Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills: Overview


Leaders in medical education believe that tomorrow’s physicians need to be able to combine scientific knowledge with skills in scientific inquiry and reasoning. With that in mind, the MCAT exam will ask you to demonstrate four scientific inquiry and reasoning skills that natural, behavioral, and social scientists rely on to advance their work. The four scientific inquiry and reasoning skills listed below will be tested on three sections of the exam:

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Section
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section

Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles

  • Demonstrating understanding of scientific concepts and principles
  • Identifying the relationships between closely-related concepts

Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving

  • Reasoning about scientific principles, theories, and models
  • Analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations and predictions

Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research

  • Demonstrating understanding of important components of scientific research
  • Reasoning about ethical issues in research

Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning

  • Interpreting patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs
  • Reasoning about data and drawing conclusions from them