Topics Covered in the MCAT

(Extracted from the MCAT Student Manual. Permission obtained from AAMC.)

    Concepts included in the MCAT section are considered basic; at the vast majority of undergraduate institutions they are taught at the introductory level. While passages may discuss advanced-level topics, the questions accompanying the passages will not require knowledge of these topics. Advanced coursework is not needed for the test.

    You should know those equations and constants commonly used in introductory courses as well as those listed specifically in the content outline. Other necessary constants and conversion factors are provided with the test questions. In addition, a periodic table of the elements, including atomic numbers and atomic weights, is provided in the examination booklet.

    Because the content outline focuses primarily on areas necessary to preparing for the study of medicine, it may differ in several important ways from the content of your introductory courses:

      1. Some topics, which are important to the discipline as a whole and normally covered in undergraduate courses, have been omitted from the MCAT because they are not as relevant to the study of medicine as are the topics included.

      2. The organization of the topics in the outline may differ from that of the topics presented in your courses.

      3. Some of the topics included in the outline may not have been emphasized in your school's introductory undergraduate courses.


      Mathematics Concepts

      To solve some of the problems in the Physical Sciences section, you willneed to understand and be able to use the mathematics concepts listedbelow.

        1. Arithmetic calculations, including proportion, ratio,percentage, and estimation of square root.

        2. Fundamental topics in the following areas (at the level of second-year high school algebra coursework):

          exponentials and logarithms (natural and base ten)
          scientific notation
          quadratic and simultaneous equations
          graphic representations of data and functions including terminology (abscissa, ordinate), slope or rate of change, reciprocals, and various scales (arithmetic, semi-log, and log-log).

        3. Definitions of the basic trigonometric functions(sine, cosine, tangent); the values of the sines and cosines of 0°,90°, and180°; the relationships between the lengths of sides of right trianglescontaining angles of 30°,45°, and 60°; the inverse trigonometricfunctions.

        4. Metric units; balancing of equations containingphysical units. Conversion factors between metric and British systems will be provided when needed.

        5. Relative magnitude of experimental error and ofthe effect of propagation of error; reasonableestimates and the significant digits of a measurement.

        6. Mathematical probability of an event.

        7. Vector addition, vector subtraction, and right-handrule. Dot and cross product are not required.

        8. Arithmetic mean (average) and range of aset of numerical data; the standard deviation as ameasure of variability; the general concepts ofstatistical association and correlation. Calculation of statistics such asstandard deviations and correlation coefficients is not required.

        9. An understanding of calculus is not required.


      In this portion of the test you will be asked to apply basic theories ofnoncalculus physics to given problems. Topics include mechanics, wavemotion, electricity and magnetism, light and optics, and modern physics. Youshould be prepared to apply your knowledge of these concepts toexperimental situations. You will also need to be familiar with theconventions of problem solving in physics.


      The concepts of distance, speed, velocity, and acceleration describe thelocation and motion of an object at a point in time. Questions in this sectionrequire you to interpret relationships among these variables and apply theserelationships to problems in physics.

        A. Units and dimensions
        B. Vectors
        C. Speed, velocity, and acceleration
        D. Uniformly accelerated motion
        E. Freely falling bodies
        F. Projectiles


      Different forces act on objects to cause motion. Newton's second and thirdlaws and the law of gravitation describe the movement of objects under theinfluence of force. The motions that occur can be circular or linear and withor without acceleration. Questions require you to interpret the ways objectsmove when acted upon by forces.

        A. Mass, center of mass, weight
        B. Newton's second law
        C. Newton's third law
        D. Law of gravitation
        E. Uniform circular motion, centripetal force
        F. Friction
        G. Inclined planes
        H. Pulley systems


      Equilibrium occurs when a body is at rest or moves with a constant velocity.Forces, torques, Newton's first law, and inertia describe translational androtational equilibria. Questions about equilibrium call upon yourunderstanding of the way forces act upon an object.

      Momentum is a vector property that describes the motion of a system. Themomentum of a system of particles can be used to describe the motion of thesystem by itself or when it is involved in elastic or inelastic collisions withother systems. Questions about momentum require you to interpret themotions of interacting bodies.

