MCAT Topics List

A Summary MCAT Topics List followed by a Detailed List of MCAT Subjects

MCAT Outline of Topics | MCAT Math Topics | Data-based Statistical Reasoning | MCAT Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems | MCAT CARS (MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills)
MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
MCAT Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

MCAT topics as described by the AAMC for the current MCAT format are presented on this page. We begin with a summary of the main MCAT subjects and then we proceed with a detailed presentation of all possible MCAT topics (i.e. assumed knowledge for MCAT Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, etc.). During the real MCAT, advanced-level topics - beyond the detailed list below - will certainly be explored, typically within a passage. However, to correctly answer the question, only a combination of the assumed knowledge presented below and appropriate reasoning is required.



Summary of MCAT Subjects for the current MCAT format

Subject MCAT Outline of Topics: Summary Difference in content between the old MCAT and the current MCAT format

MCAT Biology

DNA, genetics, evolution, biotechnology, eukaryotic cell, prokaryotes vs. eukaryotes, viruses, reproductive system, embryology, nervous system, endocrine system, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, immune system, lymphatic system, muscular system, skin system and skeletal system

Removed: Bone growth and bone generation, pedigree analysis, origin of life

Added: Biotechnology

MCAT Biochemistry Enzymes, bioenergetics, metabolic regulation, pentose phosphate pathway, lipid metabolism, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, nucleotides and nucleic acids, amino acids, peptides, proteins, protein structure and function, carbohydrates and lipids

Added: Pentose phosphate pathway, lipid metabolism, gluconeogenesis, more advanced enzyme kinetics (for example, although Keq, Km and Vmax were old MCAT topics, new exam topics also include: Kd, Ka, kcat, Ki, IC50)

Note: Many MCAT Biochemistry topics were covered in the old MCAT in Biology and Organic Chemistry.

MCAT Physics Translational motion, force, equilibrium, work, energy, periodic motion, fluids, electrostatics, electromagnetic radiation, electrical circuits, circuit elements, light, magnetism, sound, matter, atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, atomic and chemical behavior, thermodynamics, optics Removed: Momentum, solids (density, elastic properties, etc.), periodic motion (springs and pendulums) and wave characteristics (exception: spring potential energy), circular motion, alternating current
MCAT Organic Chemistry Key functional groups/compounds, nomenclature, stereochemistry, hybridization, nucleophilic substitution (not elimination), molecular structure and absorption spectra, aldehydes and ketones, alcohols, carboxylic acids, acid derivatives, mass spectrometry, polycyclic and heterocyclic aromatic compounds, phenols, separations and purifications

Removed: Simple organic compounds (e.g. alkanes, alkenes, alkynes), ethers (note: technically, alkenes, alkynes and ethers have not been on the AAMC official topic list since 2003), amines, acyl halides, recrystallization

Added: polycyclic and heterocyclic aromatic compounds, phenols

MCAT General Chemistry Gas phase, electrochemistry, molecular structure, stoichiometry, acid/base equilibria, solubility, ions in solutions, titration, covalent bond, liquid phase, intermolecular forces, kinetics, equilibrium, water, molecules, thermochemistry Removed: Phase Equilibria  (however, phase diagrams can still be tested)
MCAT Psychology and Sociology Sensory processing, the senses, perception, attention, cognition, consciousness, memory, language, emotion, stress, personality, psychological disorders, motivation, attitudes, beliefs, psychological, biological and social factors that affect behavior, personality, self and identity formation, prejudice and bias, stereotypes, social class, stratification, social mobility, poverty, culture, and health and healthcare disparities Added: All topics in Psychology and Sociology

Detailed List of MCAT Topics for the current MCAT Format

The MCAT outline of topics below includes subtopics as iterated by the AAMC.

Please note: although Math, Statistics and Research Methods are not actual topics under the current MCAT format and the AAMC does not recommend any specific college courses in these areas, you are expected to have been exposed to these topics sufficiently during your education in order to be adequately prepared for the MCAT.

MCAT Subjects and Their Abbreviations


Subjects Abbreviations (Summary)

MCAT Physics

PHY
MCAT General Chemistry CHM
MCAT Organic Chemistry ORG
MCAT Biochemistry BCM
MCAT Biology BIO
MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills CARS
MCAT Psychology PSY
MCAT Sociology SOC

MCAT Math Topics

Certain mathematical concepts and techniques are required in the three sections of the MCAT -- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior.

  • Linear, semilog, log, log-log scales and slope calculations
  • Measurements and calculations
  • Metric units (including converting units) and dimensional analysis
  • Level 2 Algebra - exponentials, logarithms, scientific notation, and solving equations
  • Trigonometry - functions of sine, cosine, tangent, sin-1, cos-1, tan-1; sin and cos values of 0°, 90°, and 180°; relationships between the lengths of sides of right triangles containing angles of 30°, 45°, and 60°
  • Vector addition and subtraction, right hand rule (not required: knowledge of dot and cross products )
  • Arithmetic calculations - probability, proportion, ratio, percentage, and square-root estimations

Data-based Statistical Reasoning

  • Use, analyze and interpret data shown in figures, graphs and tables.
  • Using data, you use measures of central tendency such as mean, median, and mode as well as measures of dispersion such as range, inter-quartile range, and standard deviation.
  • Using data, you are expected to come up with reasoning on random and systematic error, interpret statistical significance levels or a confidence interval, make predictions, explain the relationship between variables, draw conclusions and determine their impact on real life situations.

Please note: although Math, Statistics and Research Methods are not actual topics under the current MCAT format and the AAMC does not recommend any specific college courses in these areas, you are expected to have been exposed to these topics sufficiently during your education in order to be adequately prepared for the MCAT.

Section 1: MCAT Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

Click on any of the MCAT subjects below to see the topics covered in the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section of the MCAT.

