Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section: Overview

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The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of foundational concepts with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. This section tests your understanding of the ways psychological, social, and biological factors influence perceptions and reactions to the world; behavior and behavior change; what people think about themselves and others; the cultural and social differences that influence well-being; and the relationships between social stratification, access to resources, and well-being.

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section emphasizes concepts that tomorrow’s doctors need to know in order to serve an increasingly diverse population and have a clear understanding of the impact of behavior on health. Further, it communicates the need for future physicians to be prepared to deal with the human and social issues of medicine.

This section is designed to:

  • test psychology, sociology, and biology concepts that provide a solid foundation for learning in medical school about the behavioral and sociocultural determinants of health;

  • test concepts taught at many colleges and universities in first-semester psychology and sociology courses;

  • test biology concepts that relate to mental processes and behavior that are taught at many colleges and universities in introductory biology;

  • test basic research methods and statistics concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as important to success in introductory science courses; and

  • require you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics skills as applied to the social and behavioral sciences.

Test Section Number of Questions Time
Biological and Biochemical 
Foundations of Living Systems
(note that questions are a
combination of passage‐based
and discrete questions)
95 minutes

Exam content will draw from:


  • Introductory psychology, 65% **

  • Introductory sociology, 30%

  • Introductory biology, 5%

Foundational Concept:

Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill:

*These percentages have been approximated to the nearest 5% and will vary from one test to another for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, controlling for question difficulty, using groups of questions that depend on a single passage, and using unscored field-test questions on each test form.

**Please note that about 5% of this test section will include psychology questions that are biologically relevant. This is in addition to the discipline target of 5% for introductory biology specified for this section.

A note on the recent revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the new MCAT® exam

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