Have you taken your General Chemistry courses? If so, you may (or may not) be glad to hear that General Chemistry is reflected as a subtopic within the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)!
Although you know how important chemistry is in the realm of medicine, you feel a bit worried. How could I do well with the General Chemistry questions if I took these courses years ago? What if Chemistry is not a strong subject of mine? How do I best approach studying for a topic like this?
It is perfectly normal to feel a bit uneasy about Henry’s Law, reaction rates, and theoretical yields, among other General Chemistry topics. In fact, the Royal Society of Chemistry indicated that more than 70% of individuals do not have a happy or excited attitude towards chemistry as a whole, with a similar disposition to physics and other STEM topics. Fortunately, there are many strategies and online resources that will allow you to adequately prepare for this subject, even if your memory of these topics is not fresh.
Firstly, before navigating other forms of studying content, see if you still have access to taught content from your previous General Chemistry courses. Do you still have a notebook with notes from your General Chemistry courses? Do you have old quizzes and exams that utilize a question and answer format? Are the PowerPoint slides from the courses still contained in the archives of your Canvas, Blackboard, or school management system? Since these are materials that you will have the most familiarity with, these are the first resources that you should utilize for your MCAT endeavors.
Are review books from The Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep currently out of your reach? Online, there are multiple MCAT review sites that you could choose from to supplement your learning. One of the most popular review sites comes from MDHero, which creates products, guides, apps, and AI technologies to support pre-medical students. This particular MCAT General Chemistry review resource goes into depth about electronic structure, the periodic table, bonding, phases, phase equilibria, stoichiometry, thermodynamics, thermochemistry, kinetics, equilibrium, solution chemistry, acids, bases, and electrochemistry, with subsections of each section to specify and support flexibility of students’ learning styles.
Now, you may be wondering, what would the General Chemistry questions look like? To gauge the appearance of these questions on the MCAT, we have a sample of questions below. Please note that you can find nearly identical questions and answer choices through the MCAT resources that I mentioned above, as well as flashcard applications (think Quizlet and Anki):
1. 10 mL of 0.5 M calcium hydroxide is required to titrate 50 mL hydrochloric acid. Which of the following gives the initial concentration of the acid?
A. 5.0 M
C. 0.5 M
2. What is the sum of the protons, neutrons, and electrons in strontium-90?
3. A closed container holds four gases: 1 mole of Gas A, 1 mole of Gas B, 3 moles of Gas C, and 4 moles of Gas D. If the total pressure inside the container is 3 atm, what is the partial pressure of Gas C?
B. 3 atm
C. 3.33 atm
4. Which one of the following has the highest boiling point?
C. Acetic Acid
5. What is the maximum number of moles of nickel carbonate (NiCO3) that can form based on the following reactions?
6.57g NiSO4 x 6 H2O
7.15g Na2CO3 x 10 H20
A. 0.025 mol
B. 0.50 mol
C. 0.25 mol
D. 1.25 mol
Answer Key: 1. (C) , 2. (B), 3. (D), 4. (C), 5. (A)
After reviewing these sample questions, how do you feel about your General Chemistry expertise? Remember, General Chemistry is especially important for you to master because chemistry is a core component of medicine. For example, as a doctor, when you prescribe medications to your patients, you need to understand how the medications and other drugs affect the human body and which chemical systems come into play to aid in health. In addition, since everything is made out of chemicals, understanding the processes of chemical reactions and how they could manifest in health solutions would also aid in your treatment of patients.
Thank you so much for reading!
MDHero. (n.d.). MCAT General Chemistry Review. http://mcat-review.org/general-chemistry.php
Royal Society of Chemistry. (2015). Public attitudes to chemistry: Research report [PDF]. https://www.rsc.org/globalassets/04-campaigning-outreach/campaigning/public-attitudes-to-chemistry/public-attitudes-to-chemistry-research-report.pdf