Beautiful MCAT Mnemonics | Last updated: Apr 26, 2020

Arjan Singh Puniani
15 min readJun 6, 2019


COVID-19 Update: I started a nonprofit with a couple of my closest friends. Our mission is to provide free MCAT tutoring to underprivileged students and to students whose lives have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. So far, we have taught over 500 students and have gotten an incredible reception from the pre-med community. Feel free to visit us at for more information.

Our new logo for our documentary production startup, Myelinated Films, takes advantage of mnemonics in this condensed variant.

[Note: Apologies for not updating more often (see explanation here). Myelinated Films official webpage available here:]

The process by which our brains model events (from the environmental sensorium) into a language of neurons, meaning, and memory is known as encoding and is mysterious to me. That’s why I try to maximize the probability a memory is committed to a durable trace in my brain by using MNEMONICS, like ROY G BIV for the visible spectrum of light, which are like conceptual heuristics: useful for time crunches, unsuitable for deep dives.

Learn how to passage map here. This list will be continually updated. Please feel free to email

ArjanPremedMCATBlog {at}

That is:






with creative additions or corrections.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD): patients feel like they’re stuck in a T.R.A.P. (Tremor-Rigidity-Akinesia-Posture)

The most common symptoms of PD — an incurable and relentlessly progressive nervous system disorder that appears primarily between the ages of 50 and 60 and is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons within the substantia nigra pars compacta of the basal ganglia — are most easily remembered by the mnemonic:

Tremor at rest


Rigidity of muscles


Akinesia (a- means “without” and kine- means “movement” or “motion,” so akinesia means loss or impairment of voluntary movement)


Posture be stooped


The first signs of the disease typically manifest as a hand tremor. As the disease progresses, the symptoms intensify. In the later stages of Parkinson’s, behavioral problems and dementia surface, making normal living tragically difficult.

Pepsi is the Chief of all sodas (pepsinogen is released by the chief cells)

  • pepsinogen is a zymogen — an enzyme that exists in its inactive form — that, upon activation by the gastric juice’s low pH, becomes pepsin, which catalyzes the hydrolysis of polypeptides
  • in addition to pepsinogen, chief cells release gastric lipase, which starts digesting fats

Viagra treats Erectile Dysfunction (V=Ed)

  • Electric fields accelerate charged particles, but this formula is for uniform electric fields, which have equidistant spacing
Figure lol

Close objects make the Ciliary muscles Contract, Causing the lens to take on a fatter shape

> Close = Ciliary = Contraction

> because power, with the unit diopters (which means the focal length must be in meters), is 1/f, then increasing the power means decreasing the focal length, as we see with the unaccommodated case:

Cocci and balls (Cocci bacteria are Circular lol)

Saved you a google search

Femtometer, with an exponent of negative Fifteen, is as Far down in scale as you have to remember (femto is 10^(-15), then pico is next with 10^(-12)…)

  • Scales you should probably know, though:
RBC diameter: ~10,000nm
E. coli: ~3,000nm
Bacteriophage: ~225nm (btw, most viruses are 0.02 to .3µm in diameter)
HIV viruses are ~150nm in diameter

I will also be embedding random questions (W.O.T.F. = “which of the following”), and you can check your answers at the end:

<1>W.O.T.F. introduces genomic content to, but does not fully enter, a bacterial host: bacteriophage, viroid, bacterium, or prion?

Deshielded electrons are more Downfield to the left of TMS

  • Spectroscopy is using EM radiation to gather information about chemicals, and chemical shifts, in units of ppm, give us an idea of magnetically inequivalent nuclei, since protons in the molecule feel different fields depending on the attachment location
  • Remember, shielding is the barrier of core (inner) electrons that weakens the Coulombic attraction between the nuclei and valence electrons

chyme through the small intestine — Dow (Duodenum) Jones (Jejunum) Industrial (Ileum)

Maybe brush up on how Roux-en-Y (gastric bypass) impacts the above just in case

If the object is Behind the Focal point, think of them as Behind the RIM (Real Inverted Magnified) — converging lens only

LILHOT for enzymes


>S D

>N R



— remember both Northern and Southern require a radioactively labeled hybridization probe to anneal with the single strand of interest

S = Southern (blotting is for determining a particular sequence of) ← →D = DNA
N = Northern (blotting helps determine a specific sequence of) ← → R = RNA

<2> W.O.T.F techniques can be used to quantitate gene count?: I. DNA sequencing, II. Northern blot, III. Southern blot?

