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Full AAMC Science Content Outline

Here is a list of all the content the AAMC has listed that could be tested on the MCAT:

The AAMC classifies each subject with abbreviations like "PHY" (physics), "GC" (general chemistry), "OC" (organic chemistry), "BC" (biochemistry), "BIO" (biology).

Some content falls under multiple subjects, so I've classified them under one particular category, for the sake of simplicity.

Content Outline: Text
Content Outline: List

Translational Motion (PHY)

  • Units and dimensions

  • Vectors, components

  • Vector addition

  • Speed, velocity (average and instantaneous)

  • Acceleration

Force (PHY)

  • Newton’s First Law, inertia

  • Newton’s Second Law (F = ma)

  • Newton’s Third Law, forces equal and opposite

  • Friction, static and kinetic

  • Center of mass

Equilibrium (PHY)

  • Vector analysis of forces acting on a point object

  • Torques, lever arms

Work (PHY)

  • Work done by a constant force: W = Fd cosθ

  • Mechanical advantage

  • Work Kinetic Energy Theorem

  • Conservative forces

Energy of Point Object Systems (PHY)

  • Kinetic Energy: KE = ½ mv2; units

  • Potential Energy

    • PE = mgh (gravitational, local)

    • PE = ½ kx2 (spring)

  • Conservation of energy

  • Power, units

Periodic Motion (PHY)

  • Amplitude, frequency, phase

  • Transverse and longitudinal waves: wavelength and propagation speed

Fluids (PHY)

  • Density, specific gravity

  • Buoyancy, Archimedes’ Principle

  • Hydrostatic pressure

    • Pascal’s Law

    • Hydrostatic pressure; P = ρgh (pressure vs. depth)

  • Viscosity: Poiseuille Flow

  • Continuity equation (A⋅v = constant)

  • Concept of turbulence at high velocities

  • Surface tension

  • Bernoulli’s equation

  • Venturi effect, pitot tube

Electrostatics (PHY)

  • Charge, conductors, charge conservation

  • Insulators

  • Coulomb’s Law

  • Electric field E

    • Field lines

    • Field due to charge distribution

  • Electrostatic energy, electric potential at a point in space

Circuit Elements (PHY)

  • Current I = ΔQ/Δt, sign conventions, units

  • Electromotive force, voltage

  • Resistance

    • Ohm’s Law: I = V/R

    • Resistors in series

    • Resistors in parallel

    • Resistivity: ρ = R⋅A / L

  • Capacitance

    • Parallel plate capacitor

    • Energy of charged capacitor

    • Capacitors in series

    • Capacitors in parallel

    • Dielectrics

  • Conductivity

    • Metallic

    • Electrolytic

  • Meters

Magnetism (PHY)

  • Definition of magnetic field B

  • Motion of charged particles in magnetic fields; Lorentz force

Sound (PHY)

  • Production of sound

  • Relative speed of sound in solids, liquids, and gases

  • Intensity of sound, decibel units, log scale

  • Attenuation (Damping)

  • Doppler Effect: moving sound source or observer, reflection of sound from a moving object

  • Pitch

  • Resonance in pipes and strings

  • Ultrasound

  • Shock waves

Light, Electromagnetic Radiation (PHY)

  • Concept of Interference; Young Double-slit Experiment

  • Thin films, diffraction grating, single-slit diffraction

  • Other diffraction phenomena, X-ray diffraction

  • Polarization of light: linear and circular

  • Properties of electromagnetic radiation

    • Velocity equals constant c, in vacuo

    • Electromagnetic radiation consists of perpendicularly oscillating electric and magnetic fields; direction of propagation is perpendicular to both

  • Classification of electromagnetic spectrum, photon energy E = hf

  • Visual spectrum, color

Geometrical Optics (PHY)

