• AMA with Certified Student Loan Professional

    Join SDN on December 7th at 6:00 PM Eastern as we host Andrew Paulson of StudentLoanAdvice.com for an AMA webinar. He'll be answering your questions about how to best manage your student loans. Register now!

Upper-Level Biology Courses

Which classes are better for the MCAT?

  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II

    Votes: 10 58.8%
  • Genetics and Cellular Biology

    Votes: 6 35.3%
  • Other (Please Specify)

    Votes: 1 5.9%

  • Total voters
    17

helpabrotherout

Full Member
Jul 12, 2014
81
29
    Hi SDN. I'm currently putting together my 4 year course plan. I want to take the MCAT right at the beginning of my Junior year (so I can study over that summer). I'll be done with all of my actual medical school prerequisites by then, but I understand that people have found genetics, cellular bio, and physiology to be helpful on the MCAT. Unfortunately, since I'm not a bio major, I'll only be able to take two upper-level biology classes during my sophomore year before the MCAT. Which do you think would be more helpful for the MCAT, Anatomy and Physiology I and II (my school doesn't just offer physiology by itself) or Genetics and Cellular Biology?

    TL;DR: Which classes are better for the MCAT, Anatomy and Physiology I and II or Genetics and Cellular Biology?
     
    • Like
    Reactions: 1 user

    allantois

    Conversation Starter
    7+ Year Member
  • Jan 28, 2013
    4,234
    5,182
    1. Other Health Professions Student
      Hi SDN. I'm currently putting together my 4 year course plan. I want to take the MCAT right at the beginning of my Junior year (so I can study over that summer). I'll be done with all of my actual medical school prerequisites by then, but I understand that people have found genetics, cellular bio, and physiology to be helpful on the MCAT. Unfortunately, since I'm not a bio major, I'll only be able to take two upper-level biology classes during my sophomore year before the MCAT. Which do you think would be more helpful for the MCAT, Anatomy and Physiology I and II (my school doesn't just offer physiology by itself) or Genetics and Cellular Biology?

      TL;DR: Which classes are better for the MCAT, Anatomy and Physiology I and II or Genetics and Cellular Biology?

      Stop right there.

      PS It's hard to advise for the new MCAT that no one has taken yet.
       
      About the Ads

      allantois

      Conversation Starter
      7+ Year Member
    • Jan 28, 2013
      4,234
      5,182
      1. Other Health Professions Student
        Wait, so you're saying I shouldn't plan my classes? I mean I know its not going to be fixed or anything...

        But I guess no one does know about the new MCAT.

        You should have a good idea of what you need to take especially considering your plan to take MCAT after sophomore year; but planning 4 years in advance is a bit too much, and I can guarantee that things won't go the way you plan them now, which is totally fine because you should be able to adjust your plan based on what courses are offered/ what professors are teaching/ and what classes you end up liking more than others.

        Make sure you get through biochem, psych, and sociology before taking MCAT.

        Physiology is supposed to be more emphasized on new MCAT.
         
        • Like
        Reactions: 1 users

        helpabrotherout

        Full Member
        Jul 12, 2014
        81
        29
          You should have a good idea of what you need to take especially considering your plan to take MCAT after sophomore year; but planning 4 years in advance is a bit too much, and I can guarantee that things won't go the way you plan them now, which is totally fine because you should be able to adjust your plan based on what courses are offered/ what professors are teaching/ and what classes you end up liking more than others.

          Make sure you get through biochem, psych, and sociology before taking MCAT.

          Physiology is supposed to be more emphasized on new MCAT.

          Oh yeah, I'm on the same page as you on that. My school offers these little flowchart plan things for each major that organizes all of the required courses for the major into a suggested 4 year plan; I was merely modifying my engineering flowchart to include my premed courses and deleting some of my gen-eds that I APed out of. I am keeping in mind that everything might change.

          I have those three course accounted for (biochem, psych, and soc). Now I'm just trying to decide between the options I listed in the original post, but I guess thats a tough question without anyone having taken the new MCAT.

          Thanks for your advice!
           
          • Like
          Reactions: 1 user

          Shirafune

          Full Member
          7+ Year Member
          Jan 2, 2014
          970
          811
          1. Medical Student
            I would not take the MCAT after my sophomore year if you are not a biology major. I do amazingly well in my classes, am a genetics major, and worked in a lab where I had a "very strong performance" (the exact words of my PI) and still found studying for the MCAT to be a challenge. With the extensive coursework you would need to finish, I do not recommend rushing to take this test. At the bare minimum, I would finish all the prereqs and get in some upper level bio courses as you have suggested.

            Anatomy/Physio is probably your best bet for CONTENT, but if you are looking for something to prepare you for the level of thinking on the MCAT, then a experimentally driven or critical thinking class is preferred. For example, Cell Bio would be a good class to take because the professor will likely test your understanding of the material by giving you hypothetical scenarios (i.e. a mutation in the ligand binding domain of the Frizzled receptor __verb___ Wnt signaling and would most likely result in which of the following). In any case, pick classes that challenge your critical thinking.
             
