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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How we Matched up the Khan Academy Passages with the eCourse Lessons

Each lesson of the eCourse contains links to 1 to 5 Khan Academy science passages for the purpose of providing you with non-AAMC material to practice your science passage reading skills on. By completing all the linked passages within every lesson, you will have finished all the freely available Khan Academy science passages.

To match up the Khan Academy Science Passages with the eCourse lessons, we carefully examined the passage and question content of each one. Then we decided which lesson of the eCourse best correlated with that content. You may notice that some passages don’t match up perfectly with the current lesson. If they don’t match up with the current lesson, they should match up with one of the previous lessons in the module. We did this carefully so that you could practice your science passage reading skills on passages that contain the content you’ve already learned.

Why we don’t recommend non-AAMC CARS practice questions

We recommend practicing CARS by reading non-AAMC CARS passages but not doing the associated practice problems. The reason we don’t recommend doing the practice problems is because the MCAT is written by the AAMC. They have a very unique style in which they write CARS practice questions that third-party companies (try as they might) are unable to replicate. When students spend time on non-AAMC CARS practice problems, they get familiar with the wrong style of questioning, leading them to overthink and incorrectly respond to the questions written by the AAMC. Thus, it is in your best interest to solely practice on AAMC CARS practice questions.

That said, we highly recommend practicing your reading skills on non-AAMC CARS passages. In our Ultimate CARS Strategy Course, we provide you with 1,000 free CARS passages and 100+ homework assignments, giving you ample material to practice on. Reading countless passages while practicing the proper reading habits and strategies will prepare you well to conquer the CARS section as it was written by the AAMC.

Which books do the lessons match up with?

The books we use in each lesson are linked below. We plan to stick with these older editions of the books since very little has changed and the older editions are much more affordable:

First Edition of the Kaplan 7-book Series
First Edition of the Princeton 7-book Series

Do the chapters match up perfectly?

The Kaplan Books, Princeton Books, and Khan Academy Videos were all produced by different authors. For this reason, there are some chapters in the Kaplan Book or Princeton Book that are not even found in the Khan Academy Videos and vice versa. For instance, the Kaplan and Princeton Books have chapters that cover certain experimental procedures that the Khan Academy Videos do not cover.

Our goal in matching up the books with the videos was to correlate the content as best as possible while also covering ALL the content from every resource. For this reason, when nothing in the Kaplan Books matched up with one of the video playlists, instead of leaving the reading assignment for Kaplan blank, we inserted material that did not fit in anywhere else (i.e. one of those chapters on an experimental procedure that was not covered by Khan Academy). So, when the assignment doesn’t appear to match up right, please know that this was intentional.

*If you follow the reading assignments outlined, you will finish the entire Kaplan 7-book series and/or Princeton 7-book series by the time you finish all 10 content modules.

Do the sections match up perfectly?

If the sections assigned in our eCourse do not match up with the sections contained in your content review book, you may have a different edition. The sections should still match up the large majority of the time, but in the rare instance that they don’t, I’d recommend simply reading sections that do match up and saving the ones that do not for a future lesson.

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