An Awesome MCAT Shortcut!

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!

  • Nina K

    Red Cat – brilliant! I’ve heard the last one as, “King Phillip Came Over For Green Spaghetti.”

    • Emily Hause

      Thanks Nina! I’m glad you like them. Are you busy making mnemonics for the MCAT while you study?

  • anonymous

    or King Phillip Crossed Ocean For Good Sex

    • Emily Hause

      slightly less P.G. but very effective

  • anonymous

    7th grade Emily. Chocolate graham squares. precious.

    • Emily Hause

      Ha. Thanks! I think 7th grade Emily was indeed very precious

  • anonymous

    I don’t get the VA VA VA VA RPL….what does it stand for?

    • Emily Hause

      Veins, Right Atrium, Right Ventricle, Pulmonary arteries, Pulmonary veins, Left Atrium, Left Ventricle, Aorta/Arteries

      • Matt Yablonovsky

        What does RPL stand for?

        • Emily Hause

          Right, Pulmonary, Left. Good question!

  • Katie

    is the best way to memorize stuff mostly biology terms :D

    • Emily Hause

      Hi Katie,
      Biology terms often require mnemonics for memorization, but you can employ them for any subject!

  • ss

    Hunds rule –> sounds like “hand” –> the fingers of your hand all point in the same direction –> fill electrons one orbital at a time, all having the same spin before pairing

    • Emily Hause

      Hi. That’s great! I like that one!

  • k

    Don’t forget LAB RAT! Left Atrium Bicuspid, Right Atrium Tricuspid

    • Emily Hause

      Awesome. I love LAB RAT!

  • Simon

    Kings Play Cards On Fat Guys Stomachs

    • Emily Hause

      Ha. I like that!

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  • Arman Seth

    Good stuff!

    I have a link here to a series of very good mnemonics that I have cross-verified with my Kaplan Review Notes/Knowledge.

    The 3rd and 4th post is what I’m referring to! Ignore everything else, as Student Doctor Network is usually taboo until after MCAT Exam Day has passed.

  • Medicus

    My mnemonic since elementary school:

    “Kingdom, File, or Dee! Class the Order & Family of ‘Genus de Species’ ”

    (I am giving them instructions to follow. Kingdom, File or Dee are used here as individuals. The same goes for “Genus de Species” / “Genus the Species”)

    • Medicus

      Hmm…I guess “Phil” could replace “File”

  • Travis

    I totally agree with you Emily – mnemonics have always been a great study tool, and a way to have everything on your fingertips. I was glad to see someone implement MCAT mnemonics app for iPhone and android very recently.

    • Emily Hause

      I’m glad to hear that, Travis! Are you taking your MCAT soon?

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