        A. Equilibrium
          1. Translational equilibrium
          2. Rotational equilibrium, torques, lever arms
          3. Newton's first law, inertia

        B. Momentum

          1. Impulse
          2. Conservation of linear momentum
          3. Elastic and inelastic collisions


      Work and energy describe how objects interact with their environmentand with other objects. The concepts of conservation of energy, work,and power describe the forms of energy and the transformations thatoccur between these forms. Questions in this section require you to applyyour knowledge of these concepts to experimental situations.

        A. Work
        B. Kinetic energy
        C. Potential energy
        D. Conservation of energy
        E. Conservative forces
        F. Power


      Wave characteristics and periodic motion describe the motion of systemsthat vibrate. Concepts used to describe this motion include transverse andlongitudinal waves, superposition of waves, resonance, Hooke's law, andsimple harmonic motion. Questions involve the interpretation of wavecharacteristics and the analysis of systems exhibiting periodic motion.

        A. Wave characteristics
          1. Transverse and longitudinal motion
          2. Wavelength, frequency, velocity, amplitude, intensity
          3. Superposition of waves, phase, interference, addition
          4. Resonance
          5. Standing waves, nodes
          6. Beats

        B. Periodic motion

          1. Hooke's law
          2. Simple harmonic motion
          3. Pendulum motion


      Sound waves are longitudinal waves that can travel only in a materialmedium. The concepts of speed, resonance, and the Doppler effectdescribe the behavior of sound waves in different media. You shouldunderstand wave behavior as it specifically applies to sound waves inorder to answer questions in this section.

        A. Production of sound
        B. Relative speed of sound in solids, liquids, and gases
        C. Intensity, pitch
        D. Doppler effect
        E. Resonance in pipes and strings
        F. Harmonics


      This section deals with the physical properties of fluids at rest and the wayin which fluids move. Archimedes' principle and Bernoulli's equationdescribe fluid statics and dynamics. Analysis of instrumentation andexperiments involving fluids are important applications of these concepts.Questions in this section require you to understand and apply theseconcepts.

      Solids that are subjected to forces can undergo stress and/or strain.Questions in this section require you to analyze the elastic properties ofsolids in order to interpret the reactions of solids to stress and strain.

        A. Fluids
          1. Density, specific gravity
          2. Buoyancy, Archimedes' principle
          3. Hydrostatic pressure
          4. Viscosity
          5. Continuity equation
          6. Bernoulli's equation
          7. Turbulence
          8. Surface tension

        B. Solids
          1. Density
          2. Elementary topics in elastic properties


      When electrically charged objects interact, their behavior can be describedin terms of charge, electric force, electric field, and potential difference.Questions on electrostatics require you to interpret the electrostaticproperties of a particular situation.

      The motions of charged particles are affected by magnetic fields. Thecharacteristics of the magnetic field determine the specifics of thismovement. Electromagnetic waves are generated by accelerating electriccharges and do not need a medium for propagation. The spectrum ofelectromagnetic waves includes a wide range of waves, including light andX rays. Questions on electromagnetism require you to interpret the waysmagnetic fields act upon charged particles.

        A. Electrostatics
          1. Charge, charge conservation, conductors, insulators
          2. Coulomb's law, electric force
          3. Electric field
            a. Field lines
            b. Field due to charge distribution
          4. Potential difference, absolute potential, equipotential lines
          5. Electric dipole

        B. Electromagnetism

          1. Magnetic fields
          2. Electromagnetic spectrum, X rays


      In order to understand the workings of electric circuits, you must analyzethe current through and the voltage across electric circuit elements wired ina variety of configurations. When batteries or other power supplies arewired to resistors and capacitors in parallel or series, application of Ohm'slaw interprets how the current and voltage vary. Questions require you tounderstand the motion of current through various circuits.

        A. Current
        B. Batteries, electromotive force, voltage, terminal potential, internalresistance
        C. Resistance, Ohm's law, series and parallel circuits, resistivity
        D. Capacitor, dielectrics
        E. Electric power
        F. Root-mean-square current and voltage


      Optical devices can be used to modify the appearance of light. The conceptsof reflection and refraction describe the behavior of light as it encountersthese devices. The nature of light and the way it behaves when travellingthrough different media are also important in understanding the behavior oflight. You will need to understand the interaction of light with mirrors andlenses in various media to answer questions in this section.

