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A Guide to High-Yield MCAT Topics: How to Prioritize Your StudyHigh-Yield MCAT Topics


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is one of the major factors in your quest to be admitted to medical school. Whether it’s your first attempt at the test or you’re planning to re-test, focusing on the most important topics is crucial for success. This is where the concept of “high-yield” topics comes into play. In this guide, we’ll delve into what high-yield MCAT topics are and how to prioritize them effectively during your study regimen.

Understanding High-Yield MCAT Topics

High-yield MCAT topics are those concepts and subject areas that are the backbone of the MCAT and often appear across multiple sections of the test. Mastering these topics will help you achieve a more competitive score—that’s why they’re “high-yield”, because focusing on them will help improve your score most. 

Fortunately, you won’t have to guess about which topics to focus on. A March 2024 article by the American Medical Association identifies the following content areas as potential high-yield categories:

  • Biological science: Protein biochemistry, general cell biology, enzymes, amino acids, DNA, and molecular biology.
  • Physical science: Chemical reactions, oxidation reduction, thermodynamics, and acids and bases.
  • Physics: Kinematics, forces, work, torque, waves and electrostatics.
  • Behavioral science: Neuroscience, demographics, social behavior and group psychology.

Identifying High-Yield Topics

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides a detailed content outline for the MCAT, which serves as a valuable resource for identifying high-yield topics. Pay close attention to the categories and subcategories outlined by the AAMC, as they indicate the relative importance of each topic.

You can also purchase official AAMC practice tests and study resources, as they are specifically designed to reflect the content and format of the actual exam. Analyze your performance on practice tests to identify recurring themes and topics that appear frequently.

Another option is to seek guidance from instructors, tutors, or peers who have successfully taken the MCAT. They can offer insights into which topics are considered high-yield based on their own experiences and knowledge of the exam.

Prioritizing High-Yield Topics

Once you’ve identified the high-yield topics, prioritize them effectively in your study plan. Here’s how:

Focus on Foundations: Start by mastering the essential concepts within each high-yield topic. Build a solid understanding of the fundamental principles before delving into more complex material.

Create a Study Schedule: Develop a structured study schedule that allocates specific time slots for reviewing high-yield topics—a ratio of 75% high-yield to 25% other topics should ensure adequate coverage before exam day.

Review Strategically: Periodically review high-yield topics throughout your study period to maintain retention and reinforce learning. Focus on areas of weakness and prioritize them in your review sessions.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Reinforce your understanding of high-yield topics through consistent practice. Complete practice questions, quizzes, and full-length practice tests to gauge your proficiency and identify areas for improvement.

With diligent preparation and strategic prioritization, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the MCAT with confidence.

How a Post-Bacc Can Help

If you’re pursuing a pre-medical post-bacc program, you may be able to take advantage of MCAT coaching that helps you work on high-yield topics through structured study. Find the right post-bacc for you by browsing our listings. Good luck!

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