Is there a particular genetics textbook that any of you can recommend? I will not be taking a genetics course before the April MCAT’s, and need to learn the info on my own.
Though I’m sure taking genetics or reading a genetics textbook would help you, it’s also possible to have too much detail. It’s more important to study the introductory genetics information in your biology textbook, and know it backwards and forwards, and know how to apply it in MCAT-like problems, than it is to work towards some advanced understanding of genetics beyond that.
Since the MCAT expects you to apply basic knowledge to new situations, if you know too much you can actually occasionally get hurt because you will overthink the test. (For instance, I knew something about immunology and sometimes actually had problems on immunology-related practice questions because I’d be thinking, “Well, that’s not quite right”…) In the end, knowing a little more did probably help me, but it’s not as simply helpful as you might think. If it was, then biology majors would always ace the test and English majors would be doomed to fail.
Like I say there’s nothing wrong with studying some genetics if you’re interested in it–i.e., for its own sake–but don’t go overboard for the sake of the MCAT. It might be more helpful to use a genetics textbook as a reference to help you understand things that are only briefly covered in your biology book and your MCAT prep texts, rather than really going through the genetics book for its own sake. Thus, should the need arise, you may just want to look stuff up in a library–which will have genetics texts, microbiology texts, etc, etc-- rather than spend the big bill for textbooks. Plus, the MCAT bio sciences section is so broad that studying genetics in depth will only help you with a small fraction of the questions. Hence, again, it is more important to know the introductory class material and have it totally nailed than it is to go learn upper-division-level information.
That said, I’m sorry that I don’t know a good genetics textbook to recommend.
I don’t think you need much more than the basics:
dominant/recessive traits; Punnet squares; reading a family tree diagram for inheritance characteristics, etc.
I’m pretty sure the lac operon is not on the materials found on the MCAT
There is one of those “cartoon” books out for genetics (can’t remember the name) but I’ve seen it in the bookstore and it looked like it might be an adequate once over - you might look for it.
As far as a regular text - I’ll look when I get home to see the name of the one I used - but any text from the last few years should be adequate - just use your MCAT review materials as a guide for the subset of information to learn and then go to the text if you need more thorough explanation.
There are also some good internet sites about the basics of genetics - the links for those are at home but I’ll find them and post them too.
Hi Joe & Lisa-
Thanks for your input! This will help me narrow down my focus a little bit better. In my own compulsive way, I was actually going to undertake plowing through ( or attempting) a genetics text - so this info is very helpfu!! I think that I have a good handle on some of the basics then. I'll just have to enhance some areas a bit.
(It is going to be time-consuming enough just to start reviewing gen & Organic Chem later this fall.)
Here is some more info for you.
great lecture notes - used them to supplement my own genetics course
when I took it -
good basic explanations: http://anthro.palomar.edu/mendel/Default.htm
good links: http://www.kumc.edu/gec/lessons.html
from the AAMC MCAT Student Manual that lists all the concepts that might be tested:
Genetics and Evolution
1. Mendelian concepts and their application
2. Hardy-Weinberg principle and population genetics
3. Meiosis and genetic variability
4. Sex-linked characteristics
Lisa- Thanks so much for all of that info!! Very much appreciated.