Note: A periodic table will be provided during the exam

  • Units and dimensions
  • Vectors, components
  • Vector addition
  • Speed, velocity (average and instantaneous)
  • Acceleration
  • Newton’s First Law, inertia
  • Newton’s Second Law (F = ma)
  • Newton’s Third Law, forces equal and opposite
  • Friction, static and kinetic
  • Center of mass
  • Vector analysis of forces acting on a point object
  • Torques, lever arms
  • Work done by a constant force: W = Fd cosθ
  • Mechanical advantage
  • Work Kinetic Energy Theorem
  • Conservative forces
  • Kinetic Energy: KE = ½ mv2; units
  • Potential Energy
    • PE = mgh (gravitational, local)
    • PE = ½ kx2 (spring)
  • Conservation of energy
  • Power, units
  • Amplitude, frequency, phase
  • Transverse and longitudinal waves: wavelength and propagation speed
  • Density, specific gravity
  • Buoyancy, Archimedes’ Principle
  • Hydrostatic pressure
    • Pascal’s Law
    • Hydrostatic pressure; P = ρgh (pressure vs. depth)
  • Viscosity: Poiseuille Flow
  • Continuity equation (A•v = constant)
  • Concept of turbulence at high velocities
  • Surface tension
  • Bernoulli’s equation
  • Venturi effect, pitot tube
  • Arterial and venous systems; pressure and flow characteristics
  • Absolute temperature, (K) Kelvin Scale
  • Pressure, simple mercury barometer
  • Molar volume at 0 °C and 1 atm = 22.4 L/mol
  • Ideal gas
    • Definition
    • Ideal Gas Law: PV = nRT
    • Boyle’s Law: PV = constant
    • Charles’ Law: V/T = constant
    • Avogadro’s Law: V/n = constant
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases
    • Heat capacity at constant volume and at constant pressure (PHY)
    • Boltzmann’s Constant (PHY)
  • Deviation of real gas behavior from Ideal Gas Law
    • Qualitative
    • Quantitative (Van der Waals’ Equation)
  • Partial pressure, mole fraction
  • Dalton’s Law relating partial pressure to composition
  • Charge, conductors, charge conservation
  • Insulators
  • Coulomb’s Law
  • Electric field E
    • Field lines
    • Field due to charge distribution
  • Electrostatic energy, electric potential at a point in space
  • Current I = ΔQ/Δt, sign conventions, units
  • Electromotive force, voltage
  • Resistance
    • Ohm’s Law: I = V/R
    • Resistors in series
    • Resistors in parallel
    • Resistivity: ρ = R•A / L
  • Capacitance
    • Parallel plate capacitor
    • Energy of charged capacitor
    • Capacitors in series
    • Capacitors in parallel
    • Dielectrics
  • Conductivity
    • Metallic
    • Electrolytic
  • Meters
  • Definition of magnetic field B
  • Motion of charged particles in magnetic fields; Lorentz force
  • Production of sound
  • Relative speed of sound in solids, liquids, and gases
  • Intensity of sound, decibel units, log scale
  • Attenuation (Damping)
  • Doppler Effect: moving sound source or observer, reflection of sound from a moving object
  • Pitch
  • Resonance in pipes and strings
  • Ultrasound
  • Shock waves
  • Concept of Interference; Young Double-slit Experiment
  • Thin films, diffraction grating, single-slit diffraction
  • Other diffraction phenomena, X-ray diffraction
  • Polarization of light: linear and circular
  • Properties of electromagnetic radiation
    • Velocity equals constant c, in vacuo
    • Electromagnetic radiation consists of perpendicularly oscillating electric and
  • magnetic fields; direction of propagation is perpendicular to both
  • Classification of electromagnetic spectrum, photon energy E = hf
  • Visual spectrum, color
  • Reflection from plane surface: angle of incidence equals angle of reflection
  • Refraction, refractive index n; Snell’s law: n1 sin θ1 = n2 sin θ2
  • Dispersion, change of index of refraction with wavelength
  • Conditions for total internal reflection
  • Spherical mirrors
    • Center of curvature
    • Focal length
    • Real and virtual images
  • Thin lenses
    • Converging and diverging lenses
    • Use of formula 1/p + 1/q = 1/f, with sign conventions
    • Lens strength, diopters
  • Combination of lenses
  • Lens aberration
  • Optical Instruments, including the human eye
  • Atomic number, atomic weight
  • Neutrons, protons, isotopes
  • Nuclear forces, binding energy
  • Radioactive decay
    • α, β, γ decay
    • Half-life, exponential decay, semi-log plots
  • Mass spectrometer
  • Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital (GC)
  • Ground state, excited states
  • Absorption and emission line spectra
  • Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle
  • Paramagnetism and diamagnetism
  • Conventional notation for electronic structure (CHM)
  • Bohr atom
  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
  • Effective nuclear charge (CHM)
  • Photoelectric effect
  • Thermodynamic system – state function
  • Zeroth Law – concept of temperature
  • First Law - conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes
  • PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)
  • Second Law – concept of entropy
    • Entropy as a measure of “disorder”
    • Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states
  • Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat
  • Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)
  • Endothermic/exothermic reactions (CHM)
    • o Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation
    • o Hess’ Law of Heat Summation
  • Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (CHM)
  • Free energy: G (CHM)
  • Spontaneous reactions and Δ (CHM)
  • Coefficient of expansion (PHY)
  • Heat of fusion, heat of vaporization
  • Phase diagram: pressure and temperature
  • Absolute temperature, (K) Kelvin Scale
  • Pressure, simple mercury barometer
  • Molar volume at 0 °C and 1 atm = 22.4 L/mol
  • Ideal gas
    • Definition
    • Ideal Gas Law: PV = nRT
    • Boyle’s Law: PV = constant
    • Charles’ Law: V/T = constant
    • Avogadro’s Law: V/n = constant
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases
    • Heat capacity at constant volume and at constant pressure (PHY)
    • Boltzmann’s Constant (PHY)
  • Deviation of real gas behavior from Ideal Gas Law
    • Qualitative
    • Quantitative (Van der Waals’ Equation)
  • Partial pressure, mole fraction
  • Dalton’s Law relating partial pressure to composition
  • Electrolytic cell
    • Electrolysis
    • Anode, cathode
    • Electrolyte
    • Faraday’s Law relating amount of elements deposited (or gas liberated) at an electrode to current
    • Electron flow; oxidation, and reduction at the electrodes Galvanic or Voltaic cells
    • Half-reactions
    • Reduction potentials; cell potential
    • Direction of electron flow
  • Concentration cell
  • Batteries
    • Electromotive force, Voltage
    • Lead-storage batteries
    • Nickel-cadmium batteries
  • Atomic number, atomic weight
  • Neutrons, protons, isotopes
  • Nuclear forces, binding energy
  • Radioactive decay
    • α, β, γ decay
    • Half-life, exponential decay, semi-log plots
  • Mass spectrometer
  • Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital (GC)
  • Ground state, excited states
  • Absorption and emission line spectra
  • Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle
  • Paramagnetism and diamagnetism
  • Conventional notation for electronic structure (CHM)
  • Bohr atom
  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
  • Effective nuclear charge (CHM)
  • Photoelectric effect
  • Alkali metals
  • Alkaline earth metals: their chemical characteristics
  • Halogens: their chemical characteristics
  • Noble gases: their physical and chemical characteristics
  • Transition metals
  • Representative elements
  • Metals and non-metals
  • Oxygen group
  • Valence electrons
  • First and second ionization energy
    • Definition
    • Prediction from electronic structure for elements in different groups or rows Electron affinity
    • Definition
    • Variation with group and row
  • Electronegativity
    • Definition
    • Comparative values for some representative elements and important groups
  • Electron shells and the sizes of atoms
  • Electron shells and the sizes of ions
  • Molecular weight
  • Empirical versus molecular formula
  • Metric units commonly used in the context of chemistry
  • Description of composition by percent mass
  • Mole concept, Avogadro’s number NA
  • Definition of density
  • Oxidation number
    • Common oxidizing and reducing agents
    • Disproportionation reactions
  • Description of reactions by chemical equations
    • Conventions for writing chemical equations
    • Balancing equations, including redox equations
    • Limiting reactants
    • Theoretical yields
  • Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base
  • Ionization of water
    • Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH] = 10−14 at 25°C, 1 atm)
    • Definition of pH: pH of pure water
  • Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)
  • Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)
  • Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic)
    • Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt
    • Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases
    • Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases
  • Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb
  • Buffers
    • Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)
    • Influence on titration curves
  • Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium, PO43− phosphate, SO42− sulfate)
  • Hydration, the hydronium ion
  • Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)
  • Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp
  • Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations
    • Complex ion formation
    • Complex ions and solubility
    • Solubility and pH
  • Indicators
  • Neutralization
  • Interpretation of the titration curves
  • Redox titration
  • Lewis Electron Dot formulas
    • Resonance structures
    • Formal charge
    • Lewis acids and bases
  • Partial ionic character
    • Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution
    • Dipole Moment
    • and π bonds
    • Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries
    • Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g., NH3, H2O, CO2)
    • Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl
    • Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules
  • Multiple bonding
    • o Effect on bond length and bond energies
    • o Rigidity in molecular structure
  • Stereochemistry of covalently bonded molecules (ORG)
    • Isomers
      • Structural isomers
      • Stereoisomers (e.g., diastereomers, enantiomers, cis/trans isomers)
      • Conformational isomers
    • Polarization of light, specific rotation
    • Absolute and relative configuration
      • Conventions for writing R and S forms
      • Conventions for writing E and Z forms
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Dipole Interactions
  • Van der Waals’ Forces (London dispersion forces)
  • Thermodynamic system – state function
  • Zeroth Law – concept of temperature
  • First Law - conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes
  • PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)
  • Second Law – concept of entropy
    • Entropy as a measure of “disorder”
    • Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states
  • Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat
  • Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)
  • Endothermic/exothermic reactions (CHM)
    • Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation
    • Hess’ Law of Heat Summation
  • Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (CHM)
  • Free energy: G (CHM)
  • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG° (CHM)
  • Coefficient of expansion (PHY)
  • Heat of fusion, heat of vaporization
  • Phase diagram: pressure and temperature
  • Reaction rate
  • Dependence of reaction rate on concentration of reactants
    • Rate law, rate constant
    • Reaction order
  • Rate-determining step
  • Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature
    • Activation energy
      • Activated complex or transition state
      • Interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants, products, activation energy, and ΔH for the reaction
    • Use of the Arrhenius Equation
  • Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction
  • Catalysts
  • Equilibrium in reversible chemical reactions
    • Law of Mass Action
    • Equilibrium Constant
    • Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle
  • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Bioenergetics/thermodynamics
    • Free energy/Keq
      • Equilibrium constant
      • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
    • Concentration
      • Le Châtelier’s Principle
    • Endothermic/exothermic reactions
    • Free energy: G
    • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°
  • Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP
    • ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0
    • ATP group transfers
  • Biological oxidation-reduction
    • Half-reactions
    • Soluble electron carriers
    • Flavoproteins
  • Concentration cell: direction of electron flow, Nernst equation
  • Infrared region
    • Intramolecular vibrations and rotations
    • Recognizing common characteristic group absorptions, fingerprint region
  • Visible region (CHM)
    • Absorption in visible region gives complementary color (e.g., carotene)
    • Effect of structural changes on absorption (e.g., indicators)
  • Ultraviolet region
    • π-Electron and non-bonding electron transitions
    • Conjugated systems
  • NMR spectroscopy
    • Protons in a magnetic field; equivalent protons
    • Spin-spin splitting
  • Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents
  • Distillation
  • Chromatography
    • Basic principles involved in separation process
      • Column chromatography, gas-liquid chromatography
      • High pressure liquid chromatography
    • Paper chromatography
    • Thin-layer chromatography
  • Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BCM)
    • Electrophoresis
    • Quantitative analysis
    • Chromatography
      • Size-exclusion
      • Ion-exchange
      • Affinity
  • Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (ORG)
  • Amino acids: description
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Dipolar ions
    • Classification
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophilic or hydrophobic
    • Synthesis of α-amino acids (ORG)
      • Strecker Synthesis
      • Gabriel Synthesis
  • Peptides and proteins: reactions
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis (BCM)
  • General Principles
    • Primary structure of proteins
    • Secondary structure of proteins
    • Tertiary structure of proteins
    • Isoelectric point
  • Description, Types
    • Storage
      • Triacyl glycerols
      • Free fatty acids: saponification
    • Structural
      • Phospholipids and phosphatids
      • Sphingolipids (BCM)
      • Waxes
    • Signals/cofactors
      • Fat-soluble vitamins
      • Steroids
      • Prostaglandins (BCM)
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Nucleophilic addition reactions at C=O bond
      • Acetal, hemiacetal