Incomplete dominance = Intermediate phenotype

  • Classic example: pink flower (intermediate of red and white parental phenotypes)

SAME DAVE — Sensory Afferent Motor Efferent / Dorsal Afferent Ventral Efferent

  • Remember the order of a reflex arc: a distal stimulus impinges on the sensory receptors (specific to chemical, light, pressure, vibration) as a proximal stimulus; the activated sensory neuron sends an Afferent signal that Approaches the CNS; interneurons (which exist in both the CNS and PNS) act as Integration Centers to process and consolidate input from various locations, which means that interneurons can relay sensory information to the brain AND integrate signals from the brain to incorporate into the reflex arc

LA(M)B RAT Left Atrium (Mitral) Bicuspid; Right Atrium Tricuspid


Peptide hormones are like the Pizza guy, he doesn’t come in your house, but when he rings the doorbell (binds to a membrane receptor), he triggers a flurry of activity (activating secondary messenger cascade with a G-protein-coupled receptor) with immediate culinary results (protein ON/OFF)

phosphorylation of proteins is a type of Post-translational modification that can be detected with the Eastern Blot

DRY MIX (Dependent; responding; on Y axis) (Manipulated; Independent; x-axis)

epidermal layers: Come Let’s Get Sun Burnt :: Corneum Lucidum Granulosum Spinosum Basale

< 3> W.O.T.F is impaired with a superficial burn (damages the epidermis only): I. keratinocyte maturation II. immune surveillance III. shock absorption?

cluster A personality disorders: shizotypal (you’re Adding more letters to schizoph so it’s like the Positive sx of schizophrenia: delusions and magical thinking, coming across as really awkward) and schizoid (now you’re Removing letters from schizoph, so Negative sx, like avolition and anhedonia)

  • positive sx: hallucinations (false, but nonetheless vivid, sensory perception in the absence of stimuli); delusions (fixed false beliefs that persist depsite evidence to the contrary); disorganized and incoherent speech / behavior)
  • negative sx: apathy or avolition (lack of motivation), social withdrawal, flat affect (no emotions, monotonous); poverty of speech (very quiet); anhedonia (cannot experience pleasure in normal activities)

Granny Phil has No Sight (Granulocytes end in -phil and Agranulocytes end in -cyte = monocyte and lymphocyte)

  • Lowkey, I’m not a fan of above. Do: Gruncle B.E.N: Granulocytes = Basophil, Eosinophil, Neutrophil

T cells mature in the Thymus

  • T cells, like B cells, are born in the bone marrow (remember the two types: red, where hematopoiesis occurs in the red marrow of flat bones and the epiphysis of long ones; yellow, located in the central cavity of long bones and. The thymus is a lymphoid organ and site of maturation for lymphoid progenitor cells (T cell precursors), after which are released as naive T lymphocytes into circulation and provides cell-mediated immunity

bandura’s social cognitive theory: AM I Motivated? Attention, Memory, Imitation, Motivated

  • Bandura was all about human capacity beating human failings and dysfunction
Retention = memory; motor production processes = imitation

people with strong self-efficacy RISE (Recover quickly, have a lot of Interests, are Strong, and Enjoy activities); people with low self-efficacy tend to FALL (Fail, Avoid, Lose, Lack)

  • self-efficacy = high internal locus of control
  • how do you build it? Mastery experiences (success via failed efforts); social modeling (good role models); social persuasion (if you believe in yourself, you will tend to encounter more success, so it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy); physiological state (don’t feel like a societal disappointment if a setback occurs, but it’s ok to feel tense, anxious, weary)

when a gas EXpands, it EXpends energy (∆U decreases)

you are doing work against a movable piston, and the application of a force over distance is work, which comes from the kinetic movement of the molecules

exerGonic and enderGonic have to do with Gibbs free energy

Many Babies Get Naps (stages of fetal development: Morula Blastula Gastrula and Neuralation)

neuron is like a salty banana: a bunch of Na+ on the outside and a bunch of K+ on the inside

salt too small to see

stop codons: U Are Annoying, U Are Gross, U Go Away

sulcus are the fissures (like sulk, so sadness — down and depressions)

important anatomical landmark for orienting cranium

PhITTT (FITYW) AAs are both glucogenic and ketogenic ; Leucine and Lysine are keto only that means they CAN be metabolized into acetyl coA

