The MCAT covers a lot of ground (to put it mildly). Eventually, you’re going to have to settle in and get cozy with MCAT physics equations. Now, if physics is your jam, then you’re likely looking forward to this section.

*However,* for those of you who just groaned when I mentioned your study date with MCAT physics equations, I’m here for you! Believe it or not, getting these equations into your head doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling nightmare.

I’ll guide you through super-helpful advice (*including why you actually don’t need to memorize every single equation*!), and the exact study hacks that helped our former Road to Acceptance student Chris to an amazing 130 score specifically for the Physics and Chemistry section Plus, I’ll answer your most commonly asked questions and much more. So, grab your favorite study beverage and a snack, and let’s jump right in!

**This post is all about MCAT Physics equation hack.**

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.*

**The Ultimate MCAT Physics Equation Hack**

## Do you have to memorize all the physics equations for the MCAT?

Yes… but before you drop your head into your hands, let’s chat about what that really means.

Firstly, mindlessly cramming every equation on that physics sheet is NOT the answer! Memorizing without understanding is certainly like building a house on sand. Instead, you need a solid foundation of how and when to use these equations.

I personally didn’t sit down with flashcards to memorize every single formula. That would’ve been a horrendous waste of my time. Instead, I focused on getting familiar with the higher-yield equations that appear more frequently on the exam and understanding the concepts behind them.

Why does this strategy work? I discovered that the more practice test questions I tackled, the more I could quickly and easily recall those equations and put them into action. It was like a light bulb turned on, and suddenly, equations I thought I’d have to memorize started popping into my head like old friends. (Hey, girl, hey!)

So, rather than pounding these equations into your brain, commit only the equations most likely to appear on the exam to memory. Then, focus on understanding and practicing, and before you know it, you’ll be adept at recalling them in no time!

## How to Best Use Physics Equations in Your MCAT Preparation: Chris’ Three-Phase Approach + Handy Tips

If you’re wondering how the above advice looks in action as you’re studying, here’s what one of our former Road to Acceptance students Chris did (and would recommend to anyone) during each stage of studying based on my 3-phase plan for the MCAT. She ended up reaching a 130 in the Physics / Chemistry section of the MCAT, so listen up!

**Pro Tip:** The best way to use the equations is obviously PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. The more problems you do, certainly the better you’ll be able to know HOW to use the equations, not just the equations themselves.

If you are new to the 3-phase study plan or simply don’t want to figure it all out by yourself, in my course MCAT Roadmap you get step-by-step guidance for creating that perfect study plan that fits YOU. No more generic plans that stress you more out than they give you real progress, And you finally get to break that procrastination cycle since you now have a realistic and tailored schedule to lead you through each day of your MCAT studying.

### Phase One: The Formula Sheet Approach Chris Used

Our former RTA student Chris relied heavily on a formula sheet during the first phase of studying for the MCAT. Why? Because at this stage, you’re still in the thick of content review and may not have had the chance to cover everything. She didn’t want to feel overwhelmed trying to recall all the formulas, so she kept the sheet handy as a safety net.

Here’s how it works: When you think you can remember an equation, try to refrain from looking it up. Challenge yourself! Use your formula sheet as a reference only when you’re really stuck. This approach helps you grasp how the equations work while easing the pressure of memorization. Also, it’s a great way to build your confidence.

Think of it this way: by focusing on understanding and applying the equations without the stress of perfection, you’ll be better equipped when it’s time to sit down for practice tests or, heaven forbid, the actual exam.

### Phases Two and Three: Test What You Know and Don’t Know

At this point, resist the urge to sneak a peek at that formula sheet! You’re practicing relying on your ability to recall an equation and, in doing so, mimicking the same scenario you’ll face while taking the exam. In this case. only after you have answered the questions and are in the process of reviewing them can you look at the sheet to revisit those tricky formulas that slipped your mind.

Also, make sure you jot down a quick note of which equations you couldn’t recall so that you have a list of the exact formulas you need to study more intensely. Then, set aside a portion of your study time to sit down and work on them. Chris made a quizlet (but you could do Anki or flashcards) with all the equations she couldn’t remember off the top of her head and reviewed them every physics and chem day.

### Tip #1: Use Flashcards

Make flashcards your new best friends for organizing and reviewing what you still need to drum into your head. You can basically write the equation on one side and the name of the equation on the other and create a mini-quiz for yourself. Or go a step further and jot down the applications of each equation on the side you listed its name. Then, you can connect the dots between the equations and the real-world scenarios where they come into play. You’ll soon remember the equations plus understand their significance!

