Today we’ll discuss strategies for tackling the MCAT biology and biochemistry section, the MCAT biology, biochemistry section, often includes the most experiment-based passages on the exam, so it is important to be able to interpret figures, graphs, and tables.

In this post I’ll share the exact strategies I use to ace the MCAT biology and biochemistry section, I’ll tell you what topics are in the exam, a formula for how to read figures, graphs, and tables, and some helpful study tips you can use to improve your MCAT score. So let’s get started.

What’s actually on the biology mcat, biochemistry section:

What’s actually on the biology, biochemistry section of the MCAT, the MCAT biology, biochemistry section will test your knowledge of key concepts in the fields of biology and biochemistry, as they relate to the human body, like chemistry, physics, and psychology, sociology sections of the exam.

The biology, biochemistry section contains 59 questions that you must answer in 95 minutes, 44 of these questions are based on 10 passages, while 15 questions are standalone, the American Association of Medical Colleges or AMC writes the MCAT, and they break down what’s actually going to be on your exam.

According to the AMC, the biology, biochemistry section of the MCAT is composed of

1: 25% first-semester biochemistry

2: 65% introductory biology

3: 5% General Chemistry

4: 5% Organic Chemistry,

You might be wondering what exact topics are covered in each of these categories.

Topic number 1:( amino acids and the structure and function of proteins)

For example,

Do you know what a ligase does.

Topic number 2:(the central dogma of biology)

The central Dogma in which DNA is replicated to DNA transcribed to RNA, and translated into protein.

Topic number 3:(covers genetics)

such as mitosis meiosis and Mendelian inheritance. A question may ask about the difference between mitosis and meiosis.

Topic number 4:(covers metabolism)

which includes topics such as glycolysis gluconeogenesis the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain, among others.

Topic number 6:(covers the nervous and endocrine systems)

Topic number 7 :(covers the structure and function of main organ systems)

such as the kidney or liver.

Many students worry that they have not yet taken physiology, and if that is the case, you are not alone. Using the building blocks from your introductory undergraduate biology class, you’ll be able to learn the level of detail tested on organ systems for the MCAT. Now that you know what you’re going to be tested on.

Tips and study strategies you can use to score a 132 on the biology and biochemistry section

Let’s go over tips and study strategies you can use to score a 132 on the biology and biochemistry section MCAT biology, biochemistry,

TIP NO# 01 practice interpreting graphs figures and tables using the TAID P method

TAID P stands for title, axes, independent variable, the dependent variable in patterns. If you can identify these elements in a graph figure or table, you’ll be able to understand what the data is telling you.

Let’s look at this example, using the tape P method, the title, T states the effect of drugs on cell survival.

So we can determine that the researchers are treating cells with a drug and measuring cell survival. Now, let’s look at the axes or a, the x-axis shows increasing concentrations of drug and micromolar, while the y axis measures the percentage response, which we know from the title has something to do with survival. When we look at the graphs the axes make it easy to determine the independent variables, which are I and D in the TAID P method. First, what are the independent variables measure the independent variable is something that you change on purpose. While the dependent variable is the response, the independent variable is also shown on the x-axis. So we know here that drug concentration is our independent variable, the dependent variable, on the other hand, is shown on the Y-axis. So we know that drug response is our dependent variable. Finally, let’s look at the patterns or P component of the TAID P method. Are there any patterns in this curve, what drug concentration, do we see the greatest percentage response? There seems to be a sharp transition between seven and eight micromolar in that drug concentration above eight micromolar, we do a favorable percent response. Now that we’ve completed this exercise, we’re ready to approach any questions you should aim to identify the TAID P elements for any given figure within 15, to 20 seconds. The goal is to understand the big picture without getting lost in any small details. The reason you should not spend too much time on any given figure during your first reading of the passage is that there may not even be a question on that figure.

For example, if MCAT biology, biochemistry passage has three figures, they may only ask a question about two of them. So you don’t want to waste a minute understanding the figure in great detail. If they’re not even going to ask a question about it. So, how do you get faster at applying the TAID P method?

TIP NO # 02: Every Mistake, Study Every Details Of Each Figure Carefully

MCAT biology, biochemistry, tip number two. When you review a bio biochem finger while going over your mistakes, study every small detail of each finger carefully, anytime you take an MCAT biology, biochemistry passage that has a figure. You should come back after you’ve submitted the answers and thoroughly review them during your test review.

Why should you do this?

By practicing applying the TAID P method under no time constraints, you’ll get better at being able to quickly and accurately interpret figures. By the time you’ve completed several full-length practice exams, you will have taken almost 100 MCAT biology, biochemistry practice passages. If you spend the time to review the figures on each of those, there are very few figures that you will encounter on your MCAT, that you would not have seen at least some variation of before.

