Do you need to take anatomy for medical school?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Do you need to take anatomy for medical school?” how to study and get good grades.

Do you need to take anatomy for medical school?

Yes, as a future physician you’ll have to take anatomy for medical school. Anatomy will always be the fundamental pillar in medical formation.

Human anatomy is one of the most important basic sciences in the field of health since it provides us with knowledge regarding the morphology, relationships, and function of the different structures of the human body and bringing us with the basis for understanding the organic function in the healthy and sick human being.

Currently, patient safety is considered a fundamental principle of health care, and of course and physicians are the keys.

However, actually, bad practices happens, why? an inadequate description and interpretation of the anatomy, both in diagnoses and in treatments. We believe that, without a doubt, the correct learning of anatomy is related to patient safety.

The curriculum of Medicine usually begins with Anatomy, one of the most extensive subjects in the career.

Anatomy is the basis of medicine because other subjects like physiology, pathology, semiology, and therapeutics require its knowledge and the correct use of anatomical language to be understood.

What is anatomy?

Anatomy is the science that studies the structure and morphology of living things. It’s a branch of biology and medicine.

The word anatomy comes from the Greek and is composed of the adverb ana (which means up) and the verb tome (which means cut or incision).

The combination of these words formed the term anatémnein, which means “to cut from top to bottom” and also “to dissect”. The origin of the word anatomy isn’t random, since the basis of this science consists of dissecting corpses for study. 

Those who study any branch of biology must study the anatomy of their objects of study, whether human or animal, including plants.

Applied to the study of the human being it’s known as human anatomy. This term is also used to refer to the very structure of a living being or its organs.

Some examples of the object of the study of anatomy are dental anatomy, brain anatomy, and eye anatomy.

Does anatomy have classification? 

Within the anatomy, there are many subdivisions. However, there are two major types of anatomy; Gross (macroscopic)  and Microscopic anatomy.


Macroscopic anatomy is mainly responsible for the study of the body, morphology, or physiology, but at the macroscopic level, that’s, with the naked eye without the need for the intervention of any tool.

The macroscopic anatomy in turn can also be divided into three different subdivisions:

Surface anatomy (or superficial anatomy)

The anatomy of the surface is a descriptive science, in charge of the study of the external characteristics of the body. Surface anatomy deals with anatomical features that can be studied with the naked eye, without dissection.

Regional anatomy

Regional anatomy also known as topographic anatomy is an approach to anatomical study that is responsible for studying the human body dividing it into regions or parts. This study highlights the relationships of various systems in the same body region, such as the muscles, nerves, and arteries of the arm or head.

Systematic anatomy 

Systematic anatomy is the discipline of anatomy that studies the elements of the human body dividing it into a series of systems or devices that it describes in isolation.

Through systemic anatomy, each system can be studied separately, such as the integumentary, muscular, bone, nervous, lymphatic, circulatory, digestive, reproductive, excretory systems among others.

Microscopic anatomy

Microscopic anatomy is the science that studies the tiny structure of cells and tissues that make up the body of organisms. This discipline requires precision tools, such as the ultraviolet light microscope or the electron microscope.

The microscopic anatomy in turn can also be divided into two different subdivisions:


Cytology is a branch of Biology that is responsible for the morphological and physiological study of cells. 


Histology is the branch of anatomy focused on the analysis of the body’s tissues. This is the discipline that studies from the microscopic level of tissues to their functions.

History of Anatomy

Anatomy is the oldest scientific discipline of medicine.

The history of anatomy has been an evolving understanding of organs and structures in the body.

The history of anatomy began in Ancient Egyptian who performed human dissections for the first time.

One of the most important papyri in medical knowledge is the Hadest papyrus, it dates back to 1500 years BC, 1600 other authors comment, basically, the papyrus has the knowledge of the era: mummification, medicine, pathology, physiology.

In Ancient Greece, the figure that stood out was Hippocrates, a philosopher, and polemicist, who began to study anatomy, but not in corpses, but in animals, and then compared them.

Anatomy was developing more and more through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Methods of studying anatomy become advanced dramatically during those times. Laying the foundations in human gross anatomy.

And with the advent of the modern era and the discovery of microscopic anatomy allowed the field of anatomy to become a much more specialized area. And in the 19th century, anatomy officially became a science.