      • Imine, enamine
      • Hydride reagents
      • Cyanohydrin
    • Oxidation of aldehydes
    • Reactions at adjacent positions: enolate chemistry
      • Keto-enol tautomerism (α-racemization)
      • Aldol condensation, retro-aldol
      • Kinetic versus thermodynamic enolate
  • General principles
    • Effect of substituents on reactivity of C=O; steric hindrance
    • Acidity of α-H; carbanions
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties (acidity, hydrogen bonding)
  • Important reactions
    • Oxidation
    • Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2
    • Protection of alcohols
    • Preparation of mesylates and tosylates
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Carboxyl group reactions
      • Amides (and lactam), esters (and lactone), anhydride formation
      • Reduction
      • Decarboxylation
    • Reactions at 2-position, substitution
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Nucleophilic substitution
    • Transesterification
    • Hydrolysis of amides
  • General principles
    • Relative reactivity of acid derivatives
    • Steric effects
    • Electronic effects
    • Strain (e.g., β-lactams)
  • Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e− redox centers
  • Biological aromatic heterocycles
  • Description:
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Amino acids as dipolar ions
    • Classifications
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophobic or hydrophilic
  • Reactions:
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis
  • Description
    • Nomenclature and classification, common names
    • Absolute configuration
    • Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses
    • Epimers and anomers
  • Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Description; structure
    • Steroids
    • Terpenes and terpenoids
  • Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base
  • Ionization of water
    • Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH] = 10−14 at 25°C, 1 atm)
    • Definition of pH: pH of pure water
  • Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)
  • Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)
  • Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic)
    • Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt
    • Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases
    • Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases
  • Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb
  • Buffers
  • Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)
  • Influence on titration curves
  • Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium, PO43− phosphate, SO42− sulfate)
  • Hydration, the hydronium ion
  • Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)
  • Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp
  • Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations
    • Complex ion formation
    • Complex ions and solubility
    • Solubility and pH
  • Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents
  • Distillation
  • Chromatography:
    • Basic principles involved in separation process
      • Column chromatography, gas-liquid chromatography
      • High pressure liquid chromatography
    • Paper chromatography
    • Thin-layer chromatography
  • Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BCM)
    • Electrophoresis
    • Quantitative analysis
    • Chromatography
      • Size-exclusion
      • Ion-exchange
      • Affinity
  • Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (ORG)
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix
  • Chemistry (BCM)
  • Other functions (BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy)
  • Quaternary structure
  • Denaturing and Folding
  • Amino acids: description
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Dipolar ions
    • Classification
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophilic or hydrophobic
    • Synthesis of α-amino acids (ORG)
      • Strecker Synthesis
      • Gabriel Synthesis
  • Peptides and proteins: reactions
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis (BCM)
  • General Principles
    • Primary structure of proteins
    • Secondary structure of proteins
    • Tertiary structure of proteins
    • Isoelectric point
  • Description, Types
    • Storage
      • Triacyl glycerols
      • Free fatty acids: saponification
    • Structural
      • Phospholipids and phosphatids
      • Sphingolipids (BCM)
      • Waxes
    • Signals/cofactors
      • Fat-soluble vitamins
      • Steroids
      • Prostaglandins (BCM)
  • Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e− redox centers
  • Biological aromatic heterocycles
  • Classification by reaction type
  • Mechanism
    • Substrates and enzyme specificity
    • Active site model
    • Induced-fit model
    • Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
    • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Inhibition
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric
    • Covalently modified
  • Description:
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Amino acids as dipolar ions
    • Classifications
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophobic or hydrophilic
  • Reactions:
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Binding (BCM)
  • Immune system
  • Motors
  • Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions
  • Enzyme classification by reaction type
  • Reduction of activation energy
  • Substrates and enzyme specificity
  • Active Site Model
  • Induced-fit Model
  • Mechanism of catalysis
    • Cofactors
    • Coenzymes
    • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
  • Feedback regulation
  • Inhibition – types
    • Competitive
    • Non-competitive
    • Mixed (BC)
    • Uncompetitive (BCM)
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric enzymes
    • Covalently-modified enzymes
    • Zymogen
  • Description
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure
  • Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C
  • Function in transmission of genetic information
  • DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization
  • Bioenergetics/thermodynamics
    • Free energy/Keq
      • Equilibrium constant
      • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
    • Concentration
      • Le Châtelier's Principle
    • Endothermic/exothermic reactions
    • Free energy: G
    • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°
  • Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP
    • ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0
    • ATP group transfers
  • Biological oxidation-reduction
    • Half-reactions
    • Soluble electron carriers
    • Flavoproteins
  • Description
    • o Nomenclature and classification, common names
    • o Absolute configuration
    • o Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses
    • o Epimers and anomers
  • Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products
    • Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism
  • Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of metabolic pathways (BIO, BCM)
    • Maintenance of a dynamic steady state
  • Regulation of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis
  • Metabolism of glycogen
  • Regulation of glycogen synthesis and breakdown
    • Allosteric and hormonal control
  • Analysis of metabolic control
  • Acetyl-CoA production (BCM)
  • Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products
  • Regulation of the cycle
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Description of fatty acids (BCM)
  • Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats
  • Oxidation of fatty acids
    • Saturated fats
    • Unsaturated fats
  • Ketone bodies (BCM)
  • Anabolism of fats (BIO)
  • Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)
  • Metabolism of proteins (BIO)
  • Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway
  • Electron transfer in mitochondria
    • NADH, NADPH
    • Flavoproteins
    • Cytochromes
  • ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling
    • Proton motive force
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation
  • Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BCM)
  • Higher level integration of hormone structure and function
  • Tissue specific metabolism
  • Hormonal regulation of fuel metabolism
  • Obesity and regulation of body mass
  • General function in cell containment
  • Composition of membranes
    • Lipid components (BIO, BCM, ORG)
      • Phospholipids (and phosphatids)
      • Steroids
      • Waxes
    • Protein components
    • Fluid mosaic model
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Solute transport across membranes
    • Thermodynamic considerations
    • Osmosis
      • Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (CHM)
    • Passive transport
    • Active transport
      • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Membrane channels
  • Membrane potential
  • Membrane receptors
  • Exocytosis and endocytosis
  • Intercellular junctions (BIO)
    • Gap junctions
    • Tight junctions
    • Desmosomes
  • Oncogenes, apoptosis
  • Gated ion channels
    • Voltage gated
    • Ligand gated
  • Receptor enzymes
  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • Description; structure
    • Steroids
    • Terpenes and terpenoids
  • Arterial and venous systems; pressure and flow characteristics
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix
  • Chemistry (BCM)
  • Other functions (BCM)
  • Classification by reaction type
  • Mechanism
    • Substrates and enzyme specificity
    • Active site model
    • Induced-fit model
    • Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
    • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Inhibition
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric
    • Covalently modified
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Binding (BCM)
  • Immune system
  • Motors
  • Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions
  • Enzyme classification by reaction type
  • Reduction of activation energy
  • Substrates and enzyme specificity
  • Active Site Model
  • Induced-fit Model
  • Mechanism of catalysis
    • Cofactors
    • Coenzymes
    • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
  • Feedback regulation
  • Inhibition – types
    • Competitive
    • Non-competitive
    • Mixed (BC)
    • Uncompetitive (BCM)
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric enzymes
    • Covalently-modified enzymes
    • Zymogen
  • Description
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure
  • Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C
  • Function in transmission of genetic information
  • DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization
  • Mechanism of replication: separation of strands, specific coupling of free nucleic acids
  • Semi-conservative nature of replication
  • Specific enzymes involved in replication
  • Origins of replication, multiple origins in eukaryotes
  • Replicating the ends of DNA molecules
  • Repair during replication
  • Repair of mutations
  • Central Dogma: DNA → RNA → protein
  • The triplet code
  • Codon–anticodon relationship
  • Degenerate code, wobble pairing
  • Missense, nonsense codons
  • Initiation, termination codons
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA)
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA); ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
  • Mechanism of transcription
  • mRNA processing in eukaryotes, introns, exons
  • Ribozymes, spliceosomes, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs)
  • Functional and evolutionary importance of introns
  • Roles of mRNA, tRNA, rRNA/li>
  • Role and structure of ribosomes/li>
  • Initiation, termination co-factors/li>
  • Post-translational modification of proteins
  • Chromosomal proteins
  • Single copy vs. repetitive DNA
  • Supercoiling
  • Heterochromatin vs. euchromatin
  • Telomeres, centromeres
  • Operon Concept, Jacob–Monod Model
  • Gene repression in bacteria
  • Positive control in bacteria
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • DNA binding proteins, transcription factors
  • Gene amplification and duplication
  • Post-transcriptional control, basic concept of splicing (introns, exons)
  • Cancer as a failure of normal cellular controls, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes
  • Regulation of chromatin structure
  • DNA methylation
  • Role of non-coding RNAs
  • Gene cloning
  • Restriction enzymes
  • DNA libraries
  • Generation of cDNA
  • Hybridization
  • Expressing cloned genes
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Gel electrophoresis and Southern blotting
  • DNA sequencing
  • Analyzing gene expression
  • Determining gene function
  • Stem cells
  • Practical applications of DNA technology: medical applications, human gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, forensic evidence, environmental cleanup, agriculture
  • Safety and ethics of DNA technology
  • Phenotype and genotype
  • Gene
  • Locus
  • Allele: single and multiple
  • Homozygosity and heterozygosity
  • Wild-type
  • Recessiveness
  • Complete dominance
  • Co-dominance
  • Incomplete dominance, leakage, penetrance, expressivity
  • Hybridization: viability
  • Gene pool
  • Significance of meiosis
  • Important differences between meiosis and mitosis
  • Segregation of genes
    • Independent assortment
    • Linkage
    • Recombination
      • Single crossovers
      • Double crossovers
      • Synaptonemal complex
      • Tetrad
    • Sex-linked characteristics
    • Very few genes on Y chromosome
    • Sex determination
    • Cytoplasmic/extranuclear inheritance
  • Mutation
    • General concept of mutation — error in DNA sequence
    • Types of mutations: random, translation error, transcription error, base substitution, inversion, addition, deletion, translocation, mispairing
    • Advantageous vs. deleterious mutation
    • Inborn errors of metabolism
    • Relationship of mutagens to carcinogens
  • Genetic drift
  • Synapsis or crossing-over mechanism for increasing genetic diversity
  • Hardy–Weinberg Principles
  • Testcross (Backcross; concepts of parental, F1, and F2 generations)
  • Gene mapping: crossover frequencies
  • Biometry: statistical methods
  • Natural selection
    • Fitness concept
    • Selection by differential reproduction
    • Concepts of natural and group selection
    • Evolutionary success as increase in percent representation in the gene pool of the next generation
  • Speciation
    • Polymorphism
    • Adaptation and specialization
    • Inbreeding
    • Outbreeding
    • Bottlenecks
  • Evolutionary time as measured by gradual random changes in genome
  • Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products
    • Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism
  • Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Acetyl-CoA production
  • Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products
  • Regulation of the cycle
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Description of fatty acids (BCM)
  • Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats
  • Oxidation of fatty acids
