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MSU / Biology / BIOL 1004 / aamc unscored conversion

aamc unscored conversion

aamc unscored conversion

Description

School: Mississippi State University
Department: Biology
Course: Anatomy & Physiology
Professor: Jeffery echols
Term: Spring 2016
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Cost: 25
Name: lkjasgl;fkja
Description: jhgf;lahsfg;j
Uploaded: 01/27/2017
128 Pages 178 Views 1 Unlocks
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What’s on the MCAT Exam?  What’s on the MCAT Exam?  www.aamc.org/mcat2015exam  Table of Contents Page Number Introduction ii Section 1: Biological and Biochemical  Foundations of Living Systems 1 Section 2: Chemical and Physical Foundations  of Biological Systems 38 Section 3: Psychological, Social, and Biological  Foundations of Behavior 67 Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills (related to Sections 1-3) 98 Section 4: Critical Analysis and Reasoning  Skills 111


What’s on the MCAT Exam?



We also discuss several other topics like cecal pellets

© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. i What’s on the MCAT Exam?  Introduction This document draws from the online resource What’s on the MCAT Exam? at  www.aamc.org/mcat2015exam. It contains a complete description of the competencies  you are responsible for knowing on the MCAT2015 exam. It describes the new exam’s  content and format. It also lists and discusses the new exam’s conceptual framework ―  which is organized around foundational concepts, content categories, and scientific inquiry  and reasoning skills. Also included are sample test questions that demonstrate how the  competencies are tested on the exam.  While the content is written for you, the prospective MCAT examinee, the information it  provides is likely to be useful to pre-health advisors, other baccalaureate faculty, medical  school admission officers, and medical schools.  How is the MCAT Exam Structured?  The MCAT exam has four test sections:  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills  The first three sections are organized around foundational concepts or “big ideas” in the  sciences. They reflect current research about the most effective ways for students to learn and  use science, emphasizing deep knowledge of the most important scientific concepts over  knowledge simply of many discrete scientific facts.  Leaders in science education say that some of the most important foundational concepts in the  sciences ask students to integrate and analyze information from different disciplines. In that  vein, questions in these sections will ask you to combine your scientific knowledge from  multiple disciplines with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. You will be asked to  demonstrate four different scientific inquiry and reasoning skills on the exam:  • Knowledge of scientific concepts and principles  • Scientific reasoning and problem solving  • Reasoning about the design and execution of research  • Data-based and statistical reasoning  The fourth section of the MCAT exam, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, will be similar to  many of the verbal reasoning tests you have taken in your academic career. It includes  passages and questions that test your ability to comprehend and analyze what you read. The  Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section asks you to read and think about passages from  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. iiWhat’s on the MCAT Exam?  a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, including those in population  health, ethics and philosophy, and studies of diverse cultures. Passages are followed by a  series of questions that lead you through the process of comprehending, analyzing, and  reasoning about the material you have read. This section is unique because it has been  developed specifically to measure the analytical and reasoning skills you will need to be  successful in medical school.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. iiiWhat’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  What will the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section Test? The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section asks you to solve problems by  combining your knowledge of biological and biochemical concepts with your scientific inquiry and  reasoning skills. This section tests processes that are unique to living organisms, such as growing and  reproducing, maintaining a constant internal environment, acquiring materials and energy, sensing and  responding to environmental changes, and adapting. It also tests how cells and organ systems within an  organism act independently and in concert to accomplish these processes, and it asks you to reason  about these processes at various levels of biological organization within a living system.  This section is designed to:  • test introductory-level biology, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry concepts;  • test biochemistry concepts at the level taught in many colleges and universities in first-semester  biochemistry courses;  • test cellular and molecular biology topics at the level taught in many colleges and universities in  introductory biology sequences and first-semester biochemistry courses;  • test basic research methods and statistics concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as  important to success in introductory science courses; and  • require you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics  skills as applied to the natural sciences. Test Section Number of Questions Time Biological and Biochemical  Foundations of Living Systems 59 (note that questions are a  combination of passage-based  and discrete questions) 95 minutes


What’s on the MCAT Exam?



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© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 1 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills As a reminder, the scientific inquiry and reasoning skills that you will be asked to demonstrate on this  section of the exam are: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles  • Demonstrating understanding of scientific concepts and principles  • Identifying the relationships between closely-related concepts Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving  • Reasoning about scientific principles, theories, and models  • Analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations and predictions  Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research  • Demonstrating understanding of important components of scientific research  • Reasoning about ethical issues in research  Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning • Interpreting patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs  • Reasoning about data and drawing conclusions from them  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 2 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  General Mathematical Concepts and Techniques It’s important for you to know that questions on the natural, behavioral, and social sciences sections  will ask you to use certain mathematical concepts and techniques. As the descriptions of the scientific  inquiry and reasoning skills suggest, some questions will ask you to analyze and manipulate scientific  data to show that you can ▪ Recognize and interpret linear, semilog, and log-log scales and calculate slopes from data  found in figures, graphs, and tables ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of significant digits and the use of reasonable numerical  estimates in performing measurements and calculations ▪ Use metric units, including converting units within the metric system and between metric and  English units (conversion factors will be provided when needed), and dimensional analysis  (using units to balance equations) ▪ Perform arithmetic calculations involving the following: probability, proportion, ratio,  percentage, and square-root estimations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding (Algebra II−level) of exponentials and logarithms  (natural and base 10), scientific notation, and solving simultaneous equations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of the following trigonometric concepts: definitions of  basic (sine, cosine, tangent) and inverse (sin‒1, cos‒1, tan‒1) functions; sin and cos values of 0°,  90°, and 180°; relationships between the lengths of sides of right triangles containing angles of  30°, 45°, and 60° Demonstrate a general understanding of vector addition and subtraction and the right-hand rule  ▪ (knowledge of dot and cross products is not required) Note also that an understanding of calculus is not required, and a periodic table will be provided  during the exam.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 3 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  References During the actual exam, you will have access to the periodic table below while answering questions in  this section of the exam. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 4 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Distribution of Questions by  Discipline, Foundational Concept, and Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill You may wonder how much biochemistry you’ll see on this section of the MCAT exam, how many  questions you’ll get about a particular foundational concept, or how the scientific inquiry and reasoning  skills will be distributed on your exam. The questions that you see are likely to be distributed in the  ways described below. These are the approximate percentages of questions you’ll see on a test for each  discipline, foundational concept, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skill.* Discipline: First-semester biochemistry, 25%  • • Introductory biology, 65%  • General chemistry, 5% • Organic chemistry, 5% Foundational Concept:  • Foundational Concept 1, 55%  • Foundational Concept 2, 20%  • Foundational Concept 3, 25%  Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill:  • • • • Skill 1, 35%  Skill 2, 45%  Skill 3, 10%  Skill 4, 10%  *These percentages have been approximated to the nearest 5% and will vary from one test to another for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, controlling for question difficulty,  using groups of questions that depend on a single passage, and using unscored field-test questions on  each test form.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 5 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Framework of Foundational  Concepts and Content Categories  Foundational Concept 1: Biomolecules have unique properties that determine how they contribute to  the structure and function of cells and how they participate in the processes necessary to maintain life.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  1A. Structure and function of proteins and their constituent amino acids  1B. Transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein  1C. Transmission of heritable information from generation to generation and the processes that  increase genetic diversity  1D. Principles of bioenergetics and fuel molecule metabolism  Foundational Concept 2: Highly-organized assemblies of molecules, cells, and organs interact to  carry out the functions of living organisms.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  2A. Assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single cellular and multicellular  organisms  2B. The structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes and viruses  2C. Processes of cell division, differentiation, and specialization  Foundational Concept 3: Complex systems of tissues and organs sense the internal and external  environments of multicellular organisms, and through integrated functioning, maintain a stable  internal environment within an ever-changing external environment.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  3A. Structure and functions of the nervous and endocrine systems and ways in which these systems  coordinate the organ systems  3B. Structure and integrative functions of the main organ systems  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 6 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  How Foundational Concepts and Content Categories Fit Together The MCAT exam asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of concepts with your  scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. Figure 1 illustrates how foundational concepts, content  categories, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skills intersect to create test questions.  

Foundational Concept 1 Foundational Concept 2

Content  Category  1A Content  Category  1B ▪ Content  Category  1C Content  Category  2A Content  Category  2B  Each cell represents the point at which foundational Content  Category  2C   Skill 1

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Skill 4


What’s on the MCAT Exam?



If you want to learn more check out What are the individuals?

© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 7 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  Understanding the Foundational Concepts and Content Categories in the Biological and  Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section The following are detailed explanations of each foundational concept and related content categories tested in the  Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section. To help you prepare for the MCAT exam, we  provide content lists that describe specific topics and subtopics that define each content category for this section.  The same content lists are provided to the writers who develop the content of the exam. Here is an excerpt from  the content list.  EXCERPT FROM BIOLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL FOUNDATIONS OF LIVING SYSTEMS  OUTLINE  Metabolism of Fatty Acids and Proteins (BIO, BC) Topic  ▪ Description of fatty acids (BC) Subtopic  ▪ Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats  ▪ Oxidation of fatty acids  o o Saturated fats  Unsaturated fats  ▪ Ketone bodies (BC)  ▪ Anabolism of fats (BIO)  ▪ Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)  ▪ Metabolism of proteins (BIO)  The abbreviations in parentheses indicate the courses in which undergraduate students at many colleges and  universities learn about the topics and associated subtopics. The course abbreviations are  ▪  ▪  ▪  ▪  BC: first-semester biochemistry  BIO: two-semester sequence of introductory biology  GC: two-semester sequence of general chemistry  OC: two-semester sequence of organic chemistry  In preparing for the MCAT exam, you will be responsible for learning the topics and associated subtopics at the  levels at which they are taught at many colleges and universities in the courses listed in parentheses. A small  number of subtopics have course abbreviations indicated in parentheses. In those cases, you are responsible only for learning the subtopics as they are taught in the course(s) indicated.  Using the excerpt above as an example, You are responsible for learning about the topic Metabolism of Fatty Acids and Proteins at the level at  ▪  which it is taught in a typical two-semester introductory biology sequence and in a typical first-semester  biochemistry course.  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the subtopics Anabolism of fats, Non-template synthesis:  biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides, and Metabolism of proteins only at the levels at which they are  taught in a typical two-semester sequence of introductory biology.  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the subtopics Description of fatty acids and Ketone bodies only at  the levels at which they are taught in a typical first-semester biochemistry course.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 8 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems  Remember that course content at your school may differ from course content at other colleges and universities.  The topics and subtopics described in this and the next two chapters may be covered in courses with titles that are  different from those listed here. Your pre-health advisor and faculty are important resources for your questions  about course content. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 9 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Foundational Concept 1  Biomolecules have unique properties that determine how they contribute to the structure and  function of cells, and how they participate in the processes necessary to maintain life. The unique chemical and structural properties of biomolecules determine the roles they play in cells.  The proper functioning of a living system depends on the many components acting harmoniously in  response to a constantly changing environment. Biomolecules are constantly formed or degraded in  response to the perceived needs of the organism. Content Categories Category 1A focuses on the structural and functional complexity of proteins, which is derived  ▪ from their component amino acids, the sequence in which the amino acids are covalently bonded,  and the three-dimensional structures the proteins adopt in an aqueous environment.  Category 1B focuses on the molecular mechanisms responsible for the transfer of sequence ▪ specific biological information between biopolymers which ultimately results in the synthesis of  proteins.  Category 1C focuses on the mechanisms that function to transmit the heritable information  ▪ stored in DNA from generation to generation.  Category 1D focuses on the biomolecules and regulated pathways involved in harvesting  ▪ chemical energy stored in fuel molecules, which serves as the driving force for all of the  processes that take place within a living system. With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how the major biochemical,  genetic, and molecular functions of the cell support health and lead disease. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 10 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 1A: Structure and function of proteins and their constituent amino acids Macromolecules formed from amino acids adopt well-defined, three-dimensional structures with  chemical properties that are responsible for their participation in virtually every process occurring within  and between cells. The three-dimensional structure of proteins is a direct consequence of the nature of  the covalently-bonded sequence of amino acids, their chemical and physical properties, and the way in  which the whole assembly interacts with water.  Enzymes are proteins that interact in highly regio- and stereo-specific ways with dissolved solutes. They  either facilitate the chemical transformation of these solutes, or allow for their transport innocuously.  Dissolved solutes compete for protein-binding sites, and protein conformational dynamics give rise to  mechanisms capable of controlling enzymatic activity. The infinite variability of potential amino acid sequences allows for adaptable responses to pathogenic  organisms and materials. The rigidity of some amino acid sequences makes them suitable for structural  roles in complex living systems. Content in this category covers a range of protein behaviors which originate from the unique chemistry  of amino acids themselves. Amino acid classifications and protein structural elements are covered.  Special emphasis is placed on enzyme catalysis, including mechanistic considerations, kinetics, models  of enzyme-substrate interaction, and regulation. The topics and subtopics in this category are the  following:  Amino Acids (BC, OC) Please Note ▪ Description Absolute configuration at the α position  o Amino acids as dipolar ions  o Classifications o Topics that appear on multiple content  lists will be treated differently. Questions  will focus on the topics as they are  ▪ Acidic or basic ▪ Hydrophobic or hydrophilic  Reactions ▪ described in the narrative for the content  category. Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine  o Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins  o Hydrolysis o Protein Structure (BIO, BC, OC) ▪ Structure 1° structure of proteins  o 2° structure of proteins  o 3° structure of proteins; role of proline, cystine, hydrophobic bonding  o 4° structure of proteins (BIO, BC) o Conformational stability ▪ Denaturing and folding  o Hydrophobic interactions  o Solvation layer (entropy) (BC)  o Separation techniques  ▪ o Isoelectric point © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 11 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systemso Electrophoresis Non-Enzymatic Protein Function (BIO, BC) ▪ ▪ ▪ Binding (BC) Immune system Motors  Enzyme Structure and Function (BIO, BC) ▪ Function of enzymes in catalyzing biological reactions  ▪ Enzyme classification by reaction type ▪ Reduction of activation energy  ▪ Substrates and enzyme specificity ▪ Active Site Model  ▪ Induced-fit Model  ▪ Mechanism of catalysis Cofactors o Coenzymes o Water-soluble vitamins o ▪ Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity  Control of Enzyme Activity (BIO, BC) ▪ Kinetics  o o o General (catalysis) Michaelis–Menten Cooperativity  Feedback regulation ▪ Inhibition – types ▪ o o o o Competitive  Non-competitive  Mixed (BC) Uncompetitive (BC) Regulatory enzymes ▪ Allosteric enzymes o Covalently-modified enzymes o Zymogen o © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 12 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 1B: Transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein  Biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies interact in specific, highly-regulated ways to transfer  sequence information between biopolymers in living organisms. By storing and transferring biological  information, DNA and RNA enable living organisms to reproduce their complex components from one  generation to the next. The nucleotide monomers of these biopolymers, being joined by phosphodiester  linkages, form a polynucleotide molecule with a “backbone” composed of repeating sugar-phosphate  units and “appendages” of nitrogenous bases. The unique sequence of bases in each gene provides  specific information to the cell. DNA molecules are composed of two polynucleotides that spiral around an imaginary axis, forming a  double helix. The two polynucleotides are held together by hydrogen bonds between the paired bases  and van der Waals interactions between the stacked bases. The pairing between the bases of two  polynucleotides is very specific, and its complementarity allows for a precise replication of the DNA  molecule.  The DNA inherited by an organism leads to specific traits by dictating the synthesis of the biomolecules  (RNA molecules and proteins) involved in protein synthesis. While every cell in a multicellular  organism inherits the same DNA, its expression is precisely regulated such that different genes are  expressed by cells at different stages of development, by cells in different tissues, and by cells exposed  to different stimuli.  The topics included in this category concern not only the molecular mechanisms of the transmission of  genetic information from the gene to the protein (transcription and translation), but also the  biosynthesis of the important molecules and molecular assemblies that are involved in these  mechanisms. The control of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes is also included.  Broadly speaking, the field of biotechnology uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives  thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use. The biotechnological techniques  emphasized in this category, however, are those that take advantage of the complementary structure of  double-stranded DNA molecules to synthesize, sequence, and amplify them, and to analyze and  identify unknown polynucleotide sequences. Included within this treatment of biotechnology are those  practical applications which directly impact humans, such as medical applications, human gene  therapy, and pharmaceuticals. Content in this category covers the biopolymers, including ribonucleic acid (RNA), deoxyribonucleic  acid (DNA), proteins, and the biochemical processes involved in carrying out the transfer of biological  information from DNA. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Nucleic Acid Structure and Function (BIO, BC) ▪ Description ▪ Nucleotides and nucleosides  Sugar phosphate backbone  o Pyrimidine, purine residues  o Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): double helix, Watson–Crick model of DNA structure  ▪ Base pairing specificity: A with T, G with C  ▪ Function in transmission of genetic information (BIO)  ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 13 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ DNA denaturation, reannealing, hybridization DNA Replication (BIO) ▪ Mechanism of replication: separation of strands, specific coupling of free nucleic acids ▪ Semi-conservative nature of replication  ▪ Specific enzymes involved in replication  ▪ Origins of replication, multiple origins in eukaryotes  ▪ Replicating the ends of DNA molecules  Repair of DNA (BIO) ▪ Repair during replication  ▪ Repair of mutations Genetic Code (BIO) ▪ Central Dogma: DNA → RNA → protein  ▪ The triplet code  ▪ Codon–anticodon relationship  ▪ Degenerate code, wobble pairing  ▪ Missense, nonsense codons  ▪ Initiation, termination codons  ▪ Messenger RNA (mRNA) Transcription (BIO) Transfer RNA (tRNA); ribosomal RNA (rRNA)  ▪ Mechanism of transcription  ▪ mRNA processing in eukaryotes, introns, exons  ▪ Ribozymes, spliceosomes, small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), small nuclear RNAs ▪ (snRNAs)  ▪ Functional and evolutionary importance of introns  Translation (BIO) ▪ Roles of mRNA, tRNA, rRNA  ▪ Role and structure of ribosomes  Initiation, termination co-factors  ▪ ▪ Post-translational modification of proteins Eukaryotic Chromosome Organization (BIO) ▪ Chromosomal proteins  Single copy vs. repetitive DNA  ▪ Supercoiling  ▪ ▪ Heterochromatin vs. euchromatin  ▪ Telomeres, centromeres  Control of Gene Expression in Prokaryotes (BIO) ▪ Operon Concept, Jacob–Monod Model © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 14 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsGene repression in bacteria  ▪ Positive control in bacteria  ▪ Control of Gene Expression in Eukaryotes (BIO) Transcriptional regulation  ▪ DNA binding proteins, transcription factors  ▪ Gene amplification and duplication  ▪ Post-transcriptional control, basic concept of splicing (introns, exons)  ▪ Cancer as a failure of normal cellular controls, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes  ▪ Regulation of chromatin structure  ▪ DNA methylation  ▪ Role of non-coding RNAs  ▪ Recombinant DNA and Biotechnology (BIO) Gene cloning  ▪ Restriction enzymes  ▪ DNA libraries  ▪ Generation of cDNA  ▪ Hybridization  ▪ Expressing cloned genes  ▪ Polymerase chain reaction  ▪ Gel electrophoresis and Southern blotting  ▪ DNA sequencing  ▪ Analyzing gene expression  ▪ Determining gene function  ▪ Stem cells  ▪ Practical applications of DNA technology: medical applications, human gene  ▪ therapy, pharmaceuticals, forensic evidence, environmental cleanup, agriculture  Safety and ethics of DNA technology  ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 15 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 1C: Transmission of heritable information from generation to generation  and the processes that increase genetic diversity The information necessary to direct life functions is contained within discrete nucleotide sequences  transmitted from generation to generation by mechanisms that, by nature of their various processes,  provide the raw materials for evolution by increasing genetic diversity. Specific sequences of  deoxyribonucleic acids store and transfer the heritable information necessary for the continuation of life  from one generation to the next. These sequences, called genes ― being part of longer DNA molecules  ― are organized, along with various proteins, into biomolecular assemblies called chromosomes.  Chromosomes pass from parents to offspring in sexually-reproducing organisms. The processes of  meiosis and fertilization maintain a species’ chromosome count during the sexual life cycle. Because  parents pass on discrete heritable units that retain their separate identities in offspring, the laws of  probability can be used to predict the outcome of some, but not all, genetic crosses.  The behavior of chromosomes during meiosis and fertilization is responsible for most of the genetic  variation that arises each generation. Mechanisms that contribute to this genetic variation include  independent assortment of chromosomes, crossing over, and random fertilization. Other mechanisms,  such as mutation, random genetic drift, bottlenecks, and immigration, exist with the potential to affect  the genetic diversity of individuals and populations. Collectively, the genetic diversity that results from  these processes provides the raw material for evolution by natural selection.  The content in this category covers the mechanisms by which heritable information is transmitted from  generation to generation, and the evolutionary processes that generate and act upon genetic variation.  