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About The MCAT Exam

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is required for admission to most medical schools. The MCAT is computer-based and tests physical, chemical and biological sciences, and verbal reasoning skills


MCAT Chemistry Section Weightage

The chem/physics section of the MCAT is scored 118-132 on a curved scale, with the median score of all test takers set to be 125. The given score does not conform with the number of questions answered correctly or otherwise, But are decided on the basis of the day and relative difficulty of the exam taken. The score for this section of the test is combined with the other three sections to provide your overall score which ranges from 472 to 528.

Percentage Weight Topic
30% General Chemistry
25% Physics
15% Organic Chemistry
25% Biochemistry
5% Biology

MCAT Exam Calculator Policy

Calculators are not allowed in the MCAT Exam, So practicing written and mental calculations are very important. Fortunately, the amount of calculation you'll have to do is small.

The Exam


Section : Chemical and Physical Foundations of Living Systems

Length : 95 Minutes

Total weightage : 25%

Format : 59 questions asked, with 10 passages.

# Questions
44 Passage based questions
15 Discrete Questions
59 Total Number of questions

The MCAT exam will present 10 passages and ask 4-7 questions from each passage. The questions will address the four Scientific and Reasoning Skills listed, although different passages will focus on different skills. Apart from passages, the test taker will also be asked 15 discrete questions that are completely separate from the ten passages.



MCAT Chemistry Exam Syllabus


General Chemistry (GC)



1.1 Atomic number, Atomic weight

1.2 Neutrons, Protons, Isotopes

1.3 Radioactive decay, α, β, γ decay

1.4 Half-life, exponential decay, Semi-log plots

1.5 Mass spectrometer



2.1 Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, Principal quantum number 'n', Number of electrons per orbital (GC)

2.2 Ground state, Excited states

2.3 Absorption and Emission line spectra

2.4 Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle

2.5 Paramagnetism and Diamagnetism

2.6 Conventional notation for electronic structure (GC)

2.7 Bohr atom

2.8 Heisenberg uncertainty principle

2.9 Effective nuclear charge (GC)

2.10 Photoelectric effect



3.1 Alkali metals

3.2 Alkaline earth metals: their chemical characteristics

3.3 Halogens: their chemical characteristics

3.4 Noble gases: their physical and chemical characteristics

3.5 Transition metals

3.6 Representative elements

3.7 Metals and non-metals

3.8 Oxygen group

3.9 The Periodic Table - Variations of Chemical Properties with Group and Row (GC)

3.10 Valence electrons

3.11 First and second ionization energy

3.12 Definition

3.13 Prediction from electronic structure for elements in different groups or rows

3.14 Electron affinity

3.15 Variation with group and row

3.16 Electronegativity

3.17 Comparative values for some representative elements and important groups

3.18 Electron shells and the sizes of atoms

3.19 Electron shells and the sizes of ions



4.1 Molecular weight

4.2 Empirical versus molecular formula

4.3 Metric units commonly used in the context of chemistry

4.4 Description of composition by percent mass

4.5 Mole concept, Avogadro’s number NA

4.6 Definition of density

4.7 Oxidation number

4.8 Common oxidizing and reducing agents

4.9 Disproportionation reactions

4.10 Description of reactions by chemical equations

4.11 Conventions for writing chemical equations

4.12 Balancing equations, including redox equations

4.13 Limiting reactants

4.14 Theoretical yields



5.1 Lewis Electron Dot formulas

5.2 Resonance structures

5.3 Formal charge

5.4 Lewis acids and bases

5.5 Partial ionic character

5.6 Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution

5.7 Dipole Moment

5.8 σ and π bonds

5.9 Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries

5.10 Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g., NH3, H2O, CO2)

5.11 Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl

5.12 Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules

5.13 Multiple bonding

5.14 Effect on bond length and bond energies

5.15 Rigidity in molecular structure

5.16 Liquid Phase : Intermolecular Forces (GC)

5.17 Hydrogen bonding

5.18 Dipole Interactions

5.19 Van der Waals’ Forces (London dispersion forces)



6.1 Thermodynamic system – state function

6.2 Zeroth Law – concept of temperature

6.3 First Law − conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes

6.4 PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)

6.5 Second Law – concept of entropy

6.6 Entropy as a measure of “disorder”

6.7 Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states

6.8 Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat

6.9 Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)

6.10 Endothermic/exothermic reactions (GC)

6.11 Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation

6.12 Hess’ Law of Heat Summation

6.13 Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (GC)

6.14 Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (GC)

6.15 Spontaneous reactions and ΔG° (GC)

6.16 Coefficient of expansion (PHY)

6.17 Coefficient of expansion (PHY)

6.18 Phase diagram: pressure and temperature



7.1 Reaction rate

7.2 Dependence of reaction rate on concentration of reactants

7.3 Rate law, rate constant

7.4 Reaction order

7.5 Rate-determining step

7.6 Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature

7.7 Activation energy

7.8 Activated complex or transition state

7.9 Interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants, products, activation energy, and ΔH for the reaction

7.10 Use of the Arrhenius Equation

7.11 Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction

7.12 Catalysts



8.1 Law of Mass Action

8.2 Law of Mass Action

8.3 Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle

8.4 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°



9.1 Law of Mass Action

9.2 Law of Mass Action

9.3 Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle

9.4 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.5/b> Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.6 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.7 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.8 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.9 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.10 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.11 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.12 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.13 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

