So I’ve heard from quite a few people that p-chem is not on the MCAT, but I went to a pre-health advisor last week and they said that it is. I’m a little confused and want to know if it’s necessary to take it. Thanks!
Thanks for your question! I took the MCAT this past summer and PChem last semester – in other words, I went into the exam without taking PChem. Although I think that it’s a good class for the MCAT, especially if you haven’t taken a general chemistry course since high school, I do not think it’s absolutely necessary. If you want the full description of topics in the Chemistry/Physics section of the MCAT, check out this PDF: https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/05/15/05153c49-13cd-4c0c-89eb-8f43be19c7ea/mcat-cp-100516.pdf. It includes: atoms and intermolecular forces, molarity and molality, acid/base solutions, thermodynamics, and kinetics (just to name a few broad topics).
However, Pre-Health advisors at the Newnan find that a significant number of students are better off taking a second Inorganic Chemistry Course (CHEM 230) prior to taking the MCAT. Note that the University of Michigan calls our Second Inorganic Chemistry Course “PChem,” but our PChem does NOT cover the same material as PChems at other universities. For example, quantum mechanics (not on the MCAT) is often covered in PChem courses at most other universities, leading to advice by students online that taking a “PChem” course from their school is not necessary before taking the MCAT. The MCAT topics that are covered in Chem 230 are listed in this document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vRuOpR3OrdhcHYsknhBhBX3wPNhHS0Ebtxg1aUFkNpzgAm2BXhw7Rq_IZuTT9e6BWCctIehhqydzqt2/pub
Ultimately, it’s all up to you and how well you think you remember your general chemistry. Find some practice questions (for example, on https://www.khanacademy.org/) and see if you remember, at least vaguely, the concepts they are referring to. If you have no idea, and watching through a few online videos doesn’t help, then PChem would probably be a good class to take – you’ll most likely need it anyway to apply to med school. Although it goes much more in-depth here at Michigan than on the MCAT, it does give you a really solid background. That being said, bear in mind that general chemistry only makes up about 30% of this section (and 5% of Bio/Biochem); if you think you can get by without taking another class on the subject, or if it works out better timing-wise if you don’t take PChem, don’t feel like you absolutely have to.
Kiran and Lindsay, PMH Board