The topics and subtopics in this category are the following:  Evidence that DNA is Genetic Material (BIO) Mendelian Concepts (BIO) Phenotype and genotype  ▪ ▪ Gene  Locus  ▪ ▪ Allele: single and multiple  Homozygosity and heterozygosity  ▪ Wild-type  ▪ Recessiveness  ▪ Complete dominance  ▪ Co-dominance  ▪ Incomplete dominance, leakage, penetrance, expressivity  ▪ Hybridization: viability  ▪ Gene pool  ▪ Meiosis and Other Factors Affecting Genetic Variability (BIO) ▪ Significance of meiosis © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 16 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Important differences between meiosis and mitosis  ▪ Segregation of genes Independent assortment o Linkage  o Recombination  o Single crossovers o Double crossovers  o o Synaptonemal complex o Tetrad Sex-linked characteristics o Very few genes on Y chromosome  o Sex determination o Cytoplasmic/extranuclear inheritance o ▪ Mutation General concept of mutation — error in DNA sequence o Types of mutations: random, translation error, transcription error, base substitution,  o inversion, addition, deletion, translocation, mispairing  Advantageous vs. deleterious mutation  o Inborn errors of metabolism o Relationship of mutagens to carcinogens  o ▪ Genetic drift ▪ Synapsis or crossing-over mechanism for increasing genetic diversity Analytic Methods (BIO) ▪ Hardy–Weinberg Principle ▪ Testcross (Backcross; concepts of parental, F1, and F2 generations)  ▪ Gene mapping: crossover frequencies ▪ Biometry: statistical methods Evolution (BIO) ▪ Natural selection Fitness concept  o Selection by differential reproduction  o Concepts of natural and group selection  o Evolutionary success as increase in percent representation in the gene pool of the next  o generation ▪ Speciation Polymorphism  o Adaptation and specialization  o Inbreeding o Outbreeding  o Bottlenecks o Evolutionary time as measured by gradual random changes in genome  ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 17 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 1D: Principles of bioenergetics and fuel molecule metabolism  Living things harness energy from fuel molecules in a controlled manner in order to sustain all of the  processes responsible for maintaining life. Cell maintenance and growth is energetically costly. Cells  harness the energy stored in fuel molecules, such as carbohydrates and fatty acids, and convert it into  smaller units of chemical potential known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  The hydrolysis of ATP provides a ready source of energy for cells that can be coupled to other chemical  processes in order to make them thermodynamically favorable. Fuel molecule mobilization, transport,  and storage are regulated according to the needs of the organism. The content in this category covers the principles of bioenergetics and fuel molecule catabolism. Details  of oxidative phosphorylation including the role of chemiosmotic coupling and biological electron  transfer reactions are covered, as are the general features of fatty acid and glucose metabolism.  Additionally, regulation of these metabolic pathways, fuel molecule mobilization, transport, and storage  are covered. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following:  Principles of Bioenergetics (BC, GC) ▪ Bioenergetics/thermodynamics o Free energy/Keq ▪ Equilibrium constant  ▪ Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°  Concentration  o ▪ Le Châtelier’s Principle Endothermic/exothermic reactions o Free energy: G  o Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°  o Phosphoryl group transfers and ATP  ▪ ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0  o ATP group transfers  o ▪ Biological oxidation-reduction  Half-reactions o Soluble electron carriers o Flavoproteins o Carbohydrates (BC, OC) ▪ Description Nomenclature and classification, common names o Absolute configuration  o Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses o Epimers and anomers  o ▪ Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage  Monosaccharides  ▪ Disaccharides ▪ ▪ Polysaccharides © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 18 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsGlycolysis, Gluconeogenesis, and the Pentose Phosphate Pathway (BIO, BC) ▪ Glycolysis (aerobic), substrates and products  o Feeder pathways: glycogen, starch metabolism ▪ Fermentation (anaerobic glycolysis) Gluconeogenesis (BC) ▪ ▪ Pentose phosphate pathway (BC) ▪ Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes Principles of Metabolic Regulation (BC) ▪ Regulation of metabolic pathways (BIO, BC)  o Maintenance of a dynamic steady state ▪ Regulation of glycolysis and gluconeogenesis  ▪ Metabolism of glycogen ▪ Regulation of glycogen synthesis and breakdown  o Allosteric and hormonal control ▪ Analysis of metabolic control  Citric Acid Cycle (BIO, BC) ▪ Acetyl-CoA production (BC) ▪ Reactions of the cycle, substrates and products  ▪ Regulation of the cycle  ▪ Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes Metabolism of Fatty Acids and Proteins (BIO, BC)  ▪ Description of fatty acids (BC) Digestion, mobilization, and transport of fats  ▪ ▪ Oxidation of fatty acids  o o Saturated fats Unsaturated fats ▪ Ketone bodies (BC)  ▪ Anabolism of fats (BIO)  ▪ Non-template synthesis: biosynthesis of lipids and polysaccharides (BIO)  ▪ Metabolism of proteins (BIO)  Oxidative Phosphorylation (BIO, BC) Electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, substrates and products, general features  ▪ of the pathway  Electron transfer in mitochondria  ▪ o o o NADH, NADPH Flavoproteins  Cytochromes  ATP synthase, chemiosmotic coupling  ▪ o Proton motive force Net molecular and energetic results of respiration processes ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 19 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsRegulation of oxidative phosphorylation  ▪ Mitochondria, apoptosis, oxidative stress (BC)  ▪ Hormonal Regulation and Integration of Metabolism (BC) Higher level integration of hormone structure and function  ▪ Tissue specific metabolism ▪ Hormonal regulation of fuel metabolism  ▪ Obesity and regulation of body mass ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 20 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsBiological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Foundational Concept 2  Highly-organized assemblies of molecules, cells, and organs interact to  carry out the functions of living organisms. Cells are the basic unit of structure in all living things. Mechanisms of cell division provide not only for  the growth and maintenance of organisms, but also for the continuation of the species through asexual  and sexual reproduction. The unique micro-environment to which a cell is exposed during development  and division determines the fate of the cell by impacting gene expression and ultimately the cell’s  collection and distribution of macromolecules, and its arrangement of subcellular organelles.  In multicellular organisms, the processes necessary to maintain life are executed by groups of cells that  are organized into specialized structures with specialized functions ― both of which result from the  unique properties of the cells’ component molecules. Content Categories Category 2A focuses on the assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single  ▪ cellular and multicellular organisms that function to execute the processes necessary to maintain  life.  Category 2B focuses on the structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes, and the  ▪ structure and life cycles of viruses.  Category 2C focuses on the processes of cell and nuclear division, and the mechanisms  ▪ governing cell differentiation and specialization.  With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how cells grow and integrate to  form tissues and organs that carry out essential biochemical and physiological functions. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 21 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsCategory 2A: Assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of cells within single cellular and  multicellular organisms The processes necessary to maintain life are executed by assemblies of molecules, cells, and groups of  cells, all of which are organized into highly-specific structures as determined by the unique properties of  their component molecules. The processes necessary to maintain life require that cells create and  maintain internal environments within the cytoplasm and within certain organelles that are different  from their external environments.  Cell membranes separate the internal environment of the cell from the external environment. The  specialized structure of the membrane, as described in the fluid mosaic model, allows the cell to be  selectively permeable and dynamic, with homeostasis maintained by the constant movement of  molecules across the membranes through a combination of active and passive processes driven by  several forces, including electrochemical gradients.  Eukaryotic cells also maintain internal membranes that partition the cell into specialized regions. These  internal membranes facilitate cellular processes by minimizing conflicting interactions and increasing  surface area where chemical reactions can occur. Membrane-bound organelles localize different  processes or enzymatic reactions in time and space.  Through interactions between proteins bound to the membranes of adjacent cells, or between membrane bound proteins and elements of the extracellular matrix, cells of multicellular organisms organize into  tissues, organs, and organ systems. Certain membrane-associated proteins also play key roles in  providing identification of tissues or recent events in the cell’s history for purposes of recognition of  “self” versus foreign molecules. The content in this category covers the composition, structure, and function of cell membranes; the  structure and function of the membrane-bound organelles of eukaryotic cells; and the structure and  function of the major cytoskeletal elements. It covers the energetics of and mechanisms by which  molecules, or groups of molecules, move across cell membranes. It also covers how cell–cell junctions  and the extracellular matrix interact to form tissues with specialized functions. Epithelial tissue and  connective tissue are covered in this category. The topics and subtopics in this category are the  following:  Plasma Membrane (BIO, BC) ▪ General function in cell containment  ▪ Composition of membranes  Lipid components (BIO, BC, OC) o ▪ Phospholipids (and phosphatids)  Steroids  ▪ ▪ Waxes o o Protein components  Fluid mosaic model  Membrane dynamics ▪ Solute transport across membranes  ▪ o Thermodynamic considerations © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 22 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsOsmosis o ▪ Colligative properties; osmotic pressure (GC) Passive transport  o Active transport  o ▪ Sodium/potassium pump ▪ Membrane channels  ▪ Membrane potential  ▪ Membrane receptors  ▪ Exocytosis and endocytosis  ▪ Intercellular junctions (BIO) o o o Gap junctions  Tight junctions  Desmosomes Membrane-Bound Organelles and Defining Characteristics of Eukaryotic Cells (BIO) Defining characteristics of eukaryotic cells: membrane bound nucleus, presence of organelles,  ▪ mitotic division  Nucleus ▪ Compartmentalization, storage of genetic information  o Nucleolus: location and function  o Nuclear envelope, nuclear pores o ▪ Mitochondria  Site of ATP production  o Inner and outer membrane structure (BIO, BC) o Self-replication o ▪ Lysosomes: membrane-bound vesicles containing hydrolytic enzymes ▪ Endoplasmic reticulum  Rough and smooth components  o Rough endoplasmic reticulum site of ribosomes  o Double membrane structure  o Role in membrane biosynthesis  o Role in biosynthesis of secreted proteins  o Golgi apparatus: general structure and role in packaging and secretion ▪ Peroxisomes: organelles that collect peroxides ▪ Cytoskeleton (BIO) ▪ General function in cell support and movement  ▪ Microfilaments: composition and role in cleavage and contractility ▪ Microtubules: composition and role in support and transport  ▪ Intermediate filaments, role in support  ▪ Composition and function of cilia and flagella  ▪ Centrioles, microtubule organizing centers  Tissues Formed From Eukaryotic Cells (BIO) ▪ Epithelial cells © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 23 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Connective tissue cells © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 24 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 2B: The structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes and  viruses The highly-organized assembly of molecules that is the cell represents the fundamental unit of structure,  function, and organization in all living organisms. In the hierarchy of biological organization, the cell is  the simplest collection of matter capable of carrying out the processes that distinguish living organisms.  As such, cells have the ability to undergo metabolism; maintain homeostasis, including ionic gradients;  the capacity to grow; move in response to their local environments; respond to stimuli; reproduce; and  adapt to their environment in successive generations.  Life at cellular levels arises from structural order and its dynamic modulation. It does so in response to  signals, thereby reflecting properties that result from individual and interactive features of molecular  assemblies, their compartmentalization, and their interaction with environmental signals at many spatial  and temporal scales.  The content in this category covers the classification, structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of  prokaryotes, and the characteristics that distinguish them from eukaryotes. Viruses are also covered  here. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following:  Cell Theory (BIO) ▪ History and development  ▪ Impact on biology  Classification and Structure of Prokaryotic Cells (BIO) ▪ Prokaryotic domains  o o Archaea Bacteria  ▪ Major classifications of bacteria by shape Bacilli (rod-shaped)  o Spirilli (spiral-shaped)  o Cocci (spherical)  o Lack of nuclear membrane and mitotic apparatus  ▪ ▪ Lack of typical eukaryotic organelles  Presence of cell wall in bacteria ▪ ▪ Flagellar propulsion, mechanism  Growth and Physiology of Prokaryotic Cells (BIO) ▪ Reproduction by fission  ▪ High degree of genetic adaptability, acquisition of antibiotic resistance  ▪ Exponential growth  ▪ Existence of anaerobic and aerobic variants  ▪ Parasitic and symbiotic  ▪ Chemotaxis Genetics of Prokaryotic Cells (BIO) ▪ Existence of plasmids, extragenomic DNA © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 25 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Transformation: incorporation into bacterial genome of DNA fragments from external medium ▪ Conjugation  ▪ Transposons (also present in eukaryotic cells)  Virus Structure (BIO) ▪ General structural characteristics (nucleic acid and protein, enveloped and nonenveloped)  ▪ Lack organelles and nucleus  ▪ Structural aspects of typical bacteriophage  ▪ Genomic content — RNA or DNA ▪ Size relative to bacteria and eukaryotic cells  Viral Life Cycle (BIO) ▪ Self-replicating biological units that must reproduce within specific host cell ▪ Generalized phage and animal virus life cycles Attachment to host, penetration of cell membrane or cell wall, and entry of viral genetic o material Use of host synthetic mechanism to replicate viral components o Self-assembly and release of new viral particles o ▪ Transduction: transfer of genetic material by viruses  ▪ Retrovirus life cycle: integration into host DNA, reverse transcriptase, HIV ▪ Prions and viroids: subviral particles © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 26 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 2C: Processes of cell division, differentiation, and specialization  The ability of organisms to reproduce their own kind is the characteristic that best distinguishes living  things. In sexually reproducing organisms, the continuity of life is based on the processes of cell division  and meiosis.  The process of cell division is an integral part of the cell cycle. The progress of eukaryotic cells through  the cell cycle is regulated by a complex molecular control system. Malfunctions in this system can result  in unabated cellular division, and ultimately the development of cancer.  In the embryonic development of multicellular organisms, a fertilized egg gives rise to cells that  differentiate into many different types of cells, each with a different structure, corresponding function,  and location within the organism. During development, spatial–temporal gradients in the interactions  between gene expression and various stimuli result in the structural and functional divergence of cells  into specialized structure, organs, and tissues. The interaction of stimuli and genes is also explained by  the progression of stem cells to terminal cells. The content in this category covers the cell cycle; the causes, genetics, and basic properties of cancer;  the processes of meiosis and gametogenesis; and the mechanisms governing cell specialization and  differentiation. