How to Prepare for MCAT Physics

June 25, 2024

minute read

If you are taking the MCAT, one of the subjects that you need to have a solid grasp of is physics. It may also be worth noting that physics is one of the most challenging aspects of the MCAT. 

Why? Because of the complexity of the equations, you have to memorize them in addition to understanding all the different physics principles. 

However, do not be discouraged, it is still possible to get every MCAT physics question correct. In order to succeed in MCAT physics, you need to know the most effective ways on how to prepare.

In this article, we will be sharing with you what MCAT physics is all about: the different topics that need to be covered, the amount of time you need to allot for MCAT physics preparation, and a few supplemental resources you can use to help you ace the MCAT physics. 

If you are ready, let’s start!

What is Physics? 

Physics is the study of the internal interactions and physical properties of matter. It involves researching all of nature's macroscopic and microscopic expressions. 

The characteristics and genesis of nuclear, electromagnetic, and gravitational force fields, as well as the reactions of objects to various forces, are all included in physics.

Most students think physics has the least number of medical applications of any science. However, physics affects every part of existence, including medicine. For example, doctors routinely discuss motion, forces, and bone strength with their patients in rehabilitation hospitals. 

You now know why physics is on the MCAT, in case you were curious.

On the MCAT, there are physics problems in the chemistry/physics section. This section has 59 questions, and physics are covered in 25% of them. 

This implies that there will be a total of 15 MCAT questions that assess physics knowledge and abilities. 

Summary Table of Physics Distribution in the MCAT

MCAT Section

Physics Subject


Number of Questions 

(out of 59)

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

Introductory Physics



Total Number of MCAT Physics Questions: 15 

Physics Topics to Study for the MCAT

There are numerous topics covered by physics, not all of which will be tested on the MCAT. Therefore, you should only learn about the topics covered on the MCAT when you study for it, as you will save time and work by doing this.

The following is a list of the different ideas and subjects covered on the MCAT in physics:

8 Tips and Strategies to Prepare for the MCAT Physics

Preparing for physics can be pretty difficult, with many principles and equations to remember and memorize. The good news is that there are strategies for acing this MCAT section. The secret is to employ the most effective and proven techniques. 

We’ve done the task for you, and below are the best tips and strategies you need to keep in mind as you study and prepare for physics.

Start Your Preparation with an MCAT Diagnostic Test

Diagnostic testing makes determining what you already know and what you do not much simpler. In addition, they assess your MCAT starting position and help you adjust your study plan as needed. You may find that you do not need to spend as much time on this portion as you initially thought.

Before you take an MCAT diagnostic test, you will not be able to formulate an MCAT study plan that will act as the overall guide for your MCAT preparation. Therefore, remember to devote more time to the concepts and areas where you struggled on the diagnostic tests.

Have an MCAT Physics Notebook 

We suggest keeping a separate notebook just for physics when you begin your MCAT preparation. In this notebook, you should write down the physics concepts and equations for the MCAT.

You can make notes in the areas underneath each entry when you come across these terminologies and equations while studying. Include information on the context in which the phrase was evaluated and the details and definitions you provide.

As the day of the MCAT approaches, you will see some entries jam-packed with notes and others with a ton of blank space, indicating that you never saw the terms and equations again after the first time. Nevertheless, this is a beneficial tool for determining what you should look at less and what you should study more.

Get Used to Answering MCAT Physics Questions Without a Calculator

Calculators are not allowed in the MCAT. Therefore, as you practice answering questions that involve computations, make sure that you know the formula by heart and that you can perform simple math. 

There is no algebra in physics, and it should only involve basic operations. Most of which will only take 1-2 minutes to answer… if you know the needed physics equations.

Get Comfortable with Using Scientific Notation!

Though it’s usually something students get a little scared of, you can actually use scientific notation to your advantage! If you think of scientific notation as basic multiplication/division of numbers and exponents, this makes approaching calculations much easier!

Review first the basics of scientific notation and multiplying/dividing exponents. After that, take a swing at some simple physics calculations just plugging in numbers into the equations. Slowly work your way up in speed and complexity and you’ll be golden come test day!

Understand the Fundamental Equations and their Units

You may be like many other students and be able to recall the definitions of certain physics concepts, but you may not be able to memorize the formulas. As a result, you are more likely to get the question wrong in such circumstances. 

