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How Much Physics Is On The MCAT?
By Connor Reed Updated on May 6, 2024
Peter Bailey, MD Peter Bailey, MD

How Much Physics Is On The MCAT?

Everything you need to know about physics questions on the MCAT

When preparing for the MCAT, a lot of students feel that physics is such a small part of the exam that they don’t need to worry. However, you need to have at least basic physics knowledge to do well on the test, even though it may not be a major part of the exam. Understanding physics is (in theory) important for future doctors, which is why it’s included on the MCAT, so you need to ensure you are properly prepared.

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How Many Physics Questions Are On The MCAT?

To be clear, physics questions will be found only in the first part of the MCAT—the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems portion.

59 questions are included in this part of the test, and about 25% of them will be related to introductory physics. This means you can expect approximately 15 questions related to physics on the MCAT. And for reference, you will have 95 minutes to complete this portion of the test.

mcat physics question
Example physics question on MCAT

To help you prepare for this section of the test, you may want to consider purchasing an MCAT prep course. Often times, MCAT prep courses include simulated practice tests and filterable question banks which contain problems that mimic the content and format of real physics questions that you will encounter come test day.

Physics Topics Tested On The MCAT

The types of physics topics tested on the MCAT can vary widely, and don’t necessarily appear consistently. You will want to have a good foundation in all of the physics subtopics you’ve been taught.

For reference, the physics topics you should understand include atomic and nuclear phenomena, circuits, electrostatics, fluids, kinematics, light and optics, magnetism, thermodynamics, units and dimensional analysis, waves and sound, and work and energy.

Physics Formulas & Equations To Know For The MCAT

You will not receive a formula or equation sheet to use as you take the MCAT, so you should make sure you memorize them. Some passages may include the equation, but that’s not always the case. You will however receive a wet-erase booklet to take notes during the MCAT.

Below are a few of the formulas you will for sure want to memorize.

Newton’s 2nd Law (F = m x a): The net force (F) on an object can be calculated from the product of the object’s mass (m) and acceleration (A).

Kinetic Energy (KE = 1/2 x m x v2): Kinetic energy is proportional to the mass (m) of an object and the square of its velocity (v).

Potential Energy (PE = m x g x h): The gravitational potential energy (PE) of an object is proportional to the object’s mass (m) and height (h) and to the acceleration of gravity (g = 9.8 m/s2).

Pascal’s Law (P = F/A): Pascal’s law states that pressure exerted on fluid at rest is transmitted equally in all directions of the container holding the fluid. Pressure equals the applied force (F) divided by the area of contact (A).

prep101 mcat video lesson
MCAT prep video lesson on physics

MCAT Physics Practice Questions

Below are a couple of physics practice questions similar to what you will find on the MCAT. If you would like more MCAT practice questions, you may want to consider checking out MCAT prep companies such as Princeton Review or Kaplan.

Question 1:

You walk 30 m east and then 40 m north. What is the difference between your traveled distance and your displacement?
(A) 0 m
(B) 20 m
(C) 50 m
(D) 70 m

Question 2:

A 30 kg child sits on a seesaw at a distance of 2 m from the fulcrum. Where must the father sit to balance the seesaw if he has a mass of 90 kg?
(A) 67 cm from the girl
(B) 67 cm from the fulcrum
(C) 133 cm from the girl
(D) 267 cm from the fulcrum

How To Study For MCAT Physics

Below are some tips that will help you to do better with the physics questions on the MCAT.

👉 Tip #1: Revisit Physics

If you haven’t thought much about your physics classes lately, it’s time to revisit what you’ve learned. Go through all of the areas mentioned above and make sure you understand all of the fundamentals. Prep companies such as Blueprint and Altius even offer physics-focused classes if you need additional help.

👉 Tip #2: Memorize Equations with Flashcards

Knowing equations is essential. One of the easiest ways to memorize them is with the help of flash cards. Go over them daily until you have them all committed to memory.

physics flashcard
Flashcards are a good way to study formulas

👉 Tip #3: Focus on Weak Areas

If you have areas where you know you are weak, focus your attention on those. Keep studying for the other parts of the MCAT but make an effort to improve your weaknesses if you want to do well on the test.

👉 Tip #4: Take Practice Tests

A great way to know how you are likely to fare on the MCAT is to take some practice tests. They can also let you know where you are having trouble, so you can redouble your efforts in those areas. You may also want to consider working with an MCAT tutor to get the most out of reviewing your practice tests. Tutors will be able to give you advice and strategies for mastering physics questions.

👉 Tip #5: Take A Prep Course

A great way to refresh your knowledge is with a prep course for the MCAT. Quality courses will cover all of the most important things you need to know for the test. Our team recommends the MCAT courses from Blueprint and Princeton Review. These were two of the highest-rated courses that our team has tested to date.

The MCAT might seem scary, particularly when it comes to the physics portion. However, with proper prep and study, you can do well on this test. Good luck!


Why is physics on the MCAT?

The AAMC includes physics on the MCAT because medical schools want to see that you (1) have a basic understanding of physics principles that influence human physiology; and (2) are able to learn and understand difficult topics.

How do you memorize physics equations for the MCAT?

The best way to memorize physics equations is by repeatedly using flashcards two to three times per day.

What kind of physics is on the MCAT?

Several different content areas related to physics are tested on the MCAT. These include Kinematics, Dynamics, Optics, Mechanical Waves, Magnetism, and more.