9.14 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°



10.1 Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium,PO4 3– phosphate, SO4 2– sulfate)

10.2 Hydration, the hydronium ion



11.1 Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)

11.2 Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp

11.3 Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations

11.4 Complex ion formation

11.5 Complex ions and solubility



12.1 Indicators

12.2 Neutralization

12.3 Interpretation of the titration curves

12.4 Redox titration



13.1 Law of Mass Action

13.2 Law of Mass Action

13.3 Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle

13.4 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°



14.1 Law of Mass Action

14.2 Law of Mass Action

14.3 Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle

14.4 Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°



15.1 Osmosis

15.2 Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (GC)

15.3 Henry’s Law (GC)


Organic Chemistry (OC)



1.1 Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents

1.2 Distillation

1.3 Basic principles involved in separation process

1.4 Column chromatography

1.5 Gas-liquid chromatography

1.6 High pressure liquid chromatography

1.7 Paper chromatography

1.8 Thin-layer chromatography

1.9 Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BC)

1.10 Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (OC)



2.1 Quaternary structure of proteins (BIO, BC)

2.2 Hydrophobic interactions

2.3 Solvation layer (entropy)

2.4 Denaturing and folding



3.1 Nucleotides and nucleosides.

3.2 Sugar phosphate backbone

3.3 Pyrimidine, purine residues

3.4 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure.

3.5 Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C.

3.6 Function in transmission of genetic information (BIO)

3.7 DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization



4.1 Nomenclature and classification, common names.

4.2 Absolute configuration.

4.3 Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses.

4.4 Epimers and anomers.

4.5 Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage.

4.6 Keto-enol tautomerism of monosaccharides

4.7 Disaccharides (BC)

4.8 Polysaccharides (BC)



5.1 Type Storage: Triacyl glycerols, Free fatty acids: saponification

5.2 Type Structural: Phospholipids and phosphatids, Sphingolipids (BC), Waxes.

5.3 Signals/cofactors: Fat-soluble vitamins, Steroids, Prostaglandins (BC)



6.1 Nomenclature andS Physical properties

6.2 Oxidation of aldehydes

6.3 Reactions at adjacent positions: enolate chemistry, Keto-enol tautomerism, alpha racemization, Aldol condensation, retro-aldol, Kinetic versus thermodynamic enolate

6.4 General principles: Effects of substituents on reactivity of C =O ; Steric hinderance, Acidity of α-H ; Carbanions.



7.1 Nomenclature and Physical properties (acidity, hydrogen bonding)

7.2 Important reactions: Oxidation, Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2, Protection of alcohols, Preparation of mesylates and tosylates



8.1 Nomenclature and Physical properties

8.2 Carboxyl group reactions, Amides (and lactam), esters (and lactone), anhydride formation, Reduction, Decarboxylation

8.3 Reactions at 2-position, substitution



9.1 Nomenclature, Physical properties

9.2 Important reactions: Oxidation, Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2, Protection of alcohols, Preparation of mesylates and tosylates

9.3 General principles: Relative reactivity of acid, derivatives, Steric effects, Electronic effects, Strain, for example beta lactams Strain

9.4 Phenols (OC, BC): Oxidation and reduction (e.g.- hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e– redox centers



10.1 Biological aromatic heterocycles, lectrophoresis, Quantitative analysis, Chromatography, Size-exclusion, Ion-exchange, Affinity, Amino Acids, Peptides, Proteins (OC, BC), Amino acids: description, Absolute configuration at the α position, Dipolar ions, Classification, Synthesis of alpha amino acids,Peptides and proteins: reactions


Bio Chemistry (BC)