### Tip #2: Give Mnemonic Devices a Try

If you’ve ever struggled with memorizing something, you know how powerful these little tricks can be – and they’re surely perfect for MCAT physics equations, too! Want to specifically memorize Ohm’s Law? Remember that (V = IR) voltage (V) equals current (I) times resistance (R) with the catchy phrase: “Vampires Intensely Radiate.” (Bonus points if you got the Twilight reference!) It’s certainly amazing how a simple phrase can make all the difference. Get creative and come up with your own quirky phrases, and you’ll surely be surprised at how easily they stick in your mind.

### Tip #3: Get Your Units Down

Seriously, units are surely the unsung heroes of physics equations! Aligning your answers with the units used in the question ensures that you can understand each question, apply the proper equation, and convert units when necessary. So, start practicing those conversions so they become second nature!

## Use Math Hacks to Ace the Chem/Phys Section Without a Calculator

While you may be used to having a calculator handy at all times, prepare yourself now because you won’t be allowed to use one on the MCAT. Yikes, right! However, in its place, these math hacks put together by our RTA student Chris (who crushed her MCAT!) can be a real game changer.

**Rounding**is surely your best friend! Round to simple numbers (ex: 8.786 ~ 9). This basically will make your math simpler and easier for you to do quickly and in your head.- Knowing conversion factors off the top of your head (like mL → L) will help you not waste time trying to think through the numbers. When converting make sure units cancel out to ensure you end with the right units
- Ex: 8
~~mL~~x (1 L/10^{3}~~mL~~) = 0.008 L (mLs canceled out and only left with liters)

- Ex: 8
- Converting with bases of 10: when multiplying by 10 to the
**negative**power OR dividing by 10 to the**positive**power → move the decimal to the**left**by the number in the power. Vice versa for the opposite.- Ex: 8 mL x (1 L/10
^{3}mL) = 0.008 L → here we are dividing by a positive power with a base of 10, therefore we moved the decimal three places to the left

- Ex: 8 mL x (1 L/10
- When working with logs:
- A log of less than 1 will always be negative!
- log(0.1) = -1

- A log that is a multiple of 10 will always be the number of decimal places
- log(0.01) = -2 (two decimal places)

- For logs that have a complicated number specifically → take the power of the 10 and subtract it by the first number divided by 10 (SUPER helpful for pH and sound level calculations)
- -log (4.8 x 10
^{-6}) = 6 – 0.48 = 5.52 (if this was a positive log this answer would be -5.52)

- -log (4.8 x 10

- A log of less than 1 will always be negative!
- Square roots to know
- 2= 1.4 (Remember this because Valentine’s Day is Feb. 14th → 2/14)
- 3= 1.7 (Remember this because St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th → 3/17)

## List of All Relevant MCAT Physics Equations

Here are the physics equations that often appear on the MCAT. Focusing on these equations unquestionably delivers a higher yield on your study time. Please note: if you don’t see the Greek symbols particularly, or these equations aren’t appearing properly — be sure to adjust your browser’s font to Unicode.

Topic | High Yield | Lower Yield |
---|---|---|

Kinematics | Average velocity: v = Δd÷Δt Average acceleration: a = Δv÷Δt Big 5 kinematic equations: 1. d = vt 2. v = v _{0} + at3. d = v _{0}t + 1/2at^{2}4. d = vt – 1/2at ^{2}5. v ^{2 }= v_{0}^{2} + 2aΔdNewton’s second law: F _{net} = maPower: P = Fv Center of mass: x=(m _{1}x1+ m2x2+ m3x3) (m1+ m2+m3)Torque: 𝛕 = rFsinθ Mechanical advantage: MA = F _{out} F_{in} | Static friction: F _{max} = 𝜇F_{N}Kinetic friction: F = 𝜇F _{N }Hooke’s law: F = -kx Elastic potential energy: PE = ½ kx2 |

Work and energy | Work: W = Fdcosθ W = PΔV Power: P = Wt Kinetic energy: KE = ½ mv2 Gravitational potential energy: PE = mgh | Work: W = ΔKE = K _{f} – K_{i}Power: P = ΔE÷t |

Fluids | Buoyant force: F _{b} = mg = ⍴_{fluid}VgDensity: ⍴ = m÷V Specific gravity: SG = ⍴ _{object}÷⍴_{water}Continuity equation: A _{1}v_{1} = A_{2}v_{2}Bernoulli’s equation: P _{1} + (½⍴v_{1}^{2}) + (⍴gh_{1}) = P_{2} + (½⍴v_{2}^{2}) + (⍴gh_{2})Pascal’s Law: F _{1}÷A_{1} = F_{2}÷A_{2} | Average KE of a gas particle: KE _{avg} = 32k_{B}TPressure: P = F÷A Hydrostatic pressure: P = P _{0} + ⍴gdPoiseuille’s Law: Q = (ΔP𝞹r ^{4}) ÷ (8ɳℓ) |