        A. Visual spectrum, color
        B. Polarization
        C. Reflection, mirrors, total internal reflection
        D. Refraction, refractive index, Snell's law
        E. Dispersion
        F. Thin lenses, combination of lenses, diopters, lens aberrations


      The internal structure of the atom can be described as a nucleus orbited byelectrons in different energy levels. The components of the nucleus and thetransitions of electrons between energy levels are important aspects of thephysical description of the atom. Questions in this section require you tounderstand the characteristics of these atomic components.

        A. Atomic number, atomic weight
        B. Neutrons, protons, isotopes
        C. Radioactive decay, half-life
        D. Quantized energy levels for electrons
        E. Fluorescence


      In this portion of the test you will be asked to apply basic theories ofgeneral chemistry to given problems. You should be familiar enoughwith such topics as solution chemistry, thermodynamics, kinetics, andelectrochemistry and with the fundamentals of stoichiometry, electronicstructure, bonding, phase equilibria, and acids and bases to solve basicchemistry problems and evaluate research in general chemistry. Theseconcepts constitute the background knowledge you will need in order toanswer questions, even though the questions may deal with situations orproblems you have not previously encountered.


      An important skill in chemistry is the ability to understand and balancechemical equations. Inherent in this skill is the understanding of moleconcepts, chemical formulas, and oxidation numbers. You should be ableto apply the concepts below to experimental situations and be able toreason about the relationships between elements and compounds inchemical reactions.

        A. Molecular weight
        B. Empirical formula versus molecular formula
        C. Metric units
        D. Description of composition by percent mass
        E. Mole concept, Avogadro's number
        F. Definition of density
        G. Oxidation number
          1. Common oxidizing and reducing agents
          2. Redox titration

        H. Description of reactions by chemical equations

          1. Conventions for writing chemical equations
          2. Balancing equations, including oxidation-reduction equations


      Electronic structure is the key link between quantum theories and thechemical and physical properties of elements and compounds. This linkis also critical to understanding the dynamics and complexities ofchemical reactions. In addition, the order and location of elements in theperiodic table are directly related to electronic structure. You will need tounderstand these relationships and apply them to the general periodictrends.

        A. Electronic structure
          1. Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number (n),number of electrons per orbital
          2. Ground state, excited state
          3. Conventional notation for electronic structure

        B. Classification of elements and chemical properties of groups androws

          1. Valence electrons of the common groups
          2. First and second ionization energies and trends
          3. Electron affinity
            a. Variation of properties within groups and rows
          4. Electronegativity


      Most physical and chemical properties of substances can be related tobond formation and characteristics. Covalent and ionic bonds are anextension of the electronic structures of the elements involved. Questionsmay range from the clarification or explanation of a molecule's structureand reactivity to the hypothetical evaluation of compounds and theirrelative polarity or ionic character.

        A. The ionic bond (electrostatic forces between ions)

        B. The covalent bond

          1. Lewis electron dot formulas
            a. Resonance structures
            b. Formal charge
            c. Lewis acid, Lewis base
            d. Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules
          2. Partial ionic character
            a. Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution
            b. Dipole moment


      In addition to undergoing reactions, chemicals and elements are dynamic inphase, changing with conditions into gas, liquid, or solid form. The gas phasewas well studied by a number of early scientists, who identified severalrelations that can be expressed as the ideal gas law. Later, the kineticmolecular theory of gases provided a firmer theoretical basis for theproperties of gases. Intermolecular forces are a major factor in determiningthe individual phase characteristics of elements and compounds. Theequilibrium or relationship between phases is often represented in a phasediagram. You will need to understand these concepts in order to answerquestions in this section.

        A. Gas phase
          1. Standard temperature and pressure, standard molar volume
          2. Ideal gas
            a. Ideal gas law (PV = nRT)
            b. Boyle's law
            c. Charles' law
          3. Kinetic molecular theory of gases
          4. Qualitative aspects of deviation of real gas behavior from ideal gaslaw
          5. Partial pressure, mole fraction
          6. Dalton's law relating partial pressure to composition

        B. Liquid phase (inter- and intramolecular forces

          1. Hydrogen bonding
          2. Dipole interactions
          3. Van der Waals' forces

        C. Phase equilibria (solids, liquids, and gases)

          1. Phase changes and phase diagrams
          2. Freezing point, melting point, boiling point
          3. Molality
          4. Colligative properties
            a. Vapor-pressure lowering (Raoult's law)
            b. Boiling-point elevation (D Tb = Kbm)
            c. Freezing-point depression (D Tf = Kfm)
            d. Osmotic pressure


      Most chemical reactions necessary for life occur in aqueous solutions.You should be familiar with ions in solution, solubility, and precipitationreactions.

