Physics is the science section of the MCAT that most students regard to be the most difficult. Possible reasons include that physics is less intuitive than the other MCAT disciplines or relies heavily on math and equations. As a result, most students need help to study for and prepare for the physics on the MCAT.
But don't be worried! We are familiar with the emotion and many of our team members and tutors have ended up succeeding in the physics section.
We wish to impart to you all of our knowledge on MCAT physics. It should lighten your load and aid your success on the MCAT; hence, we wrote this article. Let's get going!
What is MCAT Physics?
Physics studies the structure of matter and the interactions between its parts. It entails studying nature in all its macroscopic and microscopic manifestations. Its scope includes the nature and genesis of gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear force fields, as well as the responses of objects to various forces.
Most students believe physics has the fewest medical applications out of all the sciences. But physics has an impact on all aspects of life, including medicine. For example, in rehabilitation hospitals, doctors frequently discuss motion, forces, and bone strength with their patients. Likewise, an eye specialist could provide illustrations to help children understand myopia and hyperopia.
In case you were wondering why physics is on the MCAT, now you know.Physics questions can be found in the chem/physics section of the MCAT. There are 59 questions in this section; and physics is covered in 25% of them. Therefore, it suggests that physics knowledge and skills will be tested on a total of 15 MCAT questions.
Summary Table of Physics Distribution in the MCAT
Number of Questions
(out of 59)
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
Total Number of MCAT Physics Questions: 15
Physics Topics to Study for the MCAT
Physics covers many topics, not all of which will be included in the MCAT. Therefore, to save your time and effort, you must only acquire knowledge about the subjects covered on the MCAT as you prepare for it.
The various concepts and topics addressed in MCAT physics are listed below:
18 Best MCAT Physics Tips and Tricks to Ace the Test
One of the most challenging MCAT topics is physics. Aside from the different terms, you must remember and know the definitions. It entails memorizing certain physics equations. In addition, math skills are also required.
With so much to study for the MCAT, mastering the MCAT physics can be challenging. But don’t give up just yet! There are ways to answer all those MCAT physics questions correctly. The key is to employ the best tips and tricks to ensure you are on the right track.
Here are some of the best MCAT physics tips and tricks:
While Studying and Preparing for MCAT Physics
Take an MCAT Diagnostic Exam
Finding out what you already know and what you don't is much easier through diagnostic testing. This evaluates your MCAT starting point and assists you in modifying your study strategy as necessary.
You might discover that you do not need to spend as much time on this section, but do not jump to that conclusion before taking these assessments and learning your true standing.
Remember to spend extra time on the topics and ideas where you performed poorly on the diagnostic tests.
Have an MCAT Physics Notebook
The MCAT covers many subjects, physics being one of them.
At the start of your MCAT Physics preparation period, we advise you to have a separate notebook only for physics. You should enter the physics terms, equations, and relevant units in this notebook.
Every time you come across these terms and equations while studying, you can add notes in the spaces under each entry.
Don't only list details and definitions; also include information about the context in which the term was evaluated, as it will help you notice trends in the language used for certain physics topics.
You'll see some entries crammed with notes and others where there is a ton of empty space when the exam time comes, indicating that you never saw the terms and equations again after the first time. This is a handy tool for figuring out what you should study more and what you should look at less.
Understand the Fundamental Equations and Their Units
You may be like many other students and be able to recall the definitions of words like "work" or "force."
Still, you may not be able to memorize the formulas. You are more likely to get the question wrong in such circumstances.
Take time to understand the equations: what each term represents, their units, and what it means conceptually. Knowing your units can be extremely helpful when you are in a crunch during this section, as it can allow you to either quickly solve or eliminate answers with wrong units.
We've stated it before, and we'll repeat it. You must apply and understand the formulas to succeed on the MCAT; it is not just about memorization. Before taking the MCAT, ensure you understand the various terminologies and formulae.
