The biological and physical sciences sections of the MCAT test are both designed to assess an individual's understanding of a variety of basic scientific concepts. It is important to note, however, that even though these questions are only designed to assess an individual's scientific knowledge, some of the questions included in these sections require a basic level of mathematical skill in order to determine the correct answer. As a result, it may be useful for an individual to take note of exactly what sort of mathematical skills are required. First, the questions included on the exam will only require basic mathematical skills and there will be no questions related to calculus or other advanced mathematics included on the exam. Secondly, calculators are not allowed in the testing center, but you will still need to be able to estimate the square root of a number, add, subtract, divide, multiply, calculate proportions, calculate ratios, calculate percentages, and other similar functions. Fortunately, scrap paper will be provided and you will usually only have to estimate or perform simple calculations.
Third, you will need to understand basic concepts related to basic statistics, different mathematical scales, effects of propagation of error, exponentials and logarithms, how to use graphs, key terms related to graphs and functions, quadratic equations, reciprocals, relative magnitude of experimental error, simultaneous equations, slope, standard deviation, the process of making reasonable estimates, the right hand rule, vector addition, and vector subtraction. Some of the questions on the exam may also refer to basic trigonometric functions, inverse trigonometric functions, the value of sine and cosine at 0, 90, and 180 degrees, and rules about the sides of right triangles so it is important for an individual to be able to at least understand the basic terms or concepts related to these mathematical topics. It is also important to note that you do not necessarily need to know how to determine the value of any of these basic concepts, but rather that it is important for you have a basic knowledge of these concepts in order to understand the question and/or the answers to the question. Fourth, the individual must be able to use and understand units of measurement such as metric units and be able to balance a variety of different equations. Finally, the individual must be able to calculate the average from a set of data and the basic probability of a particular event occurring.
Last Updated: 04/23/2012