What do you need to know about the MCAT psychology and sociology section? This blog is the ultimate guide to understanding what is assessed on this section of the MCAT and MCAT prep tips. We also take a look at several psychology and sociology sample questions and provide an expert breakdown of the answers.

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What is Tested on the MCAT Psychology and Sociology Section? Sample MCAT Psychology and Sociology Questions and Answers Tips for Acing the MCAT Psychology and Sociology Section FAQs

What is Tested on the MCAT Psychology and Sociology Section?

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT, called the psychology and sociology section or Psych/Soc for short, is one of the four key components of the MCAT test.

This section contains approximately 65% introductory psychology questions, 30% introductory sociology questions, and 5% introductory biology questions, combined with scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. These questions incorporate concepts taught at many universities in introductory psychology and sociology courses. But for many premeds who may be from a hard sciences background, this section can present a challenge.

"The most challenging aspect of this MCAT section for me was dealing with the dense and lengthy passages, reminiscent of the CARS section. Additionally, encountering unfamiliar topics that were not covered in my studies posed a significant hurdle." – Dr. Cathleen Kuo, MD, SUNY Buffalo.

The MCAT psychology and sociology section covers the following foundational concepts:

For a detailed list of the subtopics included within each foundational concept of the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT, check out the AAMC’s guide, what is on the MCAT exam? Here is an overview of the main subtopics included in this section of the MCAT:

Sample MCAT Psychology and Sociology Questions and Answers

Let’s start with some MCAT psychology practice passages and questions to test your skills for this section of the MCAT:


The illness experience shapes the way that people use health information. For patients with a rare health disorder, which is defined as a medical condition that affects fewer than 200,000 individuals living in the United States, online sources of information tend to be particularly important.

An example of a rare disorder is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” ALS results from the progressive loss of motor nerves and affects about 1 out of 100,000 people. About 10% of people with ALS have a familial form of the condition, which is caused by an inherited genetic mutation. Aside from the familial form, the cause of ALS is largely unknown, though it is believed that the disorder results from both genetic and environmental factors.

Having a rare medical condition, such as ALS, can make it difficult to meet and interact with others who have the same rare disorder. Despite great distances, online communication provides a form of social interaction for those facing an uncommon health problem. Virtual peer networks provide vital social support for those who are affected by a rare disorder.

Research has found that women with rare disorders are more likely to access online support networks than men with rare disorders. Relationships formed through online support networks often become a meaningful part of a person’s identity. Individuals with rare disorders report that relating to others who have the same condition is often easier than trying to relate to friends or family members who do not share their condition.

Sample Questions and Answers

Take a look at our tips for mastering the psychology and sociology section of the MCAT:

Tips for Acing the MCAT Psychology and Sociology Section

Tip #1: Understand the skills being tested

This MCAT section is about much more than just memorization. Knowing how to use psychology and sociology information to solve complex problems is the key to a great MCAT score in this section.

The AAMC has defined four skills that are tested in each of the four MCAT sections:

  1. Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles, or “Do you remember specific science content?”
  2. Scientific reasoning and problem-solving, or “Can you apply multiple content areas to new situations?”
  3. Reasoning about the design and execution of research, or “Can you explain experimental methods, results, and conclusions?”
  4. Data-based and statistical reasoning, or “Can you read, interpret, extrapolate, and draw conclusions from graphs, tables and figures?”

Different questions may test one or more of the above skills. Knowing which one can help you strategize how to answer the question. For example, if you can identify that a question is testing your knowledge of scientific concepts, you can focus on recalling information about that particular topic to help you answer the question. On the other hand, if you understand that a question is testing your problem-solving, you’ll know not to waste time on knowledge recall. Instead, you can focus on analysis by applying the information you already have to find the answer.

To familiarize yourself with the different question types, completing regular practice tests is the best strategy. Dr. Cathleen Kuo, one of our MD experts, says she actually found her CARS practice passages helped her with this section, too.

"I focused on practicing CARS passages to enhance my reading comprehension skills and ability to extract key information from dense texts. This approach helped me navigate through lengthy passages and extract relevant information efficiently, improving my overall performance in the section." – Dr. Cathleen Kuo, MD.

