What are the Best Classes to Take for the MCAT?

Before studying for the MCAT, it is recommended that you take certain pre-med courses that are covered on the exam. But what are the best classes to take for the MCAT?

In this post, I list the essential prerequisites you need to take for the MCAT and additional courses which help improve your score even further.

We will refer to these particular pre-med courses as the “MCAT prerequisites.”

Why are the MCAT Prerequisites Important?

Recently I wrote a post defining what the MCAT prerequisites are and why they are important.  Basically, you want to take these classes before you take the MCAT so that you have a solid understanding of the tested material. A solid understanding of the material comes from lectures, tests, and labs.

Med School Pursuit’s strategy for acing the MCAT involves doing a ton of practice tests, passages, and problems followed by careful review. We advise students to obtain a good MCAT content book to use as a reference when reviewing problems.

But you don’t want to purchase Kaplan’s MCAT review book set so that you can learn all the material that will be on the MCAT. You want these books as a refresher for concepts you already know.

Ultimately, without the MCAT prerequisites, you will spend way to much time learning the material when you could be mastering it through practice.

The Essential MCAT Prerequisites

Here are the classes you should definitely take before the MCAT:

  • 2 semesters of General Biology
  • 2 semesters of General Chemistry
  • 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry
  • 2 semesters of General Physics
  • 1 semester of Biochemistry (Note: Most universities will have a biochemistry class for chemistry majors and an easier biochemistry class for biology majors. Take the easier class, 2 semesters of chemistry major Biochemistry is overkill!)
  • 1 semester of General Psychology
  • 1 semester of General Sociology

This is a pretty long list of classes. Assuming that your University will also have core classes you need to take, it is recommended that you hit the ground running when starting out as a premed. Ideally, you want to take the MCAT Junior year or right after Junior year. This means you need to cram all these classes into essentially 2.5-3 years.

If you are planning ahead, consider buying an MCAT prep book as early as freshmen year. You can use it to supplement your pre-med studies and further reinforce the information that the MCAT tends to emphasize.

Helpful Upper-Level Classes

Upper-level classes are NOT required to do well on the MCAT. However, one cannot deny that there is a clear benefit to taking upper-level biology courses before the MCAT.

The only reason why we don’t recommend taking these classes is that there is usually not enough time. But if you are in a position where you can take a couple of upper-level Biology courses, great!

Here are the best upper-level courses to take before the MCAT:

  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Genetics

Technically any upper-level biology or chemistry class will help you with the MCAT. The classes I listed above are agreed by most students to be the most useful for MCAT studying.

Can You Get Away With Not Taking All the MCAT Prerequisite Classes?

Technically you can.

All major MCAT prep companies will cover 99% of the information you need to know in order to do well on the MCAT. Technically if you did not take a class like Physics or Biochemistry, you could learn what you need to know for the exam with a thorough review of one of the MCAT third party content review books.

However, this will add a lot of time to your overall MCAT studying time and you will not have as solid of an understanding of the material.

The first time I took the MCAT I did not take biochemistry. Sure, I took general biology and general chemistry so I understood most of the biochemistry material. However, there was a lot of material I did not have a strong grasp on and ultimately I lost points because of this. I did study a lot from a prep company’s book but, when it came down to actual test day, I missed points because I didn’t have a professor explain certain concepts.

It is always recommended to finish all the MCAT prerequisites before studying for the MCAT. If this is impossible, be prepared to spend a lot of extra time reviewing content.


The classes listed in this post are the best classes to take for the MCAT. But taking these classes alone will not cut it when you begin studying for the MCAT. You need a really good understanding of the material covered in these MCAT prerequisites. This means being engaged.

Purchasing an MCAT prep book early on is a great way to supplement these courses. Every week your professor covers a new subject, you can focus more on material that is also emphasized in your MCAT prep book. This technique requires a lot of forethought but it will help you tremendously in the end.

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