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MCAT® Study Guide

Ace the MCAT® test using our MCAT® exam study guide with practice questions.

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Anyone hoping to become a medical doctor will have to score extremely well on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). This all-important test is administered numerous times every year, though individuals are advised to take the exam during the year in which they will apply to medical school. The MCAT test is one of the most difficult academic tests in existence, and doing well on it requires a high level of native intelligence, mastery of many different subject areas, and intensive preparation. There is a strong emphasis on scientific knowledge and principles on the test. In addition, the MCAT has now been thoroughly revised. As of 2015, the well-known MCAT format is history.

The old MCAT had four components: a Writing Sample, and three sections of multiple-choice questions on the Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and the Biological Sciences. The new MCAT also has four components, but there’s no longer a Writing Sample. It was dropped because many medical school administrators reported to test developers that the essays weren’t very helpful in predicting which test takers would do well in med school. In additions, a new section was added because there is concern among medical experts that many new doctors are lacking in the social and psychological skills that will enable them to effectively provide medical care in an America that is becoming increasingly multicultural every day.

The four sections of the MCAT2015 are: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Each of the first three sections contains 59 questions and has a time limit of 95 minutes. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Sills contains 53 questions with a 90 minute time limit. Taking the new MCAT is an all-day commitment; the entire test takes about seven and a half hours to complete. Scores on each section will range from 118 to 132, with 125 being the midpoint score. The four section scores will be added together to create a total score which will fall between 470 and 528, with a 500 midpoint. As high MCAT scores become increasingly important for winning admission to medical school, getting that high score has become even more difficult with the development of the new MCAT.

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MCAT Practice Questions

1. Two spring scales having negligible mass are connected together and used to weigh a 10 kg object, as shown below.


What will be the reading on the scales?

  1. Both scales will read 10 pounds.
  2. Each scale will read 49 newtons.
  3. The sum of the two readings will be 196 newtons.
  4. The bottom scale will read 98 newtons and the top scale will read 0 newtons.

2. Transverse travelling waves propagate through a taut string of length 20 meters at a speed of 4 m/s. Standing waves are set up in this string which is fixed at both ends. What is the smallest frequency possible for the standing waves?

  1. 0.1 Hz
  2. 0.05 Hz
  3. 0.2 Hz
  4. 0.4 Hz

3. Which statement correctly describes the elastic limit of a metal rod?

  1. The elastic limit occurs when a deformed object will no longer return to its original shape.
  2. The elastic limit occurs when the rod breaks.
  3. The elastic limit occurs when the stress stops producing a strain.
  4. The elastic limit assumes that the forces between molecules in a metal act like springs.

4. PUGILIST : GLOVES :: JOCKEY :

  1. race
  2. saddle
  3. lightweight
  4. odds

5. QUILLS : PORCUPINE :: TUSKS :

  1. proboscis
  2. horn
  3. ivory
  4. elephant

6. Henry's most recent _____ is an oil painting he has wanted for years.

  1. acquisition
  2. inquisition
  3. creation
  4. syndication

7. The _____ rumors nearly destroyed Alan's reputation.

  1. propitious
  2. vociferous
  3. superfluous
  4. pernicious

8.


The graph above shows the potential energy of molecules during a chemical reaction. Which of the following statements about the reaction is true?

  1. An enzyme could have increased the potential energy at point C
  2. An enzyme was probably present in curve 2
  3. This is an exergonic reaction
  4. The curves show the potential energy of the enzyme
  5. The energy of the substrate is less than the energy of the products

9. A pea plant with purple flowers is crossed with a pea plant with white flowers. Half the progeny have purple flowers and half have white flowers. The allele for purple flowers is ____________ to the allele for white flowers.

  1. Dominant
  2. Co-dominant
  3. Recessive
  4. Incompletely dominant
  5. Impossible to determine from the information provided

10. In the absence of selective pressure, but in a small population, allele frequencies will likely change because of:

  1. Genetic drift
  2. Gene flow
  3. The founder effect
  4. Nonrandom mating
  5. Sexual selection

Answers

1. C: The weight of an object near Earth's surface is given by W = mg, where g = 9.8 m/s2. The Earth exerts a force on the 10 kg object equal 10 kg x 9.8 m/s2= 98 N. This weight pulls on the lower spring, stretching it until it reads 98 N. The lower spring then exerts a force of 98 N on the upper spring, causing it to read 98 N.

2. A: A standing wave remains stationary, and the fixed points at both ends are the wave's nodes. Nevertheless, a standing waves with nodes at both ends of the string can have several forms. It may have one anti-node (i.e., it will arc across), two anti-nodes (this looks like a sine wave), three anti-nodes (with 1.5 sine waves), etc. However, waves with just one anti-node will the longest wavelength and thus the smallest frequency. For a wave with one anti-node, the string will have only ONE-HALF of a wave, so 20 m represents a half-wavelength and the full wavelength is 40 m. Using the wave equation (v = λ f) gives the correct answer. f = v/λ = 4 m/s / 40 m = 0.1 Hz.

3. A: When an external force deforms a solid material, it will return to its initial position when the force is removed. This is called elasticity and is exhibited by springs. If too much force is applied and the elastic limit is exceeded, the rod won't return to its original shape any longer. As with springs, the deformation is directly proportional to the stress. The elastic limit occurs in rods subjected to a tensile force when the strain stops being directly proportional to the stress. The typical pattern when the force increases is that the strain increases linearly, then it doesn't increase as much, and then it breaks.

4. B: In this analogy of association, the second term in each pair names a piece of equipment used in the profession. A pugilist, or boxer, uses gloves when pursuing the sport, just as a jockey uses a saddle when pursuing the sport.

5. D: This analogy names prominent features of each animal. Quills are a prominent feature of a porcupine, just as tusks are a prominent feature of an elephant.

6. A: An inquisition is an interrogation, so you can immediately eliminate choice B, since it doesn't make any sense in the sentence. You might be tempted by choice C, creation, which goes with the idea of an oil painting, but the clue that "he has wanted [it] for years" helps you eliminate this choice. If he has wanted it for years, he would not have just recently created it. Choice D, syndication, makes no sense, as it means "an association of individuals or corporations." Choice A is the only choice that makes sense. An acquisition is something that one acquires, or manages to get.

7. D: If rumors nearly destroyed Alan's reputation, we should look for a word that hints at destruction. Propitious means "favorable," so it can be eliminated. Vociferous means "loud," so that doesn't make much sense. Superfluous means "extra," so it can be eliminated, too. That leaves pernicious, which means "causing great harm, destruction, or injury," as the obvious correct answer.

8. B: The activation energy, or peak, is lower in curve 2, which means that a catalyst was present. Enzymes work by lowering the activation energy of reactions.

9. E: Because we are not told whether the parent plants are homozygous or heterozygous, it is not possible to determine the dominance of one allele over another.

10. A: Genetic drift is the random change in allele frequencies. In a small population, some alleles may increase or decrease for no other reason than by chance.

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Last Updated: 11/04/2014

 

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