        A. Ions in solution
          1. Anion
          2. Cation
          3. Common names, formulas, and charges for familiar ions

        B. Solubility

          1. Units of concentration (e.g. molarity)
          2. Solubility product constant, the equilibrium expression
          3. Common-ion effect


      Acids and bases, both weak and strong, are major factors in manyreactions. The concepts below are important for understanding many ofthe complex processes and equilibria needed to sustain life.

        A. Acid/base equilibria
          1. Bronsted definition of acid and base
          2. Ionization of water
            a. Kw, its approximate value (Kw =[H+][OH-] = 10-14 at 25°C)
            b. Definition of pH, pH of pure water
          3. Conjugate acids and bases (e.g. amino acids)
          4. Strong acids and bases (common examples, e.g. nitric,sulphuric)
          5. Weak acids and bases (common examples, e.g. acetic, benzoic)
            a. Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt
            b. Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases
            c. Calculation of pH ofsolutions of salts of weak acids or bases
          6. Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb, pKa, pKb
          7. Buffers
            a. Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)
            b. Influence and titration curves

        B. Acid/base titrations

          1. Indicators
          2. Neutralization
          3. Interpretation of titration curves


      Thermodynamics and thermochemistry are the links between chemicalbonding and energy. Although they can be explained in terms of bondenergies, the thermodynamics of a reaction are most evident in the heatevolved or absorbed during a reaction. In addition, the concept ofthermodynamics is useful in explaining why a reaction does or does notoccur under specific conditions. Questions will require you to understandand apply these concepts.

        A. Thermochemistry
          1. Thermodynamic system, state function
          2. Conservation of energy
          3. Endothermic/exothermic reactions
            a. Enthalpy DH and standard heats of reaction
            b. Hess' law of heat summation
          4. Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation
          5. Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry)
            a. Heat capacity
            b. Specific heat (specific heat of water = 1 cal/°C)
          6. Entropy as a measure of "disorder", relative entropy for gas, liquid,and crystal states
          7. Free energy G
          8. Spontaneous reactions and D

        B. Thermodynamics

          1. First law: DE = Q-W
          2. Equivalence of mechanical, chemical, and thermal energy units
          3. Temperature scales
          4. Heat transfer
            a. Conduction
            b. Convection
            c. Radiation
          5. Coefficient of expansion
          6. Heats of fusion, vaporization


      Reactions occur at a wide variety of rates and to various degrees ofcompletion. Reaction equilibrium and rate concepts help us understandhow to optimize conditions for the reactions we may want and how tolimit those we do not want. In addition, there may be situations in whicha reaction is either kinetically or thermodynamically controlled, requiringa full understanding of both concepts. In a biological setting, enzymesare the catalysts that maintain control of the chemical pathways neededfor life. You should be able to apply your understanding of these topicsto the topics presented in this section.

        A. Reaction rate
        B. Dependence of reaction rate upon concentration of reactants
          1. Rate law
          2. Rate constant
          3. Reaction order

        C. Rate-determining step
        D. Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature; activation energy

          1. Activated complex or transition state
          2. The interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants and products, activation energy, and DH for the reaction

        E. Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction
        F. Catalysts; the special case of enzyme catalysis
        G. Equilibrium in reversible chemical reactions

          1. Law of mass action
          2. The equilibrium constant
          3. Application of LeChatelier's principle

        H. Relationship of the equilibrium constant and D


      Electrochemistry combines aspects of ionic solution chemistry,thermodynamics, and phase equilibria in order to explain how electriccurrent is produced or used in a galvanic or electrolytic cell. You shouldbe prepared to employ the following concepts in the analysis of galvanic,electrolytic, or concentration cells.

