Physio or Anatomy?

I can’t get my pictures to load - help?!?!?!

Okay, after getting so much help on physio thoughts, prep, etc, I am throwing a wrench into my schedule:

If I take physio my schedule looks like this:

[image] /School#56945727036604869 46[/image]

If I take anatomy w/cadaver lab, my schedule looks like this:

[image] /ProfilePhotos#5694572670 581709458[/image]

I kind of like the way the professor lays out the schedule for physio - expectations are clear, books are concise, etc; she has an excellent reputation. My schedule is also - all over the map - school/work/school/work, etc.

I like the way the anatomy class lines up with work - I can really focus on either school or work each day rather than constantly switching gears. The professor is well liked and well regarded (he teaches MS1 anatomy too) but his materials are all-over-the-map think, inundated and you get the picture.

Anyone have thoughts on which would be better for MCAT prep? Our gen bio class does NOT teach body systems so I need something to help prep for that. I’ve had anatomy before (30 years ago) which is why I shied away from it at first.



Before directly answering your question, I’ll give you a quick run through of my experience with course work and the MCAT.

I graduated from college in 2005 without taking Biology or Organic Chemistry. I spent five years in the Army and left active duty in 2010 to pursue medical school. During the 2010-11 academic year I took Biology and Organic Chemistry and went on to take the MCAT in July 2011. As such, my MCAT preparation was strictly the basic required courses. However, since I took General Chemistry and Physics in 2001 and 2002, I required significant review/relearning in May and June to prepare for the MCAT.

Fast forward…The MCAT went well (I used an online prep course in May and June which was quite helpful). This past semester (Fall 2011), I took Physiology. I am taking Anatomy with cadaver lab next semester. Having Physiology under my belt now, I understand why so many people say it is helpful. Learning the pathways and various interactions within the human system is a vital part of the BS section of the MCAT. Despite this, I think it is critical that everyone remember that the MCAT tests your ability to reason much more than it tests your detailed knowledge of various signal transduction pathways or endocrine responses etc. That is, simply knowing how the kidney works doesn’t guarantee a correct answer.

I recall that while studying for the MCAT, I only found a few minor content areas in the BS section that I didn’t remember seeing in General Biology. In your case, you would need to learn the body systems. Additionally, taking Physiology can only serve to reinforce many of the important concepts you’ll see on the MCAT. The bottom line: a single course past the basic requirements isn’t going to make or break you on the MCAT. Once you are solid on the content areas (see AAMC website), you need to practice practice practice. I also recommend a prep course.

As for Anatomy, I obviously haven’t taken the course yet, but I would definitely go with Physiology over Anatomy if you are looking for content review that is most relevant to the MCAT. Any anatomy that comes up on the test is typically basic and is covered in Biology.

Study hard and I hope you do well! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thank you for the feedback!

Our general biology class covered:


photo/cell respiration

genetics - high level, Mendelian



That’s it. Which is why I was concerned when I saw all the human body questions in my MCAT prep book (I’ve owned the full set of EK for over 3 years, and own all the 1001 questions as well; my plan is to take Kaplan starting in April or May; with MCAT July 6th)

Eek. I just said that didn’t?! MCAT = 7/6/2012

ooooh boy!

I haven’t taken the MCAT yet myself, but I’m working my way through some of the BIO review for it and I would agree that Physiology would be a good course to take. I took Anatomy w/cadaver lab and Physiology with lab as well as general BIO. First semester BIO did not get as in depth in body systems as I would have liked so I was happy I took Physio, too. I think, however, if you use a good MCAT Bio review you will get some material there, but a full semester of undergrad Physio is a good bonus if you have the time.

Do you already have genetics? Immunology? If not, why would you consider taking anatomy? You’ll get that in med school. Second year med students, when queried a few years ago about what courses they wished that they had had said: genetics and immuno.

Food for thought…



  • jcolwell Said:
Do you already have genetics? Immunology? If not, why would you consider taking anatomy? Cheers, Judy

MCAT prep only. I reviewed EK books and sample exams and none of the body systems was covered in my gen bio class. So I was thinking either anat or physio.

Presuming I have a glide year (ala I don't suck this semester):

Genetics and something in Fall '12

Microbio and something in Spr '13

So, anat or physio for MCAT?

I would think physio would be more generally helpful for organ systems.

An alternative would be self-study, which it sounds like you have already done some of. I understand wanting to have some formal instruction as well.

That said, physio will PROBABLY go into way more molecular detail than you need. You’ll see it again in med school, obviously, so at least it will give you a leg up there.

Anatomy will not be as useful, I think, and there is some anatomy built into physio courses.


Thanks, Kate. I kind of fell over when I saw how much biology in my EK books included systems… not that I’m shocked by that, more that gen bio does not cover at all.

I’m kind of sold on physio as I’ve heard nothing different.

That said, I dropped physio last week, registered for anatomy since it worked better with work schedules, got the syllabus and books, permission to get into cadaver lab, and now… I’m really reticent to drop.

The professor teaches MS-1 anatomy.

Why oh why do I get peddle-to-the-metal syndrome and not realize…

patience. One step. Wait. lolol

Hello, Everyone. It’s great to finally be a member, after much skulking around : ) All your posts have been so incredibly helpful!

I wanted to ask, since we’re kind of on the subject of “this class or that,” whether a physiology course is better than microbiology for MCAT prep. My GPA is not the most stellar of them all, however, I worry most about the outcome of the MCAT next spring. I have the opportunity to take EITHER physio A&B OR microbiology and immunology.

My instinct is to go with micro and immun, due to obvious benefit of prepping for med school and the fact that they are recommended courses (granted, some schools have physio on that list as well), however, physio will likely be less of a potential drain on my GPA, and more importantly, I’m starting to get the picture that physiology is more relevant to the MCAT. I wish I could take them all for a well-rounded prep, but it’s just not possible due to my small university’s sparse science offerings; I’ll be done with my post-bac by the time their offered again! I understand that the MCAT is all about evaluation/synthesis of information, but I am not a great standardized test taker in the first place, and I NEED to do well on the bio section to make up for my physics inadequacies. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

I’d say physio would be much more helpful for MCAT prep (although not strictly necessary).


I decided on physio for MCAT prep after lengthy discussion with other professors who teach in the medical school, and my health sciences adviser.

We’ll see how it works out for me in 4 months!