premed plug logo

Classes to take before the MCAT

Mar 31, 2021

When deciding what classes to take during your premed undergraduate career, you should keep in mind a list of prerequisite courses for medical schools and a list of courses that will help you sufficiently prepare for the MCAT. 

In this article, we will discuss what classes to take prior to taking the MCAT exam. For these particular premed courses, we will refer to them as “MCAT prerequisites.”

Before we dive into our list of recommendations, it is important to note that the MCAT Essentials does not require any formal MCAT prerequisites. That means you are welcome to take the MCAT anytime, despite what classes you have completed in your undergraduate career. 

Since the MCAT is a high-stakes exam, however, it is wise to sufficiently prepare for it. If you begin your MCAT studies without taking the MCAT prerequisites, you risk spending too much time learning new concepts when you could be mastering concepts through practice. Taking the recommended classes prior to taking the MCAT will give you a solid foundation for your MCAT studies. 

Without further ado, let’s discuss the MCAT prerequisite courses.

Essential MCAT Prerequisites

The AAMC, which is the company that writes the MCAT, has outlined in a 111 page document what’s on the MCAT Exam. In this document, they break down the four sections of the MCAT (Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, and Psychology/Sociology) into 10 foundational concepts. In the 10 foundational concepts, there are subsections of topics. This might seem tricky, but bear with us!

Each foundational concept subsection has a list of topics that will be tested on the MCAT.  If you go through the list of topics, you can see exactly what topics are tested on the MCAT exam. 

The recommended courses to take before the MCAT exam include: 

General Chemistry: 1 year + lab
Organic Chemistry: 1 year + lab
Physics: 1 year + lab
Biology: 1 year + lab
Introductory Biochemistry: 1 class
Introductory Psychology: 1 class
Introductory Sociology: 1 class

Helpful Advanced Courses 

If you want to take additional classes to help you prepare for the MCAT, we recommend taking advanced biology courses and advanced English courses. Your general biology courses will cover topics tested on the MCAT, but only briefly. Taking advanced biology classes will help you gain a greater understanding of the material, which will help you on the MCAT. 

In addition to upper division biology courses, we recommend taking English courses to help you prepare for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section of the MCAT. If your university does not allow non-English majors to take upper division English courses, then make sure you read a lot of books, magazines, and publications throughout your undergrad career. Honing your reading comprehension skills will help you perform well on the CARS section of the MCAT. 

Recommended upper-division courses to take before the MCAT exam include:

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy 
  • Physiology 
  • Cancer Biology
  • Endocrinology 
  • Advanced English Courses 

Keep in mind, you should definitely take the MCAT essential courses listed above. These upper-division courses are simply supplemental recommendations for your MCAT success. 

MCAT Prerequisites vs Medical School Prerequisites

MCAT prerequisites and medical school prerequisites often overlap. However, every medical school has their own list of required prerequisite courses. Some medical schools even have expiration dates on classes taken over 5 years ago. Therefore, it is important to create a list of medical schools you are interested in and keep an eye on their specific requirements for admissions. 

Besides these formal classes, there are many online resources that can help you ace your courses and prepare for the MCAT.

AAMC PREView: The Ultimate Exam Guide in 2022

The AAMC PREview exam assesses your understanding of pre-professional behavior. As an entering medical student, your understanding of these behaviors is important so that you can be successful through school and into residency! AAMC PREview Exam overview  With a...

Useful Websites for Premeds

The advent of technology has changed nearly every industry. From smart cars to smart phones, our world will never be the same. As we navigate our new modern world, we can’t help but feel nostalgia for the past. Our ancestors were intelligent and they read physical...

BS-MD Programs – The Ultimate Guide and How to Get in 2022

A BS-MD degree is a dual degree program that offers both an undergraduate Bachelor's of Science degree and a medical degree. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about BS-MD degrees and programs. Table of Contents What is a BS/MD degree?How long do...

Update Letter Medical School Guide, Examples and Templates

In this update letter medical school guide, we show you how to write a great letter that can get you off the waitlist and into the entering medical school class. How to write an update letter for medical school admissions committees So you've been waitlisted by your...

Ion Names – A List of Common Monatomic and Polyatomic Ions

This article discusses ionic nomenclature and common ion names for both monatomic and polyatomic ions and includes a list for reference. What is an ion? Before we discuss common ion names, let's talk about what an ion is. An ion is an electrically charged atom or...

67 Undergraduate Premed Scholarships – 2022 Updated List

Are you a premed student that needs help paying for college? Check out our list of 67 undergraduate premed scholarships! Read on. College is expensive and it's hard to find ways to pay for it. Every day, students like you have to make tough decisions about how to pay...

MCAT Prep Courses: A Collective List

If you're reading this, then you're probably looking for the best MCAT prep courses out there. And that's a great idea! The MCAT is one of the most important tests you will ever take, and it's crucial that you do everything possible to prepare for it. This article...

M.D. vs. D.O. School – Medical Degree Comparisons

M.D. vs. D.O. School comparisons, allopathic vs. osteopathic medicine, everything you need to know about medical degrees.

Pre-med Summer Programs for Undergraduates – Updated 2022 List

Summer for pre-meds is the perfect time to venture out of the classroom! We have curated a list of pre-med summer programs all over the country with their most current website links, deadlines, and program dates. Med school admissions highly favor students who...

Premed 4 Year Plan: How to Make Your Timeline

Developing a premed 4 year plan early in your academic career is one of the best preparation tasks you can do. Having a solid plan will ensure you are on track for medical school admissions. This guide will show you how to efficiently create a premed 4 year plan for...