The MCAT periodic table is an essential resource you’ll be provided with during the test. Although the MCAT’s version of the periodic table of elements is not complete, it will help you to answer many of the questions on the test. The MCAT periodic table is also a great resource when studying for the MCAT, as it is important to review the periodic trends and atomic properties of elements during your . In this blog, we’ll look at what the MCAT periodic table looks like, what key information it can give you, the important chemistry concepts you need to know for the test and how to use the periodic table during your MCAT.
Disclaimer: MCAT is a registered trademark of AAMC. BeMo and AAMC do not endorse or affiliate with one another.
Yes! The MCAT does allow you the use of a periodic table, and you are provided with one during the test. The MCAT periodic table is a critical resource you can use to find the right answer to many of the chemistry questions on the test.
When taking the MCAT to gain admission to medical school, you won’t be provided with many resources to help you answers questions and complete the test. For instance, the MCAT does not allow the use of a calculator during the test and does not provide you with a formula sheet. This might seem a bit daunting when facing the and section, but don’t worry. The test does provide you with enough resources to answer the questions.
One of the most important resources you’re given is the MCAT periodic table. During your test, you’ll be able to access the MCAT periodic table during the right sections directly on the screen. Unfortunately, the table is not very detailed, only giving you the atomic symbol, the atomic number and atomic mass of each element on the table.
- Atomic symbol – The lettered abbreviation corresponding to each element on the periodic table (i.e. “C” for Carbon and “Au” for Gold)
- Atomic number – The number above the atomic symbol for each element. Designates the number of protons in that element.
- Atomic mass – The number below the atomic symbol for each element on the table. Designates the number of protons and neutrons in the element.
Here's what the MCAT periodic table will look like for your test:
Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
While it might seem like the MCAT periodic table doesn’t give you much information to go on, especially for more complex questions, it is sufficient to determine the answer to many of the questions you’ll encounter.
For instance, the MCAT chemistry and physics section will cover questions on , and chemical between elements. Using your knowledge of the periodic table, you can use critical reasoning and scientific knowledge to find the correct answer.
Luckily, you won’t need to completely memorize the periodic table and every single chemical reaction to earn a good MCAT score, but it will help to study the periodic and atomic trends and important concepts the MCAT will cover. This way, you’ll be prepared for any type of MCAT chemistry question without burning yourself out while studying for the test trying to memorize everything.
Next, we’ll go over some of the key concepts and topics you need to know for the MCAT, and how they relate to the periodic table of elements.
Here's a guide to preparing for the MCAT chemistry section!
Understanding how to read the MCAT periodic table, how to “fill in the blanks” the MCAT’s version of the table omits, and how the periodic table is organized will be a huge help during the test. It will help you locate the critical information you need quickly and even predict the right answer in some cases.
Although it’s not necessary to memorize the entire periodic table—as in, the names, symbols, atomic numbers and masses of each and every element—it is a good idea to review the foundational concepts in chemistry and understand how to use the MCAT periodic table to find the answers.
We’ll cover the important concepts you should know for the MCAT and how the periodic table’s organization and structure can help you out.
Chemistry concepts feature quite heavily on the MCAT, in both the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section and the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section—otherwise known as the MCAT chemistry and physics section and the section.
The include both introductory and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry. While not every chemistry question can be solved using your knowledge of the MCAT periodic table, there are many where you will need to use it. However, it’s also important to review the you should know for the exam, since there are many questions which involve problem-solving, data interpretation and predicting the results of chemical reactions.
The number of questions on a particular section of the MCAT can vary from year to year, but in general there will be:
- General chemistry – 20 questions
- Organic chemistry – 11 questions
- Biochemistry – 30 questions
Here’s a breakdown of how much of these MCAT sections are devoted to chemistry:
MCAT Chemistry and Physics Section Breakdown
MCAT Biology Section Breakdown
Considering the MCAT is around 230 questions total, and the MCAT’s chemistry concepts make up around 2/3 of the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section and about a 1/3 of the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section, it is a prominent subject.
To prep for these questions, it is essential to make use of both the MCAT periodic table, the essential equations and formulas you must memorize, and practice using . It’s also smart to learn quickly and efficiently, since these appear often in the MCAT science sections.
Luckily, the official MCAT practice tests also include the periodic table for you to use during your studying! Try taking an to gauge the chemistry section for yourself and gauge which questions were most difficult for you.
Here’s how to prep for the MCAT as a non-science major!
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #1
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #2
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #3
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #4
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #5
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #6
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #7
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #8
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #9
MCAT Chemistry Sample Question and Answer #10
1. Is the periodic table allowed on the MCAT?
Yes, you are provided with a periodic table during the MCAT exam, although it includes only the atomic symbols, atomic numbers and atomic masses of a majority of the elements on the complete periodic table of elements. You will be able to access the MCAT periodic table on your screen during the test in the relevant sections.
2. How do you read the MCAT periodic table?
To read the MCAT periodic table, it’s important to know the periodic and group trends, as well as the abbreviations and placements for the most common elements. The table arranges the different elements in increasing order by atomic number. Then, elements are arranged into columns (groups) and rows (periods). Understanding how the periodic table is organized will help you greatly when answering MCAT chemistry questions.
3. How hard is MCAT chemistry?
? There’s no doubt the entire test is difficult, and the MCAT chemistry section can be the most challenging for some students, whereas others will find it easier. The MCAT chemistry questions cover general chemistry and foundational concepts, organic chemistry and biochemistry concepts. You’ll need to solve problems, interpret data and examine chemical reactions.
4. How much chemistry is there on the MCAT?
The MCAT has a great deal of biochemistry, organic and general chemistry on it. The MCAT chemistry and physics section includes about 70% chemistry, and the MCAT biology section features about 35% chemistry questions.
5. Do I need the MCAT periodic table for the MCAT chemistry section?
Yes. The MCAT periodic table is an important resource in both the MCAT chemistry and physics section and the MCAT biology section. Both sections feature a lot of general and organic chemistry questions, and the periodic table may be helpful in answering some questions.
6. Should I memorize all the chemistry equations for MCAT?
7. Does the MCAT come with a formula sheet?
No, the MCAT does not provide a formula sheet and you aren’t allowed to bring one yourself. You must memorize any key formulas or equations you’ll need for the test, or rely on the information provided in the questions.
8. Can you use a calculator on the MCAT?
No, the MCAT does not provide you with a calculator and you are not permitted to use one during the test.