What are the MCAT2015 Foundational Concepts?

What are the MCAT2015 Foundational Concepts?

The foundational concepts are the "big ideas" in the sciences that provide the foundation for learning in medical school. Within those foundational concepts are the content categories, topics, and subtopics that are needed to understand foundational concepts. Included below is a high-level list of the foundational concepts and content categories. A detailed list, including specific topics and sub-topics, can be found in The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (MCAT2015), Fourth Edition.

Foundational Concept 1

The unique chemical and structural properties of biomolecules determine the roles they play in cells. The proper functioning of a living system depends on the many components acting harmoniously in response to a constantly changing environment. Biomolecules are constantly formed or degraded in response to the perceived needs of the organism.

Foundational Concept 2

Cells are the basic unit of structure in all living things. Mechanisms of cell division provide not only for the growth and maintenance of organisms, but also for the continuation of the species through asexual and sexual reproduction. The unique micro-environment to which a cell is exposed during development and division determines the fate of the cell by impacting gene expression and ultimately the cell’s collection and distribution of macromolecules, and its arrangement of subcellular organelles.

In multicellular organisms, the processes necessary to maintain life are executed by groups of cells that are organized into specialized structures with specialized functions both of which result from the unique properties of the cells component molecules.

Foundational Concept 3

As a result of the integration of a number of highly specialized organ systems, complex living things are able to maintain homeostasis while adapting to a constantly changing environment, participating in growth and reproduction. The interactions of these organ systems involves complex regulatory mechanisms that help maintain a dynamic and healthy equilibrium, regardless of their current state and environment.

Foundational Concept 4

The processes that take place within the human body follow the laws of physics. They can be quantified with equations that model the behavior at a fundamental level. For example, the principles of electromagnetic radiation, and its interactions with matter, can be exploited to generate structural information about molecules or to generate images of the human body. So, too, can atomic structure be used to predict the physical and chemical properties of atoms, including the amount of electromagnetic energy required to cause ionization.

Foundational Concept 5

The chemical processes that take place within organisms are readily understood within the framework of the behavior of solutions, thermodynamics, molecular structure, intermolecular interactions, molecular dynamics, and molecular reactivity.

Foundational Concept 6

The way in which we sense, perceive, think about, and react to stimuli affects our experiences.

Foundational Concept 6 focuses on these components of experience, starting with the initial detection and perception of stimuli through cognition, and continuing to emotion and stress.

Foundational Concept 7

Human behavior is complex and often surprising, differing across individuals in the same situation and within an individual across different situations. A full understanding of human behavior requires knowledge of the interplay between psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors that are related to behavior. This interplay has important implications for the way we behave and the likelihood of behavior change.

Foundational Concept 7 focuses on individual and social determinants of behavior and behavior change.

Foundational Concept 8

The connection between how people think about themselves and others is complex and affects social interactions. The interplay between our thoughts about ourselves, thoughts about others, and our biology has important implications for our sense of self and interpersonal relationships.

Foundational Concept 8 focusses on the physical, cognitive, and social components of our identity, as well as how these components influence the way we thing about and interact with others.

Foundational Concept 9

Societal structure, culture, and demographic factors influence peoples’ health and well-being. Knowledge about basic sociological theories, social institutions, culture, and demographic characteristics of societies is important to understand how these factors shape peoples’ lives and their daily interactions.

Foundational Concept 9 focuses on social variables and processes that influence our daily lives.

Foundational Concept 10

Social stratification and inequality affect all human societies, and shape the lives of all individuals by affording privileges to some and positioning others at a disadvantage.

Foundational Concept 10 focuses on the aspects of social inequality that influence how we interact with one another, as well as how we approach our health and the healthcare system.

A detailed list, including specific topics and sub-topics, can be found in the Official Guide for the MCAT2015 Exam.

Category 10A - Social inequality.