    • Saturated fats
    • Unsaturated fats
  • Ketone bodies (BCM)
  • Anabolism of fats (BIO)
  • Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)
  • Metabolism of proteins (BIO)
  • Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway
  • Electron transfer in mitochondria
    • NADH, NADPH
    • Flavoproteins
    • Cytochromes
  • ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling
    • Proton motive force
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation
  • Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BCM)
  • General function in cell containment
  • Composition of membranes
    • Lipid components (BIO, BCM, ORG)
      • Phospholipids (and phosphatids)
      • Steroids
      • Waxes
    • Protein components
    • Fluid mosaic model
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Solute transport across membranes
    • Thermodynamic considerations
    • Osmosis
      • Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (CHM)
    • Passive transport
    • Active transport
      • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Membrane channels
  • Membrane potential
  • Membrane receptors
  • Exocytosis and endocytosis
  • Intercellular junctions (BIO)
    • Gap junctions
    • Tight junctions
    • Desmosomes
  • Defining characteristics of eukaryotic cells: membrane bound nucleus, presence of organelles, mitotic division Nucleus
    • Compartmentalization, storage of genetic information
    • Nucleolus: location and function
    • Nuclear envelope, nuclear pores
  • Mitochondria
    • Site of ATP production
    • Inner and outer membrane structure (BIO, BCM)
    • Self-replication
  • Lysosomes: membrane-bound vesicles containing hydrolytic enzymes
  • Endoplasmic reticulum
    • Rough and smooth components
    • Rough endoplasmic reticulum site of ribosomes
    • Double membrane structure
    • Role in membrane biosynthesis
    • Role in biosynthesis of secreted proteins
  • Golgi apparatus: general structure and role in packaging and secretion
  • Peroxisomes: organelles that collect peroxides
  • General function in cell support and movement
  • Microfilaments: composition and role in cleavage and contractility
  • Microtubules: composition and role in support and transport
  • Intermediate filaments, role in support
  • Composition and function of cilia and flagella
  • Centrioles, microtubule organizing centers
  • Epithelial cells
  • Connective tissue cells
  • History and development
  • Impact on biology
  • Prokaryotic domains
    • Archaea
    • Bacteria
  • Major classifications of bacteria by shape
    • Bacilli (rod-shaped)
    • Spirilli (spiral-shaped)
    • Cocci (spherical)
  • Lack of nuclear membrane and mitotic apparatus
  • Lack of typical eukaryotic organelles
  • Presence of cell wall in bacteria
  • Flagellar propulsion, mechanism
  • Reproduction by fission
  • High degree of genetic adaptability, acquisition of antibiotic resistance
  • Exponential growth
  • Existence of anaerobic and aerobic variants
  • Parasitic and symbiotic
  • Chemotaxis
  • Existence of plasmids, extragenomic DNA
  • Transformation: incorporation into bacterial genome of DNA fragments from external medium
  • Conjugation
  • Transposons (also present in eukaryotic cells)
  • General structural characteristics (nucleic acid and protein, enveloped and nonenveloped)
  • Lack organelles and nucleus
  • Structural aspects of typical bacteriophage
  • Genomic content — RNA or DNA
  • Size relative to bacteria and eukaryotic cells
  • Self-replicating biological units that must reproduce within specific host cell
  • Generalized phage and animal virus life cycles
    • Attachment to host, penetration of cell membrane or cell wall, and entry of viral genetic material
    • Use of host synthetic mechanism to replicate viral components
    • Self-assembly and release of new viral particles
  • Transduction: transfer of genetic material by viruses
  • Retrovirus life cycle: integration into host DNA, reverse transcriptase, HIV
  • Prions and viroids: subviral particles
  • Mitotic process: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, interphase
  • Mitotic structures
    • Centrioles, asters, spindles
    • Chromatids, centromeres, kinetochores
    • Nuclear membrane breakdown and reorganization
    • Mechanisms of chromosome movement
  • Phases of cell cycle: G0, G1, S, G2, M
  • Growth arrest
  • Control of cell cycle
  • Loss of cell cycle controls in cancer cells
  • Gametogenesis by meiosis
  • Ovum and sperm
    • Differences in formation
    • Differences in morphology
    • Relative contribution to next generation
  • Reproductive sequence: fertilization; implantation; development; birth
  • Stages of early development (order and general features of each)
    • Fertilization
    • Cleavage
    • Blastula formation
    • Gastrulation
    • First cell movements
    • Formation of primary germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, ectoderm)
    • Neurulation
  • Major structures arising out of primary germ layers
  • Neural crest
  • Environment–gene interaction in development
  • Cell specialization
    • Determination
    • Differentiation
    • Tissue types
  • Cell–cell communication in development
  • Cell migration
  • Pluripotency: stem cells
  • Gene regulation in development
  • Programmed cell death
  • Existence of regenerative capacity in various species
  • Senescence and aging
  • Major Functions
    • High level control and integration of body systems
    • Adaptive capability to external influences
  • Organization of vertebrate nervous system
  • Sensor and effector neurons
  • Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: antagonistic control
  • Reflexes
    • Feedback loop, reflex arc
    • Role of spinal cord and supraspinal circuits
  • Integration with endocrine system: feedback control
  • Cell body: site of nucleus, organelles
  • Dendrites: branched extensions of cell body
  • Axon: structure and function
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Synapse: site of impulse propagation between cells
  • Synaptic activity: transmitter molecules
  • Resting potential: electrochemical gradient
  • Action potential
    • Threshold, all-or-none
    • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Excitatory and inhibitory nerve fibers: summation, frequency of firing
  • Glial cells, neuroglia
  • Function of endocrine system: specific chemical control at cell, tissue, and organ level
  • Definitions of endocrine gland, hormone
  • Major endocrine glands: names, locations, products
  • Major types of hormones
  • Neuroendrocrinology ― relation between neurons and hormonal systems
  • Cellular mechanisms of hormone action
  • Transport of hormones: blood supply
  • Specificity of hormones: target tissue
  • Integration with nervous system: feedback control
  • Regulation by second messengers
  • General function
    • Gas exchange, thermoregulation
    • Protection against disease: particulate matter
  • Structure of lungs and alveoli
  • Breathing mechanisms
    • Diaphragm, rib cage, differential pressure
    • Resiliency and surface tension effects
  • Thermoregulation: nasal and tracheal capillary beds; evaporation, panting
  • Particulate filtration: nasal hairs, mucus/cilia system in lungs
  • Alveolar gas exchange
    • Diffusion, differential partial pressure
    • Henry's Law
  • pH control
  • Regulation by nervous control
    • CO2 sensitivity
  • Functions: circulation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, ions and fluids, removal of metabolic waste
  • Role in thermoregulation
  • Four-chambered heart: structure and function
  • Endothelial cells
  • Systolic and diastolic pressure
  • Pulmonary and systemic circulation
  • Arterial and venous systems (arteries, arterioles, venules, veins)
    • Structural and functional differences
    • Pressure and flow characteristics
  • Capillary beds
    • Mechanisms of gas and solute exchange
    • Mechanism of heat exchange
    • Source of peripheral resistance
  • Composition of blood
    • Plasma, chemicals, blood cells
    • Erythrocyte production and destruction; spleen, bone marrow
    • Regulation of plasma volume
  • Coagulation, clotting mechanisms
  • Oxygen transport by blood
    • Hemoglobin, hematocrit
    • Oxygen content
    • Oxygen affinity
  • Carbon dioxide transport and level in blood
  • Nervous and endocrine control
  • Structure of lymphatic system
  • Major functions
    • Equalization of fluid distribution
    • Transport of proteins and large glycerides
    • Production of lymphocytes involved in immune reactions
    • Return of materials to the blood
  • Innate (non-specific) vs. adaptive (specific) immunity
  • Adaptive immune system cells
    • T-lymphocytes
    • B-lymphocytes
  • Innate immune system cells
    • Macrophages
    • Phagocytes
  • Tissues
    • Bone marrow
    • Spleen
    • Thymus
    • Lymph nodes
  • Concept of antigen and antibody
  • Antigen presentation
  • Clonal selection
  • Antigen-antibody recognition
  • Structure of antibody molecule
  • Recognition of self vs. non-self, autoimmune diseases
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • Ingestion
    • Saliva as lubrication and source of enzymes
    • Ingestion; esophagus, transport function
  • Stomach
    • Storage and churning of food
    • Low pH, gastric juice, mucal protection against self-destruction
    • Production of digestive enzymes, site of digestion
    • Structure (gross)
  • Liver
    • Structural relationship of liver within gastrointestinal system
    • Production of bile
    • Role in blood glucose regulation, detoxification
  • Bile
    • Storage in gall bladder
    • Function
  • Pancreas
    • Production of enzymes
    • Transport of enzymes to small intestine
  • Small Intestine
    • Absorption of food molecules and water
    • Function and structure of villi
    • Production of enzymes, site of digestion
    • Neutralization of stomach acid
    • Structure (anatomic subdivisions)
  • Large Intestine
    • Absorption of water
    • Bacterial flora
    • Structure (gross)
  • Rectum: storage and elimination of waste, feces
  • Muscular control
    • Peristalsis
  • Endocrine control
    • Hormones
    • Target tissues
  • Nervous control: the enteric nervous system
  • Roles in homeostasis
    • Blood pressure
    • Osmoregulation
    • Acid–base balance
    • Removal of soluble nitrogenous waste
  • Kidney structure
    • Cortex
    • Medulla
  • Nephron structure
    • Glomerulus
    • Bowman's capsule
    • Proximal tubule
    • Loop of Henle
    • Distal tubule
    • Collecting duct
  • Formation of urine
    • Glomerular filtration
    • Secretion and reabsorption of solutes
    • Concentration of urine
    • Counter-current multiplier mechanism
  • Storage and elimination: ureter, bladder, urethra
  • Osmoregulation: capillary reabsorption of H2O, amino acids, glucose, ions
  • Muscular control: sphincter muscle
  • Male and female reproductive structures and their functions
    • Gonads
    • Genitalia
    • Differences between male and female structures
  • Hormonal control of reproduction
    • Male and female sexual development
    • Female reproductive cycle
    • Pregnancy, parturition, lactation
    • Integration with nervous control
  • Important functions
    • Support: mobility
    • Peripheral circulatory assistance
    • Thermoregulation (shivering reflex)
  • Structure of three basic muscle types: striated, smooth, cardiac
  • Muscle structure and control of contraction
    • T-tubule system
    • Contractile apparatus
    • Sarcoplasmic reticulum
    • Fiber type
    • Contractile velocity of different muscle types
  • Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction
  • Oxygen debt: fatigue
  • Nervous control
    • Motor neurons
    • Neuromuscular junction, motor end plates
    • Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation
    • Voluntary and involuntary muscles
  • Structural characteristics of striated, smooth, and cardiac muscle
  • Abundant mitochondria in red muscle cells: ATP source
  • Organization of contractile elements: actin and myosin filaments, crossbridges, sliding filament model
  • Sarcomeres: "I" and "A" bands, "M" and "Z" lines, "H" zone
  • Presence of troponin and tropomyosin
  • Calcium regulation of contraction
  • Functions
    • Structural rigidity and support
    • Calcium storage
    • Physical protection
  • Skeletal structure
    • Specialization of bone types, structures
    • Joint structures
    • Endoskeleton vs. exoskeleton
  • Bone structure
    • Calcium/protein matrix
    • Cellular composition of bone
  • Cartilage: structure and function
  • Ligaments, tendons
  • Endocrine control
  • Structure
    • Layer differentiation, cell types
    • Relative impermeability to water
  • Functions in homeostasis and osmoregulation
  • Functions in thermoregulation
    • Hair, erectile musculature
    • Fat layer for insulation
    • Sweat glands, location in dermis
    • Vasoconstriction and vasodilation in surface capillaries
  • Physical protection
    • Nails, calluses, hair
    • Protection against abrasion, disease organisms
  • Hormonal control: sweating, vasodilation, and vasoconstriction
  • Sensation
    • o Threshold
    • o Weber's Law (PSY)
    • o Signal detection theory (PSY)
    • o Sensory adaptation
    • o Psychophysics
  • Sensory receptors
    • o Sensory pathways
    • o Types of sensory receptor
  • Structure and function of the eye
  • Visual processing
    • Visual pathways in the brain
    • Parallel processing (PSY)
    • Feature detection (PSY)
  • Structure and function of the ear
  • Auditory processing (e.g., auditory pathways in the brain)
  • Sensory reception by hair cells
  • Somatosensation (e.g., pain perception)
  • Taste (e.g., taste buds/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals)
  • Smell
    • Olfactory cells/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals
    • Pheromones (BIO)
    • Olfactory pathways in the brain (BIO)
  • Kinesthetic sense (PSY)
  • Vestibular sense
  • The nervous system
    • Neurons (e.g., the reflex arc)
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Structure and function of the peripheral nervous system
    • Structure and function of the central nervous system
      • The brain
        • Forebrain
        • Midbrain
        • Hindbrain
        • Lateralization of cortical functions
        • Methods used in studying the brain
      • The spinal cord
  • Neuronal communication and its influence on behavior (PSY)
  • Influence of neurotransmitters on behavior (PSY)
  • The endocrine system
    • Components of the endocrine system
    • Effects of the endocrine system on behavior
  • Behavioral genetics
    • Genes, temperament, and heredity
    • Adaptive value of traits and behaviors
    • Interaction between heredity and environmental influences
  • Influence of genetic and environmental factors on the development of behaviors
    • Experience and behavior (PSY)
    • Regulatory genes and behavior (BIO)
    • Genetically based behavioral variation in natural populations
  • Human physiological development (PSY)
    • Prenatal development
    • Motor development
    • Developmental changes in adolescence

