Oxidation-Reduction

Understand how to distinguish oxidation-reduction reactions from metathesis reactions, and be able to identify the oxidizing agents and reducing agents within redox reactions.

Be well practiced in assigning oxidation numbers.

Gain an intuitive ability to predict the redox behavior of various substances from their chemical structure, whether they will tend to act as oxidizing or reducing agents.

Comprehend the application of chemical bonding and chemical thermodynamic principles to judging the spontaneity of redox reactions.

Be able to narrate the events that occur when a copper wire is suspended in a solution containing silver ions.

Understand what occurs within the various processes known as corrosion.

Have a basic familiarity with the methods for balancing redox reactions, the oxidation number method and the half-reaction method.

Be prepared to identify common oxidizing and reducing agents.

Be able to describe how a potentiometer or a redox indicator may be used to determine the endpoint of a redox titration.

Oxidation-Reduction in Organic Chemistry

Be ready to assign the oxidation number of carbon with fluent ease within the various organic functional groups.

Understand the sequence of alkanes, alcohols, aldehydes & ketones, and carboxylic acids as a series of oxidation states.

Recall the oxidizing and reducing agents employed in the organic chemistry laboratory and how they are used.

Be aware of special case redox reactions such as benzylic oxidation and other cases where oxidation may result in cleavage or decarboxylization.

Be able to describe the change in oxidation state undergone by sulfur in transitioning from a thiol to a disulfide.

Electrochemistry

Be able to articulate the importance of the electroneutrality principle in governing electrochemical processes.

Understand what is meant by an electrode process.

Be able to name the components of a typical galvanic cell and describe its manner of operation.

Be able to describe the difference between a galvanic and electrolytic cell.

Be prepared to relate the current in an electrochemical cell to stoichiometrical quantities.

Comprehend the purpose of the salt bridge in an electrochemical cell.

Know what the difference is between the anode and the cathode and understand what their respective potentials will be in a galvanic or electrolytic cell.

Be able to conceptualize cell potentials and understand the electromotive or activity series of the metals.

Comprehend the meaning of a standard reduction potential.

Understand the relationship of cell potential and free energy change.

Understand the Nernst equation and how to work with it.

Be able to describe how the oxidation or reduction of water can be a competing process when an aqueous solution is subjected to electrolysis.

Glycolysis

Be prepared to narrate the steps of oxidative metabolism from glycolysis, mobilization of pyruvate, citric acid cycle, to the electron transport system.

Understand the roles of glucose, ATP, NADH and other prominent substances in respiration and metabolism.

Be able to describe the steps of glycolysis, account for the ATP and NADH created.

Be able to identify the enzymes that are the primary control sites for glycolysis, which is the committed step, and which factors influence inhibition or promotion.

Understand the driving forces governing the respective phosphoryl transfer potentials of 1,3 bis-phosphoglycerate and phosphoenolpyruvate. Particularly, be prepared to describe the bioenergetics rationale underlying the mechanism of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase.

Understand the purpose of fermentation and describe the specific fates of pyruvic acid in yeast and active muscles respectively.

Be able to describe the mechanisms of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and name its coenzymes.

Understand the various feeder pathways by which diverse carbohydrates are funneled into glycolysis including other monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides like starch or glycogen.

The Citric Acid Cycle

Be prepared to name the substrate and product of each reaction of the citric acid cycle and account for the NADH, FADH2, and GTP created.

Understand how aconitase can distinguish the two ends of citrate even though its central carbon is not a chiral center.

Be able to name the coenzymes of α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, an analogous multienzyme complex to the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.

Understand where succinyl coenzyme A synthetase derives the energy for substrate level phosphorylation.

Know how to draw on paper the sequence of internal changes that occur in the sequence of four carbon dicarboxylic acids from succinate, fumarate, malate, to oxaloacetate.

Know which enzymes are the control points for regulation of the citric acid cycle and understand which substances are the crucial determinants of rate.

Have a basic sense of which pathways utilize citric acid cycle intermediates in biosynthesis.

Oxidative Phosphorylation

Understand how the structure of a mitochondrion supports its role in oxidative metabolism.

Be prepared to describe the path of electrons through the electron transport chain in the mitochondrion.

Be able to describe the structural changes undergone by the electron carriers NADH and FADH2 in their oxidation-reduction cycle in terms that explain their suitability as electron carriers.

Understand how flavins, iron-sulfur complexes, quinones and hemes transfer electrons within the electron transport chain.

Know the steps of the ubiquinone cycle in electron transfer with Q-cytochrome c oxidoreductase.

Comprehend the process by which the electrochemical gradient from the inter-membrane space into the matrix in mitochondria drives the activity of ATP synthase.

Bird's Eye View

Since the beginning of the course in our Main Progression we have been tunneling through the mountain. In Review & Preview we have been surveying the mountain. After this week, you should be able to see the disciplines in great detail from the bird's eye view. Now to the end of the course you will know what you need to know. You need to begin to think of your knowledge base as a performance that you refine in testing. Begin holding yourself responsible for the comprehensive MCAT material at the level of fundamental principles from beginning to end.

Be able to clearly picture the phenomena described within each main topic of of the four scientific disciplines and describe at least one or two main concepts from each topic.

Knowledge Mapping

Be able to discuss Organic Chemistry in the light of the physical sciences. Deepen your conception of reaction dynamics by applying concepts like Work & Energy and Electrostatic Force to obtain more mature understanding of Chemical Bonding, Chemical Thermodynamics, and Chemical Kinetics in the Organic Chemistry context.

Be able to point to examples from Biochemistry of important concepts of Organic Chemistry. Not only will this help deepen your understanding, it high-lights a favored set of Organic Chemistry concepts for the MCAT test writers.

Develop your ability to grip down and comprehend dense passages involving Organic Chemistry terminology and concepts, especially in the Biochemical context. Many MCAT passages take the approach of presenting fundamental Organic Chemistry concepts (not too hard) within a life science context that is dense with terminology.

Be prepared to describe the role of conjugation and/or aromaticity in underlying the behavior of certain coenzymes such as NAD+, ubiquinone, and thiamine pyrophosphate among others.

Psychology & Sociology

Critical Analysis and Reasoning

Remember the five main types of Verbal Reasoning questions.