Sep 16, 2017
I'm a biochemistry major and my school only requires lifesci majors to take one semester of physics. The class is called "physics for the life sciences". Im wondering if the topics covered will be enough to do well on the chemical and physical foundations section of the mcat. I have attached the course description and stuff so you have an idea of the content. Thanks!!

Course Description:
This course is required for Biochemistry, Kinesiology, Forensics, and Biology students. It is particularly geared towards students who will continue studies in the life sciences, and any students interested in learning about the physical origins of biological processes and laboratory techniques. Topics covered include physical properties of biomaterials such as elasticity and compressibility; physical limits on sizes and speeds in living systems; fluids: viscosity, surface tension, and how these affect the mobility of organisms; diffusion, thermal motion of molecules, sedimentation, heat flow, and energy; light, photons, and absorption/emission.

Learning Outcomes/Objectives/Goals/Expectations:

  1. Define and calculate Shear Modulus, Young’s Modulus, tensile stress, shear stress and compare the stress-strain behaviour of different biomaterials.

  2. Describe the relationship between the surface area, volume, and mass of an object that scales according to the “2/3 law” (or “allometrically”) and apply this law to analyze physical limitations to the growth of biological systems.

  3. Define and apply the concepts of pressure, absolute pressure, gauge pressure, hydrostatic pressure, atmospheric pressure, density, buoyancy, and buoyant forces.

  4. Describe the relationship between surface tension and pressure and relate these concepts to a variety of biological applications.

  5. Use fluid-flow continuity relations qualitatively and in conjunction with other fluid-flow principles such as Bernoulli’s law or Poiseuille’s law.

  6. Relate Reynold’s number to expected transition between laminar and turbulent flow and investigate impact of living at high and low Reynold’s numbers.

  7. Describe the connections between sedimentation, drag forces, the Barometric Formula, average kinetic energy of particles, and Fick’s law, and describe the biological ramifications of diffusion.

  8. Describe three mechanisms of heat flow: conduction, radiation, and convection drawing on the concepts of temperature, heat capacity, latent heat, and Newton’s Law of Cooling.

  9. Use Beer’s law (and the notion of an absorption coefficient) to estimate a sample’s “absorbance” and “transmittance”.

  10. Describe the roles of various structures in the eye as they relate to vision.


2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2017
Medical Student
What is more important is med school admission requirements: generally 1 FULL year of physics.
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5+ Year Member
Oct 16, 2014
I took a biophysics course similar to what you just described. Good in theory but you do miss out on a few general physics topics like kinematics and magnetism. Not all passages and questions on the MCAT will actually deal with the human body. Since you don't need the actual physics 1 and 2 for your designated schools, you could probably supplement your class with a mcat review book to cover the few remaining topics.
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Altius Premier Tutor

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2+ Year Member
May 11, 2015
I would recommend you take a regular full-year course. I've tutored a lot of students without proper Physics prereqs. It is doable, but always a challenge, and likely to bite you in the behind when you are trying to piece together mastery of physics as a whole using only prep materials--and doing so in a shortened amount of time. The MCAT isn't testing a ton of physics lately, but the occasional tester comes back and says "wow, my form had a ton of physics questions." The exam also tests topics almost randomly--you never know which concept will be on your form. Wisest path is therefore to build a solid basic science physics foundation the right way. You won't regret that, you might regret going the other route.

Not saying it is "impossible" or "can't be done"...just saying it isn't the safest/wisest course of action.
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