MCAT Memorization List & Strategies

April 25, 2024
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 4/25/24

If you’re studying for the MCAT, it’s essential to create an MCAT memorization list to retain essential facts and concepts with ease. Keep reading to learn how! 

If acing the MCAT is your goal, you're well aware of the importance of memory. Beyond memorizing facts, the exam demands a deep understanding of complex concepts and the ability to recall and apply that knowledge under pressure. 

In this article, we'll provide memory hacks and strategies to make you a memorization pro. With these tools, retaining essential facts and concepts will become effortless. Get ready to conquer the MCAT and secure your spot in medical school.

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Things to Memorize for the MCAT

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a critical exam for aspiring medical professionals, and we want to make your preparation as simple as possible. 

In this guide, we've compiled key concepts into an MCAT memorization list so you can quickly focus on the important information. This article focuses on key concepts in each section of the MCAT, so we’ve left out the medical school terminology and jargon for the most part. 

Let’s get into it! 

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (Chem/Phys)

The Chem/Phys section of the MCAT assesses your understanding of the following basic chemical and physical principles. For this section, you’ll have to memorize concepts under the following categories:

  • Equations for thermodynamics (e.g., ∆G = ∆H - T∆S)
  • Common chemical reactions (e.g., redox reactions, acid-base reactions)
  • Properties of gases (e.g., ideal gas law, gas laws)
  • Atomic structure (e.g., electron configuration, periodic table trends)
  • Organic chemistry functional groups and reactions
  • Electrochemistry principles (e.g., electrochemical cells)

It’s important to have a solid grasp of each of these concepts. They’ll give you the foundation to better understand relationships between the physical and chemical processes within biological systems.  

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)

For the CARS section of the MCAT, you’ll be tested on your ability to understand and analyze written text. You’ll have to gain a mastery of the following: 

  • Reading and comprehension strategies
  • Identifying main ideas and supporting evidence in passages
  • Understanding and analyzing the author's viewpoints
  • Drawing inferences and making logical conclusions

While there’s nothing you’ll have to memorize for this section, it’s essential that you practice and apply these key skills!

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (Bio/Biochem)

From cell biology to immunology, this section covers topics like genetics, metabolism, and macromolecules. As you unravel cell structures, genetic codes, and immune responses, you'll uncover the essence of life itself. 

For this section, you’ll have to memorize and understand the concepts that fall under the following categories:  

  • Cell biology (e.g., cell structure, organelles, cell cycle)
  • Genetics (e.g., Mendelian genetics, DNA replication, transcription, translation)
  • Enzyme kinetics and regulation
  • Metabolism (e.g., glycolysis, citric acid cycle)
  • Biological macromolecules (e.g., proteins, lipids, carbohydrates)
  • Immunology basics (e.g., immune response, antibodies)

As you study for this section, creating a study guide before you get started is essential to ensure success on the MCAT.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (Psych/Soc)

Understanding what’s on the MCAT psychology and sociology section is key. It sheds light on the multifaceted aspects driving human behavior, spanning from psychological theories to the intricacies of brain function. Having a comprehensive memory of the following will be integral to your success: 

  • Basic psychological theories 
  • Behaviorism (e.g., Pavlov's dog experiment)
  • Cognitive theories (e.g., Piaget's stages)
  • Psychological disorders and their symptoms
  • Anxiety disorders (e.g., social anxiety)
  • Mood disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder)
  • Social psychology concepts 
  • Conformity (e.g., Asch's line experiment)
  • Attribution (e.g., fundamental attribution error)
  • Sensation and perception
  • Vision (e.g., visual illusions)
  • Hearing (e.g., cocktail party effect)
  • Neurotransmitters and their functions
  • Dopamine (e.g., reward pathway)
  • Serotonin (e.g., mood regulation)
  • Brain anatomy and functions
  • Cerebral cortex (e.g., frontal lobe)
  • Amygdala (e.g., fight-or-flight response)

As you move through this learning journey, remember these key concepts for the MCAT. By memorizing and understanding these principles, you'll be prepared to do well on the MCAT and establish a strong base for your med school education.

MCAT Memorization Tips

Here are some effective MCAT memorization tips to help you retain and recall information more efficiently:

Use Active Learning Techniques

Active learning techniques are vital for MCAT preparation as they ensure you grasp and retain the material effectively. Taking notes, creating flashcards, explaining concepts, and solving practice questions enhance your understanding.


Breaking down complex information into smaller chunks is an effective learning strategy. It makes the material easier to remember and understand. Each chunk becomes a cohesive unit that can be processed more efficiently, leading to better retention. 


Visualizing facts and concepts with mental images or diagrams is a powerful memory tool. It strengthens memory connections, enhances encoding, and makes learning enjoyable. It's flexible and applicable to various subjects and daily tasks. 

