Calculation Basics

Calculation Questions

You can expect to see three or more calculation questions on your MCAT. Since they are such a common question type it is worth investing time into learning how to approach them.

General Approach

Units Versus Equations

This isn’t a versus. You must know both equations and units to excel at calculation questions. If you are short on time, start by mastering the units based approach first. There are fewer to learn, they apply more broadly, and once you get the hang of using units, they are often faster than equations.

Units are not foolproof though. They won’t work where addition and subtraction are necessary (1/f = 1/o + 1/i) or when non-unit values appear in an equation (KE = 1/2mv2). Other than that, they are a powerful tool to solve calculation problems even when you don’t know how to get started on a question.

By taking a mixed approach and learning both strategies you will have a comprehensive approach to calculation questions that balances accuracy with efficiency.