MCAT Biology Basics: A Comprehensive Overview

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Rebecca Nolan

Group Content Manager

A well-equipped biology laboratory with various scientific instruments and equipment, including microscopes, test tubes, and a computer, representing the concept of the MCAT biology basics
Exploring the foundations of biology.

Did you know Introductory Biology makes up 65% of the MCAT Biology/Biochemistry score? It’s time to give it the attention it deserves! Whether you’re intrigued by the intricate workings of living organisms or need to strengthen your understanding, this comprehensive overview is your ticket to success. 

As Charles Darwin once said, ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’ Are you ready to adapt and thrive in the MCAT jungle? 

Join us on this exciting journey as we unravel the mysteries of MCAT Biology and equip you with the tools to conquer this crucial section. Let’s make biology your secret weapon!

Key Concepts in MCAT Biology

A vibrant science background design featuring various scientific elements, such as DNA strands, cells, and laboratory equipment as a part of MCAT Biology basics
MCAT Biology Basics: A Comprehensive Overview

These primary concepts cover all the topics in the MCAT Biology Section:

Cellular Biology:

Cells are the building blocks of life, each with its unique structure and function. Understanding cell division and reproduction is crucial as it forms the basis of growth and development. 

Additionally, grasping the intricacies of cell communication and signaling mechanisms helps comprehend how cells coordinate and respond to stimuli.

Genetics and Evolution:

Mendelian genetics elucidates how traits are inherited and the patterns of genetic transmission. Exploring DNA replication, transcription, and translation sheds light on the molecular mechanisms behind genetic information flow. 

Furthermore, comprehending genetic variation and evolution unveils the diverse processes that shape and adapt populations over time.

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Human anatomy and organ systems provide insights into the structure and function of the human body. Learning about homeostasis and physiological processes helps us understand how the body maintains stable internal conditions. 

Exploring the nervous and endocrine systems reveals the intricate networks that regulate bodily functions and coordinate responses to environmental changes.

What Topics are Covered in the MCAT Biology Section?

Illustration of a human heart design showcasing the intricate anatomy and functions relevant to MCAT Biology Basics.
Understanding the complex structure and functions of the human heart is essential in MCAT Biology.

In addition to the key concepts mentioned earlier, the MCAT Biology section covers a range of specific topics that require focused study. Let’s explore these essential areas:

Cardiovascular Systems:

Understanding the structure and function of the heart, blood vessels, and circulatory system, as well as cardiovascular diseases and their impact on overall health.


Delving deeper into the structure, function, and processes of cells, including cellular organelles, transport mechanisms, and cellular communication.

Digestive Systems:

Examining the organs and processes involved in digestion, nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and the role of enzymes and hormones in digestion.

Embryogenesis and Development:

Exploring the stages of embryonic development, including fertilization, germ layer formation, and organogenesis, as well as factors influencing development.

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Including personalized study plans, regular progress updates and access to 100s of resources

Endocrine Systems:

Understanding the major glands and hormones of the endocrine system, their functions, and the feedback mechanisms that regulate hormone secretion and action.

Excretory Systems:

Examining the kidneys, urinary system, and their role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, waste elimination, and acid-base homeostasis.

Genetics and Evolution:

Building upon the key concepts, further exploring genetic inheritance, gene regulation, genetic disorders, evolutionary processes, and the mechanisms driving genetic variation.

Immune Systems:

Investigating the components and functions of the immune system, including innate and adaptive immunity, immune responses, and the role of antibodies and lymphocytes.

Nervous Systems:

Studying the structure and function of the nervous system, including neurons, synapses, neurotransmitters, sensory perception, motor control, and the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Musculoskeletal Systems:

Understanding the structure and function of muscles, bones, and joints, as well as the mechanics of movement and the musculoskeletal system’s role in support and locomotion.


Exploring the reproductive systems, including male and female reproductive anatomy, gametogenesis, fertilization, pregnancy, and reproductive technologies.

Respiratory Systems:

Examining the structure and function of the respiratory system, gas exchange in the lungs, transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and respiratory disorders.