TIP NO # 03: know the one-letter code three-letter code structures and chemical properties of all 20 amino acids

This tip is one of the most important tips. You will receive as it is virtually guaranteed that you will see amino acid questions on both the MCAT biology, biochemistry, and chemistry, physics sections, it is not enough to memorize the structures, but you should know what properties different structures provide the amino acid.

For example

Would you be more likely to see an Arginine that carries a positive charge, or a veiling, which is hydrophobic on the exterior of a protein. The exterior of a protein is usually composed of hydrophilic residues since it interacts with water. So we would be much more likely to see the charged Argentine which can interact with water.



Which of the following amino acids is most likely located at the junction of two alpha helix us in a protein domain.

A) Prolene

B) tryptophan

C) serine

D) glutamine

There are two amino acids that are known to introduce flexibility and kinks into peptide chains. These are proline and glycine, we are likely to see an amino acid that changes the direction of the chain by introducing flexibility at the junction of two alpha-helices.

So Answer choice A is correct.

Notice that the question did not ask us what the structure of Prolene is, but rather it asked us to identify which amino acid sidechain has the necessary properties to be located at the junction of two alpha-helices.

TIP NO# 04: Understand the integration of metabolism by focusing on rate-limiting steps and big picture ideas

Many students often assume that they will need to memorize every enzyme reaction product and how to draw the reactants or products and metabolic pathways, such as glycolysis, your time and effort, however, is very valuable, while studying for the MCAT, and is probably better spent elsewhere on high yield material.

What is the high yield from glycolysis?

Instead of memorizing every action product and enzyme, memorize the rate-limiting enzymes that control movement through the pathway. What are the nonreversible enzymes in glycolysis, and how does the body regulate these enzymes in order to control our metabolism?


Let’s look at an example Phosphofructokinase-1 or PFK-1 is the rate-limiting step of glycolysis.

This means that the entire glycolysis pathway can only move as quickly as PFK-1. Why does the body do this?

rate-limiting steps are often very important regulatory points within metabolism and biological pathways in general. Let’s say we eat a large meal and have a lot of glucose in our bloodstream. We want to process this glucose and either uses it as immediate energy or store it for future use. In order to do this, we need to carry out glycolysis. After we eat the large meal. Insulin is also released in our bloodstream insulin, through a series of steps up-regulates PFK-1, so that it works more quickly, allowing glycolysis to also occur more quickly. This is an example of the level at which you should understand a given metabolic pathway.

The metabolic pathways you should know, are

  • Glycolysis
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • glycogenesis\Kreb Cycle
  • Electron Transport Chain/ ATP Synthesis
  • fermentation
  • Pentose Phosphate pathway
  • Fatty Acid Synthesis
  • Fatty Acid Oxidation(Beta-Oxidation)

TIP NO#05: Be familiar with experimental techniques

experimental techniques on the MCAT biology, biochemistry section include

  • PCR
  • Western Blot
  • Sourhern Blot
  • Gel Electroporosis
  • SDS-PAGE/ Reducing Gels Versus Native Gels
  • Molecular Cloning
  • Transformation/Conjugation/Transformation

You will encounter these techniques in biology, biochemistry passages, and by applying strategies one and two, you’ll be able to work your way through them. Here, we’ll go over what each technique does at a high level. So let’s start with PCR.

01# PCR:

This technique can amplify small amounts of DNA and is useful in modern applications such as sequencing or determining cellular mRNA levels.

02# Western Blot:

This technique measures protein levels in a sample using antibodies.

03# Southern blot:

This technique detects DNA levels, northern blot. this technique detects RNA levels.

04# Gel Electrophoresis:

This technique separates molecules on the basis of size and charges.

05# SDS-PAGE/ Reducing Gels Versus Native Gels:

This technique separates denatured proteins on the basis of size, native gels, this technique separates proteins and their native conformation that allows subunits to remain intact.

06# Molecular Cloning:

This technique is used to introduce genetic information into a plasmid for protein expression or genetic manipulation

07# Transformation/Conjugation And Transduction:

These techniques are used to transfer genetic information into bacterial species.


And that’s how to master the MCAT biology and biochemistry section. Now you have a toolbox of study strategies to attack your practice problems, so you can achieve your highest score on the MCAT biology, biochemistry section. If you found this ARTICLE helpful, give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on any helpful post. And if you’d like to receive a free MCAT Question of the day simply hit the RED BELL TO GET ALL NOTIFICATION

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