MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations Exam

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The biological and biochemical foundations section of the MCAT is designed to measure the candidate’s understanding of core concepts in biology and biochemistry. The questions cover both the knowledge of these foundational concepts as well as the fundamental skills in research and learning needed to deepen that knowledge.

How Do I Register for the MCAT?

You can register online for the exam but you need to do it as early as possible. For exam dates between January and June, registration opens in October of the previous year. For dates between July and September, registration opens in February of the same year. If possible, try to register for your exam on the first day that registration is open so that you can get the date you want.

Regardless of when you register, you should choose three possible dates (from the 15 available) and three possible locations so that you are prepared with a backup option if your first choice isn’t available.

You also need to be prepared to pay the $315 registration fee at this time. If you are unable to pay the fee, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) does offer financial assistance for those who meet their eligibility requirements.

Which Topics Are Included in the Chemical and Physical Foundations Section?

This section of the exam features 59 multiple choice questions covering three foundational concepts:

  1. “Biomolecules have unique properties that determine how they contribute to the structure and function of cells and how they participate in the processes necessary to maintain life.”
  2. “Highly-organized assemblies of molecules, cells, and organs interact to carry out the functions of living organisms.”
  3. “Complex systems of tissues and organs sense the internal and external environments of multicellular organisms, and through integrated functioning, maintain a stable internal environment within an ever-changing external environment.”
Within these foundational concepts, you will need to have command of four key scientific inquiry and reasoning skills:
  1. Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles
  2. Scientific reasoning and problem solving
  3. Reasoning about the design and execution research
  4. Statistical and data-based reasoning
You will also need to apply a range of advanced mathematical concepts from algebra II, trigonometry, and geometry.

How Can I Prepare for Test Day?

The entire MCAT lasts seven and a half hours and this particular section encompasses 95 minutes of that time. All exams begin promptly at 8 A.M and are completely computer based. You should arrive at least 30 minutes early in order to check in. Before you leave home, make sure you bring the following:

  • The same valid government-issued ID you used to register for the exam.
  • A small meal or snack to eat during the 30 minute break that will be provided.
  • A light jacket or sweater that you can put on and take off as needed during the test.
Leave all other personal items including your phone at home or in your car.

How Is the Biological and Biochemical Foundations Section Scored?

This section represents just one part of your total score. It is scored on a scale of 118 to 132 with people averaging a score of about 125. However, in order to make sure your medical school application is competitive, you should aim for a score of at least 128.

What Is the Best Way to Study for the Chemical and Physical Foundations Section?

Since this portion of the exam measures both knowledge and skills, you will need a study method that develops not only your ability to remember and recall large amounts of complex information but also your ability to reason, analyze, and think critically about that information.

This means your best option is to use a blend of different study aids including study guides, flashcards, and practice questions.

For your guide, you should use the Mometrix study guide. Compiled and designed entirely by a team of experts, this guide contains an outline of a five step process known as a “phased” approach which helps you combine multiple study tools in a highly efficient rotation.

In addition to detailed information about the material and an expert-crafted approach to studying, the guide also includes a set of comprehensive test day tips for avoiding test anxiety, performing your best, and not mismanaging your time during the exam by going either too fast or too slow. You will also have access to our library of videos that we made to explain these concepts.

To develop your memory and recall abilities, you’ll need the Mometrix flashcards. Flashcards are the best way to improve your memory of core concepts and information as well as your ability to recall that information on demand during the test. They are also one of the best ways to let your friends help you study since they can quiz you on the concepts without needing any background knowledge themselves.


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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 4, 2019