“I mainly used [practice tests] to prepare but I took kind of the average of the score that I was getting and used use that as my gauge … [you’ll have] a pretty good idea of where your performance was across a couple of those practice tests.” – Allison, BeMo student and current student at Dell Medical School.

Tip #2: Know your definitions

Many questions within the psychology and sociology section of the MCAT will require an understanding of terminology commonly used in these fields. For example, you may come across a question about cognitive dissonance or hindsight bias. If you do not know the definitions of these words, you will not be able to answer the question correctly. Our admissions experts say using flashcards or other active learning techniques can help you remember these important definitions.

"I delved deeper into the topics by researching the stories behind each name and concept. This helped me connect with the material on a deeper level, and I found it easier to retain information after understanding the context and history behind [it]." – Dr. Cathleen Kuo, MD.

“Flashcards actually helped me jump almost 3 points in my [psych/soc] section, even in the week before the exam. This was my weakest subject, but it was my highest score on my exam.” – Noah Heichel, DO, WVSOM

While you are aiming to get as much exposure to psychology and sociology topics as possible, it is impossible to study every term that you may need on test day. What should you do if you see a term on the MCAT for which you do not know the definition? If you find yourself in this situation, use context clues within the passage or question to try to determine the term’s meaning. This is another test-taking skill that is important to practice during your MCAT prep.

Tip #3: Prepare for psychology and sociology data and experiments

The AAMC typically tests students on psychology and sociology experiments. This means that you cannot just practice vocabulary, you must be able to apply your knowledge to experiment-style questions. You’ll need to learn how to read MCAT graphs effectively and quickly. As you complete practice passages, get into the habit of determining the independent and dependent variable for the experiment, as well as necessary controls. Regular practice with passage-based practice questions is key!

“Thinking practically and applying learned concepts to real-life examples [or] Reading up on how different psychological/sociological concepts came to be [helped me]. This was interesting and made it easier to remember the information in a laid-back manner.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine.


1. Why does the MCAT include the psychology and sociology section?

The MCAT is a comprehensive exam that evaluates diverse knowledge and skills. To be a successful physician, it is not sufficient to be knowledgeable only in the natural and physical sciences. Physicians need to know how to communicate with, and to serve, an increasingly diverse population. According to the AAMC, some of medicine’s most promising frontiers explore the realms of human behavior and social science in improving healthcare. In addition, basic and applied behavioral and social sciences provide foundational knowledge and advanced clinical applications essential for the skillful practice of medicine.

2. What if I encounter a very difficult passage within the psychology and sociology section of the MCAT?

Start by reading the passage to obtain a general understanding. Go through the passage one paragraph at a time. At the end of the passage, try to link each paragraph together into an overall understanding of the whole passage. Ask yourself, what is the main point, or central thesis, of the passage? 

3. What is a good score on the psychology and sociology section of the MCAT?

Last cycle’s matriculating medical school students earned a mean score of 128.5 on the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT, which translates to a percentile rank in the 83rd percentile. 


All of the content on the MCAT is covered in introductory courses at most universities including first-semester psychology and sociology. It is important to take these introductory courses to help build your knowledge base and confidence in these areas before taking the MCAT. You can study psychology and sociology content on your own, but you may also benefit from taking additional university courses or pursuing a postbaccalaureate program.

5. What subjects are on the MCAT psychology section?

The MCAT psychology section primarily covers concepts from psychology and sociology. Topics include behavioral theories, psychological disorders, social structures, learning and memory, and the impact of behavior on health.

6. How do I improve my score on MCAT psychology?

Focus on active learning techniques like summarizing key concepts, creating mind maps, and practicing with MCAT prep questions. Regularly review content, focus on weak areas, and consider joining a study group or seeking tutoring for challenging topics.

7. How do I prepare for MCAT psych/soc without a background in these subjects?

Start by familiarizing yourself with the basics using introductory textbooks or online resources. Then, delve into MCAT-specific study materials, focusing on understanding key concepts and terms. Practice with MCAT-style questions to get a feel for the exam format and identify areas needing more study.

8. How can I improve my reading comprehension for MCAT?

Practice active reading by summarizing paragraphs, questioning the content, and making inferences. Time yourself to get used to the pace of the MCAT, and review explanations for practice questions to understand how to approach passages.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Source: AAMC MCAT Sample Question Guide

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