Are Anatomy and physiology the same?

No, Anatomy and physiology are two complementary disciplines.

Physiology is the part of biology that studies the organs of living beings and their functioning, it’s one of the foundations on which all medical and biological sciences are built, whereas anatomy is in charge of studying the structure of beings living such as location, topography, of the organs that compose them.

Should I take anatomy before medical school?

As anatomy is a pillar in the medical career that the student will see until completing the career, it’s recommended that they take anatomy classes before starting university, in this way, they’ll have a base and it will not become extremely difficult to see after.

Studying anatomy in online courses

Some websites offer online courses in anatomy and it’s very recommended that you take them before starting university. 

Sites like edX and Coursera offer anatomy courses ranging from the basics to complex anatomy.

You can learn about skeletal muscle, the central nervous system, or the cardiovascular system.

Studying Anatomy through these MOOCs (Massive open online course) with the main universities worldwide such as Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) could be the starting point you need to build a career in this area.

Tips to learn anatomy

Anatomy is one of the most complicated subjects to be studied. It requires a great deal of memory and concentration. It’s a mostly descriptive subject, therefore, gaining knowledge in this subject implies that a person is capable of having a mental map of the composition of the human body.

Repeat and repeat

The most common way to acquire that pure data is simply to repeat the information and seek to use it in the most creative way you can.


Be creative. Draw. Quality doesn’t matter, only knowledge matters. Drawing in a subject as descriptive as anatomy helps you have a notion of the space studied. It’s a way of putting the acquired information into practice and allows you to consolidate it.

Organize your schedules

It’s important not only to know how many hours a day you are available to study but also to know how much volume of study material you will have to handle. 

Organize your Study

This is basic in all types of study, taken, and exam. Organizing the material to be studied is essential in any subject. But speaking specifically of Anatomy, you are going to have to get the idea of having a schedule with the topics that you will see in class and that your faculty wants you to know.

Memorization techniques

For those things that you cannot memorize on your own, there are techniques that can help you. Mnemonics are very good allies in these cases.

What are the goals of anatomy in medicine?

  • Acquire basic knowledge of body nomenclature human, its dividing lines, body planes, and topographic anatomy so that it can be able to describe the location of the different lesions.
  • Identify the classification and structure of the tissues, organs, apparatus, and systems of the human body.
  • Recognize the structures that make up the various regions of the human body (topographic anatomy).
  • Describe the different systems of which the body is made up taking into account the function and structure of each one of them.
  • Recognize the importance of the study of human Anatomy, in the development of daily activities.

FAQSs: Do you need to take anatomy for medical school? 

Are anatomy and physiology required for med school?

Yes, some schools require anatomy and physiology along with other pre-med courses for you to matriculate. They will be very beneficial for both the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and the first year of medical school.

What is the lowest and highest MCAT score accepted?

Is not a surprise to many that the difference between getting accepted and getting rejected can come down to single digits. Each MCAT section is scored on a scale of 118–132 (highest score). Your MCAT total score (which is the sum of your section scores) has to range from 472–528. The lowest possible score accepted is 472.

How many months should you study for the MCAT?

The more time and effort you put into studying for the MCAT, the more likely you’ll have to pass. According to the AAMC, the average pre-med student should spend about six months over 10–15 hours per week to study. In total, you should aim for at least 200 to 300 hours of MCAT study time.

How hard is pre-med?

Pre-med is considered difficult, because you need to be able to balance schoolwork, with research/ECs that demonstrate your interests in both medicine, and possibly other areas you are interested in (eg. music) Also, it can be difficult to get high grades in the courses required for pre-med, because of the grading curve, while also you have to be studying for the MCAT exam.

How hard will the MCAT be for me?

The mean MCAT score for accepted students is 31.4, or the 83rd percentile. Just for these numbers, you see that the MCAT is not an impossible exam. However, there are individual-specific factors that might make the MCAT easier or more difficult for any given person as preparation time, method of preparation, and undergraduate major.

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do you need to take anatomy for medical school?” how to study and get good grades.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Brazier, Y. (2017, March 7). Anatomy: A brief introduction. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from website:

What Is Anatomy and Physiology? (2015). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from website:

What is Human Anatomy, What is Human Physiology. (2019, February 18). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from Medicine LibreTexts website: