Mnemonics for the MCAT

Many of these mnemonics are decades old.
Mnemonics - Anatomy
Mnemonics - Clinical
Mnemonics - General


    Anterior Pituitary Hormones
        F: Follicle Stimulating Hormone
        L: Luteinizing Hormone
        A: ACTH
        G: Growth Hormone
        T: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
        O: MSH - melanOcyte stimulating hormone
        P: Prolactin

          FSH in males
          directly stimulates spermatogenesis - sperm look like "FiSH." In females, FSH obviously stimulates ovarian follicles (which secrete estrogens, which stimulate endometrial proliferation).

          LH in males
          stimulates androgen secretion so males become "Like Hairy Apes" (LH A). Androgens also stimulate spermatogenesis, so LH also indirectly stimulates spermatogenesis. In females, LH stimulates the corpus luteum (which secretes estrogens and progesterone, which stimulate the endometrium).

    Autonomic Nervous System

      Sympathetic: fight or flight
      Parasympathetic: rest and digest

    Causes of Deviations from Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

      "Maggie May Does Not Smoke"
        Mutations, Migration, genetic Drift, Non-random mating, Selection.

    Cell Cycle

      "Go Sally Go! Make Children!"
        G1, S, G2, M, C
        Growth phase 1, DNA Synthesis (replication), Growth phase 2, Mitosis, Cytokinesis.

        "People Meet And Talk", or
          Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase.


        "PMAT x2"
          Prophase I, Metaphase I, Anaphase I, Telophase I,
          Prophase II, Metaphase II, Anaphase II, Telophase II,
          (Note: 4 haploid daughter cells instead of 2 diploid daughter cells)

    Chordate Features

      "Do Not Pinch People"
        Dorsal, hollow nerve cord
        Pharyngeal slits
        Postanal tail

    Developmental Stages

      "Must Be Good"
        Morula, Blastula, Gastrula

    Fat-soluble Vitamins

        Vitamins A,D,E, and K

    Gastrointestinal Hormones
    (i.e. ones that originate from the GI tract)

      "Garlic Cloves Smell Exquisite"

        GastrinGastric mucosaStomachFood in stomach, psychic factorsIncreased HCl secretion & gastric emptying
        Cholecystokinin (CCK)Duodenal mucosaGallbladder & pancreasAmino acids, peptides, fatty acids in duodenumContraction of gallbladder & secretion of pancreatic juice
        SecretinGastric mucosaPancreasAcid in duodenumIncreased bicarbonate secretion
        Enterogastrone (gastric inhibitory peptide)Duodenal mucosaStomachFat digestion products in duodenumDecreases gastric emptying

    Hormones that Increase Blood Glucose

        Somatotropin (growth hormone)
        Thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine)


        IgM, IgA, IgD, IgG, IgE


      "My Poor Friend Picks Apples"
        Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plants, Animals

    Male Reproductive Tract (path of sperm)

      "SEVEN UP"
        Seminiferous tubules
        Vas deferens
        Ejaculatory duct

    Menstrual Cycle

      "FOL(d) M(a)PS"
        Ovarian cycle: Follicular phase, Ovulatory phase, Luteal phase
        Menstrual cycle: Menstrual flow, Proliferative phase, Secretory phase
          The ovarian cycle controls the menstrual cycle. The cycles begin (day 0) when menstrual flow starts. At day 14, the luteal and secretory phases begin and last until day 28, after which the cycles begin again.

    Molecular Genetics

      "EXons EXpressed, INtrons IN the trash"
        DNA expression into mature mRNA

      "CUT the PY"

        Cytosine, Uracil, and Thiamine are PYrimidines (one-ring structures)


        Guanine and Adenine are PURines (two-ring structures)

      "All Tigers Can Growl"

        Adenine bonds to Thymine; Cytosine bonds to Guanine

      Or, "Pure Silver Taxi"

        Purines, A and G, bond to pyrimidines, T and C, respectively

    Oxyhemoglobin Dissociation Curve

      Think of an exercising muscle for a rightward shift:
        Exercising muscle is:
          acidic (lactic acid),
          and has increased 2,3-DPG.
        Exercising muscle benefits from increased oxygen unloading from red blood cells.

    Proteases in the Duodenum

      "Eat Tender Chicken Chunks Elegantly"
          Note: The first enzyme is produced by intestinal mucosal cells, while the others are produced in inactive precursor forms by the pancreas.
          Enterokinase converts trypsinogen into trypsin
          Trypsin converts other trypsinogen molecules into trypsin
          Trypsin converts chymotrypsinogen into chymotrypsin
          Trypsin converts procarboxypeptidase into carboxypeptidase
          Trypsin converts proelastase into elastase

    Scientific Method

      Inductive Reasoning
        "IS GOHH"
          Induction: Specific General. Or, Observation Hypothesis Hypothesis-testing.
          The inductive process proceeds from specific observations to a general hypothesis.

      Deductive Reasoning
          Deduction: General Specific
          The deductive process proceeds from a general hypothesis to predictions about specific observations.


      Rate of SeDimentation is proportional to Size and Density
        More precisely,
        terminal velocity of particle radius2 x (density - density of medium)


      "Bowel Movement" or "BM"
        A Bacterium is about 1 Micron (1 mm)
        A eukaryotic cell is about 10 times larger (10 mm)
        A virus is about 100 times smaller (0.01 mm)
          Note: these are very, very rough guides. The ranges of sizes are wide.

    Striated Muscle

        Z-line, I-band, A-band, H-zone


      "King Phillip Came Over From Great Spain"
        Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species

    Vertebrate Features

        Axial skeleton
        Appendicular skeleton
        Closed circulatory system

    White Blood Cells

      (In order of decreasing numbers.)
      "Nobody Likes My Educational Background"
        N Neutrophils
        L Lymphocytes
        M Monocytes
        E Eosinophils
        B Basophils

General Chemistry

        H requires 1 more electron in its outer shell to become stable.
        O requires 2.
        N requires 3.
        C requires 4.


      The "t" in cation looks like a plus sign: "ca+ion."


      Reduction occurs at the Cathode; Oxidation at the Anode.
        Remember that the terms beginning with consonants are together, and those beginning with vowels are together.

      "LEO is A GERC (jerk)"

        Loss of Electrons is Oxidation, which occurs at the Anode. Gain of Electrons is Reduction, which occurs at the Cathode.


      "MIT enough"
        Moles deposited at an electrode = It/nF

    Gibb's Free Energy

      "Good Honey Tastes Sweet"
        DG = DH - TDS

      "Gee! Plus Arty! Thank you!"

        DG = DG + RTlnQ

      "Delicious Grapefruit - Not For Everyone"

        DG = -nFE

    Henderson-Hasselbalch Equation

      "HK + AHA"
      or "Hong Kong + American Hospital Association"
        pH = pKa + log10(A-/HA)

    Hydrogen Bonding

        When a hydrogen atom is attached to either a fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen atom, it can form a hydrogen bond between it and another fluorine, oxygen, or nitrogen atom.

    Nernst Equation

      "We minus Arty (is) enough, thank you."
        E = E - (RT/nF)lnQ


      If a compound has at least one unpaired electron,
      it is Paramagnetic,
      and will be Pulled toward a magnetic field.

        If not, it is diamagnetic, and is weakly repelled by a magnetic field. There is also a third type of magnetism: ferromagnetism, which is present in what we casually call "magnets," e.g. iron, nickel, cobalt.

    Quantum Numbers

      "National Library (of) Medicine Sizzles"
        n, l, m, s

    l Quantum Numbers

      "Sensual People Do Foreplay"
        s, p, d, f. Then it follows the alphabet: g, h, i, j, k, etc.

    State Functions

      "VG PHEST" (Very Good Festival)
        The following are all state functions:
          V for volume
          G for Gibb's free energy
          P for pressure
          H for enthalpy
          E for internal energy
          S for entropy
          T for temperature

Organic Chemistry

    Addition of Amine to Carbonyl Group
      "SE PI" (or "SEe PIe")
        Secondary amine Enamine
        Primary amine Imine
        (Note: tertiary and quaternary amines do not react with the C=0 group.)

    Cis/trans (Geometric) Isomers

      "Z: Zame Zide
      E: Epposite"
        Z for same side and E for opposite sides


      Gauche conformation: It's "gauche" (inappropriate) for one methyl group to stand too close to another group.

      Cyclohexane ring: When you have low energy, you sit down in a "CHAIR" to rest. "BOATS" can be tippy, so they are less stable.


      "SS - ED - CC"

      Isomers of a sugar: If the second lowest -OH is on the Left, the molecule is L.
      If the -OH is on the Right, it's D.

    Meso Compounds

      "MeSo compounds have a Mirror of Symmetry"
        Thus, even though they may have stereogenic centers, they are achiral and so do not have enantiomers.


      Downfield is Deshielded.

    Meta-Directing Groups on a Benezene Ring

      "Queen Elizabeth Second's Navy Commands, Controls, Communicates"
        Q Quaternary amino -NR3+
        E Ester -COOR
        S Sulfonic acid -SO3H
        N Nitro -NO2
        C Carbonyl -CHO
        C Carboxyl -COOH
        C Cyano -CN

    Ortho- and Para- Directing Groups on a Benezene Ring

      "AHA AHA P"
        A Alkyl -R
        H Halogen -X
        A Alkoxyl -OR

        A Amino -NH2, -NHR, -NR2 (not -NR3+)
        H Hydroxyl -OH
        A Amide -NHCOR

        P Phenyl -C6H5

    Types of Reactions

      "SEA MOuRNS CANned PEAs"
        Substitution Electrophilic - Aromatic
        Most Other Reactions - Nucleophilic Substitution
        Carbonyl - Addition Nucleophilic
        Pi bonds - Electrophilic Addition


    Basic Physical Quantities
      "Taking Luxurious Limos More Noxious Than Cycling"
        Temperature (K)
        Length (m)
        Luminous intensity (Cd)
        Mass (kg)
        Number of particles (moles)
        Time (s)
        Charge (C)


      "Quintessential Curriculum Vitae"
        Q = CV

      "England Hails Queen Victoria"
        E (energy stored) = QV

    Elastic Modulus

        Elastic modulus = stress / strain
        i.e. "es" / "ai" or "essay"

          Stress is associated with the forss (force) applied.
          Strain is the deformation produced.

    Electromagnetic Spectrum

        Electromagnetic waves in order of increasing frequency:
          Radio waves
          Infra red
          Visible spectrum
          Ultra violet
          Gamma rays

    Force on a Charge Moving in a Magnetic Field

      "Fast Quality Vitalizes Business"
        F = QvB
        (N = C x m/s x T)
        i.e., if the direction of travel is perpendicular to the magnetic field

    Heat Capacity

        q = mcDT
        where q is heat energy, m is mass, c is specific heat capacity, and DT is the change in temperature.


      "D DUV"
        For Diverging mirrors and lenses, the image is always Diminished, Upright, and Virtual, regardless of the distance of the object from the mirror or lens.

    Prefixes in Units of Measurement

      DamnedDekadax 10
      HiccupsHectohx 102
      KilledKilokx 103
      Meg'sMegaMx 106
      GiganticGigaGx 109
      TerrapinTeraTx 1012

      DextrousDecidx 10-1
      CarpentersCenticx 10-2
      MakeMillimx 10-3
      ManyMicromx 10-6
      NiceNanonx 10-9
      PicturePicopx 10-12
      FramesFemtofx 10-15

    Visible Spectrum

      In order of increasing frequency:
      "Roy G. Biv"
      "Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain"
        Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

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