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following:  Mitosis (BIO) ▪ Mitotic process: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, interphase  ▪ Mitotic structures Centrioles, asters, spindles  o Chromatids, centromeres, kinetochores  o Nuclear membrane breakdown and reorganization o Mechanisms of chromosome movement  o Phases of cell cycle: G0, G1, S, G2, M  ▪ ▪ Growth arrest  ▪ Control of cell cycle  ▪ Loss of cell cycle controls in cancer cells  Biosignalling (BC) ▪ Oncogenes, apoptosis Reproductive System (BIO) ▪ Gametogenesis by meiosis ▪ Ovum and sperm  Differences in formation o Differences in morphology  o Relative contribution to next generation  o ▪ Reproductive sequence: fertilization; implantation; development; birth Embryogenesis (BIO) ▪ Stages of early development (order and general features of each) © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 27 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systemso o o o Fertilization Cleavage Blastula formation Gastrulation ▪ First cell movements ▪ Formation of primary germ layers (endoderm, mesoderm, ectoderm)  o Neurulation  Major structures arising out of primary germ layers  ▪ Neural crest  ▪ ▪ Environment–gene interaction in development  Mechanisms of Development (BIO) ▪ Cell specialization o o o Determination Differentiation Tissue types Cell–cell communication in development  ▪ Cell migration  ▪ Pluripotency: stem cells  ▪ Gene regulation in development  ▪ Programmed cell death  ▪ Existence of regenerative capacity in various species ▪ Senescence and aging ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 28 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsBiological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Foundational Concept 3  Complex systems of tissues and organs sense the internal and external environments of  multicellular organisms, and through integrated functioning, maintain a stable internal  environment within an ever-changing external environment. As a result of the integration of a number of highly specialized organ systems, complex living things are  able to maintain homeostasis while adapting to a constantly changing environment and participating in  growth and reproduction. The interactions of these organ systems involves complex regulatory  mechanisms that help maintain a dynamic and healthy equilibrium, regardless of their current state and  environment. Content Categories Category 3A focuses on the structure and functions of the nervous and endocrine systems, and  ▪ the ways in which the systems work together to coordinate the responses of other body systems  to both external and internal stimuli.  Category 3B focuses on the structure and functions of the organ systems ― circulatory,  ▪ respiratory, digestive, immune, lymphatic, muscular, skeletal, and reproductive ― and the ways  these systems interact to fulfill their concerted roles in the maintenance and continuance of the  living organism.  With these building blocks, medical students will be able to learn how the body responds to internal  and external stimuli to support homeostasis and the ability to reproduce. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 29 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsContent Category 3A: Structure and functions of the nervous and endocrine systems and  ways in which these systems coordinate the organ systems  The nervous and endocrine systems work together to detect external and internal signals, transmit and  integrate information, and maintain homeostasis. They do all of this by producing appropriate responses  to internal and external cues and stressors. The integration of these systems both with one another, and  with the other organ systems, ultimately results in the successful and adaptive behaviors that allow for  the propagation of the species. Animals have evolved a nervous system that senses and processes internal and external information that  is used to facilitate and enhance survival, growth, and reproduction. The nervous system interfaces with  sensory and internal body systems to coordinate physiological and behavioral responses ranging from  simple movements and small metabolic changes to long-distance migrations and social interactions. The  physiological processes for nerve signal generation and propagation involve specialized membranes  with associated proteins that respond to ligands and/or electrical field changes, signaling molecules and,  by extension, the establishment and replenishment of ionic electrochemical gradients requiring ATP.  The endocrine system of animals has evolved to produce chemical signals that function internally to  regulate stress responses, reproduction, development, energy metabolism, growth, and various  individual and interactive behaviors. The integrated contributions of the nervous and endocrine systems  to bodily functions are exemplified by the process whereby the signaling of neurons regulates hormone  release, and by the targeting of membrane or nuclear receptors on neurons by circulating hormones.  The content in this category covers the structure, function, and basic aspects of nervous and endocrine  systems, and their integration. The structure and function of nerve cells is also included in this category.  The topics and subtopics in this category are the following:  Nervous System: Structure and Function (BIO) ▪ Major Functions  High level control and integration of body systems  o Adaptive capability to external influences o Organization of vertebrate nervous system  ▪ Sensor and effector neurons  ▪ Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems: antagonistic control ▪ Reflexes ▪ Feedback loop, reflex arc o Role of spinal cord and supraspinal circuits  o Integration with endocrine system: feedback control  ▪ Nerve Cell (BIO) ▪ Cell body: site of nucleus, organelles  ▪ Dendrites: branched extensions of cell body  ▪ Axon: structure and function  ▪ Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon  ▪ Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon  ▪ Synapse: site of impulse propagation between cells  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 30 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Synaptic activity: transmitter molecules ▪ Resting potential: electrochemical gradient  ▪ Action potential  Threshold, all-or-none  o Sodium/potassium pump  o ▪ Excitatory and inhibitory nerve fibers: summation, frequency of firing  ▪ Glial cells, neuroglia  Electrochemistry (GC) ▪ Concentration cell: direction of electron flow, Nernst equation Biosignalling (BC) ▪ Gated ion channels o o Voltage gated Ligand gated ▪ Receptor enzymes ▪ G protein-coupled receptors Lipids (BC, OC) ▪ Description; structure Steroids  o Terpenes and terpenoids  o Endocrine System: Hormones and Their Sources (BIO) ▪ Function of endocrine system: specific chemical control at cell, tissue, and organ level  ▪ Definitions of endocrine gland, hormone  ▪ Major endocrine glands: names, locations, products  ▪ Major types of hormones  ▪ Neuroendrocrinology ― relation between neurons and hormonal systems  Endocrine System: Mechanisms of Hormone Action (BIO) ▪ Cellular mechanisms of hormone action  Transport of hormones: blood supply  ▪ Specificity of hormones: target tissue  ▪ ▪ Integration with nervous system: feedback control  ▪ Regulation by second messengers  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 31 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsCategory 3B: Structure and integrative functions of the main organ systems  Animals use a number of highly-organized and integrated organ systems to carry out the necessary  functions associated with maintaining life processes. Within the body, no organ system is an island.  Interactions and coordination between organ systems allow organisms to engage in the processes  necessary to sustain life. For example, the organs and structures of the circulatory system carry out a  number of functions, such as transporting:  nutrients absorbed in the digestive system;  ▪ gases absorbed from the respiratory system and muscle tissue; ▪ hormones secreted from the endocrine system; and  ▪ blood cells produced in bone marrow to and from cells in the body to help fight disease.  ▪ The content in this category covers the structure and function of the major organ systems of the body  including the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, immune, digestive, excretory, reproductive, muscle,  skeletal, and skin systems. Also covered in this category is the integration of these systems and their  control and coordination by the endocrine and nervous systems. The topics and subtopics in this  category are the following:  Respiratory System (BIO) ▪ General function Gas exchange, thermoregulation  o Protection against disease: particulate matter o ▪ Structure of lungs and alveoli  ▪ Breathing mechanisms  Diaphragm, rib cage, differential pressure  o Resiliency and surface tension effects o Thermoregulation: nasal and tracheal capillary beds; evaporation, panting  ▪ Particulate filtration: nasal hairs, mucus/cilia system in lungs ▪ Alveolar gas exchange  ▪ Diffusion, differential partial pressure  o Henry’s Law (GC) o ▪ pH control  Regulation by nervous control  ▪ o CO2 sensitivity Circulatory System (BIO) ▪ Functions: circulation of oxygen, nutrients, hormones, ions and fluids, removal of metabolic  waste ▪ Role in thermoregulation ▪ Four-chambered heart: structure and function  ▪ Endothelial cells  ▪ Systolic and diastolic pressure  ▪ Pulmonary and systemic circulation © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 32 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Arterial and venous systems (arteries, arterioles, venules, veins) Structural and functional differences o Pressure and flow characteristics o ▪ Capillary beds Mechanisms of gas and solute exchange  o Mechanism of heat exchange o Source of peripheral resistance o Composition of blood  ▪ Plasma, chemicals, blood cells o Erythrocyte production and destruction; spleen, bone marrow  o Regulation of plasma volume  o ▪ Coagulation, clotting mechanisms  ▪ Oxygen transport by blood  Hemoglobin, hematocrit  o Oxygen content  o Oxygen affinity  o ▪ Carbon dioxide transport and level in blood  ▪ Nervous and endocrine control Lymphatic System (BIO) ▪ Structure of lymphatic system ▪ Major functions  Equalization of fluid distribution  o Transport of proteins and large glycerides  o Production of lymphocytes involved in immune reactions  o Return of materials to the blood o Immune System (BIO) ▪ Innate (non-specific) vs. adaptive (specific) immunity ▪ Adaptive immune system cells o o T-lymphocytes  B-lymphocytes  ▪ Innate immune system cells ▪ o o Tissues o o o o Macrophages  Phagocytes Bone marrow  Spleen Thymus Lymph nodes  ▪ Concept of antigen and antibody  ▪ Antigen presentation ▪ Clonal selection ▪ Antigen-antibody recognition ▪ Structure of antibody molecule  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 33 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Recognition of self vs. non-self, autoimmune diseases  ▪ Major histocompatibility complex Digestive System (BIO) ▪ Ingestion  Saliva as lubrication and source of enzymes  o Ingestion; esophagus, transport function  o ▪ Stomach ▪ ▪ o o o o Liver o o o Bile o o Storage and churning of food  Low pH, gastric juice, mucal protection against self-destruction  Production of digestive enzymes, site of digestion  Structure (gross) Structural relationship of liver within gastrointestinal system Production of bile  Role in blood glucose regulation, detoxification  Storage in gall bladder  Function  ▪ Pancreas Production of enzymes  o Transport of enzymes to small intestine o ▪ Small Intestine Absorption of food molecules and water  o Function and structure of villi o Production of enzymes, site of digestion  o Neutralization of stomach acid o Structure (anatomic subdivisions)  o ▪ Large Intestine o o o Absorption of water  Bacterial flora Structure (gross) ▪ Rectum: storage and elimination of waste, feces ▪ Muscular control  o Peristalsis Endocrine control  ▪ o o Hormones  Target tissues Nervous control: the enteric nervous system  ▪ Excretory System (BIO) ▪ Roles in homeostasis o o Blood pressure  Osmoregulation © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 34 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living SystemsAcid–base balance o Removal of soluble nitrogenous waste  o ▪ Kidney structure o o Cortex Medulla  ▪ Nephron structure  o o o o o o Glomerulus  Bowman’s capsule Proximal tubule Loop of Henle  Distal tubule Collecting duct  ▪ Formation of urine  Glomerular filtration o Secretion and reabsorption of solutes  o Concentration of urine  o Counter-current multiplier mechanism o ▪ Storage and elimination: ureter, bladder, urethra  ▪ Osmoregulation: capillary reabsorption of H2O, amino acids, glucose, ions  ▪ Muscular control: sphincter muscle Reproductive System (BIO) ▪ Male and female reproductive structures and their functions  Gonads  o Genitalia o Differences between male and female structures o ▪ Hormonal control of reproduction  Male and female sexual development o Female reproductive cycle o Pregnancy, parturition, lactation  o Integration with nervous control o Muscle System (BIO) ▪ Important functions  Support: mobility o Peripheral circulatory assistance o Thermoregulation (shivering reflex)  o ▪ Structure of three basic muscle types: striated, smooth, cardiac  ▪ Muscle structure and control of contraction  T-tubule system  o Contractile apparatus o Sarcoplasmic reticulum o Fiber type o Contractile velocity of different muscle types o ▪ Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 35 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Oxygen debt: fatigue  ▪ Nervous control  Motor neurons  o Neuromuscular junction, motor end plates  o Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation o Voluntary and involuntary muscles o Specialized Cell - Muscle Cell (BIO) ▪ Structural characteristics of striated, smooth, and cardiac muscle  ▪ Abundant mitochondria in red muscle cells: ATP source  ▪ Organization of contractile elements: actin and myosin filaments, crossbridges, sliding filament  model  ▪ Sarcomeres: “I” and “A” bands, “M” and “Z” lines, “H” zone  ▪ Presence of troponin and tropomyosin  ▪ Calcium regulation of contraction  Skeletal System (BIO) ▪ Functions  Structural rigidity and support  o Calcium storage o Physical protection  o ▪ Skeletal structure Specialization of bone types, structures  o Joint structures o Endoskeleton vs. exoskeleton  o ▪ Bone structure  Calcium/protein matrix o Cellular composition of bone  o ▪ Cartilage: structure and function  ▪ Ligaments, tendons  ▪ Endocrine control  Skin System (BIO) ▪ Structure Layer differentiation, cell types  o Relative impermeability to water o ▪ Functions in homeostasis and osmoregulation  ▪ Functions in thermoregulation  Hair, erectile musculature  o Fat layer for insulation  o Sweat glands, location in dermis  o Vasoconstriction and vasodilation in surface capillaries  o Physical protection  ▪ Nails, calluses, hair  o Protection against abrasion, disease organisms  o © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 36 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems▪ Hormonal control: sweating, vasodilation, and vasoconstriction © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 37 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  What will the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section test? The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section asks you to solve problems by  combining your knowledge of chemical and physical foundational concepts with your scientific inquiry  and reasoning skills. This section tests your understanding of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical  functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems. It also tests your knowledge of the basic  chemical and physical principles that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body and your  ability to reason about and apply your understanding of these basic chemical and physical principles to  living systems.  This section is designed to:  test introductory-level biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics concepts;  • test biochemistry concepts at the level taught in many colleges and universities in first-semester • biochemistry courses;  test molecular biology topics at the level taught in many colleges and universities in  • introductory biology sequences and first-semester biochemistry courses; test basic research methods and statistics concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as • important to success in introductory science courses; and  require you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics  • skills as applied to the natural sciences.   Test Section Number of Questions Time Chemical and Physical  Foundations of Biological  Systems 59 (note that questions are a  combination of passage-based  and discrete questions) 95 minutes