Section 2: MCAT CARS (MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills)

The MCAT CARS section will test your critical analysis and reasoning skills. The skills that will be tested in the MCAT CARS section are: foundations of comprehension, reasoning within the text and reasoning beyond the text.

The MCAT CARS passages will touch on the humanities and social sciences. The humanities include disciplines like architecture, art, dance, ethics, literature, music, philosophy, popular culture, religion, theater and studies of diverse cultures.

Social sciences include anthropology, archaeology, economics, education, geography, history, linguistics, political science, population health, psychology, sociology and studies of diverse cultures.

Disciplines Percentage of Questions

Humanities

50%
Social Sciences 50%
Skills Percentage of Questions
Foundations of Comprehension 30%
Reasoning Within the Text 30%
Reasoning Beyond the Text 40%

Section 3: MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

Click on any of the MCAT subjects below to see the topics covered in MCAT Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.

Note: A periodic table will be provided during the exam

  • Absolute temperature, (K) Kelvin Scale
  • Pressure, simple mercury barometer
  • Molar volume at 0 °C and 1 atm = 22.4 L/mol
  • Ideal gas
    • Definition
    • Ideal Gas Law: PV = nRT
    • Boyle's Law: PV = constant
    • Charles' Law: V/T = constant
    • Avogadro's Law: V/n = constant
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases
    • Heat capacity at constant volume and at constant pressure (PHY)
    • Boltzmann's Constant (PHY)
  • Deviation of real gas behavior from Ideal Gas Law
    • Qualitative
    • Quantitative (Van der Waals' Equation)
  • Partial pressure, mole fraction
  • Dalton's Law relating partial pressure to composition
  • Electrolytic cell
    • Electrolysis
    • Anode, cathode
    • Electrolyte
    • Faraday's Law relating amount of elements deposited (or gas liberated) at an electrode to current
    • Electron flow; oxidation, and reduction at the electrodes Galvanic or Voltaic cells
    • Half-reactions
    • Reduction potentials; cell potential
    • Direction of electron flow
  • Concentration cell
  • Batteries
    • Electromotive force, Voltage
    • Lead-storage batteries
    • Nickel-cadmium batteries
  • Atomic number, atomic weight
  • Neutrons, protons, isotopes
  • Nuclear forces, binding energy
  • Radioactive decay
    • α, β, γ decay
    • Half-life, exponential decay, semi-log plots
  • Mass spectrometer
  • Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital (GC)
  • Ground state, excited states
  • Absorption and emission line spectra
  • Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle
  • Paramagnetism and diamagnetism
  • Conventional notation for electronic structure (CHM)
  • Bohr atom
  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
  • Effective nuclear charge (CHM)
  • Photoelectric effect
  • Alkali metals
  • Alkaline earth metals: their chemical characteristics
  • Halogens: their chemical characteristics
  • Noble gases: their physical and chemical characteristics
  • Transition metals
  • Representative elements
  • Metals and non-metals
  • Oxygen group
  • Valence electrons
  • First and second ionization energy
    • Definition
    • Prediction from electronic structure for elements in different groups or rows Electron affinity
    • Definition
    • Variation with group and row
  • Electronegativity
    • Definition
    • Comparative values for some representative elements and important groups
  • Electron shells and the sizes of atoms
  • Electron shells and the sizes of ions
  • Molecular weight
  • Empirical versus molecular formula
  • Metric units commonly used in the context of chemistry
  • Description of composition by percent mass
  • Mole concept, Avogadro's number NA
  • Definition of density
  • Oxidation number
    • Common oxidizing and reducing agents
    • Disproportionation reactions
  • Description of reactions by chemical equations
    • Conventions for writing chemical equations
    • Balancing equations, including redox equations
    • Limiting reactants
    • Theoretical yields
  • Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base
  • Ionization of water
    • Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH] = 10−14 at 25°C, 1 atm)
    • Definition of pH: pH of pure water
  • Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)
  • Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)
  • Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic)
    • Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt
    • Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases
    • Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases
  • Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb
  • Buffers
    • Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)
    • Influence on titration curves
  • Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium, PO43− phosphate, SO42− sulfate)
  • Hydration, the hydronium ion
  • Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)
  • Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp
  • Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations
    • Complex ion formation
    • Complex ions and solubility
    • Solubility and pH
  • Indicators
  • Neutralization
  • Interpretation of the titration curves
  • Redox titration
  • Lewis Electron Dot formulas
    • Resonance structures
    • Formal charge
    • Lewis acids and bases
  • Partial ionic character
    • Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution
    • Dipole Moment
    • and π bonds
    • Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries
    • Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g., NH3, H2O, CO2)
    • Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl
    • Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules
  • Multiple bonding
    • o Effect on bond length and bond energies
    • o Rigidity in molecular structure
  • Stereochemistry of covalently bonded molecules (ORG)
    • Isomers
      • Structural isomers
      • Stereoisomers (e.g., diastereomers, enantiomers, cis/trans isomers)
      • Conformational isomers
    • Polarization of light, specific rotation
    • Absolute and relative configuration
      • Conventions for writing R and S forms
      • Conventions for writing E and Z forms
  • Hydrogen bonding
  • Dipole Interactions
  • Van der Waals' Forces (London dispersion forces)
  • Thermodynamic system – state function
  • Zeroth Law – concept of temperature
  • First Law - conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes
  • PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)
  • Second Law – concept of entropy
    • Entropy as a measure of "disorder"
    • Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states
  • Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat
  • Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)
  • Endothermic/exothermic reactions (CHM)
    • Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation
    • Hess' Law of Heat Summation
  • Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (CHM)
  • Free energy: G (CHM)
  • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG° (CHM)
  • Coefficient of expansion (PHY)
  • Heat of fusion, heat of vaporization
  • Phase diagram: pressure and temperature
  • Reaction rate
  • Dependence of reaction rate on concentration of reactants
    • Rate law, rate constant
    • Reaction order
  • Rate-determining step
  • Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature
    • Activation energy
      • Activated complex or transition state
      • Interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants, products, activation energy, and ΔH for the reaction
    • Use of the Arrhenius Equation
  • Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction
  • Catalysts
  • Equilibrium in reversible chemical reactions
    • Law of Mass Action
    • Equilibrium Constant
    • Application of Le Châtelier's Principle
  • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Bioenergetics/thermodynamics
    • Free energy/Keq
      • Equilibrium constant
      • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
    • Concentration
      • Le Châtelier's Principle
    • Endothermic/exothermic reactions
    • Free energy: G
    • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°
  • Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP
    • ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0
    • ATP group transfers
  • Biological oxidation-reduction
    • Half-reactions
    • Soluble electron carriers
    • Flavoproteins
  • Concentration cell: direction of electron flow, Nernst equation
  • Infrared region
    • Intramolecular vibrations and rotations
    • Recognizing common characteristic group absorptions, fingerprint region
  • Visible region (CHM)
    • Absorption in visible region gives complementary color (e.g., carotene)
    • Effect of structural changes on absorption (e.g., indicators)
  • Ultraviolet region
    • π-Electron and non-bonding electron transitions
    • Conjugated systems
  • NMR spectroscopy
    • Protons in a magnetic field; equivalent protons
    • Spin-spin splitting
  • Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents
  • Distillation
  • Chromatography
    • Basic principles involved in separation process
      • Column chromatography, gas-liquid chromatography
      • High pressure liquid chromatography
    • Paper chromatography
    • Thin-layer chromatography
  • Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BCM)
    • Electrophoresis
    • Quantitative analysis
    • Chromatography
      • Size-exclusion
      • Ion-exchange
      • Affinity
  • Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (ORG)
  • Amino acids: description
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Dipolar ions
    • Classification
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophilic or hydrophobic
    • Synthesis of α-amino acids (ORG)
      • Strecker Synthesis
      • Gabriel Synthesis
  • Peptides and proteins: reactions
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis (BCM)
  • General Principles
    • Primary structure of proteins
    • Secondary structure of proteins
    • Tertiary structure of proteins
    • Isoelectric point
  • Description, Types
    • Storage
      • Triacyl glycerols
      • Free fatty acids: saponification
    • Structural
      • Phospholipids and phosphatids
      • Sphingolipids (BCM)
      • Waxes
    • Signals/cofactors
      • Fat-soluble vitamins
      • Steroids
      • Prostaglandins (BCM)
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Nucleophilic addition reactions at C=O bond
      • Acetal, hemiacetal
      • Imine, enamine
      • Hydride reagents
      • Cyanohydrin
    • Oxidation of aldehydes
    • Reactions at adjacent positions: enolate chemistry
      • Keto-enol tautomerism (α-racemization)
      • Aldol condensation, retro-aldol
      • Kinetic versus thermodynamic enolate
  • General principles
    • Effect of substituents on reactivity of C=O; steric hindrance
    • Acidity of α-H; carbanions
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties (acidity, hydrogen bonding)
  • Important reactions
    • Oxidation
    • Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2
    • Protection of alcohols
    • Preparation of mesylates and tosylates
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Carboxyl group reactions
      • Amides (and lactam), esters (and lactone), anhydride formation
      • Reduction
      • Decarboxylation
    • Reactions at 2-position, substitution
  • Description
    • Nomenclature
    • Physical properties
  • Important reactions
    • Nucleophilic substitution
    • Transesterification
    • Hydrolysis of amides
  • General principles
    • Relative reactivity of acid derivatives
    • Steric effects
    • Electronic effects
    • Strain (e.g., β-lactams)
  • Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e− redox centers
  • Biological aromatic heterocycles
  • Description:
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Amino acids as dipolar ions
    • Classifications
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophobic or hydrophilic
  • Reactions:
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis
  • Description
    • Nomenclature and classification, common names
    • Absolute configuration
    • Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses
    • Epimers and anomers
  • Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Description; structure
    • Steroids
    • Terpenes and terpenoids
  • Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base
  • Ionization of water
    • Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH] = 10−14 at 25°C, 1 atm)
    • Definition of pH: pH of pure water
  • Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)
  • Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)
  • Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic)
    • Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt
    • Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases
    • Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases
  • Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb
  • Buffers
  • Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)
  • Influence on titration curves
  • Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium, PO43− phosphate, SO42− sulfate)
  • Hydration, the hydronium ion
  • Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)
  • Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp
  • Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations
    • Complex ion formation
    • Complex ions and solubility
    • Solubility and pH
  • Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents
  • Distillation
  • Chromatography:
    • Basic principles involved in separation process
      • Column chromatography, gas-liquid chromatography
      • High pressure liquid chromatography
    • Paper chromatography
    • Thin-layer chromatography
  • Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BCM)
    • Electrophoresis
    • Quantitative analysis
    • Chromatography
      • Size-exclusion
      • Ion-exchange
      • Affinity
  • Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (ORG)
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix
  • Chemistry (BCM)
  • Other functions (BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy)
  • Quaternary structure
  • Denaturing and Folding
  • Amino acids: description
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Dipolar ions
    • Classification
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophilic or hydrophobic
    • Synthesis of α-amino acids (ORG)
      • Strecker Synthesis
      • Gabriel Synthesis
  • Peptides and proteins: reactions
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis (BCM)
  • General Principles
    • Primary structure of proteins
    • Secondary structure of proteins
    • Tertiary structure of proteins
    • Isoelectric point
  • Description, Types
    • Storage
      • Triacyl glycerols
      • Free fatty acids: saponification
    • Structural
      • Phospholipids and phosphatids
      • Sphingolipids (BCM)
      • Waxes
    • Signals/cofactors
      • Fat-soluble vitamins
      • Steroids
      • Prostaglandins (BCM)
  • Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e− redox centers
  • Biological aromatic heterocycles
  • Classification by reaction type
  • Mechanism
    • Substrates and enzyme specificity
    • Active site model
    • Induced-fit model
    • Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
    • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Inhibition
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric
    • Covalently modified
  • Description:
    • Absolute configuration at the α position
    • Amino acids as dipolar ions
    • Classifications
      • Acidic or basic
      • Hydrophobic or hydrophilic
  • Reactions:
    • Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
    • Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins
    • Hydrolysis
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Binding (BCM)
  • Immune system
  • Motors
  • Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions
  • Enzyme classification by reaction type
  • Reduction of activation energy
  • Substrates and enzyme specificity
  • Active Site Model
  • Induced-fit Model
  • Mechanism of catalysis
    • Cofactors
    • Coenzymes
    • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
  • Feedback regulation
  • Inhibition – types
    • Competitive
    • Non-competitive
    • Mixed (BC)
    • Uncompetitive (BCM)
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric enzymes
    • Covalently-modified enzymes
    • Zymogen
  • Description
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure
  • Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C
  • Function in transmission of genetic information
  • DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization
  • Bioenergetics/thermodynamics
    • Free energy/Keq
      • Equilibrium constant
      • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°
    • Concentration
      • Le Châtelier's Principle
    • Endothermic/exothermic reactions
    • Free energy: G
    • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°
  • Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP
    • ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0
    • ATP group transfers
  • Biological oxidation-reduction
    • Half-reactions
    • Soluble electron carriers
    • Flavoproteins
  • Description
    • o Nomenclature and classification, common names
    • o Absolute configuration
    • o Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses
    • o Epimers and anomers
  • Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
  • Polysaccharides
  • Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products
    • Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism
  • Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of metabolic pathways (BIO, BCM)
    • Maintenance of a dynamic steady state
  • Regulation of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis
  • Metabolism of glycogen
  • Regulation of glycogen synthesis and breakdown
    • Allosteric and hormonal control
  • Analysis of metabolic control
  • Acetyl-CoA production (BCM)
  • Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products
  • Regulation of the cycle
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Description of fatty acids (BCM)
  • Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats
  • Oxidation of fatty acids
    • Saturated fats
    • Unsaturated fats
  • Ketone bodies (BCM)
  • Anabolism of fats (BIO)
  • Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)
  • Metabolism of proteins (BIO)
  • Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway
  • Electron transfer in mitochondria
    • NADH, NADPH
    • Flavoproteins
    • Cytochromes
  • ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling
    • Proton motive force
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation
  • Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BCM)
  • Higher level integration of hormone structure and function
  • Tissue specific metabolism
  • Hormonal regulation of fuel metabolism
  • Obesity and regulation of body mass
  • General function in cell containment
  • Composition of membranes
    • Lipid components (BIO, BCM, ORG)
      • Phospholipids (and phosphatids)
      • Steroids
      • Waxes
    • Protein components
    • Fluid mosaic model
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Solute transport across membranes
    • Thermodynamic considerations
    • Osmosis
      • Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (CHM)
    • Passive transport
    • Active transport
      • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Membrane channels
  • Membrane potential
  • Membrane receptors
  • Exocytosis and endocytosis
  • Intercellular junctions (BIO)
    • Gap junctions
    • Tight junctions
    • Desmosomes
  • Oncogenes, apoptosis
  • Gated ion channels
    • Voltage gated
    • Ligand gated
  • Receptor enzymes
  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • Description; structure
    • Steroids
    • Terpenes and terpenoids
  • Arterial and venous systems; pressure and flow characteristics
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix
  • Chemistry (BCM)
  • Other functions (BCM)
  • Classification by reaction type
  • Mechanism
    • Substrates and enzyme specificity
    • Active site model
    • Induced-fit model
    • Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
    • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Inhibition
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric
    • Covalently modified
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Binding (BCM)
  • Immune system
  • Motors
  • Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions
  • Enzyme classification by reaction type
  • Reduction of activation energy
  • Substrates and enzyme specificity
  • Active Site Model
  • Induced-fit Model
  • Mechanism of catalysis
    • Cofactors
    • Coenzymes
    • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
  • Feedback regulation
  • Inhibition – types
    • Competitive
    • Non-competitive
    • Mixed (BC)
    • Uncompetitive (BCM)
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric enzymes
    • Covalently-modified enzymes
    • Zymogen
  • Description
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure
  • Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C
  • Function in transmission of genetic information
  • DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization
  • Mechanism of replication: separation of strands, specific coupling of free nucleic acids
  • Semi-conservative nature of replication
  • Specific enzymes involved in replication
  • Origins of replication, multiple origins in eukaryotes
  • Replicating the ends of DNA molecules
  • Repair during replication
  • Repair of mutations
  • Central Dogma: DNA → RNA → protein
  • The triplet code
  • Codon–anticodon relationship
  • Degenerate code, wobble pairing
  • Missense, nonsense codons
  • Initiation, termination codons
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA)
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA); ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
  • Mechanism of transcription
  • mRNA processing in eukaryotes, introns, exons
  • Ribozymes, spliceosomes, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs)
  • Functional and evolutionary importance of introns
  • Roles of mRNA, tRNA, rRNA/li>
  • Role and structure of ribosomes/li>
  • Initiation, termination co-factors/li>
  • Post-translational modification of proteins
  • Chromosomal proteins
  • Single copy vs. repetitive DNA
  • Supercoiling
  • Heterochromatin vs. euchromatin
  • Telomeres, centromeres
  • Operon Concept, Jacob–Monod Model
  • Gene repression in bacteria
  • Positive control in bacteria
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • DNA binding proteins, transcription factors
  • Gene amplification and duplication
  • Post-transcriptional control, basic concept of splicing (introns, exons)
  • Cancer as a failure of normal cellular controls, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes
  • Regulation of chromatin structure
  • DNA methylation
  • Role of non-coding RNAs
  • Gene cloning
  • Restriction enzymes
  • DNA libraries
  • Generation of cDNA
  • Hybridization
  • Expressing cloned genes
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Gel electrophoresis and Southern blotting
  • DNA sequencing
  • Analyzing gene expression
  • Determining gene function
  • Stem cells
  • Practical applications of DNA technology: medical applications, human gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, forensic evidence, environmental cleanup, agriculture
  • Safety and ethics of DNA technology
  • Phenotype and genotype
  • Gene
  • Locus
  • Allele: single and multiple
  • Homozygosity and heterozygosity
  • Wild-type
  • Recessiveness
  • Complete dominance
  • Co-dominance
  • Incomplete dominance, leakage, penetrance, expressivity
  • Hybridization: viability
  • Gene pool
  • Significance of meiosis
  • Important differences between meiosis and mitosis
  • Segregation of genes
    • Independent assortment
    • Linkage
    • Recombination
      • Single crossovers
      • Double crossovers
      • Synaptonemal complex
      • Tetrad
    • Sex-linked characteristics
    • Very few genes on Y chromosome
    • Sex determination
    • Cytoplasmic/extranuclear inheritance
  • Mutation
    • General concept of mutation — error in DNA sequence
    • Types of mutations: random, translation error, transcription error, base substitution, inversion, addition, deletion, translocation, mispairing
    • Advantageous vs. deleterious mutation
    • Inborn errors of metabolism
    • Relationship of mutagens to carcinogens
  • Genetic drift
  • Synapsis or crossing-over mechanism for increasing genetic diversity
  • Hardy–Weinberg Principles
  • Testcross (Backcross; concepts of parental, F1, and F2 generations)
  • Gene mapping: crossover frequencies
  • Biometry: statistical methods
  • Natural selection
    • Fitness concept
    • Selection by differential reproduction
    • Concepts of natural and group selection
    • Evolutionary success as increase in percent representation in the gene pool of the next generation
  • Speciation
    • Polymorphism
    • Adaptation and specialization
    • Inbreeding
    • Outbreeding
    • Bottlenecks
  • Evolutionary time as measured by gradual random changes in genome
  • Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products
    • Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism
  • Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Acetyl-CoA production
  • Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products
  • Regulation of the cycle
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Description of fatty acids (BCM)
  • Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats
  • Oxidation of fatty acids
    • Saturated fats
    • Unsaturated fats
  • Ketone bodies (BCM)
  • Anabolism of fats (BIO)
  • Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)
  • Metabolism of proteins (BIO)
  • Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway
  • Electron transfer in mitochondria
    • NADH, NADPH
    • Flavoproteins
    • Cytochromes
  • ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling
    • Proton motive force
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation
  • Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BCM)
  • General function in cell containment
  • Composition of membranes
    • Lipid components (BIO, BCM, ORG)
      • Phospholipids (and phosphatids)
      • Steroids
      • Waxes
    • Protein components
    • Fluid mosaic model
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Solute transport across membranes
    • Thermodynamic considerations
    • Osmosis
      • Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (CHM)
    • Passive transport
    • Active transport
      • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Membrane channels
  • Membrane potential
  • Membrane receptors
  • Exocytosis and endocytosis
  • Intercellular junctions (BIO)
    • Gap junctions
    • Tight junctions
    • Desmosomes
  • Defining characteristics of eukaryotic cells: membrane bound nucleus, presence of organelles, mitotic division Nucleus
    • Compartmentalization, storage of genetic information
    • Nucleolus: location and function
    • Nuclear envelope, nuclear pores
  • Mitochondria
    • Site of ATP production
    • Inner and outer membrane structure (BIO, BCM)
    • Self-replication
  • Lysosomes: membrane-bound vesicles containing hydrolytic enzymes
  • Endoplasmic reticulum
    • Rough and smooth components
    • Rough endoplasmic reticulum site of ribosomes
    • Double membrane structure
    • Role in membrane biosynthesis
    • Role in biosynthesis of secreted proteins
  • Golgi apparatus: general structure and role in packaging and secretion
  • Peroxisomes: organelles that collect peroxides
  • General function in cell support and movement
  • Microfilaments: composition and role in cleavage and contractility
  • Microtubules: composition and role in support and transport
  • Intermediate filaments, role in support
  • Composition and function of cilia and flagella
  • Centrioles, microtubule organizing centers
  • Epithelial cells
  • Connective tissue cells
  • History and development
  • Impact on biology
  • Prokaryotic domains
    • Archaea
    • Bacteria
  • Major classifications of bacteria by shape
    • Bacilli (rod-shaped)
    • Spirilli (spiral-shaped)
    • Cocci (spherical)
  • Lack of nuclear membrane and mitotic apparatus
  • Lack of typical eukaryotic organelles
  • Presence of cell wall in bacteria
  • Flagellar propulsion, mechanism
  • Reproduction by fission
  • High degree of genetic adaptability, acquisition of antibiotic resistance
  • Exponential growth
  • Existence of anaerobic and aerobic variants
  • Parasitic and symbiotic
  • Chemotaxis
  • Existence of plasmids, extragenomic DNA
  • Transformation: incorporation into bacterial genome of DNA fragments from external medium
  • Conjugation
  • Transposons (also present in eukaryotic cells)
  • General structural characteristics (nucleic acid and protein, enveloped and nonenveloped)
  • Lack organelles and nucleus
  • Structural aspects of typical bacteriophage
  • Genomic content — RNA or DNA
  • Size relative to bacteria and eukaryotic cells
  • Self-replicating biological units that must reproduce within specific host cell
  • Generalized phage and animal virus life cycles
    • Attachment to host, penetration of cell membrane or cell wall, and entry of viral genetic material
    • Use of host synthetic mechanism to replicate viral components
    • Self-assembly and release of new viral particles
  • Transduction: transfer of genetic material by viruses
  • Retrovirus life cycle: integration into host DNA, reverse transcriptase, HIV
  • Prions and viroids: subviral particles
  • Mitotic process: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, interphase
  • Mitotic structures
    • Centrioles, asters, spindles
    • Chromatids, centromeres, kinetochores
    • Nuclear membrane breakdown and reorganization
    • Mechanisms of chromosome movement
  • Phases of cell cycle: G0, G1, S, G2, M
  • Growth arrest
  • Control of cell cycle
  • Loss of cell cycle controls in cancer cells
  • Gametogenesis by meiosis
  • Ovum and sperm
    • Differences in formation
    • Differences in morphology
    • Relative contribution to next generation
  • Reproductive sequence: fertilization; implantation; development; birth
  • Stages of early development (order and general features of each)
    • Fertilization
    • Cleavage
    • Blastula formation
    • Gastrulation
    • First cell movements
    • Formation of primary germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, ectoderm)
    • Neurulation
  • Major structures arising out of primary germ layers
  • Neural crest
  • Environment–gene interaction in development
  • Cell specialization
    • Determination
    • Differentiation
    • Tissue types
  • Cell–cell communication in development
  • Cell migration
  • Pluripotency: stem cells
  • Gene regulation in development
  • Programmed cell death
  • Existence of regenerative capacity in various species
  • Senescence and aging
  • Major Functions
    • High level control and integration of body systems
    • Adaptive capability to external influences
  • Organization of vertebrate nervous system
  • Sensor and effector neurons
  • Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: antagonistic control
  • Reflexes
    • Feedback loop, reflex arc
    • Role of spinal cord and supraspinal circuits
  • Integration with endocrine system: feedback control
  • Cell body: site of nucleus, organelles
  • Dendrites: branched extensions of cell body
  • Axon: structure and function
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Synapse: site of impulse propagation between cells
  • Synaptic activity: transmitter molecules
  • Resting potential: electrochemical gradient
  • Action potential
    • Threshold, all-or-none
    • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Excitatory and inhibitory nerve fibers: summation, frequency of firing
  • Glial cells, neuroglia
  • Function of endocrine system: specific chemical control at cell, tissue, and organ level
  • Definitions of endocrine gland, hormone
  • Major endocrine glands: names, locations, products
  • Major types of hormones
  • Neuroendrocrinology ― relation between neurons and hormonal systems
  • Cellular mechanisms of hormone action
  • Transport of hormones: blood supply
  • Specificity of hormones: target tissue
  • Integration with nervous system: feedback control
  • Regulation by second messengers
  • General function
    • Gas exchange, thermoregulation
    • Protection against disease: particulate matter
  • Structure of lungs and alveoli
  • Breathing mechanisms
    • Diaphragm, rib cage, differential pressure
    • Resiliency and surface tension effects
  • Thermoregulation: nasal and tracheal capillary beds; evaporation, panting
  • Particulate filtration: nasal hairs, mucus/cilia system in lungs
  • Alveolar gas exchange
    • Diffusion, differential partial pressure
    • Henry's Law
  • pH control
  • Regulation by nervous control
    • CO2 sensitivity
  • Functions: circulation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, ions and fluids, removal of metabolic waste
  • Role in thermoregulation
  • Four-chambered heart: structure and function
  • Endothelial cells
  • Systolic and diastolic pressure
  • Pulmonary and systemic circulation
  • Arterial and venous systems (arteries, arterioles, venules, veins)
    • Structural and functional differences
    • Pressure and flow characteristics
  • Capillary beds
    • Mechanisms of gas and solute exchange
    • Mechanism of heat exchange
    • Source of peripheral resistance
  • Composition of blood
    • Plasma, chemicals, blood cells
    • Erythrocyte production and destruction; spleen, bone marrow
    • Regulation of plasma volume
  • Coagulation, clotting mechanisms
  • Oxygen transport by blood
    • Hemoglobin, hematocrit
    • Oxygen content
    • Oxygen affinity
  • Carbon dioxide transport and level in blood
  • Nervous and endocrine control
  • Structure of lymphatic system
  • Major functions
    • Equalization of fluid distribution
    • Transport of proteins and large glycerides
    • Production of lymphocytes involved in immune reactions
    • Return of materials to the blood
  • Innate (non-specific) vs. adaptive (specific) immunity
  • Adaptive immune system cells
    • T-lymphocytes
    • B-lymphocytes
  • Innate immune system cells
    • Macrophages
    • Phagocytes
  • Tissues
    • Bone marrow
    • Spleen
    • Thymus
    • Lymph nodes
  • Concept of antigen and antibody
  • Antigen presentation
  • Clonal selection
  • Antigen-antibody recognition
  • Structure of antibody molecule
  • Recognition of self vs. non-self, autoimmune diseases
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • Ingestion
    • Saliva as lubrication and source of enzymes
    • Ingestion; esophagus, transport function
  • Stomach
    • Storage and churning of food
    • Low pH, gastric juice, mucal protection against self-destruction
    • Production of digestive enzymes, site of digestion
    • Structure (gross)
  • Liver
    • Structural relationship of liver within gastrointestinal system
    • Production of bile
    • Role in blood glucose regulation, detoxification
  • Bile
    • Storage in gall bladder
    • Function
  • Pancreas
    • Production of enzymes
    • Transport of enzymes to small intestine
  • Small Intestine
    • Absorption of food molecules and water
    • Function and structure of villi
    • Production of enzymes, site of digestion
    • Neutralization of stomach acid
    • Structure (anatomic subdivisions)
  • Large Intestine
    • Absorption of water
    • Bacterial flora
    • Structure (gross)
  • Rectum: storage and elimination of waste, feces
  • Muscular control
    • Peristalsis
  • Endocrine control
    • Hormones
    • Target tissues
  • Nervous control: the enteric nervous system
  • Roles in homeostasis
    • Blood pressure
    • Osmoregulation
    • Acid–base balance
    • Removal of soluble nitrogenous waste
  • Kidney structure
    • Cortex
    • Medulla
  • Nephron structure
    • Glomerulus
    • Bowman's capsule
    • Proximal tubule
    • Loop of Henle
    • Distal tubule
    • Collecting duct
  • Formation of urine
    • Glomerular filtration
    • Secretion and reabsorption of solutes
    • Concentration of urine
    • Counter-current multiplier mechanism
  • Storage and elimination: ureter, bladder, urethra
  • Osmoregulation: capillary reabsorption of H2O, amino acids, glucose, ions
  • Muscular control: sphincter muscle
  • Male and female reproductive structures and their functions
    • Gonads
    • Genitalia
    • Differences between male and female structures
  • Hormonal control of reproduction
    • Male and female sexual development
    • Female reproductive cycle
    • Pregnancy, parturition, lactation
    • Integration with nervous control
  • Important functions
    • Support: mobility
    • Peripheral circulatory assistance
    • Thermoregulation (shivering reflex)
  • Structure of three basic muscle types: striated, smooth, cardiac
  • Muscle structure and control of contraction
    • T-tubule system
    • Contractile apparatus
    • Sarcoplasmic reticulum
    • Fiber type
    • Contractile velocity of different muscle types
  • Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction
  • Oxygen debt: fatigue
  • Nervous control
    • Motor neurons
    • Neuromuscular junction, motor end plates
    • Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation
    • Voluntary and involuntary muscles
  • Structural characteristics of striated, smooth, and cardiac muscle
  • Abundant mitochondria in red muscle cells: ATP source
  • Organization of contractile elements: actin and myosin filaments, crossbridges, sliding filament model
  • Sarcomeres: "I" and "A" bands, "M" and "Z" lines, "H" zone
  • Presence of troponin and tropomyosin
  • Calcium regulation of contraction
  • Functions
    • Structural rigidity and support
    • Calcium storage
    • Physical protection
  • Skeletal structure
    • Specialization of bone types, structures
    • Joint structures
    • Endoskeleton vs. exoskeleton
  • Bone structure
    • Calcium/protein matrix
    • Cellular composition of bone
  • Cartilage: structure and function
  • Ligaments, tendons
  • Endocrine control
  • Structure
    • Layer differentiation, cell types
    • Relative impermeability to water
  • Functions in homeostasis and osmoregulation
  • Functions in thermoregulation
    • Hair, erectile musculature
    • Fat layer for insulation
    • Sweat glands, location in dermis
    • Vasoconstriction and vasodilation in surface capillaries
  • Physical protection
    • Nails, calluses, hair
    • Protection against abrasion, disease organisms
  • Hormonal control: sweating, vasodilation, and vasoconstriction
  • Sensation
    • o Threshold
    • o Weber's Law (PSY)
    • o Signal detection theory (PSY)
    • o Sensory adaptation
    • o Psychophysics
  • Sensory receptors
    • o Sensory pathways
    • o Types of sensory receptor
  • Structure and function of the eye
  • Visual processing
    • Visual pathways in the brain
    • Parallel processing (PSY)
    • Feature detection (PSY)
  • Structure and function of the ear
  • Auditory processing (e.g., auditory pathways in the brain)
  • Sensory reception by hair cells
  • Somatosensation (e.g., pain perception)
  • Taste (e.g., taste buds/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals)
  • Smell
    • Olfactory cells/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals
    • Pheromones (BIO)
    • Olfactory pathways in the brain (BIO)
  • Kinesthetic sense (PSY)
  • Vestibular sense
  • The nervous system
    • Neurons (e.g., the reflex arc)
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Structure and function of the peripheral nervous system
    • Structure and function of the central nervous system
      • The brain
        • Forebrain
        • Midbrain
        • Hindbrain
        • Lateralization of cortical functions
        • Methods used in studying the brain
      • The spinal cord
  • Neuronal communication and its influence on behavior (PSY)
  • Influence of neurotransmitters on behavior (PSY)
  • The endocrine system
    • Components of the endocrine system
    • Effects of the endocrine system on behavior
  • Behavioral genetics
    • Genes, temperament, and heredity
    • Adaptive value of traits and behaviors
    • Interaction between heredity and environmental influences
  • Influence of genetic and environmental factors on the development of behaviors
    • Experience and behavior (PSY)
    • Regulatory genes and behavior (BIO)
    • Genetically based behavioral variation in natural populations
  • Human physiological development (PSY)
    • Prenatal development
    • Motor development
    • Developmental changes in adolescence

