Science and Pre-Med Courses to Take Prior to the MCAT Exam

Core Courses

The faculty have complied a list of core courses that to our knowledge meet the core admission requirements to most professional health sciences programs/schools. This is a good start if you know that you want to work in the professional health sciences but you are not yet sure exactly what you want to do. Each specialty or discipline may require more course work in specific areas. For information regarding each specific discipline see the links at the bottom of the page (coming soon).

*IMPORTANT!* This information is provided for your convenience and should not be substituded for face-to-face academic advising by a natural sciences division faculty member. It is never too early to make an advising appointment to talk over your course plan and options if you are considering a career in the professional health sciences

General Education

Do not forget your UIS general education requirements! These are an important part of your education and preparation for a career in the health sciences. Professional schools prefer to admit students who have a broad educational base including ability to write and communicate intelligently and knowledge of art, culture, and history. UIS’s goal of providing a top-shelf liberal arts education to all our graduates will help you if you take advantage of it! These courses might seem to have nothing to do with becoming a health science professional but your performance in them will affect the quality of the schools/programs that you are admitted to.


Math is at the top of this list because it is important for you to know that a career in medicine or any professional health science involves math. There is no way around it. You must be proficient in trigonometry and algebra. Understanding calculus will give you an advantage. Calculus is also a pre-requisite for physics here at UIS.

The math requirements for admission to professional schools vary. Almost all require algebra and trigonometry. Many, including all the best schools, require one semester of calculus. The faculty at UIS strongly advises that pre-professional students complete at least one semester of college calculus in their Freshmen or Sophomore year. The UIS course that meets this requirement is:

Course Name
Course Number
Credit Hours
Calculus I MAT 115 3 hrs


Chemistry is an important basis of most professional health science. Nearly every professional program requires two semesters of introductory chemistry and two semesters of organic chemistry, both with laboratory. Students should take introductory chemistry as a freshman or sophomore. Organic chemistry is a more challenging and time consuming class that should be taken after introductory chemistry. The faculty suggest that you take organic chemistry with lab in either your sophomore or junior year. Note that most professional schools require lab experience with organic chemistry so it is important to register for those sections that include a lab. Also note that CAP 141/241 is not an acceptable substitute for CHE 141/142.  You will also need to take some Biochemistry as that will be on the MCAT beginning in 2015.  That can be accomplished by taking CHE 415 and 416 (Biochemistry I and II) or CHE 433 (Physiological Chemistry).

Course Name

Course Name
Course Number
Credit Hours
Principles of Chemistry CHE 141 4 hrs
Principles of Inorganic Chemistry CHE 142 4 hrs
Organic Chemistry I CHE 267 3 hrs
Organic Chemistry I Lab CHE 268 1 hrs
Organic Chemistry II CHE 269 3 hrs
Organic Chemistry II Lab CHE 271 1 hrs


The current MCAT emphasizes Biochemistry.  Taking at least the first semester of biochemistry without lab is a very good idea.  Taking the lab is recommended.  Organic Chemistry is a pre-requisite for taking Biochemistry at UIS.  Many students will find the first semester of Physical Chemistry (CHE 401) helpful if they want to explore biochemistry past the first semester.  We also offer second semester biochemistry and a variety of related biochemistry courses at the 400-level.  These courses are best pursued as a junior or senior.

Course Name  Course Number  Credit Hours 
General Biochemistry CHE 475 3 hrs
General Biochemistry Lab CHE 476 2 hrs


Obviously biology is important subject to the health sciences. While specific disciplines have more specific admission requirements the common denominator between all of them is an introductory biology course with lab. The faculty suggests that students should take this course as freshmen or sophomores so that they can take more advanced biology courses as upper-classmen as needed. As with chemistry, it is important that students take these courses with the lab component.

Course Name
Course Number
Credit Hours
Unity of Living Organisms BIO 141 4 hrs
Biology of Organisms in the Environment BIO 241 4 hrs


At least one semester of Physics is required for admission to professional schools in the health sciences. Most schools and programs will require applicants to have had two semesters of physics with lab. Competitive professional health science programs often want to see their applicants have a good grade in physics and may use it as litmus test for admitting students. If you take your physics class somewhere other than UIS while you are enrolled here you may be asked to explain that on your application or you might not be asked and the school you are applying to will assume the worst.

Many pre-professional students struggle with physics. It will introduce you to a mode of problem solving that is different the normal mode used in chemistry or biology. That is why you are being required to take it. Along with mathematics, this is a subject that you might not think of right away when you think about a career in the health sciences but it is important to those fields. As with your chemistry and biology courses, you need to take it seriously and do your best.

Calculus (MAT 115) is a pre-requisite to take Physics at UIS. It is suggested that you take physics as a sophomore or a junior.

Course Name
Course Number
Credit Hours
University Physics I ASP 201 4 hrs
University Physics II ASP 202 4 hrs

Social and Behavioral Sciences

The MCAT is changing in 2015 to include a section on social and behavioral sciences.  To be prepared for this new material you should plan to take PSY 201 Principles of Psychology and SOA 101 Introduction to Sociology to meet 6 of your 9 required hours of social sciences general education courses.

The additional disciplines represented on MCAT exam:

  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Cell/Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Histology and other specialty biology courses

Coming soon!

Information specific to preparing to indiviual disciplines.