Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills: Overview

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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

Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills - Skill 1: Knowledge of Scientific Principles

The questions in this skill category will ask you to demonstrate your knowledge of the 10 foundational concepts that you are responsible for knowing when you take the MCAT exam. These questions will...

Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills - Skill 2: Scientific Reasoning and Problem-solving

Questions that test scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills differ from questions that test skill 1 by asking you to use your scientific knowledge to solve problems in the natural,...

Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills - Skill 3: Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research

Questions that test reasoning about the design and execution of research will ask you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry skills by showing that you can “do” science. They will ask you to...

Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills - Skill 4: Data-based Statistical Reasoning

Like questions about the third skill, questions that test the fourth skill will ask you to show that you can “do” science, this time by demonstrating your data-based and statistical reasoning skills....

Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills - General Mathematical Concepts and Techniques

It’s important for you to know that questions on the natural, behavioral, and social sciences sections will ask you to use certain mathematical concepts and techniques. As the descriptions of the...