Section 4: MCAT Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

Click on any of the MCAT subjects below to see the topics covered in the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT.

  • Arterial and venous systems; pressure and flow characteristics
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix
  • Chemistry (BCM)
  • Other functions (BCM)
  • Classification by reaction type
  • Mechanism
    • Substrates and enzyme specificity
    • Active site model
    • Induced-fit model
    • Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
    • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Inhibition
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric
    • Covalently modified
  • Structure
    • 1° structure of proteins
    • 2° structure of proteins
    • 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding
    • 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BCM)
  • Conformational stability
    • Denaturing and folding
    • Hydrophobic interactions
    • Solvation layer (entropy) (BCM)
  • Separation techniques
    • Isoelectric point
    • Electrophoresis
  • Binding (BCM)
  • Immune system
  • Motors
  • Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions
  • Enzyme classification by reaction type
  • Reduction of activation energy
  • Substrates and enzyme specificity
  • Active Site Model
  • Induced-fit Model
  • Mechanism of catalysis
    • Cofactors
    • Coenzymes
    • Water-soluble vitamins
  • Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity
  • Kinetics
    • General (catalysis)
    • Michaelis–Menten
    • Cooperativity
  • Feedback regulation
  • Inhibition – types
    • Competitive
    • Non-competitive
    • Mixed (BC)
    • Uncompetitive (BCM)
  • Regulatory enzymes
    • Allosteric enzymes
    • Covalently-modified enzymes
    • Zymogen
  • Description
  • Nucleotides and nucleosides
    • Sugar phosphate backbone
    • Pyrimidine, purine residues
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure
  • Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C
  • Function in transmission of genetic information
  • DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization
  • Mechanism of replication: separation of strands, specific coupling of free nucleic acids
  • Semi-conservative nature of replication
  • Specific enzymes involved in replication
  • Origins of replication, multiple origins in eukaryotes
  • Replicating the ends of DNA molecules
  • Repair during replication
  • Repair of mutations
  • Central Dogma: DNA → RNA → protein
  • The triplet code
  • Codon–anticodon relationship
  • Degenerate code, wobble pairing
  • Missense, nonsense codons
  • Initiation, termination codons
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA)
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA); ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
  • Mechanism of transcription
  • mRNA processing in eukaryotes, introns, exons
  • Ribozymes, spliceosomes, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs)
  • Functional and evolutionary importance of introns
  • Roles of mRNA, tRNA, rRNA/li>
  • Role and structure of ribosomes/li>
  • Initiation, termination co-factors/li>
  • Post-translational modification of proteins
  • Chromosomal proteins
  • Single copy vs. repetitive DNA
  • Supercoiling
  • Heterochromatin vs. euchromatin
  • Telomeres, centromeres
  • Operon Concept, Jacob–Monod Model
  • Gene repression in bacteria
  • Positive control in bacteria
  • Transcriptional regulation
  • DNA binding proteins, transcription factors
  • Gene amplification and duplication
  • Post-transcriptional control, basic concept of splicing (introns, exons)
  • Cancer as a failure of normal cellular controls, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes
  • Regulation of chromatin structure
  • DNA methylation
  • Role of non-coding RNAs
  • Gene cloning
  • Restriction enzymes
  • DNA libraries
  • Generation of cDNA
  • Hybridization
  • Expressing cloned genes
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Gel electrophoresis and Southern blotting
  • DNA sequencing
  • Analyzing gene expression
  • Determining gene function
  • Stem cells
  • Practical applications of DNA technology: medical applications, human gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, forensic evidence, environmental cleanup, agriculture
  • Safety and ethics of DNA technology
  • Phenotype and genotype
  • Gene
  • Locus
  • Allele: single and multiple
  • Homozygosity and heterozygosity
  • Wild-type
  • Recessiveness
  • Complete dominance
  • Co-dominance
  • Incomplete dominance, leakage, penetrance, expressivity
  • Hybridization: viability
  • Gene pool
  • Significance of meiosis
  • Important differences between meiosis and mitosis
  • Segregation of genes
    • Independent assortment
    • Linkage
    • Recombination
      • Single crossovers
      • Double crossovers
      • Synaptonemal complex
      • Tetrad
    • Sex-linked characteristics
    • Very few genes on Y chromosome
    • Sex determination
    • Cytoplasmic/extranuclear inheritance
  • Mutation
    • General concept of mutation — error in DNA sequence
    • Types of mutations: random, translation error, transcription error, base substitution, inversion, addition, deletion, translocation, mispairing
    • Advantageous vs. deleterious mutation
    • Inborn errors of metabolism
    • Relationship of mutagens to carcinogens
  • Genetic drift
  • Synapsis or crossing-over mechanism for increasing genetic diversity
  • Hardy–Weinberg Principles
  • Testcross (Backcross; concepts of parental, F1, and F2 generations)
  • Gene mapping: crossover frequencies
  • Biometry: statistical methods
  • Natural selection
    • Fitness concept
    • Selection by differential reproduction
    • Concepts of natural and group selection
    • Evolutionary success as increase in percent representation in the gene pool of the next generation
  • Speciation
    • Polymorphism
    • Adaptation and specialization
    • Inbreeding
    • Outbreeding
    • Bottlenecks
  • Evolutionary time as measured by gradual random changes in genome
  • Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products
    • Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism
  • Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis)
  • Gluconeogenesis
  • Pentose phosphate pathway
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Acetyl-CoA production
  • Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products
  • Regulation of the cycle
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Description of fatty acids (BCM)
  • Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats
  • Oxidation of fatty acids
    • Saturated fats
    • Unsaturated fats
  • Ketone bodies (BCM)
  • Anabolism of fats (BIO)
  • Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)
  • Metabolism of proteins (BIO)
  • Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features of the pathway
  • Electron transfer in mitochondria
    • NADH, NADPH
    • Flavoproteins
    • Cytochromes
  • ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling
    • Proton motive force
  • Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes
  • Regulation of oxidative phosphorylation
  • Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BCM)
  • General function in cell containment
  • Composition of membranes
    • Lipid components (BIO, BCM, ORG)
      • Phospholipids (and phosphatids)
      • Steroids
      • Waxes
    • Protein components
    • Fluid mosaic model
  • Membrane dynamics
  • Solute transport across membranes
    • Thermodynamic considerations
    • Osmosis
      • Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (CHM)
    • Passive transport
    • Active transport
      • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Membrane channels
  • Membrane potential
  • Membrane receptors
  • Exocytosis and endocytosis
  • Intercellular junctions (BIO)
    • Gap junctions
    • Tight junctions
    • Desmosomes
  • Defining characteristics of eukaryotic cells: membrane bound nucleus, presence of organelles, mitotic division Nucleus
    • Compartmentalization, storage of genetic information
    • Nucleolus: location and function
    • Nuclear envelope, nuclear pores
  • Mitochondria
    • Site of ATP production
    • Inner and outer membrane structure (BIO, BCM)
    • Self-replication
  • Lysosomes: membrane-bound vesicles containing hydrolytic enzymes
  • Endoplasmic reticulum
    • Rough and smooth components
    • Rough endoplasmic reticulum site of ribosomes
    • Double membrane structure
    • Role in membrane biosynthesis
    • Role in biosynthesis of secreted proteins
  • Golgi apparatus: general structure and role in packaging and secretion
  • Peroxisomes: organelles that collect peroxides
  • General function in cell support and movement
  • Microfilaments: composition and role in cleavage and contractility
  • Microtubules: composition and role in support and transport
  • Intermediate filaments, role in support
  • Composition and function of cilia and flagella
  • Centrioles, microtubule organizing centers
  • Epithelial cells
  • Connective tissue cells
  • History and development
  • Impact on biology
  • Prokaryotic domains
    • Archaea
    • Bacteria
  • Major classifications of bacteria by shape
    • Bacilli (rod-shaped)
    • Spirilli (spiral-shaped)
    • Cocci (spherical)
  • Lack of nuclear membrane and mitotic apparatus
  • Lack of typical eukaryotic organelles
  • Presence of cell wall in bacteria
  • Flagellar propulsion, mechanism
  • Reproduction by fission
  • High degree of genetic adaptability, acquisition of antibiotic resistance
  • Exponential growth
  • Existence of anaerobic and aerobic variants
  • Parasitic and symbiotic
  • Chemotaxis
  • Existence of plasmids, extragenomic DNA
  • Transformation: incorporation into bacterial genome of DNA fragments from external medium
  • Conjugation
  • Transposons (also present in eukaryotic cells)
  • General structural characteristics (nucleic acid and protein, enveloped and nonenveloped)
  • Lack organelles and nucleus
  • Structural aspects of typical bacteriophage
  • Genomic content — RNA or DNA
  • Size relative to bacteria and eukaryotic cells
  • Self-replicating biological units that must reproduce within specific host cell
  • Generalized phage and animal virus life cycles
    • Attachment to host, penetration of cell membrane or cell wall, and entry of viral genetic material
    • Use of host synthetic mechanism to replicate viral components
    • Self-assembly and release of new viral particles
  • Transduction: transfer of genetic material by viruses
  • Retrovirus life cycle: integration into host DNA, reverse transcriptase, HIV
  • Prions and viroids: subviral particles
  • Mitotic process: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, interphase
  • Mitotic structures
    • Centrioles, asters, spindles
    • Chromatids, centromeres, kinetochores
    • Nuclear membrane breakdown and reorganization
    • Mechanisms of chromosome movement
  • Phases of cell cycle: G0, G1, S, G2, M
  • Growth arrest
  • Control of cell cycle
  • Loss of cell cycle controls in cancer cells
  • Gametogenesis by meiosis
  • Ovum and sperm
    • Differences in formation
    • Differences in morphology
    • Relative contribution to next generation
  • Reproductive sequence: fertilization; implantation; development; birth
  • Stages of early development (order and general features of each)
    • Fertilization
    • Cleavage
    • Blastula formation
    • Gastrulation
    • First cell movements
    • Formation of primary germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, ectoderm)
    • Neurulation
  • Major structures arising out of primary germ layers
  • Neural crest
  • Environment–gene interaction in development
  • Cell specialization
    • Determination
    • Differentiation
    • Tissue types
  • Cell–cell communication in development
  • Cell migration
  • Pluripotency: stem cells
  • Gene regulation in development
  • Programmed cell death
  • Existence of regenerative capacity in various species
  • Senescence and aging
  • Major Functions
    • High level control and integration of body systems
    • Adaptive capability to external influences
  • Organization of vertebrate nervous system
  • Sensor and effector neurons
  • Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: antagonistic control
  • Reflexes
    • Feedback loop, reflex arc
    • Role of spinal cord and supraspinal circuits
  • Integration with endocrine system: feedback control
  • Cell body: site of nucleus, organelles
  • Dendrites: branched extensions of cell body
  • Axon: structure and function
  • Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon
  • Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon
  • Synapse: site of impulse propagation between cells
  • Synaptic activity: transmitter molecules
  • Resting potential: electrochemical gradient
  • Action potential
    • Threshold, all-or-none
    • Sodium/potassium pump
  • Excitatory and inhibitory nerve fibers: summation, frequency of firing
  • Glial cells, neuroglia
  • Function of endocrine system: specific chemical control at cell, tissue, and organ level
  • Definitions of endocrine gland, hormone
  • Major endocrine glands: names, locations, products
  • Major types of hormones
  • Neuroendrocrinology ― relation between neurons and hormonal systems
  • Cellular mechanisms of hormone action
  • Transport of hormones: blood supply
  • Specificity of hormones: target tissue
  • Integration with nervous system: feedback control
  • Regulation by second messengers
  • General function
    • Gas exchange, thermoregulation
    • Protection against disease: particulate matter
  • Structure of lungs and alveoli
  • Breathing mechanisms
    • Diaphragm, rib cage, differential pressure
    • Resiliency and surface tension effects
  • Thermoregulation: nasal and tracheal capillary beds; evaporation, panting
  • Particulate filtration: nasal hairs, mucus/cilia system in lungs
  • Alveolar gas exchange
    • Diffusion, differential partial pressure
    • Henry's Law
  • pH control
  • Regulation by nervous control
    • CO2 sensitivity
  • Functions: circulation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, ions and fluids, removal of metabolic waste
  • Role in thermoregulation
  • Four-chambered heart: structure and function
  • Endothelial cells
  • Systolic and diastolic pressure
  • Pulmonary and systemic circulation
  • Arterial and venous systems (arteries, arterioles, venules, veins)
    • Structural and functional differences
    • Pressure and flow characteristics
  • Capillary beds
    • Mechanisms of gas and solute exchange
    • Mechanism of heat exchange
    • Source of peripheral resistance
  • Composition of blood
    • Plasma, chemicals, blood cells
    • Erythrocyte production and destruction; spleen, bone marrow
    • Regulation of plasma volume
  • Coagulation, clotting mechanisms
  • Oxygen transport by blood
    • Hemoglobin, hematocrit
    • Oxygen content
    • Oxygen affinity
  • Carbon dioxide transport and level in blood
  • Nervous and endocrine control
  • Structure of lymphatic system
  • Major functions
    • Equalization of fluid distribution
    • Transport of proteins and large glycerides
    • Production of lymphocytes involved in immune reactions
    • Return of materials to the blood
  • Innate (non-specific) vs. adaptive (specific) immunity
  • Adaptive immune system cells
    • T-lymphocytes
    • B-lymphocytes
  • Innate immune system cells
    • Macrophages
    • Phagocytes
  • Tissues
    • Bone marrow
    • Spleen
    • Thymus
    • Lymph nodes
  • Concept of antigen and antibody
  • Antigen presentation
  • Clonal selection
  • Antigen-antibody recognition
  • Structure of antibody molecule
  • Recognition of self vs. non-self, autoimmune diseases
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • Ingestion
    • Saliva as lubrication and source of enzymes
    • Ingestion; esophagus, transport function
  • Stomach
    • Storage and churning of food
    • Low pH, gastric juice, mucal protection against self-destruction
    • Production of digestive enzymes, site of digestion
    • Structure (gross)
  • Liver
    • Structural relationship of liver within gastrointestinal system
    • Production of bile
    • Role in blood glucose regulation, detoxification
  • Bile
    • Storage in gall bladder
    • Function
  • Pancreas
    • Production of enzymes
    • Transport of enzymes to small intestine
  • Small Intestine
    • Absorption of food molecules and water
    • Function and structure of villi
    • Production of enzymes, site of digestion
    • Neutralization of stomach acid
    • Structure (anatomic subdivisions)
  • Large Intestine
    • Absorption of water
    • Bacterial flora
    • Structure (gross)
  • Rectum: storage and elimination of waste, feces
  • Muscular control
    • Peristalsis
  • Endocrine control
    • Hormones
    • Target tissues
  • Nervous control: the enteric nervous system
  • Roles in homeostasis
    • Blood pressure
    • Osmoregulation
    • Acid–base balance
    • Removal of soluble nitrogenous waste
  • Kidney structure
    • Cortex
    • Medulla
  • Nephron structure
    • Glomerulus
    • Bowman's capsule
    • Proximal tubule
    • Loop of Henle
    • Distal tubule
    • Collecting duct
  • Formation of urine
    • Glomerular filtration
    • Secretion and reabsorption of solutes
    • Concentration of urine
    • Counter-current multiplier mechanism
  • Storage and elimination: ureter, bladder, urethra
  • Osmoregulation: capillary reabsorption of H2O, amino acids, glucose, ions
  • Muscular control: sphincter muscle
  • Male and female reproductive structures and their functions
    • Gonads
    • Genitalia
    • Differences between male and female structures
  • Hormonal control of reproduction
    • Male and female sexual development
    • Female reproductive cycle
    • Pregnancy, parturition, lactation
    • Integration with nervous control
  • Important functions
    • Support: mobility
    • Peripheral circulatory assistance
    • Thermoregulation (shivering reflex)
  • Structure of three basic muscle types: striated, smooth, cardiac
  • Muscle structure and control of contraction
    • T-tubule system
    • Contractile apparatus
    • Sarcoplasmic reticulum
    • Fiber type
    • Contractile velocity of different muscle types
  • Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction
  • Oxygen debt: fatigue
  • Nervous control
    • Motor neurons
    • Neuromuscular junction, motor end plates
    • Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation
    • Voluntary and involuntary muscles
  • Structural characteristics of striated, smooth, and cardiac muscle
  • Abundant mitochondria in red muscle cells: ATP source
  • Organization of contractile elements: actin and myosin filaments, crossbridges, sliding filament model
  • Sarcomeres: "I" and "A" bands, "M" and "Z" lines, "H" zone
  • Presence of troponin and tropomyosin
  • Calcium regulation of contraction
  • Functions
    • Structural rigidity and support
    • Calcium storage
    • Physical protection
  • Skeletal structure
    • Specialization of bone types, structures
    • Joint structures
    • Endoskeleton vs. exoskeleton
  • Bone structure
    • Calcium/protein matrix
    • Cellular composition of bone
  • Cartilage: structure and function
  • Ligaments, tendons
  • Endocrine control
  • Structure
    • Layer differentiation, cell types
    • Relative impermeability to water
  • Functions in homeostasis and osmoregulation
  • Functions in thermoregulation
    • Hair, erectile musculature
    • Fat layer for insulation
    • Sweat glands, location in dermis
    • Vasoconstriction and vasodilation in surface capillaries
  • Physical protection
    • Nails, calluses, hair
    • Protection against abrasion, disease organisms
  • Hormonal control: sweating, vasodilation, and vasoconstriction
  • Sensation
    • o Threshold
    • o Weber's Law (PSY)
    • o Signal detection theory (PSY)
    • o Sensory adaptation
    • o Psychophysics
  • Sensory receptors
    • o Sensory pathways
    • o Types of sensory receptor
  • Structure and function of the eye
  • Visual processing