Regularly revisiting mental images reinforces memory. In conclusion, visualization is a valuable asset for improved memory and learning.

Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are memory aids that make remembering information easier. They include acronyms, rhymes, and memory palaces. For instance, The Memory Palace, also known as the Method of Loci, is a powerful mnemonic technique. It involves associating information with specific locations in a familiar place, making it easier to recall during exams. 

By mentally walking through these locations, you reinforce memory and retrieve the information effortlessly when needed. This technique is highly effective for improving memory recall across various subjects.

Other examples of mnemonic devices are chunking, which breaks large data into smaller parts, and acrostics, which use sentences to recall items. 

Additionally, using keywords link to new words to familiar ones, and storytelling and visual imagery can add context to the material you’re learning. These techniques can enhance memory and make learning more enjoyable.


Regularly reviewing and spacing out practice sessions are simple yet powerful techniques to enhance long-term memory retention. By revisiting the material at intervals, you strengthen memory traces and transfer information to long-term memory, making it more accessible for later recall. 

Teach Others

Teaching concepts to someone else reinforces your understanding and reveals areas for further study. So try to explain information aloud to better grasp and improve your communication skills. 

Association and Context

Making connections between new information and what you already know is vital for effective learning. So try to relate new knowledge to familiar concepts to boost your memory retention and recall. This process helps you give context and meaning to the information, making it easier to understand and remember. 

Practice with Timed Drills

Consider using timed drills in your MCAT prep, and incorporate full-length practice exams into your study routine. These simulated test conditions will help you adapt to the exam's pace and build endurance. 

By practicing under timed constraints, you improve your time management and decision-making skills. Full-length practice exams identify strengths and weaknesses, boosting confidence and reducing test anxiety. Embrace these strategies to excel in any exam situation.

Focus on Weak Areas

To improve your learning and confidence, focus on your weak areas. Identify the concepts where you struggle and dedicate more time to mastering them. Strengthening these points will boost your overall knowledge and self-assurance. Embrace this strategy for successful learning and growth.

Stay Organized

Staying organized is essential for effective studying. Keep your study materials well-organized for quick and easy access during review. Use folders, binders, or digital tools to sort and manage your resources. A tidy study space reduces distractions and enhances focus. Embrace this habit for better learning outcomes and a more productive study experience.

Take Breaks

Taking short breaks during study sessions is essential for effective learning. They prevent burnout, maintain cognitive efficiency, and combat the "forgetting curve." Breaks also promote creative thinking and problem-solving. 

A balance of 5 to 10 minutes every hour works well. Engage in relaxing activities during breaks. Embrace the power of breaks for more productive and enjoyable study sessions and improved memory retention.

Stay Consistent

Consistency is the key to successful memorization. Set up a study schedule and stick to it for regular, focused practice. This reinforcement solidifies memory traces, making information more durable and accessible. 

Embracing consistency cultivates discipline and avoids last-minute cramming. Make it a cornerstone of your study routine for smoother and more successful learning.

Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Stress

Managing test anxiety and stress is crucial for effective test preparation. Incorporate mindfulness techniques, deep breathing exercises, or regular physical activity into your study routine. 

These practices help reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance memory retention. Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being during preparation leads to better performance and a more positive learning experience.

Knowing what to memorize for the MCAT is just one aspect of preparing for the MCAT. Understanding concepts, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills are all essential too. Balancing both memorization and comprehension will go a long way. 

FAQs: MCAT Memorization

There are a ton of things to memorize for the MCAT. Fortunately, we’ve got your back. Keep reading for some answers to commonly asked questions about the MCAT. 

1. How Much of MCAT Is Memorization?

The MCAT requires a significant amount of memorization. While understanding is crucial, memorizing key facts and concepts is essential for success.

2. Is the MCAT a Lot of Memorization?

Yes, the MCAT involves a lot of memorization. Subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology require memorizing important details and principles.

3. How Do I Memorize All MCAT Content?

To memorize MCAT content effectively, use active learning techniques like flashcards, mnemonics, and spaced repetition. Break the material into manageable chunks and review regularly.

4. What Are Some MCAT Equations to Memorize?

Some important MCAT equations include those for physics (e.g., Newton's laws, work, energy) and chemistry (e.g., stoichiometry, ideal gas law). Memorizing these equations helps apply them quickly during the exam.

Final Thoughts

To crush test preparation, don't forget the power of an MCAT memorization list. There are a ton of things to memorize for the MCAT, but you can ace it with hard work, resourcefulness, and determination. 

So, buckle down and do your best. These strategies will help you land a good score on the MCAT and get you one step closer to achieving your dream of a future in the medical field.

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