We also discuss several other topics like interlocketers

© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 38What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills As a reminder, the scientific inquiry and reasoning skills that you will be asked to demonstrate on this  section of the exam are: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles  • Demonstrating understanding of scientific concepts and principles  • Identifying the relationships between closely-related concepts Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving  • Reasoning about scientific principles, theories, and models  • Analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations and predictions  Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research  • Demonstrating understanding of important components of scientific research  • Reasoning about ethical issues in research  Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning • Interpreting patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs  • Reasoning about data and drawing conclusions from them  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 39What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  General Mathematical Concepts and Techniques It’s important for you to know that questions on the natural, behavioral, and social sciences sections will  ask you to use certain mathematical concepts and techniques. As the descriptions of the scientific inquiry  and reasoning skills suggest, some questions will ask you to analyze and manipulate scientific data to  show that you can ▪ Recognize and interpret linear, semilog, and log-log scales and calculate slopes from data found in  figures, graphs, and tables ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of significant digits and the use of reasonable numerical  estimates in performing measurements and calculations ▪ Use metric units, including converting units within the metric system and between metric and  English units (conversion factors will be provided when needed), and dimensional analysis (using  units to balance equations) ▪ Perform arithmetic calculations involving the following: probability, proportion, ratio, percentage,  and square-root estimations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding (Algebra II−level) of exponentials and logarithms (natural  and base 10), scientific notation, and solving simultaneous equations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of the following trigonometric concepts: definitions of basic  (sine, cosine, tangent) and inverse (sin‒1, cos‒1, tan‒1) functions; sin and cos values of 0°, 90°, and  180°; relationships between the lengths of sides of right triangles containing angles of 30°, 45°,  and 60° Demonstrate a general understanding of vector addition and subtraction and the right-hand rule  ▪ (knowledge of dot and cross products is not required) Note also that an understanding of calculus is not required, and a periodic table will be provided during  the exam. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 40What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  References During the actual exam, you will have access to the periodic table below while answering questions in  this section of the exam. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 41What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Distribution of Questions by  Discipline, Foundational Concept, and Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill You may wonder how much chemistry you’ll see on this section of the MCAT exam, how many  questions you’ll get about a particular foundational concept, or how the scientific inquiry and reasoning  skills will be distributed on your exam. The questions that you see are likely to be distributed in the  ways described below. These are the approximate percentages of questions you’ll see on a test for each  discipline, foundational concept, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skill.* Discipline: • First-semester biochemistry, 25% • Introductory biology, 5%  • General chemistry, 30% • Organic chemistry, 15% • Introductory physics, 25%  Foundational Concept:  • Foundational Concept 4, 40%  • Foundational Concept 5, 60%  Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill:  • • • • Skill 1, 35%  Skill 2, 45%  Skill 3, 10%  Skill 4, 10%  *These percentages have been approximated to the nearest 5% and will vary from one test to another for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, controlling for question difficulty, using groups of questions that depend on a  single passage, and using unscored field-test questions on each test form.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 42What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Framework of Foundational  Concepts and Content Categories Foundational Concept 4: Complex living organisms transport materials, sense their environment,  process signals, and respond to changes using processes understood in terms of physical principles.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  4A. Translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium in living systems  4B. Importance of fluids for the circulation of blood, gas movement, and gas exchange  4C. Electrochemistry and electrical circuits and their elements  4D. How light and sound interact with matter  4E. Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical behavior Foundational Concept 5: The principles that govern chemical interactions and reactions form the basis  for a broader understanding of the molecular dynamics of living systems.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  5A. Unique nature of water and its solutions  5B. Nature of molecules and intermolecular interactions  5C. Separation and purification methods  5D. Structure, function, and reactivity of biologically-relevant molecules  5E. Principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 43What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  How Foundational Concepts and Content Categories Fit Together The MCAT exam asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of concepts with your  scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. Figure 1 illustrates how foundational concepts, content  categories, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skills intersect to create test questions.  

Foundational Concept 1 Foundational Concept 2

Content  Category  1A Content  Category  1B ▪ Content  Category  1C Content  Category  2A Content  Category  2B  Each cell represents the point at which foundational Content  Category  2C   Skill 1