        A. Electrolytic cell
          1. Electrolysis
          2. Anode, cathode
          3. Electrolyte
          4. Faraday's law relating amount of elements deposited (or gas liberated) at an electrode to current
          5. Electron flow, oxidation and reduction at the electrodes

        B. Galvanic cell

          1. Half-cell reactions
          2. Reduction potentials, cell potential
          3. Direction of electron flow

        C. Concentration cell, direction of electron flow



      Organic chemistry plays an important role in the understanding ofmany biological reactions. You will be expected to call upon yourknowledge of organic compounds and reactions and to explainresults, arguments, and experimental procedures in terms of reactionsor principles of organic compounds. Because nomenclature,classifications of functional groups, and reaction mechanisms areimportant to the understanding of organic reactions, these areas willalso be tested within the scope of the categories outlined below.


      You should be familiar with the general types of molecules that arebiologically active and the respective reactions of these molecules.Emphasis will be placed on the descriptions and reactions of themolecules described below.

        A. Amino acids and proteins
          1. Description
            a. Absolute configuration at the alpha position
            b. Amino acids as dipolar ions
            c. Classification
              i. Acidic or basic
              ii. Hydrophobic or hydrophilic
          2. Reactions
            a. Sulfur linkage for cysteine and cystine
            b. Peptide linkage
            c. Hydrolysis
          3. General principles
            a. 1° structure of proteins
            b. 2° structure of proteins
            c. 3° structure of proteins
              i. Role of proline, cystine
              ii. Hydrophobic bonding
            d. Isoelectric point

        B. Carbohydrates

          1. Description
            a. Nomenclature and classification, common names
            b. Absolute configuration
            c. Cyclic structure and conformations of hexoses
            d. Epimers and anomers
          2. Oxidation of monosaccharides
          3. Hydrolysis of the glycoside linkage

        C. Lipids

          1. Description, structure
            a. Free fatty acids
            b. Triacyl glycerols
            c. Steroids

        D. Phosphorus compounds

          1. Phosphoric acid - chemistry and structure of anhydrides andesters


      The principal reactions of oxygen-containing compounds are criticalto the interpretation of many reactions in organic compounds. Thefundamental principles and mechanisms of these reactions offer agood guide to the understanding of organic reactions. The conceptsof nucleophiles, electrophiles, organic acids and bases, acidicprotons, oxidations, reductions, and physical properties of variousoxygen containing compounds are outlined below. In addition, themajor reactions involving condensations, rearrangements, steric andelectronic effects of substituents, and dimerizations will be covered.

        A. Alcohols
          1. Important reactions
            a. Dehydrations (formation of carbocations)
            b. Substitution reactions (SN1 or SN2 depending on alcohol and derived product)
          2. General principles
            a. Hydrogen bonding
            b. Effect of chain branching on physical properties

        B. Aldehydes and ketones

          1. Important reactions
            a. Nucleophilic addition reactions at C=O bond
              i. Acetal, ketal, hemiacetal, hemiketal
              ii. Imine, enamine
            b. Reactions at adjacent positions
              i. Aldol condensation
              ii. Keto-enol tautomerism
          2. General principles
            a. Effect of substituents on reactivity of C=O
            b. Steric hindrance
            c. Acidity of a-H
            d. Carbanions
            e. a, b, unsaturated carbonyls

        C. Carboxylic acids

          1. Important carboxyl group reactions
            a. Decarboxylation
            b. Esterification
          2. General principles
            a. H bonding
            b. Inductive effect of substituents
            c. Resonance stability of carboxylate anion

        D. Common acid derivatives (acid chlorides, anhydrides, amides,esters, keto acids)

          1. Important reactions
            a. Hydrolysis of fats and glycerides (saponification)
            b. Hydrolysis of amides
          2. General principles
            a. Relative reactivity of acid derivatives
            b. Steric effects

        E. Ethers

          1. Cleavage by acid
          2. Weak basicity of ethers

        F. Phenols

          1. General principles
            a. Effects of substituents on acidity
            b. Hydrogen bonding


      Nitrogen-containing compounds often have unique properties dueto their basicity and electronic effects. The stabilization ofadjacent carbocations and the solubility properties of theammonium salts are vital to a wide area of biological and organicreactions. Major reactions of amide formation and alkylations arealso important. You should understand these concepts in order toanswer questions in this section.

        A. Description
          1. Stereochemistry and physical properties

        B. Major reactions

          1. Amide formation
          2. Alkylation

        C. General principles

          1. Basicity
          2. Stabilization of adjacent carbonium ions (carbocations)
          3. Effect of substituents on basicity of aromatic amines

        D. Quaternary salts

          1. Solubility properties


      The chemistry of alkanes, alkenes, and benzene derivatives is amajor part of organic chemistry. Combustion, stability of freeradicals and carbocations, ring strain or stabilization, andresonance stability will be included in this section, with emphasison the properties of saturated, unsaturated, and aromaticcompounds. Resonance stability and delocalization of aromaticcompounds will also be included. You will need to understandthese concepts in order to answer questions in this section.

