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Blog / How To Study For MCAT Physics

How to Study for MCAT Physics

Written by Nassim on Nov 2, 2022

So you’re about to take the MCAT and stressed out about physics. Don’t worry; you’re not alone! This is a notoriously difficult section for many test-takers. However, you can get through it with flying colors with the right approach. This blog post shares some tips to help you study for MCAT physics and improve your score. Let’s get started!


Where Do You Start with MCAT Physics?

By understanding the essential topics and focusing your effort and time on these areas, you can harvest the maximum points out of your exam! Focusing on high-yield topics such as Newtonian physics and electromagnetism can bring you more points on the exam. On the other hand, spending your valuable time on low-yield topics like lenses and mirrors that are unlikely to be on the exam may not be the best investment of your time while studying physics for MCAT. Remember, even a low-yield topic could appear on your test. It’s not about eliminating topics, it’s more about how you divide your time between different topics. Focus on what you need to learn by asking questions you missed on the topic you’re not interested in. 

 Physics is somewhere between 20-30 percent of the MCAT Chem / Phys section, one of the four MCAT sections. Therefore, we can expect 12 to 18 physics questions (out of 230) across the MCAT. This is about 5 to 8 percent of the exam. 


How Much Physics Is on MCAT? 

Physics questions can be found in the first section of the MCAT, biological systems’ chemical and physical foundations. This MCAT section consists of 59 questions, of which 25 percent are related to introductory physics. Some questions are passage-based, and some are separate. 

 It will take 95 minutes to complete this part of the exam. There is no calculator, but there is a periodic table. Understanding unit conversions and estimations can be useful. You don’t necessarily need to be exact with your math; estimating and rounding numbers can help you speed up the process. Learning scientific notation is helpful too. Introductory courses cover the physics content for the MCAT at all top universities in the United States and Canada. Suppose you come across unfamiliar MCAT physics topics or subtopics early in preparation for the MCAT. In that case, you’ll have to learn them on your own. Most medical schools do not have strict medical degree requirements. Some of them do not even require applicants to have knowledge of physics. However, successful preparation for medical school and MCAT exams requires basic science knowledge. On the MCAT, you don’t have to be a physics expert. An introductory physics course covers most of the topics encountered on the MCAT and AAMC guidelines. Still, don’t panic if you encounter unfamiliar MCAT physics topics while preparing for the MCAT.


How to Determine the MCAT Physics Topics that Need to Be Reviewed? 

Understanding when to start studying physics for the MCAT can be difficult. It can be a daunting task if you don’t know when and where, and how to study for MCAT physics. The initial step is to get a baseline, and it is highly recommended to take the Jack Westin MCAT diagnostic test to do this. Practice exams help determine areas and topics that need improvement.

 Tip: The AAMC practice exam is the most realistic regarding what you can expect from an actual exam. Some 3rd party practice exams are much more complex and cover physics content that you never need in a real MCAT exam. 

The best way to identify physics topics to cover for the MCAT is to take practice tests and answer as many questions as possible. After a while, you’ll get familiar with the most recurring physics topics on the MCAT. Even if you encounter topics or questions that are not familiar to you, you’ll have the chance to do some content review on that topic. The key is to dedicate your time to doing questions and practice tests instead of just doing a content review on topics that may or may not appear on your exam.  

Jack Westin Analytics tool can help you pinpoint focus areas for improvement. It will show you what you are good at and what needs improvement. This can be very helpful since it will save you precious time and give you a chance to divide your time according to your needs. You won’t waste your time on topics you are already good at.  


The Strategy to Dominate MCAT Physics Topics


Remember, It’s Not As Scary As It Looks. 

Most physics passages look intimidating in real-world tests, but questions usually require manipulating equations or applying basic principles. Prioritize reviews of equations and topics listed in AAMC’s official content list. Don’t get caught up in complex materials that are unlikely to appear in your tests. On the other hand, don’t overlook the essential MCAT physics topics that are likely to be included in the MCAT. 


Know Your Units

You need to know how to convert units without a calculator. Keep this in mind when preparing for the MCAT:

  1. Familiarize yourself with quick unit conversions, as that may be all you need to find the right answer among the options.
  2. Try one of the variables to see what happens with the rest of the equations.
  3. Try reordering the equations and solving specific variables.

If you are used to playing with different physics equations, you can avoid mistakes. Suppose you can separate the individual variables and solve the equation each time. This case indicates that you have a complete understanding of the equation.  


