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What Type of Math is on MCAT?

Written by Nassim on Jun 21, 2023

Are you curious to know what type of math is on the MCAT? If so, this post is just the right fit for you! The MCAT contains a variety of math topics, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and basic calculus. This can be daunting for prospective test-takers, but don’t worry – with some preparation and practice, you can be ready for anything the MCAT throws your way! Keep reading to find the best way to learn MCAT math! 

Don’t forget to check out other blogs by Jack Westin on preparing for the MCAT – we have lots of great tips and advice to help you prepare for this challenging exam.

 

What to Expect from the MCAT Math Question?

Although there isn’t a separate “Math Section” on the MCAT, you could be asked to complete calculations in any section. While the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems sections of the MCAT contain the majority of the math-based questions, other sections may also contain questions that need calculations, use statistics, or manipulate experimental data.

You need to be proficient at performing the following forms of math without a calculator to be well-prepared for the MCAT.

You need to use your knowledge of physics, chemistry, and statistical reasoning, among other things, to complete math-based questions. The MCAT’s restriction against using any form of a calculator on test day is one of its obstacles. While there aren’t many questions that require you to perform complex calculations, there might be some that do.

What Type of Math is on MCAT?

MCAT Math Essential Topics

Estimating and Rounding numbers

On the MCAT, estimating and rounding up numbers will be helpful because it will allow you to solve questions more quickly.

 

Multiplication

Let’s say we want to multiply 6.84 by 2.25. How can we quickly approximate this result with the best accuracy without a calculator?

Rounding can provide us with more manageable numbers to work with when multiplying numbers with numerous non-zero digits. Our mathematical calculations can be made much simpler by rounding these numbers to a whole.

Looking at the available answer options is very beneficial before deciding how much to round numbers. It would be better for us to round to one fewer digit if the response options were more evenly spaced out to maintain our calculation’s accuracy. We can round more if the options for our answers are further apart.

We can also make up for our rounding for each digit to maintain our calculations’ accuracy. To stay as near to the actual figure as possible, if we choose to round one number up, we need to round the other number down. For instance, we should round 2.25 to 2.3 if we round 6.84 to 6.8.

Let’s say we rounded 2.25 down to 2.2 instead. How does this compare to the right response and the response from using formula 2.3?

 

6.84×2.25=15.39

 

6.8×2.3=15.64→15.6

 

6.8×2.2=14.96→15.0

When we use 2.2, our calculation deviates even further from the correct result. Using the digit 2.3 to account for rounding brings the result closer to the correct answer of 15.39.

 

Division

Similar estimation and rounding techniques are used in division problems, as in multiplication ones. To determine how much to round, we first look at the possible answers, just like with multiplication.

To account for our rounding, we do, however, make different changes when doing division. Both the dividend and the divisor should be adjusted in the same way to keep our numbers in proportion to one another.

Suppose we need to multiply 19.58 by 4.67. If we choose to round 19.58 to a multiple of 20, we should also round 4.67 to a multiple of 5. This will yield a value of 4, which is quite near to the real number of 4.19.

 

Logarithm Rules

Another mathematical idea that can show up on the MCAT is logarithms. Since these functions are the inverse of exponential functions, they operate according to the same principles. The following guidelines and procedures should be kept in mind when working with logarithms:

Always, 0 is the log of 1.

 

logx1=0

 

The base number’s log is always 1.

 

log x=1

 

The log of two factors equals the total of the logs of the individual factors when the base numbers are the same.

 

logn(x×y)=logn(x)+logn(y)

 

The difference between the logs of the dividend and the divisor is what the log of a fraction represents as well.

 

logn(x÷y)=logn(x)−logn(y)

 

Typical Uses for Logarithms

You might encounter a common logarithm with base “e.” They are known as natural logarithms and are represented by the symbol ln ().

Base-10 logarithms are very often used. (You ought to be quite adept at working with and approximating logarithms in base 10) It’s crucial to remember that the prefix p denotes -log for the MCAT. For example, pOH = -log[OH-] and pH = -log[H+].

Another frequent use of logarithms on the MCAT is for decibels. Sound level is measured in decibels (dB), which may be calculated using the formula below:

 

dB=10log(II0)

 

Where I is the sound’s intensity in Wm2

 

I0 is equal to 1012Wm2, which is the threshold of the lowest sound a healthy human can hear.

On the MCAT, the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation is a typical use of logarithms. This equation, which can be obtained from the expression of the equilibrium constant for the dissociation of a weak acid, enables us to perform buffer calculations.

