Mnemonics for the MCAT

Note: Many of these mnemonics are decades old and may not be politically correct. I hope no one will be offended by any of them. Also, many are silly; however, if they work for you then please feel free to use them.


      Anterior Pituitary Hormones
          F: Follicle Stimulating Hormone
          L: Luteinizing Hormone
          A: ACTH
          G: Growth Hormone
          T: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
          O: MSH - melanOcyte stimulating hormone
          P: Prolactin

            FSH in males
            directly stimulates spermatogenesis - sperm look like "FiSH." In females, FSH obviously stimulates ovarian follicles (which secrete estrogens, which stimulate endometrial proliferation).

            LH in males
            stimulates androgen secretion so males become "Like Hairy Apes" (LH ® A). Androgens also stimulate spermatogenesis, so LH also indirectly stimulates spermatogenesis. In females, LH stimulates the corpus luteum (which secretes estrogens and progesterone, which stimulate the endometrium).

      Autonomic Nervous System

        Sympathetic: fight or flight
        Parasympathetic: rest and digest

      Causes of Deviations from Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

        "Maggie May Does Not Smoke"
          Mutations, Migration, genetic Drift, Non-random mating, Selection.

      Cell Cycle

        "Go Sally Go! Make Children!"
          G1, S, G2, M, C
          Growth phase 1, DNA Synthesis (replication), Growth phase 2, Mitosis, Cytokinesis.

          "People Meet And Talk"
            Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase.


          "PMAT x2"
            Prophase I, Metaphase I, Anaphase I, Telophase I,
            Prophase II, Metaphase II, Anaphase II, Telophase II,
            (Note: 4 haploid daughter cells instead of 2 diploid daughter cells)

      Chordate Features

        "Do Not Pinch People"
          Dorsal, hollow nerve cord
          Pharyngeal slits
          Postanal tail

      Developmental Stages

        "Must Be Good"
          Morula, Blastula, Gastrula

      Fat-soluble Vitamins

          Vitamins A,D,E, and K

      Gastrointestinal Hormones
      (i.e. ones that originate from the GI tract)

        "Garlic Cloves Smell Exquisite"

          GastrinGastric mucosaStomachFood in stomach, psychic factorsIncreased HCl secretion & gastric emptying
          Cholecystokinin (CCK)Duodenal mucosaGallbladder & pancreasAmino acids, peptides, fatty acids in duodenum Contraction of gallbladder & secretion of pancreatic juice
          SecretinGastric mucosaPancreasAcid in duodenum Increased bicarbonate secretion
          Enterogastrone (gastric inhibitory peptide)Duodenal mucosaStomach Fat digestion products in duodenumDecreases gastric emptying

      Hormones that Increase Blood Glucose

          Somatotropin (growth hormone)
          Thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine)


          IgM, IgA, IgD, IgG, IgE


        "My Poor Friend Picks Apples"
          Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plants, Animals

      Male Reproductive Tract (path of sperm)

        "SEVEN UP"
          Seminiferous tubules
          Vas deferens
          Ejaculatory duct

      Menstrual Cycle

        "FOL(d) M(a)PS"
          Ovarian cycle: Follicular phase, Ovulatory phase, Luteal phase
          Menstrual cycle: Menstrual flow, Proliferative phase, Secretory phase
            The ovarian cycle controls the menstrual cycle. The cycles begin (day 0) when menstrual flow starts. At day 14, the luteal and secretory phases begin and last until day 28, after which the cycles begin again.

      Molecular Genetics

        "EXons EXpressed, INtrons IN the trash"
          DNA expression into mature mRNA

        "CUT the PY"

          Cytosine, Uracil, and Thiamine are PYrimidines (one-ring structures)


          Guanine and Adenine are PURines (two-ring structures)

        "All Tigers Can Growl"

          Adenine bonds to Thymine; Cytosine bonds to Guanine

        Or, "Pure Silver Taxi"

          Purines, A and G, bond to pyrimidines, T and C, respectively

      Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

        Think of an exercising muscle for a rightward shift:
          Exercising muscle is:
            acidic (lactic acid),
            and has increased 2,3-DPG.
          Exercising muscle benefits from increased oxygen unloading from red blood cells.

      Proteases in the Duodenum

        "Eat Tender Chicken Chunks Elegantly"
            Note: The first enzyme is produced by intestinal mucosal cells, while the others are produced in inactive precursor forms by the pancreas.
            Enterokinase converts trypsinogen into trypsin
            Trypsin converts other trypsinogen molecules into trypsin
            Trypsin converts chymotrypsinogen into chymotrypsin
            Trypsin converts procarboxypeptidase into carboxypeptidase
            Trypsin converts proelastase into elastase

      Scientific Method

        Inductive Reasoning
          "IS GOHH"
            Induction: Specific ® General. Or,Observation ® Hypothesis ® Hypothesis-testing.
            The inductive process proceeds from specific observations to a general hypothesis.

        Deductive Reasoning
            Deduction: General ® Specific
            The deductive process proceeds from a general hypothesis to predictions about specific observations.


        Rate of SeDimentation is proportional to Size and Density
          More precisely,
          terminal velocity of particle µ radius2 x (density - density of medium)

      Striated Muscle

          Z-line, I-band, A-band, H-zone


        "King Phillip Came Over From Great Spain"
          Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species

      Vertebrate Features

          Axial skeleton
          Appendicular skeleton
          Closed circulatory system

      White Blood Cells

        (In order of decreasing numbers.)
        "Nobody Likes My Educational Background"
          N Neutrophils
          L Lymphocytes
          M Monocytes
          E Eosinophils
          B Basophils

    General Chemistry

          H requires 1 more electron in its outer shell to become stable.
          O requires 2.
          N requires 3.
          C requires 4.