            • Like
            Reactions: 1 user

            efle

            not an elf
            7+ Year Member
            Apr 6, 2014
            13,998
            22,389
            1. Resident [Any Field]
              Other: no class helps you as much as an equivalent amount of time spent studying directly from MCAT review/practice materials.

              The correct answer here is to take a light course load (ecology, evolution, other less demanding options) so you can pour hundreds of hours into pure MCAT prep
               

              ConfusedChemist

              Full Member
              2+ Year Member
              Aug 5, 2014
              804
              423
              1. Medical Student
                Other: no class helps you as much as an equivalent amount of time spent studying directly from MCAT review/practice materials.

                The correct answer here is to take a light course load (ecology, evolution, other less demanding options) so you can pour hundreds of hours into pure MCAT prep
                or just write the MCAT over the summer?
                I feel like many people do well without hundreds of hours
                 

                efle

                not an elf
                7+ Year Member
                Apr 6, 2014
                13,998
                22,389
                1. Resident [Any Field]
                  or just write the MCAT over the summer?
                  I feel like many people do well without hundreds of hours

                  People usually do something else at least part time during summer, but yeah that's also a great option. It's what I did while also doing summer physics prereq.

                  Well yeah, some people get a 37 on their diagnostic practice test and only need a few dozen hours of targeted study, but most people treat MCAT study as a part time job for 3-4 months and sink 300+ hours in. Just doing and grading the full length practice exams can take 90+ hours, and that doesn't start until after all the content review. For the new MCAT, you'll probably need even more study time.

                  Edit: just for some perspective, med schools rank your MCAT score equally important as your entire undergraduate GPA. You should do everything you possibly can to make time for MCAT study, you do not want to take the exam anything less than maximally prepared
                   

                  ConfusedChemist

                  Full Member
                  2+ Year Member
                  Aug 5, 2014
                  804
                  423
                  1. Medical Student
                    People usually do something else at least part time during summer, but yeah that's also a great option. It's what I did while also doing summer physics prereq.

                    Well yeah, some people get a 37 on their diagnostic practice test and only need a few dozen hours of targeted study, but most people treat MCAT study as a part time job for 3-4 months and sink 300+ hours in. Just doing and grading the full length practice exams can take 90+ hours, and that doesn't start until after all the content review. For the new MCAT, you'll probably need even more study time.

                    Edit: just for some perspective, med schools rank your MCAT score equally important as your entire undergraduate GPA. You should do everything you possibly can to make time for MCAT study, you do not want to take the exam anything less than maximally prepared

                    Oh I'm not saying they shouldn't go in as prepared as possible, I just meant that (in my experience) the people I've seen take the easiest course loads the year before to start studying earlier have actually done quite poorly because they never really learned to study well or handle a difficult exam, like the MCAT.

                    It depends on circumstances, personally I have to pay my own way through schools so working 50ish hrs/wk during my MCAT summer was unavoidable. But I still scored in the thirties because, I think, of the hard courses I took. I loaded my junior year with orgoI/II, p-chem, physiology, anat, bchm, physics, and genetics+microbio (and nada electives) which meant I had a pretty good handle on the content and was able to score 29 or something on a practice test after a week or so of prep (and I'm by no means naturally smart)
                    so taking courses can-in my opinion-help cut down on the hours needed!
                     
                    • Like
                    Reactions: 1 user

                    Glandzburg

                    | EM PGY-2 |
                    5+ Year Member
                    Oct 3, 2014
                    961
                    1,353
                    1. Resident [Any Field]
                      You should have a good idea of what you need to take especially considering your plan to take MCAT after sophomore year; but planning 4 years in advance is a bit too much, and I can guarantee that things won't go the way you plan them now, which is totally fine because you should be able to adjust your plan based on what courses are offered/ what professors are teaching/ and what classes you end up liking more than others.

                      Make sure you get through biochem, psych, and sociology before taking MCAT.

                      Physiology is supposed to be more emphasized on new MCAT.
                      What??? Why would you advise against planning the courses you need to take if one is set on going into medicine? I personally sat down and planned out my 4 years as a freshman, and I even planned a light course load for my MCAT semester that was 2 years away. This worked beautifully for me as I look back, and I'm so happy with my younger self for having the vision to look a little farther down the road.

                      This kind of planning is not for everybody, but don't discourage those that have the desire to do so.
                       
                      • Like
                      Reactions: 3 users

                      helpabrotherout

                      Full Member
                      Jul 12, 2014
                      81
                      29
                        I would not take the MCAT after my sophomore year if you are not a biology major. I do amazingly well in my classes, am a genetics major, and worked in a lab where I had a "very strong performance" (the exact words of my PI) and still found studying for the MCAT to be a challenge. With the extensive coursework you would need to finish, I do not recommend rushing to take this test. At the bare minimum, I would finish all the prereqs and get in some upper level bio courses as you have suggested.