You must be able to apply and understand the formulas to succeed on the MCAT; it is not just about memorization. Therefore, before taking the MCAT, ensure you understand the various terminologies and physics equations.

Emphasize Key Physics Concepts for the MCAT

We suggest that when you read the MCAT physics passages, you highlight the information that ought to stand out. 

To accomplish this, highlight important terms, sentences, and equations. It will help you save time because you will not have to read the entire passage when encountering a relevant query.

Be careful just to highlight or underline relevant text. Doing otherwise defeats the purpose of highlighting if multiple words and phrases are highlighted.

Make Use of Mnemonics

Mnemonics are a study aid that works similarly to flashcards in aiding the MCAT's memorization and retention of concepts and equations. Most MCAT test takers will confirm that mnemonics during their physics study helped them.

The good thing about mnemonic devices is that you can customize them by adding the names of your loved ones, friends, and something you like. This will make it easier for you to remember the terms and equations.

We’ve created unique and helpful Mnemonics for MCAT Physics Guide. Check it out.

Use Flashcards

Like mnemonic devices, flashcards are an excellent way to aid in memorizing physics equations for the MCAT. 

There are both digital and printed flashcard options, depending on your preferences. You can also make your own flashcards and bring them around with you at all times. For example, they can be used during downtime at work or school.

Check out our dedicated guide on the Best Flashcards for the MCAT Exam.

Try to Study Similar General Chemistry and Physics Topics Together! 

Luckily, there are some general chemistry and physics topics that are really similar and can overlap with one another. Try to study these topics within the same day or week so that the overlap can transition nicely into your review!

Topics such as thermodynamics and energy, electrochemistry and circuits, atoms and nuclear phenomena are all similar topics that can be studied simultaneously through general chemistry and physics!

Practice, Practice, Practice

Understanding physics equations and concepts take practice. If your understanding of physics comprehension concerns you, strive to increase it by practicing and internalizing the concepts you study.

Remember that some study materials and practice tests are frequently more complex than the actual MCAT. In addition, some of these study materials involve calculations and problems that won't even be on the exam. 

The MCAT wants to assess if you comprehend the broader concepts included on the AAMC topic list, so avoid getting hung up on the finer points of complex physics concepts and equations.

How Much Time Should You Give Yourself to Study for Physics?

You should allow plenty of time for the MCAT because it is a challenging test with many concepts. It is not advisable to take the MCAT unprepared. A minimum time frame and standard of at least three months should be specified.

As you prepare for the MCAT, spending six days a week for about six hours should be ideal without engaging in any extracurricular activities. 

Depending on how much time you spend on each topic, you should ensure that you spend enough time studying and understanding the different subjects required.

About 25% of the MCAT's Chem/Phys section is devoted to physics. 

An optimal MCAT study schedule will suggest that you devote at least 2 hours to studying and preparing for both chemistry and physics subjects throughout the allotted 6 hours per day. 

Physics should then use up at least 6 hours a week of your MCAT prep time, depending on how quickly (or slowly) you advance and which areas you find challenging.

Occasionally, your obligations at work or school may require you to alter your plans. But remember to set aside one day each week for recreation or relaxation. You do not want to be overworked and worn out when you take the MCAT.

MCAT Physics Preparation Resources

Using the top MCAT preparation tools and resources is essential for achieving a high score when studying for the exam. Many are free, and some that are a little bit pricey. 

We recommend that you invest in these physics preparation resources, even if some of them aren’t free. These materials are worth every penny if it means improving your MCAT score. 

You might check out some of the MCAT physics preparation resources listed below:

Additional FAQs – How to Prepare for MCAT Physics

Can I Self-Study Physics for the MCAT?

Yes, you can self-study for physics. You just need to create an MCAT study plan that will guide you on the different topics you need to study for the MCAT physics and the entire MCAT. 

Also, you need to be disciplined enough to stick to this study plan. Utilize all the available MCAT physics materials and make it a point that you take practice tests every now and then to monitor your progress. 

In addition, we advise that you follow the MCAT physics tips and strategies mentioned above.

Do I Need to Memorize Physics Equations for the MCAT?

Yes, you need to memorize and remember the different physics equations for the MCAT. You can use flashcards and mnemonic devices to help you with memorization. 

However, memorizing the different physics equations is useless if you do not know how to apply them where needed. 

Remember, the MCAT is not a test of memory. Instead, it is a test of skills of whether you know how to apply the different physics principles and equations to relevant contexts.

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