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Sample MCAT Test Questions

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Planning to take the MCAT? Try these sample MCAT test questions to assess your preparation and see where to focus your study time. Answers are provided at the end of all the questions.

If you're also ready to explore medical school options, check out this search for medical schools to discover what might be a good match for you.

Verbal Reasoning

Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow.

There is no doubt that Americans today place a high priority on living a long and disease-free life. It is generally conceded that freedom from pain and debilitation ought to be looked upon as a natural right of all human beings. Achieving this goal is facilitated by the proper selection of health products and services.

Of all consumer goods and services, none is more essential to one's welfare than health care. There are several excellent consumer magazines distributed by product-testing agencies that may be helpful in choosing health care. Yet the array of products and medical facilities is huge, and the claims for the merits of each are confusing. Occasionally, we may visit a physician or dentist and receive specific care or advice, but few of us can afford professional counsel on all health matters.

Not only can we waste a great deal of money on ineffectual products and professionals, but our health, perhaps even our lives, may depend on getting proper treatment for disease and illness. There are times when self-treatment should not even be attempted. For example, some products — such as aspirin, laxatives, and antihistamines — are dangerous when used in excessive amounts, in the presence of certain physical disorders, or in combination with other medicines. In addition to the question of which products to select, there is always the question of whether any product should be selected without the consultation of a physician.

Obviously, people should not run to a physician for every little scrape, bruise, ache, or pain. If they did, our entire system of medical care would be swamped overnight and the doctors would be unable to take care of the more serious problems. How can we know then, which of the hundreds of different symptoms that can develop require the services of a physician? There are several circumstances under which a physician should always be consulted:

    * Severe symptoms. Any type of attack in which the symptoms are severe or alarming — such as severe abdominal or chest pain, or bleeding — should obviously receive prompt medical attention.
    * Prolonged symptoms. Any symptoms — such as cough, headache, constipation, or fatigue — that persist day after day should be checked by a physician, even though the symptoms are minor. Serious chronic disorders are often revealed through persistent minor symptoms.
    * Repeated symptoms. Symptoms, even though minor, that recur time after time should be reported to a physician because, like prolonged symptoms, they may indicate a serious problem.
    * Unusual symptoms. Any symptoms that seem to be unusual, such as unusual bleeding, mental changes, weight gain or loss, digestive changes, or fatigue, call for a visit to a physician.
    * If in doubt, the safest action is to see a physician. If there is a serious problem, it can be corrected in its early stages; if there is no problem, then you have paid a very small price for your piece of mind.

1. The focus of this article is:

(A) the importance of selecting quality health care.
(B) determining when and when not to see a physician.
(C) holding down the cost of health care.
(D) maintaining consistency in quality of life.

2. After a careful reading of this selection, one might infer that visiting a physician for every little sickness would:

(A) bankrupt many Americans.
(B) cause too much time to be spent away from work.
(C) overburden the health care profession.
(D) increase health care insurance premiums.

Physical Science

1. A hockey puck of mass 0.16 kg is slapped so that its velocity is 50 m/sec. It slides 40 meters across the ice before coming to rest. How much work is done by friction on the puck?

(A) +4 J
(B) –60 J
(C) –200 J
(D) –340 J

Biological Science

A variety of staining techniques are routinely used in the microbiology laboratory to identify bacteria. Some stains are simple stains while others are differential. Many of the basic dyes used bind to the bacterial cell due to its negatively charged surface. Other dyes may be repelled by the cell, and can be used to produce a negative stain. The choice of technique depends on the type of information needed. The information is routinely used to help identify microorganisms, and it also helps determine appropriate therapeutic treatment.

1. The most widely-used differential stain for bacteria is:

(A) the capsule stain.
(B) the Gram stain.
(C) the endospore stain.
(D) the flagella stain.

2. All of the following are true statements about the brain EXCEPT:

(A) The pons functions to link the cerebellum with the higher conscious centers.
(B) The limbic system alerts the cortex of incoming stimuli.
(C) The limbic system is associated with emotional responses.
(D) The nuclei of cranial nerves 5, 6, 7, and 8 are located in the pons.

Writing Sample (sample only)

A popular fear of Americans is that our nation will be "one large, paved parking lot with border-to-border interstate highways connecting it."

Write an essay in which you perform the following tasks: explain what you think the statement means; describe specific situations in which there is evidence of a growing change in the countryside of this nation; discuss ways that the statement may not be necessarily true; provide evidence of what this means to today's society; conclude with a justification of the positive or negative implications.

MCAT Answers

Verbal Reasoning

1. The correct answer is (B). The author attempts to point out the symptoms that require a visit to the doctor and alludes to those that can be personally treated. Choice (A) is incorrect; while selecting quality health care is very important, there is no effort on the part of the author to deal with this subject. Choice (C) is incorrect; the author alludes to the importance of holding down the cost of health care, but focuses on care for the proper reasons. Choice (D) is incorrect; there is no mention of maintaining consistency in quality of life.

2. The correct answer is (C). The author makes the statement that "If they did, our entire system of medical care would be swamped overnight and the doctors would be unable to take care of the more serious problems." Choice (A) is incorrect; while this may be true, it is not indicated in this article. Choices (B) and (D) are incorrect; although both are probably true, there is no evidence in this article to support either statement.

Physical Science

1. The correct answer is (C).

The work-energy theorem relates the change in kinetic energy to the work done on the puck:

equation 1b

Since the force of gravity is vertical and the displacement of the puck is horizontal, the force of gravity does no work. Since the only horizontal force on the puck is the friction force, all of the work on the puck is done by friction:

equation 1b

or

equation 2a

Since friction always exerts a force opposite to the velocity, the work done by friction is expected to be negative, as calculated.

Biological Science

1. The correct answer is (B). The gram stain is used to identify Gram-positive vs. Gram-negative cells, based on the cell wall composition of the organism.

2. The correct answer is (B). The limbic system includes the limbic lobe as well as the associated subcortical nuclei. It is associated with emotional responses and the integration of olfactory information with visceral and somatic information.

 

After you get a sense of where you stand on the MCAT, you may want to check out this search for medical schools to start exploring medical programs.

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