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Everything You Need to Know to Master MCAT Math

Written by Nassim on Feb 3, 2023

Everything You Need to Know to Master MCAT Math

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the math required for the MCAT? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll get you ready for MCAT math questions you may see on exam day. So read on and get ready to ROCK MCAT Math!

How Important Is the MCAT Math?

There is no math section on the MCAT, rather, MCAT math will show up during the Chemical and Physical Foundations of the Biology section. This section tests your ability to solve problems and understand complicated concepts in a short time. MCAT Math is important because it is actually a good indicator of your readiness for medical school, it shows that you have the ability to handle the rigors of medical school. 

The key is to start studying early and use a variety of resources to get the best result. With some hard work and the right strategy, you can ace MCAT math and put yourself on the path to success in medical school.

Is the Math on the MCAT Difficult?

A lot of students get overwhelmed by the formulas and equations, but if you take a deep breath and remember that you’re smart enough to have gotten this far, you can do it! MCAT questions are all about problem-solving, so first, identify what the question is asking. Then, drop any answers that are clearly wrong. From there, it’s just a matter of plugging in your information and solving the equation. 

Remember, you have all the faculties to solve complex equations through critical thinking.

How to Prepare for Math on the MCAT

Take advantage of online resources like Jack Westin. At Jack Westin, we provide students with free resources to kick off their MCAT preparation. From our MCAT Diagnostic Exam, to our exhaustive Question Bank, we have all the resources you need to get started.

Second, make use of practice tests.These will help you identify areas that need improvement and focus your studying accordingly.

Third, identify your weaknesses. When it comes to mathematics, we all need some brushing up on algebraic equations, fractions, logarithms, and research statistics. Because of this, it’s important to understand where YOUR weaknesses lie. Is it, sine, cosine, and tangent functions, or scalar multiplication? By understanding your weaknesses you will be able to improve your skills faster and with more efficiency.

Finally, don’t forget to take breaks. Studying for the MCAT is intense, so make sure to give yourself time to relax and rejuvenate. Go for a walk, watch a movie, or just take some time to clear your mind. Breaks are essential for keeping your study sessions effective.

 Following these tips can make MCAT math studying more efficient and less daunting. 

Can You Use a Calculator on the MCAT?

If you’re planning to take the MCAT, you may be wondering if you can use a calculator on the MCAT. The answer is NO! Although MCAT Math is all about solving equations and using formulas, you can’t get help from a calculator and should rely on your own math skills. Plus, the MCAT doesn’t give you much time to solve each problem, so being able to quickly punch in numbers and get an answer can make a big difference. Just remember to practice without using your calculator before the test, so you wouldn’t be surprised on test day.

Strategies You’ll Need While Preparing for the MCAT Math.

MCAT Math can be tough – there’s no doubt about that. But there are some actionable strategies to help you solve math questions quickly and accurately:

  • Make sure you understand the question. Read it carefully, and identify any keywords or concepts that will help you solve the equation. This will save you time and prevent frustration and help you get the answer right. So when you’re preparing for math on the MCAT, read the question carefully, and make sure you know exactly what the question is asking you. With this simple strategy, you’ll be well on your way to getting the score you want.
  • Checking your work is one of the most important things you can do when preparing for the MCAT. Many candidates make the mistake of not checking their work, and as a result, they miss a lot of easy points. Always check your practice work after completing a practice exam. It’s a simple strategy that could make a big difference in your score.

 By following these steps, you’ll be able to approach math confidently and accurately.

The MCAT Math Concepts You Need to Know

So what are the most important MCAT Math concepts? Here are equations, formulas, and MCAT topic areas. Let’s take a look at each one.

Equations: There are a few different types of equations that you should know about, such as linear equations and quadratic equations. Familiarize yourself with these different types of equations so that you can confidently solve problems on the MCAT.

Formulas: Formulas are broken down into two parts: algebraic expressions and trigonometric functions. Algebraic expressions are used to solve problems involving variables, such as solving for x in an equation. 

Trigonometric Functions: Trigonometric functions are used in a variety of settings, from solving MCAT math problems to graphing the waveforms of sound waves. In many cases, they allow us to solve problems that would be otherwise impossible. For example, without trigonometric functions, we would be unable to calculate the height of a flagpole or the distance to a faraway object. We can also use trigonometric functions to find relationships between angles and sides in a triangle, which is helpful in fields like architecture and engineering.  

Here’s a breakdown of the mathematical concepts that you should review:

Arithmetic, Algebra, Graphs

  • Scientific notation, exponents, and radicals
  • Fractions, ratios, and percents
  • Equations and inequalities
  • x-y  plane, lines, and other graphs


  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Sine, cosine, and tangent functions
  • Sine and cosine values of common angles
  • Inverse functions
  • Radian measure


  • Scalars and vectors
  • Addition and subtraction of vectors
  • Scalar multiplication
  • Vector projections and components


  • Direct proportions
  • Inverse proportions


  • Laws of logarithms

Basic Statistics

  • Mean, median, mode, range
  • Standard deviation, normal distributions
  • Percentile
  • Variables, sample size, random samples, correlation
  • Reliability, validity
  • Randomized controlled trial, double-blind experiment

Research Methods

  • Graphical analysis and interpretation
  • Determining whether results are supported by data presented in figures
  • Demonstrating an understanding of basic statistics and research methods
  • Interpreting data presented in graphs, figures, and tables
  • Drawing conclusions about data and methodology

How to Save Time When Answering Questions

Significant figures 

In many cases, you can drop choices in the question by meaningful numerical calculations. However, if the possible answers are written in scientific notation, it is helpful to focus on the number of significant digits in the mantissa. Meaningful numbers indicate the reliability of the measurement based on the instrument. Therefore, the calculations need to take them into account. You can use the following rules to determine statistics. 

All numbers are significant between the first nonzero digit on the left and the last nonzero digit on the right. If the number contains decimal points, the zero to the right of the last non-zero digit is significant. If there are no decimals, these zeros are not significant. (For example, the number 4300.00 has 6 significant digits, while the number 4300 has 2 significant digits.) 

Leading zeros or zeroes before the first non-zero digit are not significant. (For example, the number 0.010 has two significant digits.) 

Also, special rules are required to perform calculations with significant figures. In addition and subtraction calculations, start by paying attention to the position of the leftmost decimal point. Calculate the problem from there and keep as many digits as possible until the calculation is finished. After getting this result, round the calculation result to the number of decimal places determined in the first step. 

The multiplication and division calculations first identify the factor, divisor, or dividend with the least significant digits. Then calculate the problem. Again, that number of digits is retained until the end. Finally, rounding the calculation results in the number of significant digits in the factor, divisor, or division determined in the first step.


Exponents are another way to eliminate possible answers. Since these are inverses of logarithmic functions, the exponential function follows a similar rule. 

If the answer choices are written in scientific notation, the radix of the exponent is always 10. You can check these radix 10 exponents to eliminate the choice of answering questions for very small or large sets. For example, if you are asking about the number of molecules contained in a few moles of a substance, you should expect a very large number. In this case, the answer is more likely to have an exponent of the 23rd power than the 5th power.


If you feel a little shaky about your math skills, don’t worry. We have plenty of opportunities to help you practice. Be sure to check out the Jack Westin Daily Questions for practice, or check out a Live Session. And if you want even more practice, try solving some real-world problems from the math section of the test. Good luck!




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