How to study sociology for the MCAT

Kat Thomson
Lesson by Kat Thomson
Magoosh Expert
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Try this for additional Soc. coverage.  Click on "contents" in the upper left corner to see the clickable chapters:  OpenStax Intro to Soc 

It turns out that Boundless was purchased by another company, and all the links are broken.  Sorry about that!  

How to Study Sociology MCAT Concepts

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In this set of videos we're gonna look at sociology. And in this very brief video I wanna say a few things about how to think about sociology in relation to the MCAT and also what study strategies I recommend. And so let's look at the overall outline for the MCAT. And down here in section four we have biopsychology, psychology, sociology and epidemiology.

Not a lot of epidemiology but it is there and they're kind of grouped together even on these list. So this is sort of like the biopsych. This is the general psych. This is the overlap between soc and psych. And then down here, areas 9 and 10, this is what the MCAT is calling sociology.

And so that's what I'm emphasizing in the next several videos. This is another way of looking at it, by relative distribution. What proportion of the questions are derived from what discipline, mostly general psych, then the overlap of soc and psych. Relative numbers equally of biopsych and general soc, and then about 10% come from epidemiology.

The good news about studying for the MCAT is that most of it is sheer memorization and a lot of the concepts are easy to learn, don't require much explanation. You can use vocabulary lists, flashcards. We have both of those in our resource section. In this course, also sociology is very relevant. Sociologists study contemporary issues like urbanization, globalization, inequalities, and it tends to be interesting to a sizable chunk of the population.

The most difficult sociology concepts you're going to come across, first of all, are theories and theorists. You need to be able to recognize how theories apply to a variety of situations. If you look at or have heard from students who've taken the new MCAT, what they all report, in terms of the sociology content on the MCAT, is that most of it's very easy to learn through a variety of sources.

Doesn't even take that much time. But the theory was more difficult than they expected, and that there aren't a lot of good sources for learning theory. So I'm gonna give you some advice here. And I'm also going to provide pretty in depth coverage of theory in these videos. Also, there are blended bodies of knowledge.

And some MCAT sociology questions aren't really sociology questions at all. They are epidemiology questions. Or, they're something you might find in a medical sociology course, which is upper division soc, or a public health source. And what that means is that people might take in intro course or read an intro book and never encounter a sizable portion of the so called sociological concepts.

The MCAT tests you on, and that's because it's not introductory sociology. And so, sadly, people wind up with gaps in their studying. The best strategies, overall and also just to compensate for some of these challenges are, first of all, to read in detail, but not everything. Read the theories, read the theorists, read anything that's kind of on the abstract side of things, such as institutions, that's a very abstract concept.

And, I recommend chapter one by Boundless, the sociology free, online, textbook, I think, does a fantastic job of covering these theories and concepts, relatively concisely in ways that are easy to understand and very accurate. And unfortunately, most MCAT test script books are not remotely accurate when it comes to sociology because those people aren't sociologist. Memorize most concepts just through vocabulary lesson.

Flashcards or summary reviews of textbooks at the end of each chapter. And then understand, especially epidemiology and health inequalities by skimming some articles on health inequalities that come from public health journals. Maybe social epidemiology, I would encourage you to look at, cuz epidemiology can actually be extremely molecular.

You wanna look at the broad sources. And then, also, like with all sections, you wanna practice as many sample passages as you can find. And, read explanations about correct answers. Always, if time is available, even read the explanations of the answers you get correct.

Those can offer a lot of information as well. So if you are ready, let's get started on the sociology content.

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Sociology and Epidemiology