  • Reflection from plane surface: angle of incidence equals angle of reflection

  • Refraction, refractive index n; Snell’s law: n1 sin θ1 = n2 sin θ2

  • Dispersion, change of index of refraction with wavelength

  • Conditions for total internal reflection

  • Spherical mirrors

    • Center of curvature

    • Focal length

    • Real and virtual images

  • Thin lenses

    • Converging and diverging lenses

    • Use of formula 1/p + 1/q = 1/f, with sign conventions

    • Lens strength, diopters

  • Combination of lenses

  • Lens aberration

  • Optical Instruments, including the human eye

Content Outline: List

Atomic Nucleus (PHY, GC)

  • Atomic number, atomic weight

  • Neutrons, protons, isotopes

  • Nuclear forces, binding energy

  • Radioactive decay

    • α, β, γ decay

    • Half-life, exponential decay, semi-log plots

The Periodic Table - Classification of Elements into Groups by Electronic Structure (GC)

  • Alkali metals

  • Alkaline earth metals: their chemical characteristics

  • Halogens: their chemical characteristics

  • Noble gases: their physical and chemical characteristics

  • Transition metals

  • Representative elements

  • Metals and non-metals

  • Oxygen group

The Periodic Table - Variations of Chemical Properties with Group and Row (GC)

  • Valence electrons

  • First and second ionization energy

    • Definition

    • Prediction from electronic structure for elements in different groups or rows

  • Electron affinity

    • Definition

    • Variation with group and row

  • Electronegativity

    • Definition

    • Comparative values for some representative elements and important groups

  • Electron shells and the sizes of atoms

  • Electron shells and the sizes of ions

Electronic Structure (PHY, GC)

  • Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital (GC)

  • Ground state, excited states

  • Absorption and emission line spectra

  • Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle

  • Paramagnetism and diamagnetism

  • Conventional notation for electronic structure (GC)

  • Bohr atom

  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

  • Effective nuclear charge (GC)

  • Photoelectric effect

Covalent Bond (GC)

  • Lewis Electron Dot formulas

    • Resonance structures

    • Formal charge

    • Lewis acids and bases

  • Partial ionic character

    • Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution

    • Dipole Moment

  • σ and π bonds

    • Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries

    • Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g., NH3, H2O, CO2)

    • Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl

    • Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules

  • Multiple bonding

    • Effect on bond length and bond energies

    • Rigidity in molecular structure

Stoichiometry (GC)

  • Molecular weight

  • Empirical versus molecular formula

  • Metric units commonly used in the context of chemistry

  • Description of composition by percent mass

  • Mole concept, Avogadro’s number NA

  • Definition of density

  • Oxidation number

    • Common oxidizing and reducing agents

    • Disproportionation reactions

  • Description of reactions by chemical equations

    • Conventions for writing chemical equations

    • Balancing equations, including redox equations

    • Limiting reactants

    • Theoretical yields

Solubility (GC)

  • Units of concentration (e.g., molarity)

  • Solubility product constant; the equilibrium expression Ksp

  • Common-ion effect, its use in laboratory separations

    • Complex ion formation

    • Complex ions and solubility

    • Solubility and pH

Electrochemistry (GC)

  • Concentration cell: direction of electron flow, Nernst equation

  • Electrolytic cell

    • Electrolysis

    • Anode, cathode

    • Electrolyte

    • Faraday’s Law relating amount of elements deposited (or gas liberated) at an electrode to current

    • Electron flow; oxidation, and reduction at the electrodes

  • Galvanic or Voltaic cells

    • Half-reactions

    • Reduction potentials; cell potential

    • Direction of electron flow

  • Concentration cell

  • Batteries

    • Electromotive force, Voltage

    • Lead-storage batteries

    • Nickel-cadmium batteries

Gas Phase (GC, PHY)

  • Absolute temperature, (K) Kelvin Scale

  • Pressure, simple mercury barometer

  • Molar volume at 0°C and 1 atm = 22.4 L/mol

  • Ideal gas

    • Definition

    • Ideal Gas Law: PV = nRT

    • Boyle’s Law: PV = constant

    • Charles’ Law: V/T = constant

    • Avogadro’s Law: V/n = constant

  • Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases

    • Heat capacity at constant volume and at constant pressure (PHY)

    • Boltzmann’s Constant (PHY)

