Biochem/Cell Bio for MCAT?

So I met with my pre-med advisor for the first time yesterday. It went well enough, but she mentioned that I should consider taking a biochem or cell bio class to help prepare for the MCAT. While I appreciate her wanting me to do well, that would probably add at least another semester to my undergrad work, and, at this stage of the game (not early 20s like the other pre-meds at school, I like to streamline as much as possible.

My question is, while I have no doubt it couldn’t hurt, wouldn’t sufficient MCAT review, with all the myriad resources available be sufficient (vs. adding more debt and time to my journey by taking another in-class course)?

Welcome, by the way. I’m a pretty new post-er as well, but the help and support I’ve gotten here have been invaluable. Makes up for doing a DIY post-bacc.

You may want to check the admission requirements of your desired schools. My top choice school (DMU) has added biochemistry to the list of required courses. Just make sure you get what you need so you can apply broadly when you are at that point.


  • Silverknight73 Said:
My question is, while I have no doubt it couldn't hurt, wouldn't sufficient MCAT review, with all the myriad resources available be sufficient (vs. adding more debt and time to my journey by taking another in-class course)?

I can't really answer that directly but I can give you some experiential info. As the person above said, a lot of schools are beginning to require biochem. In addition, some schools are starting to require a cell or molecular biology class or an "upper division biology class." The first reply is right in making sure that a school's prereq doesn't answer your question for you.

Another question to ask is will you be taking the MCAT after Biochem is added to it? If so then obviously you should take biochem.

Here are my experiences if it turns out that you don't NEED cell bio or biochem (CoB):

-The bio passages are usually from upper division biology. You can understand all of them with what you already know. The better you are at first time reading comprehension the less you will gain from CoB as far as the MCAT goes.

-Some undergraduate bio programs at schools "assume" you will take the upper division courses so what you are "supposed" to learn from Bio 1&2 (ie whats expected on the MCAT) and what you actually cover may be two different things. CoB will help you with any shortcomings in gen bio.

-Spending as little time as possible on LEARNING things for the MCAT should be a priority. If you go through the Kaplan books you will see a lot of stuff from CoB that they are trying to expose you to so you can understand the passages better. Spending as much time as possible getting used to verbal and getting good at taking the MCAT (doing math in your head, feeling uncomfortable with an answer, getting as much out of each passage as possible on one read etc) should also be a priority.

-If the class doesn't push back your date of admission then it becomes a lot more appealing IMHO. You have an upper division class to add to your app as "in progress" or "in the future." You also get per-exposure to material you will inevitably learn in WAY less time once in medical school. CoB also provides a lot of basic review that is helpful.

-Classes that help a lot: Human Physiology, Genetics, Microbiology, Genetics and/or cell bio, Upper division biology lab techniques (passages) and biochemistry (passages).

I can understand why you don't want to take it. It is worth noting that at some point you have to stop taking classes that will help with the MCAT and just take the damn thing. You don't hear much about taking extra classes in physics or physical chemistry but I'm sure that would give some advantage somehow. Hopefully that is enough info to help with your decision. Don't hesitate to ask any more questions specific to your situation.

Matt made great points, and I agree with every one of them.

Have you taken any upper level bio courses? Taking some of these courses will only help your case in the eyes of adcoms, IMO (aside from an improved base of knowledge for the MCAT). It’s one thing to get A’s in the 100-level Intro courses. If you swing some A’s in the upper-level courses, you can further demonstrate an ability to grasp more difficult material.