How to Memorize Equations for the MCAT

Almost every prep resource out there (Khan Academy, Kaplan, etc) teaches hundreds upon hundreds of equations, which can be extremely overwhelming for a busy pre-med like yourself. Many students want to know how much they should be learning about these equations and whether or not they should spend their time memorizing them. Here are some helpful tips for sorting through this challenging topic:

Memorize Simple Equations

On the actual MCAT, the AAMC will provide you with many of the equations needed to solve the problems they throw at you. However, sometimes they simply expect you to have the equation perfectly memorized. For this reason, you should spend your time memorizing some equations, but not all. Put simply, I recommend memorizing simple equations such as F = ma and not worrying about complex equations such as dF = dq v(B sin α) = I dl(B sin α). The AAMC is unlikely to test you on such long-winded equations.

Understand Complex Equations

Because there is no resource out there that lists every equation you absolutely must know for the MCAT, I created my 100 Most Essential Equations Mastery Course. It will teach you every single equation that you should memorize in preparation for test day. It even comes with a single-paged, printable PDF with all 100 equations listed. I recommend keeping this Equations Sheet by your side while you are studying. If you run into an equation that is on the sheet, highlight it and memorize it the very best you can. If you run into an equation that is not on the sheet, spend your time simply understanding the purpose of the equation and how you should use it if it is provided for you on test day.

Think about Relationships

Keeping all the variables of an equation straight in your mind is often the hardest part about memorizing an equation. For example, think about Poiseuille’s Law: Q = π⋅r⁴⋅P / 8⋅η⋅l. At first glance, this equation can feel extremely overwhelming. But, if you take a moment to examine the relationships that it represents one at a time, you will start to feel at ease. For instance, Q (flow rate) is directly related to P (pressure). This makes sense because increasing the pressure on a garden hose will increase the amount of water coming out of it per unit time. Also, Q (flow rate) is inversely related to η (viscosity). This also makes sense as the thicker a liquid is (think honey), the slower it will flow. By taking the time to think through the relationships in an equation like this, you will start to feel more comfortable about memorizing it.

I hope this gave you some simple, easy-to-implement strategies for tackling any MCAT equation you need for test day. And, as always, if you have any questions please be sure to reach out. I am here to help.

Warm regards,

Andrew  George

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