        A. Saturated (alkanes)
          1. Description, physical properties
          2. Important reactions
            a. Combustion
            b. Substitution reactions with halogens, etc.
          3. General principles
            a. Stability of free radicals
            b. Chain-reaction mechanism
            c. Inhibition
            d. Ring strain in cyclic compounds

        B. Unsaturated (alkenes)

          1. Description
            a. Structure and isomerization
            b. Physical properties
          2. Electrophilic addition (e.g., HBr, H2O)

        C. Aromatic (benzene)

          1. Description
          2. Resonance stability, delocalization of electrons


      The structures, bond descriptions, and bond strengths of organiccompounds are important when determining the reactions andchemistry of organic molecules. You should be familiar withcommon nomenclature, methods for measuring stereochemistry,hybrid orbitals, bond strengths, and resonance.

        A. s and p bonds
          1. Hybrid orbitals (Sp3, Sp2, Sp and respective geometries)
          2. Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl.
          3. Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules

        B. Multiple bonding

          1. Effect on bond length and bond energies
          2. Rigidity in molecular structure

        C. Stereochemistry of covalently bonded molecules

          1. Isomers
            a. Structural isomers
            b. Stereoisomers (e.g., diastereomers, enantiomers, cis/transisomers)
            c. Conformational isomers
          2. Polarization of light, specific rotation
          3. Absolute and relative configuration
            a. Conventions for writing R and S forms
          4. Racemic mixtures


      While reactions and properties of organic compounds make up amajor portion of organic chemistry, another important feature isthe separation and purification of these compounds. You should befamiliar with the methods used in these processes, as well as withthe features of the different organic compounds that make theseparation or purification possible.

        A. Extraction (distribution of solute between two immisciblesolvents)

        B. Chromatography

          1. Gas-liquid chromatography
          2. Thin-layer chromatography

        C. Distillation

        D. Recrystallization, solvent choice from solubility data


      The identification of organic compounds is of prime interest whendetermining the products of a particular reaction. You shouldunderstand the major spectroscopic techniques employed todetermine the structures of the major groups of organiccompounds, as well as the features of the compounds that affecttheir spectroscopy. You should especially be familiar with NMR(nuclear magnetic resonance) and IR (infrared) spectroscopy andthe characteristic absorptions for common functional groups.

        A. Infrared region
          1. Intramolecular vibrations and rotations
          2. Recognizing common characteristic group absorptions

        B. NMR spectroscopy

          1. Protons in a magnetic field, equivalent protons
          2. Spin-spin splitting


      This portion of the test will concentrate primarily on two major groups ofliving organisms: the vertebrates and the microbes. Within these two generalgroups, your study should focus on concepts and information common tothe life processes of organisms. These concepts include basic principles ofmolecular biology, cellular structure and function, and genetics andevolution. Additionally, vertebrate systems will be approached from theorganism or body-system level of organization. In this context, topics mayfocus on some aspect of the structure or function of a given body system,on the interaction of two or more body systems, or on the effects of anexternal factor (for example, a disease or an environmental influence) on thetotal physiology of an organism.


      Molecular biology is concerned with the biochemical reactions that occurwithin living cells and the molecules that make these reactions possible.Specifically, molecular biology covers cellular metabolism and its regulationby enzymes and the functions of DNA in transmitting genetic informationand directing protein synthesis. Questions require an understanding ofprocesses at the cell and molecular levels.

        A. Enzymes and cellular metabolism
          1. Enzyme structure and function
          2. Control of enzyme activity
          3. Feedback inhibition
          4. Glycolysis
            a. Anaerobic
            b. Aerobic
          5. Krebs (citric acid) cycle
          6. Electron transport chain, oxidative phosphorylation

        B. DNA and protein synthesis

          1. DNA structure and function
            a. Structure and composition
              i. Watson-Crick model
              ii. Double helix
              iii. Base-pair specificity
            b. DNA as transmitter of genetic information (thegenetic code)
            c. DNA replication
          2. Protein synthesis
            a. Transcription
              i. Mechanism
              ii. Regulation
            b. Translation
              i. Codons and anticodons
              ii. Roles of mRNA, tRNA, rRNA
              iii. Structure and function of ribosomes


      Viruses, bacteria, and fungi represent a vast and integral part oflife on earth. They are essential to the earth's ecology and to thelives of individual organisms yet are often sources of disease anddeath. Your study should focus on the general structures and lifehistories of these groups of microbes.

