Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior

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MCAT 2015 Basics


The new MCAT 2015 is very different from the MCAT of years gone by. The standard MCAT, which everyone knows and loves, will make its last appearance in September 2014. After that, the MCAT 2015 takes its place in January 2015. With this new version, new test sections emerge. One of the four sections is called Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. Here's what you can expect from it: the questions, foundational concepts, content categories and skills required.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Basics


Although the number of questions and total testing time are referred to as "approximate" by the AAMC, here are the statistics provided about this section:
  • ~67 questions
  • ~95 minutes of testing (a little over an hour and a half)
  • Multiple choice questions with four answer choices
  • Some groups of questions will relate to a specific passage of text; others will not.

Psych Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills


As you may know, it's one level of cognitive ability to be able to memorize some information and spit it back on a question and answer test. It's more difficult to use the memorized information to analyze information, and even more difficult still to create something new from the memorized info. The MCAT 2015 wants to test your knowledge in a number of different ways in this test section:
  • Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles
  • Scientific Reasoning and Problem Solving
  • Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research


  • Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning

More info about each of the four skills

Psych Foundational Concepts: The Big Ideas


The MCAT 2015 is set up so that big ideas in the sciences are tested along with the subtopics to understand these big ideas. The large concepts are known as the "Foundational Concepts" and the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section tests five of these big ideas:
  • Foundational Concept 6: Biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors influence the ways that individuals perceive, think about, and react to the world.
  • Foundational Concept 7: Biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors influence behavior and behavior change.
  • Foundational Concept 8: Psychological, socio-cultural, and biological factors influence the way we think about ourselves and others.
  • Foundational Concept 9: Cultural and social differences influence well-being.
  • Foundational Concept 10: Social stratification and access to resources influence well-being.

Psych Content Categories: The Details


In order to get those Foundational Concepts, and thus be able to answer questions correctly about them, you'll need to know the topics associated with each. Although it would make your life easier, the test section will not ask you questions from each Foundational Concept separately. Rather, they'll be spread throughout the 67 questions, and you'll be assessed on them by your answers to questions on the following content:

Content To Know for Foundational Concept 6

  • Category 6A focuses on the detection and perception of sensory information.
  • Category 6B focuses on cognition, including our ability to attend to the environment, think about and remember what we experience, and use language to communicate with others.
  • Category 6C focuses on how we process and experience emotion and stress.

Content To Know for Foundational Concept 7

  • Category 7A focuses on the individual psychological and biological factors that affect behavior.
  • Category 7B focuses on how social factors, such as groups and culture, affect behavior.
  • Category 7C focuses on how learning affects behavior, as well as the role of attitude theories in behavior and behavior change.

Content To Know for Foundational Concept 8

  • Category 8A focuses on the notion of self and identity formation.
  • Category 8B focuses on the attitudes and beliefs that affect social interactions.
  • Category 8C focuses on the actions and processes underlying social interactions.

Content To Know for Foundational Concept 9

  • Category 9A focuses on the link between social structures and human interactions.
  • Category 9B focuses on the demographic characteristics and processes that define a society.

Content To Know for Foundational Concept 10

  • Category 10A focuses on a broad understanding of social class, including theories of stratification, social mobility, and poverty.

Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Wrap-Up


Yes, this section requires some serious studying. But if you manage your time wisely, you can actually fit it into your busy schedule. Just be sure to plan far enough in advance so you're not trying to battle test-taking anxiety along with remembering everything, too.
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