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Blog / Conquering MCAT Physics Top Concepts And Problem Solving Strategies

Conquering MCAT Physics: Top Concepts and Problem-Solving Strategies

Written by Seza on Sep 1, 2023

Conquering MCAT Physics: Top Concepts and Problem-Solving Strategies

The MCAT physics section consists of 59 multiple-choice questions that assess your understanding of physics concepts and your ability to apply them to solve problems. The section covers various topics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, and thermodynamics. To succeed in MCAT physics, you need to have a strong grasp of the fundamental concepts and develop effective problem-solving strategies. Let’s explore some top concepts and problem-solving strategies to help you conquer MCAT physics.


Understanding the MCAT Physics Section

To excel in the MCAT physics section, it is essential to have a strong foundation of basic physics concepts and problem-solving strategies. Therefore, your MCAT study plan should include ample time to cover all the relevant topics and practice solving MCAT-style physics problems. Some of the critical topics to focus on include mechanics, which covers the study of motion, forces, and energy, electricity and magnetism, which examines the behavior of electric charges and magnetic fields, optics, which involves the study of light and its properties, and thermodynamics, which deals with the study of heat and its effects.

The MCAT physics section is not just about memorizing formulas and equations; it also requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills. To excel in this section, you must learn how to analyze and interpret data, identify key concepts and relationships, and apply mathematical formulas to solve complex problems. Practice is the key to mastering these skills, so make sure to solve as many MCAT-style physics problems as possible.

Moreover, time management is a crucial factor in the MCAT physics section. You will have 95 minutes to answer 59 multiple-choice questions, so it’s important to pace yourself and manage your time effectively. You can use a timer to keep track of your time and ensure that you allocate enough time for each question.

Lastly, it’s essential to stay calm and focused during the MCAT physics section. The pressure of the exam can cause stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact your performance. Therefore, it’s crucial to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help you stay calm and focused during the exam.

Top Concepts in MCAT Physics

  • Kinematics and Mechanics

To fully understand the MCAT physics section, it’s crucial to have a solid grasp of these key concepts. For example, kinematics is the foundation of all motion-related topics in physics. Understanding the relationships between velocity, acceleration, and displacement is crucial in solving problems related to motion. Similarly, mechanics, which deals with forces and energy, is an essential concept to comprehend. By understanding the laws of motion and conservation of energy, you can easily solve complex physics problems.

  • Electricity and Magnetism

Electricity and magnetism are also vital concepts in MCAT physics. This topic involves understanding electric fields, electric potential, circuits, and magnetic fields. You should be familiar with Ohm’s law and Kirchhoff’s laws, which are fundamental in solving circuit-related problems.

  • Waves and Optics

Another critical topic in MCAT physics is waves and optics. Waves are used to describe phenomena such as sound and light, while optics deals with the behavior of light. Understanding wave properties, such as frequency, wavelength, and speed, is necessary for analyzing wave-related problems. The principles of optics, such as reflection and refraction, are crucial in understanding how light behaves when it interacts with different materials.

  • Thermodynamics

Finally, thermodynamics is the study of heat transfer and energy conservation. It includes topics such as temperature, heat capacity, and energy transfer. Understanding thermodynamics is essential in solving problems related to energy transfer and heat exchange.

MCAT Physics Problem-Solving Strategies

Here are some effective problem-solving strategies to help you tackle MCAT physics:

  • Identify the Key Concepts:

One of the most important aspects of solving MCAT physics problems is to identify the key concepts. By reading the question carefully, you can identify what exactly is being asked and which concepts and formulas you need to apply. This will save you time and help you avoid confusion.

  • Draw a Diagram:

Drawing a diagram or a sketch is another effective strategy to solve MCAT physics problems. This will help you visualize the problem and give you a better understanding of what is being asked. A well-drawn diagram can also help you identify the relationships between variables and the physical processes involved.

  • Organize Your Work: 

Organizing your work is crucial when solving complex problems. By writing down all the given information, the formula needed to solve the problem, and the final answer, you can avoid making careless mistakes. This strategy also helps you keep track of your work and ensures that you don’t miss any steps.

  • Use Units:

Using appropriate units is another critical factor in solving MCAT physics problems. The units used in physics represent physical quantities and their relationships. By using the correct units throughout your calculations, you can ensure that your answer is correct and in the correct units.

  • Check Your Answer: 

Checking your answer is essential to ensure that your solution is correct and makes sense. You should always double-check your calculations, your units, and your final answer. If your answer seems unreasonable or does not make sense, re-check your work and try again.


