10 Common MCAT Mnemonics for Medical Students

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Rebecca Nolan

Group Content Manager

Two brains exchanging information through wooden blocks and arrows on a chalkboard, representing MCAT mnemonic techniques
Unlocking the Power of Mnemonics: techniques for medical students to enhance memory retention and recall. #MedicalEducation #Mnemonics

Preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) can be daunting, especially when memorizing vast information. Fortunately, mnemonic devices can be powerful tools for recalling complex concepts and lists. 

This blog post will explore the 10 MCAT mnemonics essential for medical students. These mnemonics will assist you in navigating through the B/B (Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems) and P/S (Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior) sections of the MCAT. 

It is important to note that while mnemonics can facilitate surface-level memorization, they should be used with other study methods to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the concepts. So, let’s dive in and discover these valuable memory aids that will enhance your academic journey!

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1. OIL-RIG: Redox Reactions

A stack of books with a stethoscope resting on top, symbolizing the combination of MCAT mnemonics
Make sure to use multiple study companions as a medical students.

One of the fundamental concepts in biology and biochemistry is redox reactions. Remembering the terms “oxidation” and “reduction” can be simplified with the mnemonic “OIL-RIG,” which stands for “Oxidation Is Loss of electrons, Reduction Is Gain of electrons.” This mnemonic helps you keep track of the electron transfer processes involved in redox reactions.

2. SNOWDROP: Molecular Biology Techniques

The field of molecular biology encompasses various techniques, each with its unique purpose and significance. To remember the key strategies, you can use the mnemonic “SNOWDROP.” Each letter represents the first letter of a technique: S for Southern Blot, N for Northern Blot, O for nothing (filler), W for Western Blot, and P for Protein Identification. By employing this mnemonic, you can recall the specific techniques associated with molecular biology.

3. FLAT PEG: Anterior Pituitary Hormones

The anterior pituitary gland secretes several hormones that play crucial roles in regulating bodily functions. Remembering these hormones can be made easier with the mnemonic “FLAT PEG,” which stands for Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), Prolactin, Endorphins, and Growth hormones. Visualize a flat peg holding these hormones together in your memory to recall them effortlessly.

4. SAME DAVE: Neurons

Understanding the structure and function of neurons is vital in neuroscience. The mnemonic “SAME DAVE” simplifies the classification of neurons by denoting Sensory Afferent Motor Efferent and Dorsal Afferent Ventral Efferent. You can easily recall these classifications by associating the mnemonic with the directional flow of information in neurons.

5. SEVEN UP: Ejaculatory Path in Human Males

The process of ejaculation in human males involves a series of anatomical structures. To remember this sequence, use the mnemonic “SEVEN UP,” which stands for Seminiferous tubule, Epididymis, Vas deferens, Ejaculatory duct, Urethra, and Penis. Visualize the act of “selling stickers for money” to reinforce this mnemonic and recall the correct order of structures involved in ejaculation.

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6. Can I Keep Selling Stickers For Money Officer?: Citric Acid Cycle

The citric acid cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle, is vital to cellular respiration. To remember the intermediates of this cycle, utilize the mnemonic “Can I Keep Selling Stickers For Money Officer?” Each word corresponds to an intermediate: Citrate, Isocitrate, Ketoglutarate, Succinyl-CoA, Succinate, Fumarate, Malate, and Oxaloacetate. Associating these MCAT mnemonics with a vivid mental image will solidify your memory of the citric acid cycle.

7. Some People Can Fly: Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Psychological theories, such as Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, are important aspects of the P/S section of the MCAT. One of the MCAT mnemonics, “Some People Can Fly” represents the stages: Sensorimotor, Pre-operational, Concrete operational, and Formal Operational. Link each stage to a mental image or story to facilitate easy recall of Piaget’s developmental stages.

8. Old-Aged People Love Grandchildren: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development

Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development outlines stages that influence personality formation. The MCAT mnemonic “Old Aged People Love Grandchildren” corresponds to the steps: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, and Genital. By visualizing the associations between the stages and memorable images, you can effortlessly recollect Freud’s stages.

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9. HATCH: Limbic System

Understanding the limbic system components, which play a role in emotions and memory, is essential in the P/S section. The mnemonic “HATCH” represents the key structures: Hippocampus, Amygdala, Thalamus, Cerebellum, and Hypothalamus. Envision a hatch opening to reveal these structures to reinforce your memory of the limbic system.

10. Pepsi is the Chief of All Sodas: Pepsinogen Release by Chief Cells

Within the realm of digestive physiology, understanding the functions and secretions of the stomach is of utmost importance. One critical aspect involves the chief cells and their secretion of pepsinogen, an inactive precursor to the enzyme pepsin. To facilitate the memorization of this concept, we present the MCAT mnemonic “Pepsi is the Chief of All Sodas.”

In this mnemonic, the term “Pepsi” symbolizes the chief cells, while “the Chief of All Sodas” represents the release of pepsinogen by these cells. Creating a vivid mental image and association allows you to easily recall the relationship between the chief cells and pepsinogen secretion.

