• Are there such things as high yield MCAT topics?

    What does high yield even mean for the MCAT? Of course there are obvious high yield topics like acid-base fundamentals or enzyme kinetics. Whatever high yield means, those two exemplify it.

    On the other hand, at least by our lights, AAMC doesn't seem to care too much about the Bohr theory of the hydrogen atom. Is there a question in section bank about it? How should we process that? The Bohr theory of the hydrogen atom.

    Electron energy levels. The line spectrum. That's where we first learned about emission and absorption, way back in the day. The Bohr theory was the first time many ever think of the relationship between photon emission energy and electron energy levels. This is the simplest example of the mental process for understanding a fundamental way matter and light interact. The same template helps you see the colors of pigments or coordination complexes, UV spectroscopy and fluorescence, and those subjects are all over the exam. The basic point is that high yield can mean a lot of different things. It's good to think about how the knowledge-base makes its way onto the exam.

  • How the knowledge-base is supposed to function

    The high yield idea is not completely useless. You can look to the common types and common themes of MCAT questions and passages. What is an MCAT science passage exactly? There are a lot of ways a person can look at an MCAT passage. An MCAT passage has many gestalts. From a very abstract perspective, an MCAT passage is a series of intelligibility puzzles. The passage is disguised as a discussion of an area of science, but it is not going to communicate so easily. Everything in an MCAT science passage is intentionally constructed as a challenge you overcome by making it form clear, scientific ideas in your mind.

    One key step in learning to read an MCAT passage is to learn the art of letting your mind chatter about everything all the time. Your know more science than you have the habit for. This means you need more than just an openness to listen. You must make yourself articulate the MCAT passage by letting it call out to the topics and subtopics in your knowledge base for an answer. Everything in an MCAT passage is both an invitation for reflection and an obstacle against intelligibility. Try to exhaust all the meanings. Hold yourself to a standard of clear focus and confidence. After a while you will start to feel like a local.

    At the start of every passage, it's like shining a light into a cave. You give it a little time and let forms take shape. Scientific ideas in your conceptual imagination create the opening and then you move through the passage, striving to keep the light on the whole way to the end. The passage-writer at AAMC is playing a game against you keeping things straight. They make puzzles and build pitfalls and quicksand to trap you. They are trying to make it hard for you to keep your clear-headed understanding. They flip things over and turn them upside down. They leave a black box in the passage. Clear the passage as well as you can. The unresolved elements and open questions are just fine. To say you have read the passage doesn't do it justice. Clear conceptual projection and sustained attention while you are moving through an MCAT passage at test pace is a challenging kind of performance. What is the art of it?

  • Get to a high yield state of mind the natural way

    It's not about clearing passages and answering questions. The MCAT is just some dumb test. It's about the superpower you are gaining because AAMC is making you do all this work. You are a rat in their maze. It is engineered to reward you the better you become at scientific reasoning. That is the optimistic way to look at it.

    The exam can be difficult from any direction, but it's within biochemistry and molecular biology that the exam expects you to actually be pretty sophisticated about things. It seems that way to us. You need to be sophisticated about biochemistry and molecular biology and how more fundamental subjects intersect with those topics. Core biochemistry and molecular biology are high yield for the new MCAT, but this is something different. They expect you to be sophisticated.

    The American Association of Medical Colleges. Who are those people? Why are they doing this to you? Be optimistic about it. Here is one way to attribute the situation. If you ask us, you should relax and settle into this optimistic framework. This whole thing is like one big summer AP assignment but before medical school. The Prep-Hub materials. Hold this lamp up and let things fluoresce in different places. It might just be that the MCAT makes you study a curriculum for a purpose. Try to imagine the MCAT content. How was it chosen out by AAMC as equipment to help you make sense of things in medical school? If you try to imagine medical school curriculum or medical science, what ideas from basic science do you think will come up again and again, whether explicitly or tacitly? How about within different specialties? Those are high yield MCAT topics.

    The importance of an organic reaction to biochemistry elevates that organic mechanism. This is why AAMC loves aldol addition. They love fluid mechanics because of the cardiovascular system and geometric optics because of vision. They love acids & bases and electrochemistry because you need those for biochemistry. AAMC has put a great deal of thought into the quality of your educational experience, so at least you've got that going for you.

    Give it up. There is no list of high yield topics here. You can't really make a good list of topics. Don't compromise. Build your knowledge-base complete from mechanics through physiology. It's only eighty subjects. A few thousand learning goals. You're almost there actually. You can do it, and you'll be glad you did! The complete knowledge-base is coherent, confident and unified. Not every MCAT is like Full Length Test 3. A complete knowledge base prepares you for the Unexpected MCAT.

The Integrated MCAT Course is a trademark of Wisebridge Learning Systems. Unless otherwise specified, the works of the Integrated Course are published under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike License. MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges, which does not endorse the Integrated MCAT Course. The Integrated MCAT Course offers our customers no guarantees regarding eventual performance on the MCAT.