 Flashcards and Memorization 

Many students use flashcards as a memory technique. Writing down formulas, topics, and ideas on flashcards is a great way to get started with MCAT. However, these are not the only preparation techniques you need. One of the challenges of the MCAT is the physical problem of having to apply the equations. You need to understand these equations and apply them to the problems you encounter rather than just memorize them. Memorizing the equations and formulas is only the first step. You need to learn what these equations mean and when and how to apply them to problems. It’s a good idea to learn these formulas within some context to understand their application as well.


Keep on Practicing

 It takes practice to understand physical equations. If you are interested in knowledge of physics, work on building knowledge through practice and internalizing the concepts. You can use a variety of practice tests and platforms such as UWorld, Examkrackers, and Khan Academy. Some practice exams and materials are often more complicated than the actual MCAT exam. Some of these preparatory materials cover equations and questions that are not included in the exam. MCAT seeks to determine if you understand the broader concepts listed in the AAMC content list. So try not to get caught up in the details of complex MCAT physics topics and equations.

Active learning strategies can help you internalize the concept of physics. In addition to reading and taking notes, you can try to explain what you are learning to others. You can see how well-prepared you are if you explain the process to your friends and colleagues. Explaining a topic to others can also reveal your weaknesses and some of the concepts you need to focus on. Finally, be aware of content gaps when acting as an instructor.


Quick Tips on How to Study for MCAT Physics


  • Start by reading the chapter headings and looking over the diagrams.

When it comes to MCAT physics, there’s a lot to know. But where should you start? Reading the chapter headings and looking over the diagrams is a good place. This will give you a broad overview of the material and help you identify any areas that you need to focus on. Additionally, take some time to review basic physics concepts likely to be tested on the MCAT. For example, make sure you understand topics like motion, energy, and waves. By refreshing your knowledge of these basics, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the physics questions on the MCAT.


  • Make a list of the most important terms and topics that you don’t understand.

Physics can be a difficult concept to grasp. The success formula is to understand the basics before moving on to the more complex MCAT physics topics. Try to understand the following terms and concepts before taking your MCAT: force, motion, energy, and electricity. These are the foundation of MCAT physics, and you’ll need to be able to apply them when answering questions on the test. Once you grasp these basics, you’ll be well on your way to acing the MCAT physics section.


  • Go back through the chapter and read again, focusing on the key terms and concepts that you marked.

At first, MCAT physics questions can seem incredibly daunting – equations upon equations, symbols you’ve never seen before. However, if you take the time to break down each question and focus on the key terms and concepts, you’ll find that you can actually understand and solve them. So go back through the chapter, read slowly and carefully, and mark the key terms and concepts. Then work through the practice questions, one at a time, until you feel confident that you understand MCAT physics. With a little effort, you’ll be able to conquer even the most challenging questions.


  • Find example problems in the textbook or online and try to solve them yourself.

Doing problems is one of the best ways to learn physics. It helps to consolidate the understanding of the principles and to develop the ability to apply them. The MCAT physics section will contain many problems, so it is essential to be able to do them quickly and correctly. The proven way to learn how to do MCAT physics problems is to practice as many different types of problems as possible. The textbook and online resources are full of example problems, so there is no excuse not to do some every day. It is also helpful to try to solve the problems yourself before looking at the solutions. This way, you can test your understanding and see where you need to improve. You will be well prepared for the exam by doing MCAT physics problems regularly.


  • Ask your classmates or professor for help 

MCAT physics can be tough. But you don’t have to go through it alone! If you find yourself stuck, ask your classmates or professor for help. They’ve most probably been in your shoes before and can provide valuable insights. And even if they can’t, they’ll likely appreciate your willingness to seek out assistance. So next time you’re struggling with a problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It might be the key to unlocking a better understanding of MCAT physics. You can also ask an MCAT tutor for help. They can help you sort out problems conveniently since they have done this before and have great insight on the topics you’re having problems with.


  • Take practice tests to see where you need improvement.

Taking practice tests is a very efficient way to see where you need improvement on the MCAT. Physics is one of the sections that can confuse even the most prepared students, so it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the material before taking the test. There are some ways, but one of the best is to take practice tests and time yourself. This will prepare you to work under high pressure on exam day and better understand how much time you’ll need to spend on each question. In addition, many resources are available online and in print, so be sure to research and find a practice test that best suits your needs. Then, with a little bit of effort, you can ensure that you’re well-prepared for the MCAT physics section.



As you can see, there’s a lot to cover when it comes to MCAT physics. But don’t worry, you don’t have to study all these subjects simultaneously. In fact, that would be nearly impossible! So instead, focus on one subject at a time and use this blog post as your guide. We’ve covered all of the critical topics in physics that you need to know for the MCAT. And if you want more practice questions or tips, be sure to check out our other blog posts. You’re guaranteed to ace the MCAT with enough preparation and hard work!




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