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© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 44What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Understanding the Foundational Concepts and Content Categories in the Chemical and  Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Outline The following are detailed explanations of each foundational concept and related content categories  tested in this section. As with the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section,  lists describing the specific topics and subtopics that define each content category for this section are  provided. The same content list is provided to item writers who develop the content of the exam. Here is  an excerpt from the content list.  EXCERPT FROM THE CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL FOUNDATIONS OF BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS  OUTLINE Separations and Purifications (OC, BC) Topic  ▪ Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents Subtopic  ▪ Distillation  ▪ Chromatography: Basic principles involved in separation process  o Column chromatography ▪ Gas-liquid chromatography  ▪ High pressure liquid chromatography  Paper chromatography  o Thin-layer chromatography  o ▪ Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BC)  o o o Electrophoresis Quantitative analysis  Chromatography  ▪ ▪ ▪ Size-exclusion  Ion-exchange  Affinity  ▪ Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (OC)  The abbreviations found in parentheses indicate the course(s) in which undergraduate students at many  colleges and universities learn about the topics and associated subtopics. The course abbreviations are  BC: first semester of biochemistry  ▪ ▪ BIO: two-semester sequence of introductory biology  ▪ GC: two-semester sequence of general chemistry  ▪ OC: two-semester sequence of organic chemistry  PHY: two-semester sequence of introductory physics  ▪ In preparing for the MCAT exam, you will be responsible for learning the topics and associated  subtopics at the levels at which they are taught at many colleges and universities in the courses listed in  parentheses. A small number of subtopics have course abbreviations indicated in parentheses. In those  cases, you are responsible only for learning the subtopics as they are taught in the course(s) indicated.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 45What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Using the excerpt above as an example:  You are responsible for learning about the topic Separations and Purifications at the level at  ▪  which it is taught in a typical two-semester organic chemistry sequence and in a typical first semester biochemistry course.  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the subtopic Separation and purifications of peptides and  proteins (and sub-subtopics) only at the level at which it is taught in a first-semester biochemistry  course.  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the subtopic Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers  only at the level at which it is taught in a two-semester organic chemistry course.  Remember that course content at your school may differ from course content at other colleges and  universities. The topics and subtopics described in this chapter may be covered in courses with titles that  are different from those listed here. Your pre-health advisor and faculty are important resources for your  questions about course content.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 46What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Foundational Concept 4  Complex living organisms transport materials, sense their environment, process signals, and  respond to changes using processes that can be understood in terms of physical principles.  The processes that take place within organisms follow the laws of physics. They can be quantified with  equations that model the behavior at a fundamental level. For example, the principles of electromagnetic  radiation, and its interactions with matter, can be exploited to generate structural information about  molecules or to generate images of the human body. So, too, can atomic structure be used to predict the  physical and chemical properties of atoms, including the amount of electromagnetic energy required to  cause ionization.  Content Categories Category 4A focuses on motion and its causes, and various forms of energy and their interconversions.  ▪ Category 4B focuses on the behavior of fluids, which is relevant to the functioning of the  ▪ pulmonary and circulatory systems.  Category 4C emphasizes the nature of electrical currents and voltages; how energy can be  ▪ converted into electrical forms that can be used to perform chemical transformations or work;  and how electrical impulses can be transmitted over long distances in the nervous system.  Category 4D focuses on the properties of light and sound; how the interactions of light and  ▪ sound with matter can be used by an organism to sense its environment; and how these  interactions can also be used to generate structural information or images.  Category 4E focuses on sub-atomic particles, the atomic nucleus, nuclear radiation, the structure  ▪ of the atom, and how the configuration of any particular atom can be used to predict its physical  and chemical properties. With these building blocks, medical students will be able to utilize core principles of physics to learn  about the physiological functions of the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems in health  and disease.© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 47 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 4A: Translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium in living  systems The motion of any object can be described in terms of displacement, velocity, and acceleration. Objects  accelerate when subjected to external forces and are at equilibrium when the net force and the net torque  acting upon them are zero. Many aspects of motion can be calculated with the knowledge that energy is  conserved, even though it may be converted into different forms. In a living system, the energy for  motion comes from the metabolism of fuel molecules, but the energetic requirements remain subject to  the same physical principles. The content in this category covers several physics topics relevant to living systems including  translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium. The topics and subtopics in this category are  the following: Translational Motion (PHY) Please Note ▪ Units and dimensions  ▪ Vectors, components  ▪ Vector addition  ▪ Speed, velocity (average and instantaneous)  ▪ Acceleration Topics that appear on multiple content  lists will be treated differently. Questions  will focus on the topics as they are  described in the narrative for the content  category. Force (PHY) ▪ Newton’s First Law, inertia ▪ Newton’s Second Law (F = ma)  Newton’s Third Law, forces equal and opposite  ▪ ▪ Friction, static and kinetic ▪ Center of mass Equilibrium (PHY) ▪ Vector analysis of forces acting on a point object ▪ Torques, lever arms  Work (PHY) ▪ Work done by a constant force: W = Fd cosθ Mechanical advantage ▪ ▪ Work Kinetic Energy Theorem ▪ Conservative forces Energy of Point Object Systems (PHY) Kinetic Energy: KE = ½ mv2; units ▪ ▪ Potential Energy o PE = mgh (gravitational, local) PE = ½ kx2 (spring) o ▪ Conservation of energy  ▪ Power, units © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 48 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Periodic Motion (PHY) ▪ Amplitude, frequency, phase  ▪ Transverse and longitudinal waves: wavelength and propagation speed  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 49 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Content Category 4B: Importance of fluids for the circulation of blood, gas movement, and  gas exchange Fluids are featured in several physiologically important processes, including the circulation of blood, gas  movement into and out of the lungs, and gas exchange with the blood. The energetic requirements of  fluid dynamics can be modeled using physical equations. A thorough understanding of fluids is  necessary to understand the origins of numerous forms of disease.  The content in this category covers hydrostatic pressure, fluid flow rates, viscosity, the Kinetic  Molecular Theory of Gases, and the Ideal Gas Law. The topics and subtopics in this category are the  following: Fluids (PHY) ▪ Density, specific gravity ▪ Buoyancy, Archimedes’ Principle Hydrostatic pressure ▪ Pascal’s Law o Hydrostatic pressure; P = ρgh (pressure vs. depth)  o Viscosity: Poiseuille Flow ▪ ▪ Continuity equation (A∙v = constant)  Concept of turbulence at high velocities  ▪ Surface tension ▪ Bernoulli’s equation  ▪ ▪ Venturi effect, pitot tube  Circulatory System (BIO) ▪ Arterial and venous systems; pressure and flow characteristics Gas Phase (GC, PHY) Absolute temperature, (K) Kelvin Scale ▪ ▪ Pressure, simple mercury barometer Molar volume at 0°C and 1 atm = 22.4 L/mol  ▪ Ideal gas ▪ Definition o Ideal Gas Law: PV = nRT o Boyle’s Law: PV = constant o Charles’ Law: V/T = constant o Avogadro’s Law: V/n = constant  o ▪ Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases Heat capacity at constant volume and at constant pressure (PHY) o Boltzmann’s Constant (PHY) o ▪ Deviation of real gas behavior from Ideal Gas Law Qualitative o Quantitative (Van der Waals’ Equation) o ▪ Partial pressure, mole fraction ▪ Dalton’s Law relating partial pressure to composition© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 50 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 4C: Electrochemistry and electrical circuits and their elements Charged particles can be set in motion by the action of an applied electrical field, and can be used to  transmit energy or information over long distances. The energy released during certain chemical  reactions can be converted to electrical energy, which can be harnessed to perform other reactions or  work.  Physiologically, a concentration gradient of charged particles is set up across the cell membrane of  neurons at considerable energetic expense. This allows for the rapid transmission of signals using  electrical impulses — changes in the electrical voltage across the membrane — under the action of some  external stimulus.  The content in this category covers electrical circuit elements, electrical circuits, and electrochemistry.  The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Electrostatics (PHY) ▪ Charge, conductors, charge conservation ▪ Insulators  ▪ Coulomb’s Law ▪ Electric field E  Field lines o Field due to charge distribution  o ▪ Electrostatic energy, electric potential at a point in space  Circuit Elements (PHY) ▪ Current I = ΔQ/Δt, sign conventions, units  ▪ Electromotive force, voltage  ▪ Resistance Ohm’s Law: I = V/R o Resistors in series o Resistors in parallel o Resistivity: ρ = R•A / L o ▪ Capacitance Parallel plate capacitor o Energy of charged capacitor o Capacitors in series o Capacitors in parallel o Dielectrics o ▪ Conductivity  ▪ o o Meters Metallic Electrolytic Magnetism (PHY) © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 51 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Definition of magnetic field B ▪ Motion of charged particles in magnetic fields; Lorentz force ▪ Electrochemistry (GC) ▪ Electrolytic cell Electrolysis o Anode, cathode  o Electrolyte o Faraday’s Law relating amount of elements deposited (or gas liberated) at an electrode to  o current Electron flow; oxidation, and reduction at the electrodes  o ▪ Galvanic or Voltaic cells Half-reactions o Reduction potentials; cell potential o Direction of electron flow o ▪ Concentration cell ▪ Batteries Electromotive force, Voltage  o Lead-storage batteries o Nickel-cadmium batteries o Specialized Cell - Nerve Cell (BIO) ▪ Myelin sheath, Schwann cells, insulation of axon  ▪ Nodes of Ranvier: propagation of nerve impulse along axon  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 52 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 4D: How light and sound interact with matter  Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation — waves of electric and magnetic fields that transmit  energy. The behavior of light depends on its frequency (or wavelength). The properties of light are  exploited in the optical elements of the eye to focus rays of light on sensory elements. When light  interacts with matter, spectroscopic changes occur that can be used to identify the material on an atomic  or molecular level. Differential absorption of electromagnetic radiation can be used to generate images  useful in diagnostic medicine. Interference and diffraction of light waves are used in many analytical  and diagnostic techniques. The photon model of light explains why electromagnetic radiation of  different wavelengths interacts differently with matter. When mechanical energy is transmitted through solids, liquids, and gases, oscillating pressure waves  known as “sound” are generated. Sound waves are audible if the sensory elements of the ear vibrate in  response to exposure to these vibrations. The detection of reflected sound waves is utilized in ultrasound  imaging. This non-invasive technique readily locates dense subcutaneous structures, such as bone and  cartilage, and is very useful in diagnostic medicine. The content in this category covers the properties of both light and sound and how these energy waves  interact with matter. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Sound (PHY) ▪ Production of sound  ▪ Relative speed of sound in solids, liquids, and gases ▪ Intensity of sound, decibel units, log scale  Attenuation (Damping) ▪ Doppler Effect: moving sound source or observer, reflection of sound from a moving object  ▪ ▪ Pitch ▪ Resonance in pipes and strings  ▪ Ultrasound  Shock waves  ▪ Light, Electromagnetic Radiation (PHY) ▪ Concept of Interference; Young Double-slit Experiment ▪ Thin films, diffraction grating, single-slit diffraction ▪ Other diffraction phenomena, X-ray diffraction ▪ Polarization of light: linear and circular ▪ Properties of electromagnetic radiation Velocity equals constant c, in vacuo o Electromagnetic radiation consists of perpendicularly oscillating electric and magnetic  o fields; direction of propagation is perpendicular to both  ▪ Classification of electromagnetic spectrum, photon energy E = hf Visual spectrum, color ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 53 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Molecular Structure and Absorption Spectra (OC) ▪ Infrared region Intramolecular vibrations and rotations  o Recognizing common characteristic group absorptions, fingerprint region  o Visible region (GC)  ▪ Absorption in visible region gives complementary color (e.g., carotene) o Effect of structural changes on absorption (e.g., indicators)  o Ultraviolet region ▪ π-Electron and non-bonding electron transitions  o Conjugated systems  o NMR spectroscopy ▪ Protons in a magnetic field; equivalent protons  o Spin-spin splitting  o Geometrical Optics (PHY) Reflection from plane surface: angle of incidence equals angle of reflection ▪ ▪ Refraction, refractive index n; Snell’s law: n1 sin θ1 = n2 sin θ2 ▪ Dispersion, change of index of refraction with wavelength  ▪ Conditions for total internal reflection ▪ Spherical mirrors Center of curvature o Focal length o Real and virtual images o ▪ Thin lenses  Converging and diverging lenses  o Use of formula 1/p + 1/q = 1/f, with sign conventions o Lens strength, diopters  o ▪ Combination of lenses  ▪ Lens aberration ▪ Optical Instruments, including the human eye © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 54 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 4E: Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical  behavior  Atoms are classified by their atomic number: the number of protons in the atomic nucleus, which also  includes neutrons. Chemical interactions between atoms are the result of electrostatic forces involving  the electrons and the nuclei. Because neutrons are uncharged, they do not dramatically affect the  chemistry of any particular type of atom, but do affect the stability of the nucleus itself.  When a nucleus is unstable, decay results from one of several different processes, which are random, but  occur at well-characterized average rates. The products of nuclear decay (alpha, beta, and gamma rays)  can interact with living tissue, breaking chemical bonds and ionizing atoms and molecules in the  process. The electronic structure of an atom is responsible for its chemical and physical properties. Only discrete  energy levels are allowed for electrons. These levels are described individually by quantum numbers.  Since the outermost, or valence, electrons are responsible for the strongest chemical interactions, a  description of these electrons alone is a good first approximation to describe the behavior of any  particular type of atom.  Mass spectrometry is an analytical tool that allows characterization of atoms or molecules, based on well  recognized fragmentation patterns and the charge to mass ratio (m/z) of ions generated in the gas phase. The content in this category covers atomic structure, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and the periodic  nature of atomic chemical behavior. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Atomic Nucleus (PHY, GC) ▪ Atomic number, atomic weight  ▪ Neutrons, protons, isotopes  ▪ Nuclear forces, binding energy ▪ Radioactive decay α, β, γ decay o Half-life, exponential decay, semi-log plots o ▪ Mass spectrometer Electronic Structure (PHY, GC)  Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital ▪ (GC) Ground state, excited states ▪ ▪ Absorption and emission line spectra  Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle  ▪ Paramagnetism and diamagnetism ▪ Conventional notation for electronic structure (GC) ▪ Bohr atom  ▪ Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle ▪ Effective nuclear charge (GC) ▪ Photoelectric effect ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 55 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems The Periodic Table - Classification of Elements into Groups by Electronic Structure (GC) ▪ Alkali metals ▪ Alkaline earth metals: their chemical characteristics ▪ Halogens: their chemical characteristics ▪ Noble gases: their physical and chemical characteristics ▪ Transition metals ▪ Representative elements ▪ Metals and non-metals ▪ Oxygen group The Periodic Table - Variations of Chemical Properties with Group and Row (GC) ▪ Valence electrons ▪ First and second ionization energy  Definition  o Prediction from electronic structure for elements in different groups or rows  o ▪ Electron affinity Definition o Variation with group and row  o Electronegativity ▪ Definition o Comparative values for some representative elements and important groups  o ▪ Electron shells and the sizes of atoms  ▪ Electron shells and the sizes of ions  Stoichiometry (GC) ▪ Molecular weight ▪ Empirical versus molecular formula ▪ Metric units commonly used in the context of chemistry ▪ Description of composition by percent mass  ▪ Mole concept, Avogadro’s number NA  ▪ Definition of density  ▪ Oxidation number  Common oxidizing and reducing agents  o Disproportionation reactions  o ▪ Description of reactions by chemical equations Conventions for writing chemical equations  o Balancing equations, including redox equations  o Limiting reactants o Theoretical yields o © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 56 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems  Foundational Concept 5 The principles that govern chemical interactions and reactions form the basis for a broader  understanding of the molecular dynamics of living systems. The chemical processes that take place within organisms are readily understood within the framework of  the behavior of solutions, thermodynamics, molecular structure, intermolecular interactions, molecular  dynamics, and molecular reactivity. Content Categories Category 5A emphasizes the nature of solution formation, factors that affect solubility, and the  ▪ properties and behavior of aqueous solutions, with special emphasis on the acid-base behavior of  dissolved solutes.  ▪ Category 5B focuses on molecular structure and how it affects the strength of intermolecular  interactions.  ▪ Category 5C emphasizes how differential intermolecular interactions can be used to effect  chemical separations.  ▪ Category 5D emphasizes the varied nature of biologically-relevant molecules, and how patterns  of covalent bonding can be used to predict the chemical reactivity of these molecules and their  structure and function within a living system.  ▪ Category 5E emphasizes how relative energy dictates the overall favorability of chemical  processes and the rate at which these processes can occur. With these building blocks, medical students will be able to utilize core principles of human  chemistry to learn about molecular and cellular functions in health and disease. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 57 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 5A: Unique nature of water and its solutions In order to fully understand the complex and dynamic nature of living systems, it is first necessary to  understand the unique nature of water and its solutions. The unique properties of water allow it to  strongly interact with and mobilize many types of solutes, including ions. Water is also unique in its  ability to absorb energy and buffer living systems from the chemical changes necessary to sustain life.  The content in this category covers the nature of solutions, solubility, acids, bases, and buffers. The  topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Acid/Base Equilibria (GC, BC) ▪ Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base  ▪ Ionization of water  Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH–] = 10–14 at 25°C, 1 atm)  o Definition of pH: pH of pure water o Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)  ▪ Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)  ▪ Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic) ▪ Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt  o Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases  o Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases  o Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb ▪ Buffers ▪ Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)  o Influence on titration curves o Ions in Solutions (GC, BC) Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium,  ▪ PO43– phosphate, SO42– sulfate) Hydration, the hydronium ion  ▪ Solubility (GC) ▪ Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)  ▪ Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp ▪ Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations o o o Titration (GC) Complex ion formation  Complex ions and solubility  Solubility and pH  ▪ Indicators  ▪ Neutralization  ▪ Interpretation of the titration curves  ▪ Redox titration  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 58 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 5B: Nature of molecules and intermolecular interactions  Covalent bonding involves the sharing of electrons between atoms. If the result of such interactions is  not a network solid, then the covalently bonded substance will be discrete and molecular.  The shape of molecules can be predicted based on electrostatic principles and quantum mechanics since  only two electrons can occupy the same orbital. Bond polarity (both direction and magnitude) can be  predicted based on knowledge of the valence electron structure of the constituent atoms. The strength of  intermolecular interactions depends on molecular shape and the polarity of the covalent bonds present.  The solubility and other physical properties of molecular substances depend on the strength of  intermolecular interactions. The content in this category covers the nature of molecules and includes covalent bonding, molecular  structure, nomenclature, and intermolecular interactions. The topics and subtopics in this category are  the following: Covalent Bond (GC) ▪ Lewis Electron Dot formulas Resonance structures o Formal charge o Lewis acids and bases o Partial ionic character ▪ Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution o Dipole Moment  o ▪ σ and π bonds Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries o Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g.,  o NH3, H2O, CO2)  Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl  o Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules o ▪ Multiple bonding  Effect on bond length and bond energies  o Rigidity in molecular structure o Stereochemistry of covalently bonded molecules (OC) ▪ o Isomers ▪ Structural isomers ▪ Stereoisomers (e.g., diastereomers, enantiomers, cis/trans isomers)  ▪ Conformational isomers  Polarization of light, specific rotation o Absolute and relative configuration  o ▪ Conventions for writing R and S forms ▪ Conventions for writing E and Z forms © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 59 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Liquid Phase - Intermolecular Forces (GC) ▪ Hydrogen bonding  ▪ Dipole Interactions ▪ Van der Waals’ Forces (London dispersion forces) © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 60 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 5C: Separation and purification methods Analysis of complex mixtures of substances ― especially biologically relevant materials ― typically  requires separation of the components. Many methods have been developed to accomplish this task, and  the method used is dependent on the types of substances which comprise the mixture. All of these  methods rely on the magnification of potential differences in the strength of intermolecular interactions. The content in this category covers separation and purification methods including: extraction, liquid and  gas chromatography, and electrophoresis. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Separations and Purifications (OC, BC) ▪ Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents  ▪ Distillation  Chromatography: Basic principles involved in separation process ▪ Column chromatography o ▪ Gas-liquid chromatography  ▪ High pressure liquid chromatography  Paper chromatography  o Thin-layer chromatography o Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BC)  ▪ o o o Electrophoresis  Quantitative analysis Chromatography  ▪ ▪ ▪ Size-exclusion Ion-exchange Affinity Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (OC) ▪ © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 61 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 5D: Structure, function, and reactivity of biologically-relevant molecules The structure of biological molecules forms the basis of their chemical reactions including  oligomerization and polymerization. Unique aspects of each type of biological molecule dictate their  role in living systems, whether providing structure or information storage, or serving as fuel and  catalysts. The content in this category covers the structure, function, and reactivity of biologically-relevant  molecules including the mechanistic considerations that dictate their modes of reactivity. The topics and  subtopics in this category are the following: Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (BC, BIO)  ▪ Nucleotides and nucleosides: composition  Sugar phosphate backbone  o Pyrimidine, purine residues  o Deoxyribonucleic acid: DNA; double helix  ▪ Chemistry (BC) ▪ Other functions (BC) ▪ Amino Acids, Peptides, Proteins (OC, BC) ▪ Amino acids: description Absolute configuration at the α position o Dipolar ions  o Classification o ▪ Acidic or basic ▪ Hydrophilic or hydrophobic  Synthesis of α-amino acids (OC) o Strecker Synthesis ▪ ▪ Gabriel Synthesis ▪ Peptides and proteins: reactions  Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine  o Peptide linkage: polypeptides and proteins  o Hydrolysis (BC) o General Principles ▪ o Primary structure of proteins o Secondary structure of proteins o Tertiary structure of proteins  o Isoelectric point  The Three-Dimensional Protein Structure (BC) ▪ Conformational stability Hydrophobic interactions  o Solvation layer (entropy)  o ▪ Quaternary structure  ▪ Denaturing and Folding  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 62 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Non-Enzymatic Protein Function (BC) ▪ ▪ ▪ Binding  Immune system Motor  Lipids (BC, OC) ▪ Description, Types o Storage ▪ Triacyl glycerols ▪ Free fatty acids: saponification o Structural ▪ Phospholipids and phosphatids  ▪ Sphingolipids (BC) ▪ Waxes o Signals/cofactors ▪ ▪ ▪ Carbohydrates (OC) Fat-soluble vitamins Steroids  Prostaglandins (BC)  ▪ Description Nomenclature and classification, common names o Absolute configuration  o Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses  o Epimers and anomers  o Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage  ▪ Keto-enol tautomerism of monosaccharides ▪ Disaccharides (BC) ▪ ▪ Polysaccharides (BC) Aldehydes and Ketones (OC) ▪ Description o o Nomenclature Physical properties ▪ Important reactions  Nucleophilic addition reactions at C=O bond o ▪ Acetal, hemiacetal ▪ Imine, enamine ▪ Hydride reagents ▪ Cyanohydrin  Oxidation of aldehydes  o Reactions at adjacent positions: enolate chemistry o ▪ Keto-enol tautomerism (α-racemization) ▪ Aldol condensation, retro-aldol  ▪ Kinetic versus thermodynamic enolate © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 63 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems ▪ General principles Effect of substituents on reactivity of C=O; steric hindrance  o Acidity of α-H; carbanions  o Alcohols (OC) ▪ Description Nomenclature o Physical properties (acidity, hydrogen bonding)  o Important reactions  ▪ Oxidation o Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2  o Protection of alcohols  o Preparation of mesylates and tosylates o Carboxylic Acids (OC) ▪ Description o o Nomenclature Physical properties  ▪ Important reactions  Carboxyl group reactions  o ▪ Amides (and lactam), esters (and lactone), anhydride formation  ▪ Reduction  ▪ Decarboxylation Reactions at 2-position, substitution  o Acid Derivatives (Anhydrides, Amides, Esters) (OC) ▪ Description o o Nomenclature Physical properties Important reactions  ▪ Nucleophilic substitution o Transesterification o Hydrolysis of amides  o ▪ General principles Relative reactivity of acid derivatives o Steric effects o Electronic effects o Strain (e.g., β-lactams) o Phenols (OC, BC) ▪ Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e–redox centers Polycyclic and Heterocyclic Aromatic Compounds (OC, BC) ▪ Biological aromatic heterocycles © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 64 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Content Category 5E: Principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics  The processes that occur in living systems are dynamic, and they follow the principles of chemical  thermodynamics and kinetics. The position of chemical equilibrium is dictated by the relative energies  of products and reactants. The rate at which chemical equilibrium is attained is dictated by a variety of  factors: concentration of reactants, temperature, and the amount of catalyst (if any).  Biological systems have evolved to harness energy, and utilize it in very efficient ways to support all  processes of life, including homeostasis and anabolism. Biological catalysts, known as enzymes, have  evolved to allow all of the relevant chemical reactions required to sustain life to occur both rapidly and  efficiently, and under the narrow set of conditions required.  The content in this category covers all principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics including  enzymatic catalysis. The topics and subtopics in this category are the following: Enzymes (BC, BIO) ▪ Classification by reaction type ▪ Mechanism Substrates and enzyme specificity  o Active site model  o Induced-fit model o Cofactors, coenzymes, and vitamins o ▪ Kinetics General (catalysis) o Michaelis–Menten o Cooperativity  o Effects of local conditions on enzyme activity o ▪ Inhibition  Regulatory enzymes ▪ Allosteric o Covalently modified  o Principles of Bioenergetics (BC) ▪ Bioenergetics/thermodynamics o o Free energy/Keq Concentration  ▪ Phosphorylation/ATP ATP hydrolysis ΔG << 0 o ATP group transfers  o Biological oxidation–reduction  ▪ Half-reactions o Soluble electron carriers o Flavoproteins  o © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 65 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Energy Changes in Chemical Reactions – Thermochemistry, Thermodynamics (GC, PHY) Thermodynamic system – state function ▪ Zeroth Law – concept of temperature ▪ First Law − conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes  ▪ ▪ PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)  Second Law – concept of entropy  ▪ Entropy as a measure of “disorder” o Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states o ▪ Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat ▪ Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)  ▪ Endothermic/exothermic reactions (GC) Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation  o Hess’ Law of Heat Summation  o ▪ Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (GC)  ▪ Free energy: G (GC) ▪ Spontaneous reactions and ΔG° (GC) ▪ Coefficient of expansion (PHY)  ▪ Heat of fusion, heat of vaporization  ▪ Phase diagram: pressure and temperature Rate Processes in Chemical Reactions - Kinetics and Equilibrium (GC) ▪ Reaction rate ▪ Dependence of reaction rate on concentration of reactants  Rate law, rate constant o Reaction order  o Rate-determining step  ▪ Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature ▪ o Activation energy ▪ Activated complex or transition state ▪ Interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants, products,  activation energy, and ΔH for the reaction  Use of the Arrhenius Equation  o Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction ▪ ▪ Catalysts ▪ Equilibrium in reversible chemical reactions Law of Mass Action  o Equilibrium Constant  o Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle o ▪ Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 66 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  What will the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section  test? The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section asks you to solve problems  by combining your knowledge of foundational concepts with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills.  This section tests your understanding of the ways psychological, social, and biological factors influence  perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior and behavior change; what people think about  themselves and others; the cultural and social differences that influence well-being; and the relationships  between social stratification, access to resources, and well-being.  The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section emphasizes concepts that  tomorrow’s doctors need to know in order to serve an increasingly diverse population and have a clear  understanding of the impact of behavior on health. Further, it communicates the need for future  physicians to be prepared to deal with the human and social issues of medicine.  This section is designed to  test psychology, sociology, and biology concepts that provide a solid foundation for learning in  • medical school about the behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health;  test concepts taught at many colleges and universities in first-semester psychology and sociology  • courses;  test biology concepts that relate to mental processes and behavior that are taught at many  • colleges and universities in introductory biology;  test basic research methods and statistics concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as  • important to success in introductory science courses; and  require you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics  • skills as applied to the social and behavioral sciences. Test Section Number of Questions Time Psychological, Social, and  Biological Foundations of  Behavior 59 (note that questions are a  combination of passage-based  and discrete questions) 95 minutes