 

MCAT Math Methods to Remove Multiple Choices

It’s advisable to try to calculate an accurate solution when working through calculation issues, then check to see if your answer fits one of the answer choices. When pressed for time, keep in mind that you only need to choose one of the four possible answers! Here are some pointers to help you narrow down the possible answers more quickly and accurately.

 

Writing numbers with a significant exponent are known as scientific notation.

Any real number with an absolute value between 1 and 10, but excluding 10, is significant.

Since it is in base 10, the exponent can be any whole number (i.e., negative, zero, or positive).

 

Significant Figures

We may frequently reject potential answers using significant figure calculations. It’s helpful to concentrate on the significand’s number of significant numbers when answer alternatives are presented in scientific notation.

Significant numbers demonstrate the accuracy of measurement based on the measuring tool. They must be taken into account when making calculations. Significant figures can be determined using the guidelines below:

Between the leftmost non-zero digit and the rightmost non-zero digit.

The zeroes to the right of the last non-zero digit in a number with a decimal are important. The zeroes are meaningless if there is no decimal system. (For example, the number 4300 has two significant figures while the number 4300.00 has six.)

Leading zeros—zeroes that come before the first non-zero digit—do not matter. (For example, 0.010 has two significant figures.)

Calculations involving significant figures must also adhere to a set of standards.

Start by noting the location of the leftmost decimal point when doing addition and subtraction calculations. From there, we carry out the problem’s calculation while maintaining as many digits as possible to the end. We round the calculated result to the decimal point chosen in the first step once we receive this result.

Choose the factor, divisor, or dividend in multiplication and division calculations with the least significant digits first. Then we calculate the issue, again keeping as many digits as possible. In the last step, we round the result to the number of significant digits of the factor, divisor, or dividend chosen in the previous step.

 

Exponents

Exponents are another way to narrow down the possible answers. Since exponential functions are the inverse of the logarithm function, they behave similarly.

The base number of the exponent is always 10 when answer options are expressed in scientific notation. We can examine the exponent of this base number 10, which will help us narrow down the possible answers for queries that deal with extremely small or extremely huge sums. For instance, we should anticipate a very high number if a question asks how many molecules there are in a few moles of a substance. In this situation, an exponent raised to the 23rd power rather than the 5th power will more frequently be found in the solution.

 

Fractions

You might have to resolve fractional equations on the MCAT. Fractions are frequently used when solving optical systems using the thin lens equation.

 

Subtraction and Addition

When adding and subtracting fractions, we hold the denominator constant while applying our operations to the numerators. As a result, we must always keep in mind to establish a common denominator before starting our calculations. This is crucial for maintaining the equilibrium of a fraction.

We examine at the least frequent multiple of the denominators we are dealing with to choose a common denominator. The smallest number that both denominators are a factor of is known as the least common multiple.

 

Division and Arithmetic

To get our answer when multiplying, we multiply the numerators and denominators. In this instance, multiplying does not require finding a common denominator. However, there are situations when we can multiply first and then simplify our calculations. We start by determining if either item can be simplified on its own. Then, we determine whether any fraction’s numerators can be made simpler by using the denominators of other fractions or vice versa. We then continue with the calculation.

MCAT Math: Essential Tips and Topics

Tips for MCAT Math Questions

MCAT match questions are designed to test your knowledge of the material covered in the MCAT. Here are some expert tips to help you ace the MCAT match questions:

 

– First, make sure you understand the question. Read it carefully and consider what it is asking you to do.

 

– Second, don’t just focus on the details of the question. Instead, think about the bigger picture and how the question fits into the overall MCAT curriculum.

 

– Third, take your time and don’t panic. The MCAT is a long test, and you will have plenty of time to answer all the questions.

 

– Finally, remember that there is no one right answer to an MCAT match question. Instead, focus on providing a well-reasoned response that demonstrates your understanding of the material. With these tips, you will be well on your way to acing the MCAT match questions.

 

Conclusion

 Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of having to do the math questions on the MCAT? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. However, it’s important that you don’t let this intimidate you and instead see it as an opportunity to shine. The truth is, if you’ve been paying attention in your pre-med classes and have a strong foundation in physics, chemistry, and biology, then you are already well on your way to acing the math questions on the MCAT. 

To help give yourself an extra edge, start your online MCAT tutoring with Jack Westin today. Our team of experts will help ensure that those pesky calculations don’t stand in your way of scoring in the top percentile on test day. With our help, you’ll be able to rock the math section!

 

 

 

 



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