  • Deviation of real gas behavior from Ideal Gas Law

    • Qualitative

    • Quantitative (Van der Waals’ Equation)

  • Partial pressure, mole fraction

  • Dalton’s Law relating partial pressure to composition

Energy Changes in Chemical Reactions – Thermochemistry, Thermodynamics (GC, PHYC)

  • Thermodynamic system – state function

  • Zeroth Law – concept of temperature

  • First Law - conservation of energy in thermodynamic processes

  • PV diagram: work done = area under or enclosed by curve (PHY)

  • Second Law – concept of entropy

    • Entropy as a measure of “disorder”

    • Relative entropy for gas, liquid, and crystal states

  • Measurement of heat changes (calorimetry), heat capacity, specific heat

  • Heat transfer – conduction, convection, radiation (PHY)

  • Endothermic/exothermic reactions (GC)

    • Enthalpy, H, and standard heats of reaction and formation

    • Hess’ Law of Heat Summation

  • Bond dissociation energy as related to heats of formation (GC)

  • Free energy: G (GC)

  • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG° (GC)

  • Coefficient of expansion (PHY)

  • Heat of fusion, heat of vaporization

  • Phase diagram: pressure and temperature

Rate Processes in Chemical Reactions - Kinetics and Equilibrium (GC)

  • Reaction rate

  • Dependence of reaction rate on concentration of reactants

    • Rate law, rate constant

    • Reaction order

  • Rate-determining step

  • Dependence of reaction rate upon temperature

    • Activation energy

      • Activated complex or transition state

      • Interpretation of energy profiles showing energies of reactants, products, activation energy, and ΔH for the reaction

    • Use of the Arrhenius Equation

  • Kinetic control versus thermodynamic control of a reaction

  • Catalysts

  • Equilibrium in reversible chemical reactions

    • Law of Mass Action

    • Equilibrium Constant

    • Application of Le Châtelier’s Principle

  • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

Principles of Bioenergetics (BC, GC)

  • Bioenergetics/thermodynamics

    • Free energy/Keq

      • Equilibrium constant

      • Relationship of the equilibrium constant and ΔG°

    • Concentration

      • Le Châtelier’s Principle

    • Endothermic/exothermic reactions

    • Free energy: G

    • Spontaneous reactions and ΔG°

Acid/Base Equilibria (GC, BC)

  • Brønsted–Lowry definition of acid, base

  • Ionization of water

    • Kw, its approximate value (Kw = [H+][OH−] = 10−14 at 25°C, 1 atm)

    • Definition of pH: pH of pure water

  • Conjugate acids and bases (e.g., NH4+ and NH3)

  • Strong acids and bases (e.g., nitric, sulfuric)

  • Weak acids and bases (e.g., acetic, benzoic)

    • Dissociation of weak acids and bases with or without added salt

    • Hydrolysis of salts of weak acids or bases

    • Calculation of pH of solutions of salts of weak acids or bases

  • Equilibrium constants Ka and Kb: pKa, pKb

  • Buffers

    • Definition and concepts (common buffer systems)

    • Influence on titration curves

Ions in Solutions (GC, BC)

  • Anion, cation: common names, formulas and charges for familiar ions (e.g., NH4+ ammonium, PO43− phosphate, SO42− sulfate)

  • Hydration, the hydronium ion

Liquid Phase - Intermolecular Forces (GC)

  • Hydrogen bonding

  • Dipole Interactions

  • Van der Waals’ Forces (London dispersion forces)

Organic Chemistry

Course Coming Soon!