Xs in magnetic fields mean away: keep your eXes away from you lol

Magnocellular cells in retina detect Motion (Parvocellular do the other: v. high color spatial resolution, think of a Pink Pyramid)

PROlactin involved in milk PROduction

remember that DA is inhibiting PRL constitutively

B.A.D. P.I.G.S for the pancreas: Beta Alpha Delta of Pancreas release Insulin Glucagon and Somatostatin

Protein aka Peptide hormones are produced in the Ps (pituitary, pancreas, parathyroid and thyroid c cells, placenta) + exception: adrenal medulla makes epi and norepi

endoderm → endernal organs (archenteron makes the digestive tract and offshoot; mouth and anus not formed here but thymus is); taste buds

means-o-derm (moves around body kidney lymphatic and circulatory; the body itself as in the musculoskeletal system; most of immune system

attractoderm (ectoderm → appearance (integumentary and skin and hair and teeth) and personality (NS))

morula looks like a mulberry (tightly packed superball)

BLASTula: looks like the inside has been BLASTed out (because the cells lined a hollow cavity known as a Blastocoel)

In a reflex arc the path of a signal is alphabetical A to E (Aff to inter to Eff)

Medial geniculate is for Music (ears) v. Lateral geniculate is for Light (eyes)

It’s INsane how many peptide / proteIN hormones begin and end in “in” exceptions: adrenocorticotropic hormone and glucagon

Dining In (DyenIn — transports molecules back towards the negative pole / nucleus / soma on microtubules); Karrying out (Kinesin — brings vesicles toward the positive polar end of the microtubule)

Winding down at 9 o clock

if you go along the hour hand (9), you will be DECREASING your Km; if you go along the minute hand (12), you will be DECREASING your Vmax

electrons FFAt CAT — electrons Flow From Anode To CAThode

AnOx RedCat

[higher order functioning: high-tech] When my telephone dies I call a pro (telencephalon diencephalon prosenencephelon — embryonic forebrain) [lower order: wanting to dance] meet my rumba instructor (metencephalon myencephalon rhombencephalon)

  • Sleep ‘pon the bed (pons controls sleep)
  • SUPerman has SUPerior vision (SUPerior colliculus Is for visual sensorimotor reflexes)

Progesterone Protects

fSh stimulates Spermatogenesis — Sertoli; LH leads to testosterone (Leydig)

“Please Officer Can I Keep Selling Sex For Money” (Pyruvate, Oxaloacetate, Citrate, Isocitrate, alpha-Ketoglutamarate, Succinyl-CoA, Succinate, Fumurate, Malate)

  • bonus: enzymes — S.A.D. D.S.D.F.D.
  • Seen At Disco, Devil Sips Down Forty Drinks
  • (Citrate) Synthase, Aconitase, (isocitrate) Dehydrogenase, (alpha keto glutarate) Deyhydrogenase, (succinyl CoA) Synthase, (Succinate) Dehydrogenase, Fumurase, (Malate) Dehydrogenase

Positive sense +ssRNA can make Proteins (p-p)

CADHERIN are CAlcium-Dependent adHERINg of cells

alpha anomeric carbons have axial hydroxyl groups

distinguish with equatorial!

takes 1 bacteria (prokaryote) to infect: 30S + 50S + 70S [odd numbers for ribosomes]

cis side of golgi body receives (trans ships out or releases)

major depressive episode Sadness + SIG E CAPS (sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor sx, suicidal thought)

manic episodes in bipolar — DIG FAST (distractible, insomnia, grandiosity, flight of ideas, agitation, [pressured] speech, thoughtless and risky behavior)

personality disorders — 3 Ws: A — Weird (paranoid, schizotypal, schizoid), B — Wild (antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic), C — Worried (avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive)

Estrogen Establishes and Progesterone Protects the endometrium

GLUcaGON levels are high when GLUcose levels are GONe

cortisol is released by the adrenal cortex

epinephrine → epi = above the “nephrin” → nephron e.g. above the kidney, as in on top

CALciTONin TONes down CALcium levels / TONEs your BONEs (v. PTH, which raises blood calcium)

osteoBlasts Build more Bone (v. osteoClasts, which Clash with that function)

don’t get RANKL-d by this illustration, just no O-clast v. O-blast

trp operon is Tripped off if Trp exists

this is the case where there’s no environmental trp

LAC operon LACks expression when LACctose is LACking

B cells Broduce antiBodies

antibodies: agglutinate and opsonize

Gangliosides are the gangliest sphingolipids: have most complex structure and functional groups (oligosaccharides; NANA) in all directions

reducing agent: can it do it all? NaH (NaBH4 — can only work on ketones and aldehydes) Yes, LAH can do it ALl (reduces it ALl to ALcohols)

