How much of the MCAT is biochemistry?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’How much of the MCAT is biochemistry?’’ We will introduce you to each of the MCAT sections, the main concepts you will need to learn, and some tips to study biochemistry.

How much of the MCAT is biochemistry?

Biochemistry represents approximately 25% of the MCAT, you find between 25 and 35 questions that cover biochemistry in two of the four sections of the exam.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized test administered to individuals who wish to attend medical school in the United States. Almost all American medical schools require MCAT scores from people interested in pursuing careers as physicians.

Therefore, the MCAT is an extremely important exam, and schools and applicants take it very seriously. Members of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine require both MCAT scores from their applicants.

The history of the MCAT is quite long. Test administrations began in the 1920s, when standardized intelligence tests became immensely popular in the United States. Medical school administrators were concerned about the very high dropout rate for medical students, and decided to design a standardized test to assess readiness for medical school.

Dropout rates dropped dramatically after the institution of this standardized test, and most medical schools adopted it as part of their admissions program.

The MCAT content proves several things. The first, of course, is the basic knowledge of the physical sciences and biology. The test also boosts the applicant’s analytical and critical thinking skills, presenting various passages and arguments that the examinee must work with during the course of the test.

The MCAT also assesses reading comprehension and communication skills, as these are vital skills for clinicians.

The modern MCAT is a computerized test, although it is not adaptive, like the Graduate Registration Exam (GRE). This means that examinees can return to a section once they have completed it, as the questions are set and static.

The MCAT takes around five hours to complete, including breaks, and is administered in secure testing centers so applicants have quiet, quiet spaces to work.

MCAT Sections

There are four sections on the MCAT. The first tests the applicant’s knowledge of the physical sciences, and also pushes the applicant to use their problem solving skills.

The Verbal Reasoning Section, Part Two, provides passages for test-takers to read and analyze, answering a series of multiple-choice questions that test the applicant’s ability to reach and synthesize information.

The third section is a writing sample, in which the applicant responds to two short prompts that test their communication skills and logical thinking. Finally, the life sciences section covers basic topics in biology.

Chemical + Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

The first section of MCAT covers the physical sciences, specifically general chemistry and physics.

This is what you can think of as the old chem / physics section except that it’s going to cover:

30% General Chemistry

25% Biochemistry

25% physics

15% organic chemistry

5% biology

This section is 95 minutes long and includes 15 discrete questions and 10 passages with 4 to 7 questions each.

To prepare for the chemistry questions, examinees must have a thorough understanding of the periodic table of the elements and the principles of chemical processes and molecular bonding, among other topics. Physics questions require knowledge of fundamental physical laws and a firm understanding of things like motion, energy, light, and atomic structure.

Critical Analysis + Reasoning Skills

The CARS section it’s a lot more difficult than your SAT style reading comprehension and also more difficult than the old exams verbal section. This section will cover:

50% humanities

50% social science

But, you’re not required to have any outside knowledge, instead anything that you have to know to answer the questions will be provided in the passages. You’ll have a total of 90 minutes to work through nine passages with a total of 53 questions.

In this section, no specific factual knowledge is required. Rather, the questions are intended to test reading comprehension, critical and logical thinking, and analytical skills. In general, test takers prepare for this section of the MCAT primarily by taking the MCAT practice exams.

Biological + Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

This covers

65% biology

25% biochemistry

5% general chemistry

5% organic chemistry

As with the first science section you’ll have 95 minutes with 15 discrete questions and 10 passages with 4 to 7 questions each. 

The topics included in this section vary widely from enzyme structure to evolution. Test takers require a thorough understanding of molecular biology, including the structure and function of DNA; and microbiology, including knowledge of the characteristics of viral, bacterial, and eukaryotic cells.

In addition, examinees should have knowledge of all major biological systems of larger animals. Finally, organic chemistry topics range from covalent bonds to the characteristics of biological molecules.

Psychological, Social + Biological Foundations of Behavior

This section will cover

65% psychology

30% sociology

5% biology

As with the other science you have 95 minutes to work thourgh 15 discrete questions and ten passages with four to ten questions each.

MCAT Scores

In each section of the MCAT each student can obtain a minimum of 118 points up to a maximum of 132. For the total sum of the 4 sections the student can obtain a minimum of 472 up to a maximum of 528.

You may have heard scores like 23, 31, etc. But it is important to clarify that these scores were before the MCAT underwent one last change in 2015. Currently, all students who apply to medical school are doing so with the new scores.

What is considered a good GMAT score?

The average for the total MCAT score is 510-511.

However, for the most accurate estimate, you should check directly with their programs. Especially for those who must juggle MCAT alongside other jobs, it helps to know how much effort and time to put into preparing for the exam.

Here are some important questions to consider before beginning your research.

What MCAT scores do I need to be accepted?

