# Equations

To those of you who have taken the MCAT, how much energy should I put into straight memorization of formulas? There are just so many when you look at Thermodynamics, physics, etc. I know the main formuals, ideal gas law, Gibb’s free energy, equation for heat, but how much minutia should I worry about? Thank you for your help!

I took the MCAT in 2005 before they made the change over to the new format so not sure that I can comment accurately. Hopefully others who’ve taken more recently will pipe in as well.

I think the goal should be to understand the “basic” formulas so well that you can actually derive the other formulas from them. If you are able to do this, you will have far fewer to memorize.

Have you taken any practice tests or done practice questions? This will help guide what you will need to know.

Best of luck!

Do yourself a favor and learn them all.

Start with the basic ones, Newton’s Laws, Kinematics, Ideal Gas, Gibbs etc. know how to manipulate them algebraically and when to use them. Then memorize the other lesser used formulas like Ohms Law (V=IR) etc. I didn’t use very many formulas on the exam but I was glad that I did memorize as many as I could because you don’t know what they will ask - the secret is to do problems over and over, even if you’ve done the problem before. Memorization is the easy part - application is hard.

Not just doing the same problems over again but always do them in the same way…that is develop a process so that ANY problem that arises, you can start your process. You avoid the fear/shock of something that seems unknown, but always start and do your “process”.

BTW, my personal rule of thumb that if you have to do a calculation, your are doing something in a much harder way than u need to. As said earlier knowing the formulas and knowing how to manipulate them is vital. Keeping dimensional/unit analysis straight and being able to see quickly the effect of one variable on the outcome helps immensely. I often found that the complex problem boiled down to algebraical manipulation and seeing something like if this increases what happens or which increase will have a greater effect.

As a former chemistry high school teacher and soon to be adjunct chem prof (??), more important than learning the formulas is learning the units of the problems you’re trying to solve. I’m convinced ANY mental glitch during testing can be overcome if you know the units of what you’re looking for.

I also use cliffs notes in basic algebra for practice to help with manipulation of formulas.