11. Amino Acid Mnemonic MCAT

Memorizing the amino acids in each chain can be tricky. You can use a clever MCAT amino acid mnemonic to help you. The acronyms below represent a group of amino acids. Each group is based on the electron character of the molecule’s side chain. The mnemonics for the amino acids MCAT questions use the one-letter abbreviations for the amino acids:

Non-polar side chains: “Grandma Always Visits London In May For Winston’s Party” (G, A, V, L, I, M, F, W, P)

Polar side chains: “Santa’s Team Crafts New Quilts Yearly” (S, T, C, N, Q, Y)

Electrically charged side chains: “Dragons Eat Knights Riding Horses” (D, E, K, R, H)

12. Glycolysis Mnemonic MCAT

Glycolysis is an important biochemical pathway that will most likely come up on the exam. You need to remember all intermediates of the 10 steps of glycosis. We’ve included a glycolysis MCAT mnemonic to make things easier for you.

Mnemonic 1: Girls get fine food.

Glucose is phosphorylated to form glucose 6-phosphate. It is isomerized to fructose 6-phosphate and this is phosphorylated again, forming fructose 1,6-bisphosphate.

Mnemonic 2: Gentlemen dine girls.

Fructose 1,6-bisphosphate is split into two, three carbon sugars: glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate, G3P, and dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP). Dihydroxyacetone phosphate is then converted to glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate, leaving us with two molecules of G3P.

Mnemonic 3: Boys prefer to pick up pepperoni pizza (“to” and “up” are not part of the mnemonic)

G3P is phosphorylated to form 1 3-bisphosphoglycerate. This is converted to 3-phosphoglycerate and then 2-phosphoglycerate and then phosphoenolpyruvate, and finally two pyruvate.

Do MCAT Mnemonics Work?

A student is thinking on MCAT mnemonics
Mnemonics are valuable tools for memorization and recall, aiding in the learning process. 

Using mnemonic devices as memory aids has been a longstanding practice in various fields, including education and medicine. But do MCAT mnemonics work? Can they truly enhance learning and retention of information? Let’s delve into this topic and explore the effectiveness of mnemonics as a study tool.

Mnemonic devices capitalize on the human brain’s capacity to remember visual imagery, associations, and patterns. By creating memorable and meaningful connections, mnemonics facilitate the encoding and retrieval of information. They provide a mental framework that aids in organizing and recalling complex concepts, lists, or sequences.

Numerous studies and real-world applications attest to the efficacy of MCAT mnemonics in improving memory and learning outcomes. Thus mnemonic devices can help you remember complex medical concepts and terms.

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MCAT Mnemonics: Conclusion

As you embark on your journey to conquer the MCAT, incorporating mnemonic devices into your study routine can significantly enhance your recall of important information. The top 10 mnemonics cover various topics, from redox reactions to cognitive development and anatomical structures. Remember to create vivid mental images and associations to reinforce these mnemonics in your memory. However, it is crucial to note that mnemonics are aids for memorization and should be supplemented with other study methods to deepen your understanding of the concepts. Incorporating these powerful mnemonic devices into your study routine will prepare you to excel in the MCAT and succeed in your future medical career.

For expert help from our MCAT tutors plus free resources, you can visit the official Medic Mind website.


Q1. How can I create vivid mental images and associations with MCAT Mnemonics?

To reinforce mnemonic devices, try visualizing the associations in your mind. Create vivid mental images that connect the mnemonic with the concept you’re trying to remember. You can also associate the mnemonic with familiar or memorable stories, objects, or experiences to make the connection more robust and easier to recall.

Q2. Are there any additional mnemonics I can use for other MCAT topics?

Absolutely! Mnemonics can be applied to various topics beyond the ones mentioned in this blog post. Consider exploring mnemonic techniques for other subjects in the MCAT, such as organic chemistry, physics, or anatomy. You can create your mnemonics or find resources that provide additional memory aids specific to those topics.

Q3. Can MCAT mnemonics be used for long-term retention of information?

Mnemonic devices are excellent for short-term and intermediate-term memory reinforcement. However, for long-term retention, it’s essential to revisit the concepts regularly, review the material, and engage in active recall and application. Combining mnemonic techniques with spaced repetition and regular practice will help solidify your knowledge for the MCAT and beyond.

Q4. Where can I find more resources on using MCAT mnemonics for studying?

Numerous books, online platforms, and study guides are dedicated to mnemonic techniques and memory improvement. Explore resources specifically tailored for medical students or general memory improvement to discover additional helpful strategies, tips, and exercises to further enhance your study skills.

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Rebecca Nolan
Group Content Manager
Certifications: BA History of Art, PGCE Education, PGC Advanced Educational Practice
Education: University: University of East Anglia
Lives in: London

Rebecca studied at History of Art at UEA before deciding on a career in education. Having worked with children from 3-18 years old, she has worked both in the UK and international schools including Dubai and Zurich, where she was Head of Primary. Rebecca has extensive knowledge in curriculum design and has worked with various curricular models including English National Curriculum and International Baccalaureate.

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