Familiarize Yourself with the Units of Measure Prefixes for Powers of Ten
MCAT physics involves some math. Aside from knowing how to perform the basic math operations, you also need to learn the different prefixes in measurement units. This includes nano, centi, and kilo, among others.Once you have memorized these concepts, converting units won’t be challenging, and you can answer MCAT physics equations more efficiently.
Use MCAT Flashcards
If you haven’t heard of MCAT flashcards yet, now is the time to learn about them. They are proven to be one of the most effective ways to help you prepare for the MCAT.
There are paper and digital flashcards to choose from; depending on your learning style and preference, the choice is yours.
Just ensure that aside from memorizing the terms and MCAT physics equations, you also put in the effort to comprehend and apply the concepts where needed.
Remember that the MCAT is not just a test of memory.
Employ Mnemonic Devices
Much like flashcards, another tool to help you memorize and remember terms and equations for the MCAT are mnemonics.
Most MCAT test-takers would attest that mnemonics have helped them during their MCAT physics preparations.
What’s nice about mnemonic devices is that you can personalize them by incorporating names of your family members and friends. This way, you can remember the terms and equations more easily.
Concentrate on Application Rather Than Memorization
While flashcards and mnemonic devices are effective ways to help you remember and memorize the different MCAT physics questions and equations, it is worth noting that the MCAT focuses more on the application of these concepts.
For instance, it is important that you know the formula for work (F = Ds); there will be no question in the MCAT for a simple recall of this equation.
However, questions regarding the application of this equation or questions where this equation is applicable might be present. Keep this in mind. This is where learning the ‘language’ or context of equations and concepts is crucial. Practice applying them by thinking about how certain equations might represent different aspects of physiology, biology, and chemistry.
Explain the MCAT Physics Principles and Equations to Someone
As you study the different physics principles and equations, having someone to whom you can explain them is beneficial. This way, you can identify if you yourself understand the concepts you are trying to explain.
You can ask for the help of a family member or a friend. If they understand your explanation, you can also say you understand these principles and equations. If you do this, you will find it simpler to respond to the physics questions on the MCAT.
Utilize Supplemental MCAT Physics Resources
The MCAT resources you use during your MCAT preparation also play a vital role in your MCAT success.
These prep courses have a curriculum specially designed to assist students with difficulties not just in MCAT physics but in all subjects on the MCAT.
Another option is hiring an MCAT tutor to guide you for the MCAT.
MCAT tutors take the MCAT themselves and are experts in the field. They will guide and help you every step of the way, from creating an MCAT study plan to identifying the areas that you need to improve on.
Take Practice Tests
There is no better way to prepare yourself for MCAT physics questions than to answer practice questions.
They give you an idea of how the questions are structured on the actual MCAT, and help you identify the MCAT physics topics that you need further improvement on.
As you answer practice tests, ensure that you analyze why your answers are correct or incorrect.
Focus on why you got the answers wrong so you can get them right the next time you encounter questions with the same concept.
On the Day of the Test
Know the Skills Being Tested
Different questions may evaluate one or multiple MCAT physics competencies. Knowing your options can help you to plan your response more successfully.
You might concentrate on remembering details about a specific topic to aid in answering a question.
Analyze the questions carefully and utilize your existing knowledge to get the answer. Remember that the MCAT is not a test of your recall.
The AAMC emphasizes determining whether or not you understand the various concepts and ideas in their entirety.
Review Your Strategy if You Keep Getting the Wrong Answer
You won't frequently come across difficult math questions on the MCAT. Typically, the questions are simple, one-step problems and simple mathematical formulas, like f=mg and e=hv.
However, you might not be able to get the correct answer on your first try. When you find yourself needing longer than a minute to finish a difficult, multi-step project, take it as a cue to rethink your approach.
Exercise Caution When Using Units
We have all experienced this: after laboriously calculating for five minutes, you look down at the solution choices only to discover that your answer is not one of the choices.
You start to worry and become anxious since you wasted five of your valuable minutes and are still confused.
Frequently, a fast unit conversion will show the correct answer, or you might have just entered the wrong units in your equation.