        A. Viral structure and life history
          1. Nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) and protein components
          2. Typical bacteriophage structure and function
          3. Size relative to bacteria and eukaryotic cells
          4 Generalized phage and animal virus life cycles

        B. Prokaryotic cells

          1. Cell structure and physiology
          2. Bacterial life history

        C. Fungi

          1. Major structural types
          2. General life history and physiology


      Since the typical eukaryotic cell is the site of the life processescovered in molecular biology and is the basic unit of which allcomplex organisms are formed, you should have a thoroughunderstanding of its major structures and functions. Questions willrequire knowledge of the major cell organelles particularly thenucleus and the membrane structures and of the processescarried out by all living cells, such as movement of materialsacross membranes and cell replication by mitosis.

        A. Nucleus: structure and functions
          1. Nucleolus
          2. Nuclear envelope and nuclear pores

        B. Membrane-bound organelles: structures and functions

          1. Mitochondria
          2. Lysosomes
          3. Endoplasmic reticulum
          4. Golgi apparatus

        C. Plasma membrane: structure and functions

          1. Protein and lipid components
          2. Fluid mosaic model, membrane traffic
          3. Movement across membranes
            a. Osmosis
            b. Passive and active transport
            c. Endocytosis and exocytosis
          4. Membrane channels, sodium/potassium pump, membranepotential
          5. Membrane receptors
          6. Cellular adhesion

        D. Cytoskeleton: structure and functions

          1. Microfilaments, microtubules, intermediate filaments
          2. Cilia and flagella
          3. Centrioles

        E. Mitosis

          1. Mitotic process, phases of the cell cycle
          2. Mitotic structures
            a. Centrioles, asters, spindles
            b. Chromatids, centromeres, telomeres, kinetochores
          3. Nuclear membrane breakdown and reorganization
          4. Mechanisms of chromosome movement


      The plan of the generalized cell undergoes many specializationsthat provide the basis for our complex organ systems. Questionswill require you to understand the structure and function of theseorgan systems and to interpret the specialized characteristics of thecells and tissues of nerves, muscles, skin, and connective tissue.

        A. Neural cells and tissues
          1. Structures
            a. Cell body
            b. Axon
            c. Dendrites
            d. Myelin sheath, Schwann cells
            e. Nodes of Ranvier
          2. Synapse
          3. Resting potential, action potential

        B. Contractile cells and tissues

          1. Striated, smooth, and cardiac muscle
          2. Sarcomere
          3. Calcium regulation of contraction

        C. Epithelial cells and tissues

          1. Simple epithelium
          2. Stratified epithelium

        D. Connective cells and tissues

          1. Major cell and fiber types
          2. Loose vs. dense connective tissue
          3. Cartilage
          4. Extracellular matrix


      The nervous and endocrine systems interconnect and regulate theactivities of the organism as a whole by exerting precise controlover processes at the cell and molecular levels. You should knowthe major structures and chemicals involved in these regulatorysystems and the general mechanisms by which both systems work.You should also be familiar with the reception and processing ofthe sensory signals which activate the nervous and endocrinesystems.

        A. Nervous system structure and function
          1. Organization of the vertebrate nervous system
          2. Sensor and effecter neurons
          3. Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

        B. Sensory reception and processing

          1. Skin, proprioceptive, and somatic sensors
          2. Olfaction, taste
          3. Hearing
            a. Ear structure
            b. Mechanism of hearing
          4. Vision
            a. Eye structure
            b. Light receptors

        C. Endocrine systems: hormones and their sources

          1. Function of endocrine system
          2. Major endocrine glands, their hormones, specificity, and targettissues
          3. Cellular mechanisms of hormone action
          4. Transport of hormones


      The transport of essential gases and nutrients toward and wastematerials away from the tissues and the protective activities of thebody's immune responses are among the vital functions performedby the circulatory, lymphatic, and immune systems. You should befamiliar with the structures and functions of these systems and thegeneral mechanisms by which they carry out their functions andhelp to regulate body processes.

