An Awesome MCAT Shortcut!

October 25, 2013
Emily Hause

EMILY HAUSE - Anatomy Lab - KAPLANHello my diligent MCAT students. As you study for the MCAT, I’m sure that you have realized that there is an incredibly large volume of information to both understand and memorize. You are probably looking for a trick or tool that you can use to help you retain all of the relevant equations and concepts. Well, you are in luck today!

One of the best tools for memorizing information is creating mnemonics. I fell in love with mnemonics at a young age when I was trying to memorize all 50 states and their capitals. My dad kindly taught me the Maine is nice in August (for Augusta, Maine) and I was hooked.

I went on to dominate studying using mnemonics throughout high school and college. The silliest mnemonics were also the ones that stuck in my memory the longest. The example that I am most proud of, I created in AP Government to remember the 22nd Amendment- 2, 2, 2 terms for President! It’s only truly effective if you say it in a ruthlessly perky tone of voice though.

When it comes to the MCAT there are lots of fun mnemonics you can employ. Here are a couple of stellar examples-

FLAT PEG to memorize the hormones that come from the Anterior Pituitary

OIL RIG for oxidation and reduction (oxidation is loss of electrons, reduction is gain of electrons)

RED CAT and AN OX for electrochemistry (reduction at the cathode, oxidation at the anode)

IT = nerds forever for the equation IT=nF

VA VA VA VA RPL for the flow of blood through the heart and lungs

Katie Put Chocolate on Five Graham Squares for Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

The opportunities for using these mnemonics as well as creating your own are endless! I taught a workshop last night at the MCAT Summer Intensive program on mnemonics and learned some of the best new mnemonics from my own students. Here’s a great lesson on memory and mnemonics from TED:

So, if you’re having trouble memorizing an equation or concept while you are studying today, try making a mnemonic! I would love to read what you create in the comments.

Happy studying!

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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