MCAT 1-1 Tutoring
Including personalized study plans, regular progress updates and access to 100s of resources

MCAT Biology Study Strategies

If you want to ace your MCAT Biology section, follow these strategies:.

Effective study techniques for mastering MCAT Biology:

  • Active Learning: Engage in active learning methods like summarizing concepts in your own words, teaching others, or creating flashcards to reinforce understanding.
  • Connect with Real-Life Examples: Relate biological concepts to real-life scenarios or clinical applications. Linking the material to practical situations enhances understanding and helps you remember information more effectively.
  • Conceptual Mapping: Create visual diagrams or concept maps to connect related topics and improve knowledge retention.
  • Practice Questions: Regularly practice MCAT Biology questions to familiarize yourself with the exam format and identify areas of weakness for further review.
  • Timed Practice: Simulate exam conditions by practicing timed sections to improve time management skills and build endurance.

Creating a study plan and setting realistic goals:

  • Identify Priorities: Determine the key areas that require focus and allocate more study time accordingly.
  • Study Schedule: Develop a structured study schedule that accommodates your daily routine and ensures consistent progress.
  • Break it Down: Divide your study sessions into manageable chunks, focusing on specific topics or subtopics to maintain focus and prevent overwhelm.
  • Goal Setting: Set achievable goals for each study session or week to track your progress and stay motivated throughout your preparation.

Utilizing MCAT practice questions and resources for reinforcement:

  • Official AAMC Resources: Access practice materials and official Biology MCAT resources provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to better understand the exam’s content and style.
  • Supplementary Materials: Explore additional study resources such as review books, MCAT 1 on 1 tutoring, and educational websites that offer comprehensive coverage of MCAT Biology topics.
  • Peer Collaboration: Join study groups or online forums to discuss challenging concepts, exchange study tips, and learn from others’ insights.
  • Analyze Mistakes: Review and analyze your incorrect answers to practice questions, identifying patterns of mistakes and areas that need further improvement.

By implementing these tailored study strategies, you can optimize your MCAT Biology preparation and effectively enhance your ability to tackle the exam’s biology-related content. Remember to personalize these techniques based on your learning style and adapt them to your study routine for the best results.

In conclusion, mastering the Biology MCAT section is vital to achieving your medical career goals. By understanding the key concepts, and exploring diverse topics such as cardiovascular systems, genetics, and immune systems, you’ll be well-prepared for the exam.ย 

Stay motivated, utilize effective study strategies, and let your biology knowledge become your stepping stone to MCAT success.


โ†’ Is memorizing every detail necessary for MCAT Biology?

While some memorization is necessary, the Biology MCAT section focuses more on conceptual understanding and application of knowledge rather than rote memorization. Focus on understanding key principles, processes, and relationships between different concepts to tackle questions effectively.

โ†’ How should I approach passage-based questions in the MCAT Biology section?

Read the passage carefully, identify the main idea, and pay attention to key details. Use active reading techniques like underlining or summarizing important points. Then, refer back to the passage while answering the related questions, ensuring your responses are supported by the given information.

โ†’ What is the best way to manage time during the MCAT Biology section?

Time management is crucial in the Biology section of MCAT. Allocate a specific time limit to each passage or set of questions and practice working within those time constraints during your preparation. Remember to pace yourself and prioritize questions you find easier, coming back to challenging ones if time permits.

โ†’ Should I focus more on content review or practice questions for MCAT Biology?

It is important to strike a balance between content review and practice questions. Reviewing content helps build a strong foundation, but practicing questions is crucial for applying that knowledge and identifying areas that need improvement. Aim for a combination of both during your study sessions.

โ†’ How can I stay motivated during MCAT Biology preparation?

Set achievable goals, break down your study sessions into manageable chunks, and celebrate small victories along the way. Find study buddies or join online communities for support and accountability. Remind yourself of your long-term aspirations and stay focused on the bigger picture to maintain motivation.

RNolan Profile picture
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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