MCAT Physics Study and Preparation Tips

Studying for the MCAT physics section can be overwhelming, but with a solid study plan and consistent effort, you can conquer this challenging section. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the MCAT physics section:

  • Study Regularly:

 To develop a strong foundation in the key concepts of physics, it’s essential to study regularly and consistently. Set aside dedicated study time every week, and use this time to review class notes, read physics textbooks, and practice solving physics problems.

  • Practice Frequently:

 Physics is a subject that requires practice to develop your problem-solving skills. To improve your proficiency in physics, practice solving problems as much as possible. Start with easy problems and gradually increase the difficulty level as you progress.

  • Use Online Resources: 

The internet is a vast resource for MCAT physics study materials. Take advantage of online resources such as Khan Academy and MCAT prep courses to supplement your studies. These resources provide video tutorials, practice problems, and detailed explanations that can help you reinforce the key concepts.

  • Review Your Mistakes: 

It’s essential to learn from your mistakes to improve your performance. Review your mistakes and identify areas that need improvement to adjust your study plan accordingly. If you’re struggling with a particular concept, go back to your physics textbooks or online resources to reinforce your understanding.

  • Take Practice Tests:

 Taking MCAT physics practice tests is an excellent way to evaluate your progress and identify areas that need more attention. Practice tests simulate the actual MCAT test, helping you get accustomed to the test format and timing. Use the results from your practice tests to adjust your study plan and focus on your weak areas.


10 Best Tips on How to Study for MCAT Physics

Studying for the MCAT physics section can be challenging, but with the right approach and strategies, you can improve your understanding and performance. Here are some tips to help you effectively study for MCAT physics:

  • Understand the content: 

Start by reviewing the foundational physics concepts covered on the MCAT. Make sure you have a solid understanding of topics like mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, thermodynamics, and atomic and nuclear physics.

  • Use reputable resources:

Choose high-quality study materials specifically designed for the MCAT physics section. Popular resources include textbooks like “Physics for the MCAT” or review books from reputable publishers. Additionally, online resources such as Khan Academy and AAMC practice materials can be valuable.

  • Create a study plan: 

Develop a structured study plan that covers all the relevant physics topics within a designated timeframe. Break down your study sessions into manageable chunks, and allocate specific time for reviewing, practicing questions, and taking practice exams.

  • Practice with MCAT-style questions: 

The MCAT is not just about understanding concepts; it also tests your ability to apply them to real-world scenarios. Use practice questions from reputable sources, such as AAMC question packs or third-party practice exams, to simulate the test environment and familiarize yourself with the question format.

  • Work on problem-solving skills:

 Physics is often about problem-solving and applying formulas to solve complex scenarios. Practice breaking down problems, identifying the relevant concepts, and applying the appropriate equations. Work on improving your ability to reason through physics-related scenarios and use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

  • Review and reinforce weak areas:

 Identify your weak areas through practice questions and review sessions. Allocate extra time to reinforce your understanding of these topics by revisiting relevant study materials, seeking clarification from textbooks or online resources, and working on additional practice questions related to those areas.

  • Form study groups or seek help: 

Collaborating with fellow students who are also studying for the MCAT can be beneficial. Form study groups to discuss challenging concepts, explain concepts to each other, and solve problems collaboratively. If you need additional help, consider seeking guidance from professors, tutors, or online communities specializing in MCAT preparation.

  • Take full-length practice exams:

 In addition to practicing individual questions, it’s essential to take full-length practice exams to assess your overall performance and get accustomed to the timing and stress of the real test. Analyze your results to identify areas that need further improvement and adjust your study plan accordingly.

  • Review and revise consistently: 

Consistency is key when studying for the MCAT physics section. Regularly review and revise the concepts you’ve learned to ensure they stay fresh in your mind. Use spaced repetition techniques to reinforce your understanding and minimize forgetting.

  • Stay motivated and take care of yourself: 

Studying for the MCAT can be a long and demanding process, so it’s crucial to stay motivated and take care of your well-being. Set realistic goals, reward yourself for achieving milestones, maintain a healthy balance between studying and self-care activities, and seek support from friends and family when needed.



In conclusion, conquering the MCAT physics section requires a combination of a strong foundation in the key concepts and effective problem-solving strategies. Study regularly, practice solving problems, use online resources, review your mistakes, and take practice tests to prepare yourself adequately for the MCAT physics section. Remember that consistency and persistence are essential, and with the right study plan and effort, you can succeed in the MCAT physics section.

You can always contact Jack Westin’s team of academic consultants for more tailor-made advice during your MCAT prep journey. Make sure to check out our website for affordable MCAT online courses, tutoring options, free weekly sessions, practice questions, and more!

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