1.1 Absolute configuration at the alpha position

1.2 Amino acids as dipolar ions

1.3 Classifications: Acidic or basic

1.4 Classifications: Hydrophobic or hydrophilic

1.5 Reactions: Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine

1.6 Reactions: Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins

1.7 Reactions: Hydrolysis



2.1 Primary structure of proteins (1◦)

2.2 Secondary structure of proteins (2◦)

2.3 Tertiary structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding (3◦)

2.4 Quaternary structure of proteins (BIO, BC)(4◦)

2.5 Conformational stability: Denaturing and folding

2.6 Conformational stability: Hydrophobic interactions

2.7 Conformational stability: Solvation layer (entropy) (BC)

2.8 Separation techniques: Isoelectric point

2.9 Separation techniques: Electrophoresis



3.1 Binding

3.2 Immune System

3.3 Motors



4.1 Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions

4.2 Enzyme classification by reaction type

4.3 Reduction of activation energy

4.4 Substrates and enzyme specificity

4.5 Active Site Model

4.6 Induced-fit Model

4.7 Mechanism of catalysis: Cofactors

4.8 Mechanism of catalysis: Coenzymes

4.9 Mechanism of catalysis: Water soluble vitamins

4.10 Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity



5.1 Kinetics: General (catalysis)

5.2 Kinetics: Michaelis–Menten

5.3 Kinetics: Cooperativity

5.4 Feedback regulation

5.5 Inhibition – types: Competitive

5.6 Inhibition – types: Non-competitive

5.7 Inhibition – types: Mixed (BC)

5.8 Inhibition – types: Uncompetitive (BC)

5.9 Regulatory enzymes: Allosteric enzymes

5.10 Regulatory enzymes: Covalently-modified enzymes

5.11 Regulatory enzymes: Zymogen



6.1 Nucleotides and nucleosides: Sugar phosphate backbone

6.2 Nucleotides and nucleosides: Pyrimidine, purine residues

6.3 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): Double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure

6.4 Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C

6.5 Function in transmission of genetic information (BIO)

6.6 DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization



7.1 Free energy and the equilibrium constant: Equilibrium constant

7.2 Free energy and the equilibrium constant: Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ∆G◦

7.3 Concentration: Le Chatelier's Principle

7.4 Endothermic/exothermic reactions

7.5 Free energy: G

7.6 Spontaneous reactions and the change in ∆G◦

7.7 Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP: ATP hydrolysis ∆G◦ much less than

7.8 Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP: ATP group transfers

7.9 Biological oxidation-reduction: Half-reactions

7.10 Biological oxidation-reduction: Soluble electron carriers

7.11 Biological oxidation-reduction: Flavoproteins



8.1 Nomenclature and classification, common names

8.2 Absolute configuration

8.3 Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses

8.4 Epimers and anomers

8.5 Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage

8.6 Keto-enol tautomerism of monosaccharides

8.7 Disaccharides (BC)

8.8 Polysaccharides (BC)



9.1 Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products

9.2 Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism

9.3 Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)

9.4 Gluconeogenesis (BC)

9.5 Pentose phosphate pathway (BC)

9.6 Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes



10.1 Regulation of metabolic pathways (BIO, BC): Maintenance of a dynamic steady state

10.2 Regulation of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis

10.3 Metabolism of glycogen

10.4 Regulation of glycogen synthesis and breakdown: Allosteric and hormonal control

10.5 Analysis of metabolic control



11.1 Description of fatty acids (BC)

11.2 Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats

11.3 Oxidation of fatty acids

11.4 Saturated fats

11.5 Unsaturated fats

11.6 Ketone bodies (BC)

11.7 Anabolism of fats (BIO)

11.8 Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)

11.9 Metabolism of proteins (BIO)



12.1 Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway

12.2 Electron transfer in mitochondria: NADH, NADPH

12.3 Electron transfer in mitochondria: Flavoproteins

12.4 Electron transfer in mitochondria: Cytochromes

12.5 ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling: Proton motive force

12.6 Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes

12.7 Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation

12.8 Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BC)



13.1 Higher level integration of hormone structure and function

13.2 Tissue specific metabolism

13.3 Hormonal regulation of fuel metabolism

13.4 Obesity and regulation of body mass



14.1 General function in cell containment

14.2 Tissue specific metabolism

14.3 Composition of membranes: Lipid components (BIO, BC, OC): Phospholipids (and phosphatids)

14.4 Composition of membranes: Lipid components (BIO, BC, OC): Steroids

14.5 Composition of membranes: Lipid components (BIO, BC, OC): Waxes

14.6 Composition of membranes: Protein components

14.7 Composition of membranes: Fluid Mosaic Model

14.8 Membrane dynamics

14.9 Solute transport across membranes: Thermodynamic considerations

14.10 Solute transport across membranes: Colligative properties odf osmosis and osmotic pressure (GC)

14.11 Solute transport across membranes: Passive transport

14.12 Solute transport across membranes: Active transport and Sodium/Potassium pump

14.13 Solute transport across membranes: Membrane channels

14.14 Solute transport across membranes: Membrane potential

14.15 Solute transport across membranes: Membrane receptors

14.16 Solute transport across membranes: Exocytosis and endocytosis

14.17 Solute transport across membranes: Intercellular junctions (BIO)

14.18 Solute transport across membranes: Gap junctions

14.19 Solute transport across membranes: Tight junctions

14.20 Solute transport across membranes: Desmosomes



15.1 Oncogenes, apoptosis

15.2 Gated ion channels: Voltage gated

15.3 Gated ion channels: Ligand gated

15.4 Receptor enzymes

15.5 G protein-coupled receptors



16.1 Storage: Triacyl glycerols

16.2 Free fatty acids: saponification

16.3 Phospholipids and phosphatids

16.4 Sphingolipids (BC)

16.5 Waxes

16.6 Terpenes and terpenoids

16.7 Steroids

16.8 Signals/cofactors