Circuits | Power: P = VI = V ^{2} / R = I^{2}ROhm’s Law: V = IR Resistance Resistors in series: R _{tot }= R_{1} + R_{2} + R_{3}… Resistors in parallel: 1/R _{tot} = 1/R_{1} + 1/R_{2} +…Resistivity:⍴ = RA/L Capacitance C = Q/V = ε _{0}(A/d)Capacitors in series: 1/C _{tot} = 1/C_{1} + 1/C_{2} +… Capacitors in parallel: C _{tot} = C_{1} + C_{2} + C_{3}… | Potential energy of a charged capacitor: U = Q ^{2}/CU = ½ QV U = ½ C(V) ^{2} |

Electrostatics | Coulomb’s Law: F _{e} = kq_{1}q_{2} ÷ r^{2}Electric Force: F _{e} = Eq = kQ^{2} ÷ r^{2}Electrical potential energy: U = kQq ÷ r | Electrical potential: V = U ÷ q = kQ ÷ r Uniform of electric field: E = V/d Current: I = Q/t |

Magnetism | Magnetic force: F _{B} = qvBsinθ | Lorentz force: F = qE + qvBsinθ |

Light, sound, and optics | Power: P = 1/f Energy of a photon: E = hf Frequency: f = 1 ÷ T Sound level: ꞵ = 10 log(I ÷ I _{0})ꞵ _{f} = ꞵ_{i} + 10 log(I_{f} ÷ I_{i})Doppler effect: f’ = f [(vv _{d}) ÷ (vv_{s})]Waves: Open pipes: 𝝀 = 2L÷n Closed pipes: 𝝀 = 4L÷n Law of reflection: 𝛉 _{1} = 𝛉_{2}Index of refraction: n = c÷v Snell’s law: n _{1}sinθ_{1} = n_{2}sinθ_{2}Critical angle: θ _{c} = sin^{-1} (n_{2} ÷ n_{1})Optics equation: 1/f = 1/o + 1/i Magnification: m = – i/o | KE of a photoelectron: KE = hf – Φ Intensity: I = P÷A Wavenumber: n = 1/𝝀 |

### FAQs

### Can I use a calculator for the physics section of the MCAT?

Nope! As a matter of fact, you won’t have that trusty calculator by your side. So, make doubly sure you master math shortcuts and understand key physics equations. Also, the good news? With practice, you’ll certainly be able to do the calculations in your head at a decent clip.

### How much physics is on the MCAT?

In the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section, you’ll basically find a total of 59 questions to tackle in 95 minutes. Moreover, about 25% of those questions will be physics-related. So, you can expect roughly 15 physics questions, giving you around 25 minutes to work through them. It’s certainly manageable with the right preparation!

### Will I need to draw anything for the MCAT physics section?

Not exactly! You won’t be asked to sketch anything, but don’t underestimate the power of visualization. Sometimes, sketching out a problem in your mind or jotting down a quick diagram can really help clarify your thoughts and also make those tricky concepts click.

### How hard is MCAT physics?

It’s difficult to say exactly. For one student, the physics part might be the easiest, while for the next student, it may be the hardest. That said, looking at mean scores from 2024, the *Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems* portion tends to be a bit challenging — with lower mean scores than both *Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems*, and *Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior*. Only the* Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills* portion has a lower mean score.

### What physics is on the MCAT?

The MCAT physics section of the MCAT, of course, covers concepts most relevant to medicine. The following list are the specific areas of study you can expect to see on the exam.

- Motion
- Fluid Mechanics
- Electrical currents and voltages
- Energy conversion
- Electrical impulses
- How light and sound behave
- Subatomic particles

#### The Bottom Line on Studying MCAT Physics Equations

Even if physics was never your best subject, you can still score well on this section on the MCAT.

While you don’t need to cram every equation into your memory and hope for the best, regularly working on practice questions and using the study tips I’ve shared can make a huge difference in how you score in this section. As you familiarize yourself with applying these equations through practice, you’ll also find that identifying the right one becomes quicker and easier.

Here are some techniques that can definitely boost your study sessions:

- Firstly, take advantage of practice questions
- Strengthening your recall abilities
- Get creative with flashcards
- Use mnemonic devices to significantly make memorization fun
- Master unit conversions like a pro

However you choose to study, remember: you’ve got this!

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