Utilize the LARS Technique
When navigating powers of 10, LARS Technique, which stands for left add, right subtract, is a helpful abbreviation. This shows that if we had 273.0 x 10-9 and wanted to move the decimal point two places to the left, adding 2 to the tens exponent would result in 2.73 x 10-7.
The conversion between nanometers and meters is usually done using this calculation.
Keep in mind that MCAT physics includes your knowledge of basic math as well.
When you encounter such equations during the MCAT, do not panic. Remember this technique, and you will get the correct answer.
Re-read the Questions
It is strongly advised that you read the questions at least twice. This is valid for the full MCAT, not just the MCAT physics. This is due to the possibility that you might misinterpret the question when pressed for time.
One of the MCAT subjects that will really test your analytical and critical thinking abilities is physics.
There's a risk you misunderstand the question if you can't seem to come up with the right response. Ensure that you read the questions twice.
Highlight Crucial MCAT Physics Concepts
We advise that you underline the details that should stand out as you read the MCAT physics passages.
To do this, underline crucial words, phrases, and equations. You'll save time by doing this, and you won't have to read the entire passage when you come across a pertinent question.Make cautious to just underline or highlight pertinent material, as doing so negates the point of highlighting if numerous words and phrases are highlighted.
Utilize Your Time Wisely
You need to use your critical thinking abilities to answer most of the MCAT physics questions.
You might occasionally become fixated with a single question and lose sight of time. Prevent this from occurring. You only have 95 minutes to complete the MCAT Chem/Phys section, so keep that in mind.
Avoid focusing too much time on a question that is challenging for you. It is preferable to skip a question and go on to the next one if you have problems deciding what to answer.
Keep in Mind That MCAT Physics is Just as Challenging, and Significant as the Other MCAT Topics
Do not attempt to neglect MCAT physics questions because you believe them to be easy or because you want to finish them quickly. Use the same level of caution you did for the other questions of the MCAT.
Remember that 15 questions on the MCAT require your knowledge and skills in physics. These 15 questions could mean the difference between a strong and weak MCAT score.
MCAT Physics DOs and DON'Ts
Along with the different techniques and strategies mentioned above, we suggest you remember the MCAT physics DOs and DON'Ts.
Supplement One Resource With Another
Sometimes, using one MCAT physics prep material is insufficient. For this reason, you may want to use as many MCAT physics resources as possible.You can use resources from Kaplan, Princeton Review, or Blueprint. Aside from those that need to be purchased, these MCAT prep companies also offer free MCAT physics prep materials.
Examine the MCAT Physics Questions Quickly
You should now underline unfamiliar words, words that describe the main idea of each paragraph, words that are italicized, and any numbers.
By doing this, you will avoid rereading the text to find crucial information, saving you time.
Take a Quick Look at the Options
Looking at the potential answers as you read the MCAT chemistry passages and questions may help you get a rough idea of the answer.
The choices give you a sense of the potential equations you need to solve.
Don’t Sweat It
Concentrate on the fundamental equations and make an effort to grasp the fundamental concepts of the subject.
Most of the MCAT physics passages on the test will appear challenging, although the problems almost always involve applying straightforward ideas or manipulating simple equations.
Don’t Get Confused with the MCAT Physics Equations
You have to memorize a lot of physics formulas for the MCAT.
With the added pressure of performing well on the exam and the time limit, you may be rattled and confuse one equation with the others.
Avoid this from happening by analyzing the questions and the passages carefully.
Don't Forget to Check the Time Periodically
You might feel overwhelmed by the questions and sections on the MCAT physics, and there's a potential that you'll become obsessed with finding the right response without even realizing it.
Do periodically check the time to prevent this. Do not become fixated on a single question. Know when to skip a question.
Additional FAQs - Best Tips and Tricks for MCAT Physics
How Can I Improve My MCAT Physics?
You must also master the basic math operations needed for these equations.
You can improve your MCAT physics skills by using MCAT flashcards and mnemonic devices and answering MCAT physics practice questions.
How Many Questions are There in MCAT Physics?
Prepare and study for the MCAT physics as you would for any other subjects tested on the MCAT.