Content Outline: List

Aldehydes and Ketones (OC)

  • Description

    • Nomenclature

    • Physical properties

  • Important reactions

    • Nucleophilic addition reactions at C=O bond

      • Acetal, hemiacetal

      • Imine, enamine

      • Hydride reagents

      • Cyanohydrin

    • Oxidation of aldehydes

    • Reactions at adjacent positions: enolate chemistry

      • Keto-enol tautomerism (α-racemization)

      • Aldol condensation, retro-aldol

      • Kinetic versus thermodynamic enolate

  • General principles

    • Effect of substituents on reactivity of C=O; steric hindrance

    • Acidity of α-H; carbanions

Alcohols (OC)

  • Description

    • Nomenclature

    • Physical properties (acidity, hydrogen bonding)

  • Important reactions

    • Oxidation

    • Substitution reactions: SN1 or SN2

    • Protection of alcohols

    • Preparation of mesylates and tosylates

Carboxylic Acids (OC)

  • Description

    • Nomenclature

    • Physical properties

  • Important reactions

    • Carboxyl group reactions

      • Amides (and lactam), esters (and lactone), anhydride formation

      • Reduction

      • Decarboxylation

    • Reactions at 2-position, substitution

Acid Derivatives (Anhydrides, Amides, Esters) (OC)

  • Orbital structure of hydrogen atom, principal quantum number n, number of electrons per orbital (GC)

  • Ground state, excited states

  • Absorption and emission line spectra

  • Use of Pauli Exclusion Principle

  • Paramagnetism and diamagnetism

  • Conventional notation for electronic structure (GC)

  • Bohr atom

  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

  • Effective nuclear charge (GC)

  • Photoelectric effect

Covalent Bond (GC)

  • Lewis Electron Dot formulas

    • Resonance structures

    • Formal charge

    • Lewis acids and bases

  • Partial ionic character

    • Role of electronegativity in determining charge distribution

    • Dipole Moment

  • σ and π bonds

    • Hybrid orbitals: sp3, sp2, sp and respective geometries

    • Valence shell electron pair repulsion and the prediction of shapes of molecules (e.g., NH3, H2O, CO2)

    • Structural formulas for molecules involving H, C, N, O, F, S, P, Si, Cl

    • Delocalized electrons and resonance in ions and molecules

  • Multiple bonding

    • Effect on bond length and bond energies

    • Rigidity in molecular structure

Acid Derivatives (Anhydrides, Amides, Esters) (OC)

  • Description

    • Nomenclature

    • Physical properties

  • Important reactions

    • Nucleophilic substitution

    • Transesterification

    • Hydrolysis of amides

  • General principles

    • Relative reactivity of acid derivatives

    • Steric effects

    • Electronic effects

    • Strain (e.g., β-lactams)

Phenols (OC, BC)

  • Oxidation and reduction (e.g., hydroquinones, ubiquinones): biological 2e− redox centers

Polycyclic and Heterocyclic Aromatic Compounds (OC, BC)

  • Biological aromatic heterocycles

Molecular Structure and Absorption Spectra (OC)

  • Infrared region

    • Intramolecular vibrations and rotations

    • Recognizing common characteristic group absorptions, fingerprint region

  • Visible region (GC)

    • Absorption in visible region gives complementary color (e.g., carotene)

    • Effect of structural changes on absorption (e.g., indicators)

  • Ultraviolet region

    • π-Electron and non-bonding electron transitions

    • Conjugated systems

  • NMR spectroscopy

    • Protons in a magnetic field; equivalent protons

    • Spin-spin splitting

  • Mass spectrometer

Separations and Purifications (OC, BC)

  • Extraction: distribution of solute between two immiscible solvents

  • Distillation

  • Chromatography: Basic principles involved in separation process

    • Column chromatography

      • Gas-liquid chromatography

      • High pressure liquid chromatography

    • Paper chromatography

    • Thin-layer chromatography

  • Separation and purification of peptides and proteins (BC)

    • Electrophoresis

    • Quantitative analysis

    • Chromatography

      • Size-exclusion

      • Ion-exchange

      • Affinity

Stereochemistry of covalently bonded molecules (OC)

  • Isomers

    • Structural isomers

    • Stereoisomers (e.g., diastereomers, enantiomers, cis/trans isomers)

    • Conformational isomers

  • Polarization of light, specific rotation

  • Racemic mixtures, separation of enantiomers (OC)

  • Absolute and relative configuration

    • Conventions for writing R and S forms

    • Conventions for writing E and Z forms

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