                        Anatomy/Physio is probably your best bet for CONTENT, but if you are looking for something to prepare you for the level of thinking on the MCAT, then a experimentally driven or critical thinking class is preferred. For example, Cell Bio would be a good class to take because the professor will likely test your understanding of the material by giving you hypothetical scenarios (i.e. a mutation in the ligand binding domain of the Frizzled receptor __verb___ Wnt signaling and would most likely result in which of the following). In any case, pick classes that challenge your critical thinking.

                        Thanks for your response. I will actually have my prereqs and social science courses completed by the end of sophomore year, so I'm good on that front. I did some research, and there's actually a university nearby that offers just physiology as a summer course; do you think I could take that over this summer, cut out anatomy entirely (I mean I have an elementary clue about it due to a ton of body science courses in HS), and take genetics and cell bio during the school year? Basically what I'm asking is how important has anatomy been on previous MCATs?
                         

                        helpabrotherout

                        Full Member
                        Jul 12, 2014
                        81
                        29
                          Other: no class helps you as much as an equivalent amount of time spent studying directly from MCAT review/practice materials.

                          The correct answer here is to take a light course load (ecology, evolution, other less demanding options) so you can pour hundreds of hours into pure MCAT prep

                          So are you saying I should take a lighter load and start studying during my sophomore school year? I thought starting to study that early wasn't advised?
                           

                          allantois

                          Conversation Starter
                          7+ Year Member
                        • Jan 28, 2013
                          4,234
                          5,182
                          1. Other Health Professions Student
                            What??? Why would you advise against planning the courses you need to take if one is set on going into medicine? I personally sat down and planned out my 4 years as a freshman, and I even planned a light course load for my MCAT semester that was 2 years away. This worked beautifully for me as I look back, and I'm so happy with my younger self for having the vision to look a little farther down the road.

                            This kind of planning is not for everybody, but don't discourage those that have the desire to do so.

                            I go to a school with ~50,000 students and planning 4 years in advance does NOT work. I'm glad you had a different experience.
                             
                            • Like
                            Reactions: 1 user

                            Glandzburg

                            | EM PGY-2 |
                            5+ Year Member
                            Oct 3, 2014
                            961
                            1,353
                            1. Resident [Any Field]
                              So are you saying I should take a lighter load and start studying during my sophomore school year? I thought starting to study that early wasn't advised?
                              Do not start studying more than 6 months out, MAX. Otherwise you risk forgetting the material you studied in the beginning. That being said, I would definitely consider taking a lighter load in the spring of your sophomore year so you can get started before summer starts (especially if you will be working or dividing your time with other activities over the summer).
                               
                              • Like
                              Reactions: 1 user

                              Catman21

                              Full Member
                              5+ Year Member
                              Jun 25, 2012
                              191
                              97
                                Honestly, just take whatever you have an interest in, (idk about the new MCAT) but

                                say you took a course in molecular bio instead of a class cell bio or whatever.

                                You still have no way of knowing whether the MCAT is going to give you a molecular bio passage..

                                If they do, great. If they dont... then taking that class specifically for the mcat was pointless.

                                Its all a crapshoot man. take whatever science classes you might enjoy and get something more out of rote memorizing a bunch of (probably) useless ****...

                                When it comes time to sit down for a few months and study, just use the review books they make specifically for the mcat and know that ****.

                                Those books are really all you need.

                                I did a neurobiology concentration (not for the mcat just because i loved all of it) and i can honestly say in my probably 5 months of studying for the mcat within all the materials i used (TPR, Berkley, EK, AAMC) i saw like three neuro passages.

                                I concede that its probably super low yield for that test, but i feel like neuro was just as prominent as molecular or cell biology.

                                Also you dont need to know any anatomy at all for the MCAT, at least not the old one.

                                dont go crazy man trying to plan out every semester of your next few years man, just do well and enjoy them. College can be a badass time in your life, if you let it. :cool::hardy:
                                 
                                • Like
                                Reactions: 1 users

                                efle

                                not an elf
                                7+ Year Member
                                Apr 6, 2014
                                13,998
                                22,389
                                1. Resident [Any Field]
                                  So are you saying I should take a lighter load and start studying during my sophomore school year? I thought starting to study that early wasn't advised?

                                  You're right, I totally misread your post and thought you wanted to take the MCAT at the end of a semester like most people do in Junior spring. If you can dedicate 3 months of summer to studying and take it late august/early sept then take whatever classes interest you most in Sophomore spring. You will be learning everything you need to from the prep books, there are some upper level courses which may be marginally helpful (physio/anatomy) but not enough to be worth taking just for the MCAT.
                                   
                                  • Like
                                  Reactions: 1 user
                                  About the Ads
                                  This thread is more than 6 years old.

                                  Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

                                  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
                                  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
                                  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
                                  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
                                  7. This thread is locked.