        The "t" in cation looks like a plus sign: "ca+ion."


        Reduction occurs at the Cathode; Oxidation at the Anode.
          Remember that the terms beginning with consonants are together, and those beginning with vowels are together.

        "LEO is A GERC (jerk)"

          Loss of Electrons is Oxidation, which occurs at the Anode. Gain of Electrons is Reduction, which occurs at the Cathode.


        "MIT enough"
          Moles deposited at an electrode = It/nF

      Gibb's Free Energy

        "Good Honey Tastes Sweet"
          DG = DH - TDS

        "Gee! Plus Arty! Thank you!"

          DG = DG° + RTlnQ

        "Delicious Grapefruit - Not For Everyone"

          DG° = -nFE°

      Henderson-Hasselbalch Equation

        "HK + AHA"
        or "Hong Kong + American Hospital Association"
          pH = pKa + log10(A-/HA)

      Hydrogen Bonding

          When a hydrogen atom is attached to either a fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen atom, it can form a hydrogen bond between it and another fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen atom.

      Nernst Equation

        "We minus Arty (is) enough, thank you."
          E = E° - (RT/nF)lnQ


        If a compound has at least one unpaired electron,
        it is Paramagnetic,
        and will be Pulled toward a magnetic field.

          If not, it is diamagnetic, and is weakly repelled by a magnetic field. There is also a third type of magnetism: ferromagnetism, which is present in what we casually call "magnets," e.g. iron, nickel, cobalt.

      Quantum Numbers

        "National Library (of) Medicine Sizzles"
          n, l, m, s

      l Quantum Numbers

        "Sensual People Do Foreplay"
          s, p, d, f. Then it follows the alphabet: g, h, i, j, k, etc.

      State Functions

        "VG PHEST" (Very Good Festival)
          The following are all state functions:
            V for volume
            G for Gibb's free energy
            P for pressure
            H for enthalpy
            E for internal energy
            S for entropy
            T for temperature

    Organic Chemistry

      Addition of Amine to Carbonyl Group
        "SE PI" (or "SEe PIe")
          Secondary amine ® Enamine
          Primary amine ® Imine
          (Note: tertiary and quaternary amines do not react with the C=0 group.)

      Cis/trans (Geometric) Isomers

        "Z: Zame Zide
        E: Epposite"
          Z for same side and E for opposite sides


        Gauche conformation: It's "gauche" (inappropriate) forone methyl group to stand too close to another group.

        Cyclohexane ring: When you have low energy, you sitdown in a "CHAIR" to rest. "BOATS" can be tippy, so they are less stable.


        "SS - ED - CC"

        Isomers of a sugar: If the second lowest -OH is on the Left, the molecule is L.
        If the -OH is on the Right, it's D.

      Meso Compounds

        "MeSo compounds have a Mirror of Symmetry"
          Thus, even though they may have stereogenic centers, they are achiral and so do not have enantiomers.


        Downfield is Deshielded.

      Meta-Directing Groups on a Benezene Ring

        "Queen Elizabeth Second's Navy Commands, Controls, Communicates"
          Q Quaternary amino -NR3+
          E Ester -COOR
          S Sulfonic acid -SO3H
          N Nitro -NO2
          C Carbonyl -CHO
          C Carboxyl -COOH
          C Cyano -CN

      Ortho- and Para- Directing Groups on a Benezene Ring

        "AHA AHA P"
          A Alkyl -R
          H Halogen -X
          A Alkoxyl -OR

          A Amino -NH2, -NHR, -NR2 (not -NR3+)
          H Hydroxyl -OH
          A Amide -NHCOR

          P Phenyl -C6H5

      Types of Reactions

        "SEA MOuRNS CANned PEAs"
          Substitution Electrophilic - Aromatic
          Most Other Reactions - Nucleophilic Substitution
          Carbonyl - Addition Nucleophilic
          Pi bonds - Electrophilic Addition


      Basic Physical Quantities
        "Taking Luxurious Limos More Noxious Than Cycling"
          Temperature (K)
          Length (m)
          Luminous intensity (Cd)
          Mass (kg)
          Number of particles (moles)
          Time (s)
          Charge (C)


        "Quintessential Curriculum Vitae"
          Q = CV

        "England Hails Queen Victoria"
          E (energy stored) = ½QV

      Elastic Modulus

          Elastic modulus = str ess / strain
          i.e. "es" / "ai" or "essay"

            Stress is associated with the forss (force) applied.
            Strain is the deformation produced.

      Electromagnetic Spectrum

          Electromagnetic waves in order of increasing frequency:
            Radio waves
            Infra red
            Visible spectrum
            Ultra violet
            Gamma rays

      Force on a Charge Moving in a Magnetic Field

        "Fast Quality Vitalizes Business"
          F = QvB
          (N = C x m/s x T)
          i.e., if the direction of travel is perpendicular to the magnetic field

      Heat Capacity

          q = mcDT
          where q is heat energy, m is mass, c is specific heat capacity, and DT is the change in temperature.


        "D DUV"
          For Diverging mirrors and lenses, the image is always Diminished, Upright, and Virtual, regardless of the distance of the object from the mirror or lens.

      Prefixes in Units of Measurement

        DamnedDekadax 10
        HiccupsHectohx 102
        KilledKilokx 103
        Meg'sMegaMx 106
        GiganticGigaGx 109
        TerrapinTeraTx 1012

        DextrousDecidx 10-1
        CarpentersCenticx 10-2
        MakeMillimx 10-3
        ManyMicromx 10-6
        NiceNanonx 10-9
        PicturePicopx 10-12
        FramesFemtofx 10-15

      Visible Spectrum

        In order of increasing frequency:
        "Roy G. Biv"
        "Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain"
          Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

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