FAT CAT: electrons flow from A → C (anode to cathode)

rEduction has E- as rEactants; oxidatiOn has e-as prOducts

galvaNIc aNode is Negative (NNN) [gives sign of anode and cathode for every scenario]

random factoid: nucleophiles must be a stronger base than the leaving group

SN2 requires a Strong Nucleophile and 2 reactants

state functions TV HUGS Pd

  • Path independent: Temp, Volume, Enthalpy, Internal Energy, Gibbs, Entropy, Pressure, Density
  • Path dependent: work, heat

converging lenses are thicker in the center and CONVerging lenses are CONVex lenses

Pharynx Phirst; Later the Larynx (larynx = l-AIR-ynx)

water BOYLEs at a constant temperature

during plateau, energy goes to breaking intermolecular bonds

Ideal gas conditions: on a beach in the summer, high temp and low pressure — THAT’s IDEAL BEHAVIOR

NADH has 1 H and interacts with complex I (makes 1 more ATP than FADH2 does) v FADH2 interacts with complex 2 making almost 2 ATP (1.5 or 3/2)

johns hopkins professor: “if you get a stabbing victim, make sure it’s cold (sound moves slower in cold temperatures)”

CD4 = 4*2 (mhc ii) = 8 (helper T; helpfour = helpful)

CD8 = 8*1 (mhc i) = 8 (hateful 8 = killer T cell)

ACTHIN: actin make up thin filaments (v. myosin, which make up thick)

Sensation is electrical Signals v Perceptions is Processing

Spermatogenesis via Sertoli cells

ANAphase = ANnA banana split


Variable Ratio schedules Very Rapidly accumulates responses and are are Very Resistant to extinction

Arp2/3 involved in Actin branching

  • actin-related protein-2/3 (ARP2/3) complex precisely regulates actin polymerization and organization
looks kinda like a phylogenetic tree?


  • <1>W.O.T.F. | a bacteriophage, since it uses its tail sheath to to inject the phage genome into the bacterium, leaving the tail fibers (which assist in recognition and attachment to cell membranes), protein capsid, and tail sheath in the extracellular environment. Eliminate: prion (misfolded protein with an infection mechanism consisting of inducing a change in neighboring proteins’ secondary structure — specifically, beta clumping which is spatially resistant to hydrolysis — and would not have genetic material capable of being transmitted to bacteria); viriod (these aren’t actually viruses and, along with prions, are known as subviral particles simply because of how primitive in complexity and diminutive in size they are compared to normal intracellular obligate parasites. they are tRNA-shaped (“circular”-ish) ssRNA that sneak into host cells by inside actively infecting viruses or slipping through a membrane crack with no protein coats that affect plants by annealing with RNA transcripts, inhibiting protein synthesis); bacteria (since bacteria don’t infect other bacteria with tail fibers)
  • <2>W.O.T.F. |I and III, since we are looking for ways to assess gene count (number of copies). DNA sequencing, like Sanger’s method, can be used to determine the nucleotide order of DNA molecules, and if you sequence the entire genome and analyze the nucleotide sequences, you can precisely quantify gene repeats. Southern blotting is used for DNA and would be appropriate. Eliminate: II. Northern blotting (since RNA expression levels are a function of many factors other than gene quantity, such as transcription factor activity or chromatin structure; remember: heterochromatin = mixture of DNA + histones v. Euchromatin = Expressed
  • <3> W.O.T.F | I and II, since a superficial burn destroys epidermal tissue, all 5 epidermal layers are at risk. The epidermis consists of Merkel cells, Langerhans cells, keratinocytes, and melanocytes. Remember how the deepest epidermal layer, stratum basale, consists of stem cells continuously dividing: one of the daughter cells remains, but the other one bubbles up to the top, shedding its organelles and flattening as it starts layering outwards superficially. A superficial burn would wipe this layer out, and also any mature keratinocytes. Epidermal Langerhans cells are dendritic immune cells (antigen-presenting) that patrol in the skin until they recognize and ingest antigens, then migrate to the nearest Lymph node to present to the T cell, therefore activating the adaptive immune response. Eliminate: III (since shock absorption is handled by adipose tissue, and that is located in the hypodermis aka subcutaneous zone)