Don't forget about the age old question of huntington's disease has been traced to a loss of cells in the:

© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 67What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills As a reminder, the scientific inquiry and reasoning skills that you will be asked to demonstrate on this  section of the exam are: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles  • Demonstrating understanding of scientific concepts and principles  • Identifying the relationships between closely-related concepts Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving  Reasoning about scientific principles, theories, and models  • • Analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations and predictions  Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research  • Demonstrating understanding of important components of scientific research  • Reasoning about ethical issues in research  Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning • Interpreting patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs  • Reasoning about data and drawing conclusions from them  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 68What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  General Mathematical Concepts and Techniques It’s important for you to know that questions on the natural, behavioral, and social sciences sections will  ask you to use certain mathematical concepts and techniques. As the descriptions of the scientific inquiry  and reasoning skills suggest, some questions will ask you to analyze and manipulate scientific data to  show that you can ▪ Recognize and interpret linear, semilog, and log-log scales and calculate slopes from data found in  figures, graphs, and tables ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of significant digits and the use of reasonable numerical  estimates in performing measurements and calculations ▪ Use metric units, including converting units within the metric system and between metric and  English units (conversion factors will be provided when needed), and dimensional analysis (using  units to balance equations) ▪ Perform arithmetic calculations involving the following: probability, proportion, ratio, percentage,  and square-root estimations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding (Algebra II−level) of exponentials and logarithms (natural  and base 10), scientific notation, and solving simultaneous equations ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of the following trigonometric concepts: definitions of basic  (sine, cosine, tangent) and inverse (sin‒1, cos‒1, tan‒1) functions; sin and cos values of 0°, 90°, and  180°; relationships between the lengths of sides of right triangles containing angles of 30°, 45°,  and 60° ▪ Demonstrate a general understanding of vector addition and subtraction and the right-hand rule  (knowledge of dot and cross products is not required) Note also that an understanding of calculus is not required, and a periodic table will be provided during  the exam. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 69What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Distribution of Questions  by Discipline, Foundational Concept, and Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill You may wonder how much psychology, sociology, and biology you’ll see on this section of the MCAT  exam, how many questions you’ll get about a particular foundational concept, or how the scientific  inquiry and reasoning skills will be distributed on your exam. The questions that you see are likely to be  distributed in the ways described below. These are the approximate percentages of questions you’ll see  on a test for each discipline, foundational concept, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skill.*  Discipline: • Introductory psychology, 65%**  Introductory sociology, 30%  • Introductory biology, 5%  • Foundational Concept:  Foundational Concept 6, 25%  • Foundational Concept 7, 35%  • Foundational Concept 8, 20%  • Foundational Concept 9, 15%  • Foundational Concept 10, 5%  • Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill:  • • • • Skill 1, 35%  Skill 2, 45%  Skill 3, 10%  Skill 4: 10%  *These percentages have been approximated to the nearest 5% and will vary from one test to another for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, controlling for question difficulty,  using groups of questions that depend on a single passage, and using unscored field-test questions on  each test form.  **Please note that about 5% of this test section will include psychology questions that are biologically  relevant. This is in addition to the discipline target of 5% for introductory biology specified for this  section.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 70What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Framework of  Foundational Concepts and Content Categories  Foundational Concept 6: Biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influence the ways that  individuals perceive, think about, and react to the world.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  6A. Sensing the environment  6B. Making sense of the environment  6C. Responding to the world  Foundational Concept 7: Biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influence behavior and  behavior change.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  7A. Individual influences on behavior  7B. Social processes that influence human behavior  7C. Attitude and behavior change  Foundational Concept 8: Psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors influence the way we  think about ourselves and others, as well as how we interact with others.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  8A. Self-identity  8B. Social thinking  8C. Social interactions  Foundational Concept 9: Cultural and social differences influence well-being.  The content categories for this foundational concept include  9A. Understanding social structure  9B. Demographic characteristics and processes  Foundational Concept 10: Social stratification and access to resources influence well-being.  The content category for this foundational concept is  10A. Social inequality  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 71What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  How Foundational Concepts and Content Categories Fit Together The MCAT exam asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of concepts with your  scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. Figure 1 illustrates how foundational concepts, content  categories, and scientific inquiry and reasoning skills intersect to create test questions.  

Foundational Concept 1 Foundational Concept 2

Content  Category  1A Content  Category  1B ▪ Content  Category  1C Content  Category  2A Content  Category  2B  Each cell represents the point at which foundational Content  Category  2C   Skill 1

concep reasoning skills cross.

ts, content categories, and scientific inquiry and

Skill 2

Test questions are written at the intersections of the

Skill 3

know ledge and skills.

Skill 4

© 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 72What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Understanding the Foundational Concepts and Content Categories in the  Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section The following are detailed explanations of each foundational concept and related content category tested  by the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section. As with the natural  sciences sections, content lists describing specific topics and subtopics that define each content category  are provided. The same content list is provided to the writers who develop the content of the exam. Here  is an excerpt from the content list: EXCERPT FROM THE PSYCHOLOGICAL, SOCIAL, AND BIOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF BEHAVIOR OUTLINE  Self-presentation and Interacting with Others (PSY, SOC) Topic  ▪ Expressing and detecting emotion Subtopic  The role of gender in the expression and detection of emotion  o  The role of culture in the expression and detection of emotion  o  Presentation of self ▪ Impression management  o Front stage vs. back stage self (Dramaturgical approach) (SOC)  o  Verbal and nonverbal communication  ▪ Animal signals and communication (PSY, BIO)  ▪ The abbreviations found in parentheses indicate the course(s) in which undergraduate students at many colleges  and universities learn about the topics and associated subtopics. The course abbreviations are ▪  ▪  ▪  PSY: one semester of introductory psychology  SOC: one semester of introductory sociology  BIO: two-semester sequence of introductory biology  In preparing for the MCAT exam, you will be responsible for learning the topics and associated subtopics at the  levels at which they are taught in the courses listed in parentheses. A small number of subtopics have course  abbreviations indicated in parentheses. In those cases, you are responsible only for learning the subtopics as they  are taught in the course(s) indicated.  Using the excerpt above as an example,  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the topic Self-presentation and Interacting with Others at the level  at which it is taught in a typical introductory psychology course and in a typical introductory sociology  course.  ▪  You are responsible for learning about the sub-subtopic Front stage vs. back stage self (Dramaturgical  approach) only at the level at which it is taught in a typical introductory sociology course.  You are responsible for learning about the subtopic Animal signals and communication at the level at  ▪  which it is taught in a typical introductory psychology course and in a typical introductory biology  course.  © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 73What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Remember that course content at your school may differ from course content at other colleges and  universities. The topics and subtopics described in this chapter may be covered in courses with titles that  are different from those listed here. Your pre-health advisor and faculty are important resources for your  questions about course content. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 74What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Foundational Concept 6  Biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influence the ways that individuals perceive,  think about, and react to the world.  The way in which we sense, perceive, think about, and react to stimuli affects our experiences.  Foundational concept 6 focuses on these components of experience, starting with the initial detection  and perception of stimuli through cognition, and continuing to emotion and stress.  Content Categories  ▪ Category 6A focuses on the detection and perception of sensory information.  Category 6B focuses on cognition, including our ability to attend to the environment, think about  ▪ and remember what we experience, and use language to communicate with others.  ▪ Category 6C focuses on how we process and experience emotion and stress.  These are the building blocks medical students need in order to learn about the ways in which cognitive  and perceptual processes influence their and others’ understanding of health and illness. © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 75 What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Content Category 6A: Sensing the environment Psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors affect our sensation and perception of the world. All  sensory processing begins with first detecting a stimulus in the environment through sensory cells,  receptors, and biological pathways.  After collecting sensory information, we then interpret and make sense of it. Although sensation and  perception are distinct functions, they are both influenced by psychological, social, and biological  factors and therefore become almost indistinguishable in practice. This complexity is illuminated by  examining human sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.  The content in this category covers sensation and perception across all human senses. The topics and  subtopics in this category are the following:  Sensory Processing (PSY, BIO) ▪ Sensation Threshold  o Weber’s Law (PSY) o o Signal detection theory (PSY)  o Sensory adaptation o Psychophysics  ▪ Sensory receptors o Sensory pathways o Types of sensory receptor Vision (PSY, BIO) ▪ Structure and function of the eye  ▪ Visual processing o Visual pathways in the brain  o Parallel processing (PSY) o Feature detection (PSY) Hearing (PSY, BIO) ▪ Structure and function of the ear  ▪ Auditory processing (e.g., auditory pathways in the brain)  ▪ Sensory reception by hair cells Other Senses (PSY, BIO) ▪ Somatosensation (e.g., pain perception)  ▪ Taste (e.g., taste buds/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals) ▪ Smell o Olfactory cells/chemoreceptors that detect specific chemicals o Pheromones (BIO)  o Olfactory pathways in the brain (BIO)  ▪ Kinesthetic sense (PSY) ▪ Vestibular sense © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 76What’s on the MCAT Exam? Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior  Perception (PSY) ▪ Bottom-up/Top-down processing  ▪ Perceptual organization (e.g., depth, form, motion, constancy)  ▪ Gestalt principles © 2015 AAMC. May not be reproduced without permission. 77
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