        A. Circulatory system
          1. Functions, including role in thermoregulation
          2. Four-chambered heart, pulmonary and systemic circulation
          3. Arterial and venous systems, capillary beds
          4. Systolic and diastolic pressure
          5. Composition of blood
          6. Role of hemoglobin in oxygen transport

        B. Lymphatic system: structure and function

        C. Immune system

          1. Cells
            a. T-lymphocytes
            b. B-lymphocytes
          2. Tissues
            a. Bone marrow
            b. Spleen
            c. Thymus
            d. Lymph nodes
          3. Antigens, antibodies, antigen-antibody reactions


      The digestive system regulates the intake, processing, andabsorption of nutrients. The excretory system processes andeliminates waste materials from the body. You should know themajor structures of both systems, the order in which materials areprocessed, and the general mechanisms by which these processesoccur.

        A. Digestive system
          1. Ingestion: structures and their functions
          2. Stomach
          3. Digestive glands, including liver and pancreas, bile production
          4. Small intestine, large intestine
          5. Muscular control of digestion

        B. Excretory system

          1. Role of the excretory system in body homeostasis
          2. Kidney: structure and function
          3. Nephron: structure and function
          4. Formation of urine
          5. Storage and elimination of wastes


      The systems concerned with movement and support of thevertebrate body owe their structure and organization tospecialized contractile and connective cells and tissues. This portion of the test will require a familiaritywith the various types of muscles, their control by the nervoussystem, and their interrelationship with the bones, ligaments, andtendons of the skeletal system.

        A. Muscle system
          1. Functions
          2. Basic muscle types and locations
          3. Nervous control of muscles
            a. Motor and sensory control
            b. Voluntary and involuntary muscles

        B. Skeletal system

          1. Functions
          2. Bone structure
            a. Calcium/protein matrix
          3. Skeletal structure
            a. Specialization of bone types, structures
            b. Joint structure
          4. Cartilage structure and function
            a. Ligaments
            b. Tendons


      The respiratory system functions in the intake and exchange ofgases, while the skin system has a variety of functions related toprotection, thermoregulation, and homeostasis. These systems,while differing in function, are similar in that each is in direct andconstant contact with the organism's external environment.Questions require an understanding of the structures and functionsof the two systems.

        A. Respiratory system
          1. Function
            a. Gas exchange (role of alveoli)
            b. Thermoregulation
            c. Protection against disease, particulate matter
          2. Breathing structures and mechanisms
            a. Diaphragm
            b. Rib cage
            c. Differential pressure

        B. Skin system

          1. Functions
            a. Homeostasis and osmoregulation
            b. Thermoregulation
            c. Physical protection
          2. Structure


      This section covers the formation and development of vertebrateorganisms. It includes the cellular and organismal structuresinvolved in sexual reproduction and the processes ofgametogenesis, reproduction, and embryogenesis. You shouldunderstand these concepts and be able to relate reproduction anddevelopment to DNA structure and function, the principles ofMendelian genetics, and the major hormones and their control.

        A. Reproduction
          1. Male and female gonads and genitalia
          2. Gametogenesis by meiosis
            a. Ovum and sperm
          3. Reproductive sequence
          4. Structure and function of placenta

        B. Embryogenesis

          1. Fertilization
          2. Cleavage
          3. Blastulation
          4. Gastrulation
          5. Neurulation
          6. Major structures arising out of primary germ layers

        C. Developmental mechanisms

          1. Cell specialization
            a. Determination
            b. Differentiation
          2. Induction


      Mendelian genetics forms the basis for our modern understanding ofheredity. Related to Mendelian genetics are the concepts of speciationand evolution by natural selection. You should understand Mendelianconcepts and be able to relate them to the more modern concepts ofmolecular genetics.

        A. Genetics
          1. Mendelian concepts and their application
          2. Hardy-Weinberg principle and population genetics
          3. Meiosis and genetic variability
          4. Sex-linked characteristics
          5. Mutations

        B. Evolution

          1. Natural selection
            a. Fitness
            b. Differential reproduction
            c. Group selection
          2. Species concept and speciation
          3. Origin of life
          4. Comparative anatomy
            a. Chordate features
            b. Vertebrate body plan

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