A very common question I hear from my MCAT students is that "How much math do I need to know ?" On Test Day, no calculators allowed. The following tips will help you all identify what math skills you’ll need.
- The ability to perform arithmetic calculations, including proportion, ratio, percentage, and estimation of square root.
- An understanding of fundamental topics in the following areas (at the level of second-year high school algebra coursework): exponentials and logarithms (natural and base ten); scientific notation; quadratic and simultaneous equations; graphic representations of data and functions including terminology (abscissa, ordinate), slope or rate of change, reciprocals, and various scales (arithmetic, semi-log, and log-log).
- The knowledge of the definitions of the basic trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent); sin and cos values of of 0º, 90º, and 180º; the relationships between the lengths of sides of right triangles containing angles of 30º, 45º, and 60º; the inverse trigonometric functions (arcsin, arccos, arctan).
- The use of metric units; the ability to balance equations containing physical units. Conversion factors between metric and British systems will be provided when needed.
- An understanding of relative magnitude of experimental error and of the effect of propagation of error; an understanding of reasonable estimates and the significant digits of a measurement.
- The ability to calculate at an elementary level the mathematical probability of an event.
- An understanding of vector addition, vector subtraction, and right-hand rule is required. Dot and cross products are not required.
- The ability to calculate the arithmetic mean (average) and range of a set of numerical data; an understanding of the standard deviation as a measure of variability; an understanding of the general concepts of statistical association and correlation. Calculation of statistics such as standard deviations and correlation coefficients is not required.
- An understanding of calculus is not required.
This information is base on the AAMC publication on summer 2014. I do not anticipate that it changes for the new MCAT in 2015.