. In case of unwanted noise and other external factors, try to maintain your focus and answer the questions to the best of your ability to ensure you get the MCAT score you aim for.

Don’t Try Something New 

The MCAT biochemistry involves concepts, diagrams, and chemical properties and structures that need a great deal of preparation. 

It is possible that during the course of your preparation and studying time, you have developed specific techniques and strategies that help you answer the MCAT biochemistry practice correctly. 

On the day of the MCAT, stick with these techniques and strategies and do not try something new, or you risk the chance of getting the answers incorrect.

Additional FAQs – MCAT Biochemistry Tips and Tricks

How Much of the MCAT is Biochemistry?

MCAT biochemistry is covered in two sections of the MCAT: Chem/Phys and Bio/Biochem sections. Each section contains 15 biochemistry questions each.

That means that out of the 230 questions on the MCAT, 30 or 13% of the MCAT is biochemistry.

Is MCAT Biochemistry Purely Memorization?

The MCAT biochemistry (and the MCAT itself) is not a test of memorization. 

While there are terms, definitions, chemical properties, and structures that have to be memorized, the MCAT focuses more on how you can apply these concepts to contexts when needed and where applicable. 

DO NOT focus on memorization alone. Devote more of your time and effort to understanding the logic behind the MCAT biochemistry concepts.

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