You must have an objective score, so that you can calculate how much work you need to do for the MCAT. Request the school’s preferred cutoff score directly from the admissions office. If the school doesn’t provide one, check here to find the average GPA (grade point average) and MCAT scores for the school.

Some schools may use your scores for course assignment or scholarship consideration, in which case you may want to score higher than just the cutoff score.

How can I prepare for the MCAT?

To get a good score on the MCAT® Biology exam, you can start by getting information about the exam. In this way, you can create the best possible study plan.

The MCAT is standardized, and the questions are primarily in multiple-choice form. In addition to biology concepts, your knowledge of the physical sciences, as well as your verbal reasoning skills and writing skills, will also be assessed.

You can learn about the MCAT biochemistry section in particular by visiting the Association of American Medical Colleges website. This website presents a summary of the content that you will find in the biology and chemistry section of the MCAT.

Since a good score on the MCAT will likely improve your chances of gaining acceptance into the medical school of your choice, you can benefit by beginning your study preparation early; many experts recommend starting at least three months before taking the exam.

In general, spending a significant amount of time studying each day can help you be well prepared. Starting early can be critical to ensure you cover all the concepts you will need to know for the exam and avoid cluttering. In most cases, cramming won’t help you score well on the MCAT

You may also benefit from obtaining a copy of the Official MCAT Exam Guide, which can be found on the website of the Association of American Medical Colleges. This guide includes content and questions similar to what you are likely to encounter on the MCAT.

It also includes answers to the sample questions, as well as detailed explanations of why the answers are correct or incorrect. The guide even includes tips for answering the questions correctly and information on how a good score on the MCAT® can influence acceptance into medical school.

Practice tests, which can be taken at home, can be helpful when you are studying for the MCAT® Biology section. The Association of American Medical Colleges website is a good source for practice tests, but you can also find them on other preparatory websites and in various study guides.

Also, if you choose to take an MCAT® Biochemistry Prep course, you can include practice tests and commentary as part of the package.

Tips to Study Biochemistry

Biochemistry is an important subject for medical, nursing, and pharmacy students.

Many will find this subject very difficult and complex to study. So here are some tips from my personal experience on how to study biochemistry.

Understand the concepts

Biochemistry, as we know, is a subject of science. Therefore, we need to understand the concepts in it.

Aspects of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, nucleic acids are discussed in biochemistry.

So we need to understand its role, its formation, its metabolism and its excretion in and by the body. This makes it easier to remember and write well on tests.

Also, understanding the need helps us to think about its applications during practice.

General concepts include glucose metabolism, glycogen synthesis, fat synthesis, protein metabolism, nucleic acid synthesis, etc.

Understand the scope and extent of biochemistry

Biochemistry has a wide scope, from microbes to higher plants and animals.

Its principles are involved in biomolecules such as enzymes, carbohydrates, toxins, and electrolytes.

So knowing the real depth and scope of biochemistry will help you know the extent of the topics you would need to study.

Understand the terminology

Biochemistry has many terminologies in use. These terminologies are scientifically designed.

So when you see a word, its terminology gives us an idea of what the concept is about.

For example: Glycogenesis = formation of glycogen in the liver from excess glucose.

So here the enzymes that come in the way will have related terminology like glycogen synthase.

Try to take into account the practicalities

The reactions or themes that we find in biochemistry are related to the functions of our body.

So as we study, it is good to see the issues from the perspective of day-to-day or common health and disease conditions.

This will increase curiosity and help a better understanding of the topic. In the end we will use it as part of our career in practice.

Always trying to correlate the subject of biochemistry in natural and everyday life will help us to study better.

Biochemistry is the science that studies the molecular bases and chemical processes of biological systems such as cells, tissues, organs, compartments and devices. Its role is fundamental in medicine, so do not be discouraged! Push yourself for the MCAT.

FAQS: How much of the MCAT is biochemistry?

What percentage of the MCAT is Biochem?

About 25% of MCAT is biochemistry.

How important is biochemistry for MCAT?

It is very important, it is currently the second most examined subject after biology.

Can I take the MCAT without biochemistry?

It is not a good idea to take the MCAT without having knowledge of biochemistry, considering that in the new version of the MCAT, there is a large component of biochemistry, biology and chemistry.

Is Biochem 2 on the MCAT?

Not really, so focus on aspects of Biochemistry I.

What is the highest MCAT score?

The maximum possible score is 528 under the current MCAT.

In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’How much of the MCAT is biochemistry?’’ We introduced you to each of the MCAT sections, the main concepts you will need to learn, and some tips to study biochemistry.

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


What’s tested on the MCAT: Biology – Kaplan Test Prep. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from Kaplan Test Prep website:

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: Overview. (2020). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from @AAMCtoday website:

4 Common MCAT Myths. (2020). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from website:

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