    • Visual pathways in the brain
    • Parallel processing (PSY)
    • Feature detection (PSY)
  • Structure and function of the ear
  • Auditory processing (e.g., auditory pathways in the brain)
  • Sensory reception by hair cells
  • Somatosensation (e.g., pain perception)
  • Taste (e.g., taste buds/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals)
  • Smell
    • Olfactory cells/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals
    • Pheromones (BIO)
    • Olfactory pathways in the brain (BIO)
  • Kinesthetic sense (PSY)
  • Vestibular sense
  • The nervous system
    • Neurons (e.g., the reflex arc)
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Structure and function of the peripheral nervous system
    • Structure and function of the central nervous system
      • The brain
        • Forebrain
        • Midbrain
        • Hindbrain
        • Lateralization of cortical functions
        • Methods used in studying the brain
      • The spinal cord
  • Neuronal communication and its influence on behavior (PSY)
  • Influence of neurotransmitters on behavior (PSY)
  • The endocrine system
    • Components of the endocrine system
    • Effects of the endocrine system on behavior
  • Behavioral genetics
    • Genes, temperament, and heredity
    • Adaptive value of traits and behaviors
    • Interaction between heredity and environmental influences
  • Influence of genetic and environmental factors on the development of behaviors
    • Experience and behavior (PSY)
    • Regulatory genes and behavior (BIO)
    • Genetically based behavioral variation in natural populations
  • Human physiological development (PSY)
    • Prenatal development
    • Motor development
    • Developmental changes in adolescence
  • Sensation
    • Threshold
    • Weber's Law (PSY)
    • Signal detection theory (PSY)
    • Sensory adaptation
    • Psychophysics
  • Sensory receptors
    • Sensory pathways
    • Types of sensory receptor
  • Structure and function of the eye
  • Visual processing
    • Visual pathways in the brain
    • Parallel processing (PSY)
    • Feature detection (PSY)
  • Structure and function of the ear
  • Auditory processing (e.g., auditory pathways in the brain)
  • Sensory reception by hair cells
  • Somatosensation (e.g., pain perception)
  • Taste (e.g., taste buds/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals)
  • Smell
    • Olfactory cells/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals
    • Pheromones (BIO)
    • Olfactory pathways in the brain (BIO)
  • Kinesthetic sense (PSY)
  • Vestibular sense
  • Bottom-up/Top-down processing
  • Perceptual organization (e.g., depth, form, motion, constancy)
  • Gestalt principles
  • Selective attention
  • Divided attention
  • Information-processing model
  • Cognitive development
    • Piaget's stages of cognitive development
    • Cognitive changes in late adulthood
    • Role of culture in cognitive development
    • Influence of heredity and environment on cognitive development
  • Biological factors that affect cognition (PSY, BIO)
  • Problem solving and decision making
    • Types of problem solving
    • Barriers to effective problem solving
    • Approaches to problem solving
    • Heuristics and biases (e.g., overconfidence, belief perseverance)
  • Intellectual functioning
    • Theories of intelligence
    • Influence of heredity and environment on intelligence
    • Variations in intellectual ability
  • States of consciousness
    • Alertness (PSY, BIO)
    • Sleep
      • Stages of sleep
      • Sleep cycles and changes to sleep cycles
      • Sleep and circadian rhythms (PSY, BIO)
      • Dreaming
      • Sleep‐wake disorders
    • Hypnosis and meditation
  • Consciousness-altering drugs
    • Types of consciousness-altering drugs and their effects on the nervous system and behavior
    • Drug addiction and the reward pathway in the brain
  • Encoding
    • Process of encoding information
    • Processes that aid in encoding memories
  • Storage
    • Types of memory storage (e.g., sensory, working, long-term)
    • Semantic networks and spreading activation
  • Retrieval
    • Recall, recognition, and relearning
    • Retrieval cues
    • The role of emotion in retrieving memories (PSY, BIO)
    • Processes that aid retrieval
  • Forgetting
    • Aging and memory
    • Memory dysfunctions (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, Korsakoff's syndrome)
    • Decay
    • Interference
    • Memory construction and source monitoring
  • Changes in synaptic connections underlie memory and learning
    • Neural plasticity
    • Memory and learning
    • Long-term potentiation
  • Theories of language development (e.g., learning, Nativist, Interactionist)
  • Influence of language on cognition
  • Brain areas that control language and speech (PSY, BIO)
  • Three components of emotion (i.e., cognitive, physiological, behavioral)
  • Universal emotions (i.e., fear, anger, happiness, surprise, joy, disgust, and sadness)
  • Adaptive role of emotion
  • Theories of emotion
    • James–Lange theory
    • Cannon–Bard theory
    • Schachter–Singer theory
  • The role of biological processes in perceiving emotion (PSY, BIO)
    • Brain regions involved in the generation and experience of emotions
    • The role of the limbic system in emotion
    • Emotion and the autonomic nervous system
    • Physiological markers of emotion (signatures of emotion)
  • The nature of stress
    • Appraisal
    • Different types of stressors (e.g., cataclysmic events, personal)
    • Effects of stress on psychological functions
  • Stress outcomes/response to stressors
    • Physiological (PSY, BIO)
    • Emotional
    • Behavioral
  • Managing stress (e.g., exercise, relaxation, spirituality)
  • The nervous system
    • Neurons (e.g., the reflex arc)
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Structure and function of the peripheral nervous system
    • Structure and function of the central nervous system
      • The brain
        • Forebrain
        • Midbrain
        • Hindbrain
        • Lateralization of cortical functions
        • Methods used in studying the brain
      • The spinal cord
  • Neuronal communication and its influence on behavior (PSY)
  • Influence of neurotransmitters on behavior (PSY)
  • The endocrine system
    • Components of the endocrine system
    • Effects of the endocrine system on behavior
  • Behavioral genetics
    • Genes, temperament, and heredity
    • Adaptive value of traits and behaviors
    • Interaction between heredity and environmental influences
  • Influence of genetic and environmental factors on the development of behaviors
    • Experience and behavior (PSY)
    • Regulatory genes and behavior (BIO)
    • Genetically based behavioral variation in natural populations
  • Human physiological development (PSY)
    • Prenatal development
    • Motor development
    • Developmental changes in adolescence
  • Theories of personality
    • Psychoanalytic perspective
    • Humanistic perspective
    • Trait perspective
    • Social cognitive perspective
    • Biological perspective
    • Behaviorist perspective
  • Situational approach to explaining behavior
  • Understanding psychological disorders
    • Biomedical vs. biopsychosocial approaches
    • Classifying psychological disorders
    • Rates of psychological disorders
  • Types of psychological disorders
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Obsessive–compulsive disorder
    • Trauma‐ and stressor‐related disorders
    • Somatic symptom and related disorders
    • Bipolar and related disorders
    • Depressive disorders
    • Schizophrenia
    • Dissociative disorder
    • Personality disorders
  • Biological bases of nervous system disorders (PSY, BIO)
    • Schizophrenia
    • Depression
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Stem cell-based therapy to regenerate neurons in the central nervous system (BIO)
  • Factors that influence motivation
    • Instinct
    • Arousal
    • Drives (e.g., negative feedback systems) (PSY, BIO)
    • Needs
  • Theories that explain how motivation affects human behavior
    • Drive reduction theory
    • Incentive theory
    • Other theories (e.g., cognitive, need-based)
  • Biological and sociocultural motivators that regulate behavior (e.g., hunger, sex drive, substance addiction)
  • Components of attitudes (i.e., cognitive, affective, and behavioral)
  • The link between attitudes and behavior
    • Processes by which behavior influences attitudes (e.g., foot-in-the door phenomenon, role-playing effects)
    • Processes by which attitudes influence behavior
    • Cognitive dissonance theory
  • Social facilitation
  • Deindividuation
  • Bystander effect
  • Social loafing
  • Social control (SOC)
  • Peer pressure (PSY, SOC)
  • Conformity (PSY, SOC)
  • Obedience (PSY, SOC)
  • Group polarization (PSY)
  • Groupthink
  • Agents of socialization (e.g., the family, mass media, peers, workplace)
  • Classical conditioning (PSY, BIO)
    • Neutral, conditioned, and unconditioned stimuli
    • Conditioned and unconditioned response
    • Processes: acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, discrimination
  • Operant conditioning (PSY, BIO)
    • Processes of shaping and extinction
    • Types of reinforcement: positive, negative, primary, conditional
    • Reinforcement schedules: fixed-ratio, variable-ratio, fixed-interval, variable-interval
    • Punishment
    • Escape and avoidance learning
  • The role of cognitive processes in associative learning
  • Biological processes that affect associative learning (e.g., biological predispositions, instinctive drift) (PSY, BIO)
  • Modeling
  • Biological processes that affect observational learning
    • Mirror neurons
    • Role of the brain in experiencing vicarious emotions
  • Applications of observational learning to explain individual behavior
  • Elaboration likelihood model
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Factors that affect attitude change (e.g., changing behavior, characteristics of the message and target, social factors)
  • The role of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control in self-concept and self-identity (PSY)
  • Different types of identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, class)
  • Theories of identity development (e.g., gender, moral, psychosexual, social)
  • Influence of social factors on identity formation
    • Influence of individuals (e.g., imitation, looking-glass self, role-taking)
    • Influence of groups (e.g., reference group)
  • Influence of culture and socialization on identity formation
  • Attributional processes (e.g., fundamental attribution error, role of culture in attributions)
  • How self-perceptions shape our perceptions of others
  • How perceptions of the environment shape our perceptions of others
  • Processes that contribute to prejudice
    • Power, prestige, and class (SOC)
    • The role of emotion in prejudice (PSY)
    • The role of cognition in prejudice (PSY)
  • Stereotypes
  • Stigma (SOC)
  • Ethnocentrism (SOC)
    • Ethnocentrism vs. cultural relativism
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Stereotype threat
  • Status (SOC)
    • Types of status (e.g., achieved, ascribed)
  • Role
    • Role conflict and role strain (SOC)
    • Role exit (SOC)
  • Groups>
    • Primary and secondary groups (SOC)
    • In-group vs. out-group
    • Group size (e.g., dyads, triads) (SOC)
  • Networks (SOC)
  • Organizations (SOC)
    • Formal organization
    • Bureaucracy
      • Characteristics of an ideal bureaucracy
      • Perspectives on bureaucracy (e.g., iron law of oligarchy, McDonaldization)
  • Expressing and detecting emotion
    • The role of gender in the expression and detection of emotion
    • The role of culture in the expression and detection of emotion
  • Presentation of self
    • Impression management
    • Front stage vs. back stage self (Dramaturgical approach) (SOC)
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Animal signals and communication (PSY, BIO)
  • Attraction
  • Aggression
  • Attachment
  • Altruism
  • Social support (PSY, SOC)
  • Biological explanations of social behavior in animals (PSY, BIO)
    • o Foraging behavior (BIO)
    • o Mating behavior and mate choice
    • o Applying game theory (BIO)
    • o Altruism
    • o Inclusive fitness (BIO)
  • Individual vs. institutional discrimination (SOC)
  • The relationship between prejudice and discrimination
  • How power, prestige, and class facilitate discrimination (SOC)
  • Elements of culture (e.g., beliefs, language, rituals, symbols, values)
  • Material vs. symbolic culture (SOC)
  • Culture lag (SOC)
  • Culture shock (SOC)
  • Assimilation (SOC)
  • Multiculturalism (SOC)
  • Subcultures and countercultures (SOC)
  • Mass media and popular culture (SOC)
  • Evolution and human culture (PSY, BIO)
  • Transmission and diffusion (SOC)
  • Age
    • Aging and the life course
    • Age cohorts (SOC)
    • Social significance of aging
  • Gender
    • Sex versus gender
    • The social construction of gender (SOC)
    • Gender segregation (SOC)
  • Race and ethnicity (SOC)
    • The social construction of race
    • Racialization
    • Racial formation
  • Immigration status (SOC)
    • Patterns of immigration
    • Intersections with race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Group polarization (PSY)
  • Groupthink
  • Social norms (PSY, SOC)
    • Sanctions (SOC)
    • Folkways, mores, and taboos (SOC)
    • Anomie (SOC)
  • Deviance
    • Perspectives on deviance (e.g., differential association, labeling theory, strain theory)
  • Aspects of collective behavior (e.g., fads, mass hysteria, riots)
  • Agents of socialization (e.g., the family, mass media, peers, workplace)
  • The role of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and locus of control in self-concept and self-identity (PSY)
  • Different types of identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, class)
  • Theories of identity development (e.g., gender, moral, psychosexual, social)
  • Influence of social factors on identity formation
    • Influence of individuals (e.g., imitation, looking-glass self, role-taking)
    • Influence of groups (e.g., reference group)
  • Influence of culture and socialization on identity formation
  • Processes that contribute to prejudice
    • Power, prestige, and class (SOC)
    • The role of emotion in prejudice (PSY)
    • The role of cognition in prejudice (PSY)
  • Stereotypes
  • Stigma (SOC)
  • Ethnocentrism (SOC)
    • Ethnocentrism vs. cultural relativism
  • Status (SOC)
    • Types of status (e.g., achieved, ascribed)
  • Role
    • Role conflict and role strain (SOC)
    • Role exit (SOC)
  • Groups
    • Primary and secondary groups (SOC)
    • In-group vs. out-group
    • Group size (e.g., dyads, triads) (SOC)
  • Networks (SOC)
  • Organizations (SOC)
    • Formal organization
    • Bureaucracy
      • Characteristics of an ideal bureaucracy
      • Perspectives on bureaucracy (e.g., iron law of oligarchy, McDonaldization)
  • Expressing and detecting emotion
    • The role of gender in the expression and detection of emotion
    • The role of culture in the expression and detection of emotion
  • Presentation of self
    • Impression management
    • Front stage vs. back stage self (Dramaturgical approach) (SOC)
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Animal signals and communication (PSY, BIO)
  • Individual vs. institutional discrimination (SOC)
  • The relationship between prejudice and discrimination
  • How power, prestige, and class facilitate discrimination (SOC)
  • Microsociology vs. macrosociology
  • Functionalism
  • Conflict theory
  • Symbolic interactionism
  • Social constructionism
  • Exchange-rational choice
  • Feminist theory
  • Education
    • Hidden curriculum
    • Teacher expectancy
    • Educational segregation and stratification
  • Family (PSY, SOC)
    • Forms of kinship (SOC)
    • Diversity in family forms
    • Marriage and divorce
    • Violence in the family (e.g., child abuse, elder abuse, spousal abuse) (SOC)
  • Religion
    • Religiosity
    • Types of religious organizations (e.g., churches, sects, cults)
    • Religion and social change (e.g., modernization, secularization, fundamentalism)
  • Government and economy
    • Power and authority
    • Comparative economic and political systems
    • Division of labor
  • Health and medicine
    • Medicalization
    • The sick role
    • Delivery of health care
    • Illness experience
    • Social epidemiology
  • Elements of culture (e.g., beliefs, language, rituals, symbols, values)
  • Material vs. symbolic culture (SOC)
  • Culture lag (SOC)
  • Culture shock (SOC)
  • Assimilation (SOC)
  • Multiculturalism (SOC)
  • Subcultures and countercultures (SOC)
  • Mass media and popular culture (SOC)
  • Evolution and human culture (PSY, BIO)
  • Transmission and diffusion (SOC)
  • Age
    • Aging and the life course
    • Age cohorts (SOC)
    • Social significance of aging
  • Gender
    • Sex versus gender
    • The social construction of gender (SOC)
    • Gender segregation (SOC)
  • Race and ethnicity (SOC)
    • The social construction of race
    • Racialization
    • Racial formation
  • Immigration status (SOC)
    • Patterns of immigration
    • Intersections with race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Theories of demographic change (i.e., Malthusian theory and demographic transition)
  • Population growth and decline (e.g., population projections, population pyramids)
  • Fertility, migration, and mortality
    • Fertility and mortality rates (e.g., total, crude, age-specific)
    • Patterns in fertility and mortality
    • Push and pull factors in migration
  • Social movements
    • Relative deprivation
    • Organization of social movements
    • Movement strategies and tactics
  • Globalization
    • Factors contributing to globalization (e.g., communication technology, economic interdependence)
    • Perspectives on globalization
    • Social changes in globalization (e.g., civil unrest, terrorism)
  • Urbanization
    • Industrialization and urban growth
    • Suburbanization and urban decline
    • Gentrification and urban renewal
  • Sensation
    • Residential segregation
    • Neighborhood safety and violence
    • Environmental justice (location and exposure to health risks)
  • Aspects of social stratification
    • Social class and socioeconomic status
    • Class consciousness and false consciousness
    • Cultural capital and social capital
    • Social reproduction
    • Power, privilege, and prestige
    • Intersectionality (e.g., race, gender, age)
    • Socioeconomic gradient in health
    • Global inequalities
  • Patterns of social mobility
    • Intergenerational and intragenerational mobility
    • Vertical and horizontal mobility
    • Meritocracy
  • Poverty
    • Relative and absolute poverty
    • Social exclusion (segregation and isolation)
e.g., class, gender, and race inequalities in health care.

MCAT highlights the importance of evidence-based approaches. Great weight is therefore put on psychological and sociological knowledge which is grounded on qualitative and quantitative research which was performed according to best current research practices. Therefore, students are likely going to be tested about:

  • Types of research involving two main methods which can be used in combination and their aims, namely qualitative (such as case-studies, observational, ethnographic, phenomenological, and content analysis), and quantitative (numerical data analysis, in particular statistical analysis).
  • Types of research design and their aims (e.g., longitudinal, cohort, experimental, control, and double blind)
  • Types of variables and their uses (dichotomous, ordinal, interval, and continuous)
  • Ways of assessing and improving the quality of the research (e.g., validity, reliability, trustworthiness, false positive and false negative reduction)
  • Most common and basic types statistical analysis and their aims (descriptive statistics, associations and correlations, group comparisons)
  • Most common ways of representing statistical results (graphs and tables) and their significance (asterisks and p-values)

Gold Standard MCAT Guide