10+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2005
Medical Student
Should I take upper level bio classes for the MCAT? I have read many threads that said genetics, physiology and cell biology helped tremendously on the MCAT. But I have also read that you only need the pre-reqs. I'm a little bit confused. :confused: I don't mind taking those classes if it would increase my chances of getting a higher MCAT score but if the benefits are not really that substantial, I would rather take humanities classes and other classes I wouldn't be able to take in med school. Any advise?


10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2003
Attending Physician
Let me put it this way. Extra knowledge is always helpful. I took physiology and cell bio... they were both helpful. I never took genetics. Honestly, the MCAT prep books teach you whatever you need to know for the MCAT though. If you have time, try to sqeeze in physio and cell bio. If not, you should still be ok. Are you a sophomore now?


Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2005
Upper level bio classes can't hurt your MCAT score, but I'd say that if you're taking an MCAT prep course, you should be all right without them. Most of what you're tested on in the life sciences portion of the MCAT is your ability to read and analyze passages, not the knowledge you have coming into the exam. On that note, I would say that a prep course is VERY HELPFUL. :)

This is assuming you've already had general biology and organic chemistry of course. Good luck! :luck:


Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2005
You REALLY don't need upper level info for the course - really knowing the info in the 4 basic courses is the key. Read the AAMC MCAT topics list - it is THE official list of all testable material. There are no advanced concepts.

With that said, many find advanced courses usefull. I'd argue this is because taking an advance course forces you to review the basics. You find gaps in earlier knowledge and practice with the material again. {I think many people, based on this, say taking adv. courses helped them}

Unfortunately, I think it could hurt you. Every problem is 'hidden' in seemingly advanced passages. If you see a familiar adv. topic on the test and assume you know the answer, it could be that you are fooled into missing the basic concept being tested. {Here I think many people fall for these traps, but walk away from the test thinking that adv course gave them an answer or two and therefore advise others that the courses helped.}

If your choice is to spend a semester 1) taking advanced courses or 2) working every problem in EK's 1001 series - you'd do yourself much more good working the problems and really learning the basics.