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Course: MCAT > Unit 3

Lesson 1: Foundation 4: Physical processes

What is this passage set and how is it organized?

This article introduces this passage set, which covers topics from Foundation 4 of the MCAT. It also discusses how the Foundation 4 passages are organized by topic, roughly in line with the AAMC blueprint.
The passages you’ll find in this set cover physical science topics from AAMC Foundation 4. This foundation, along with Foundation 5 (tested in the passage set below this one), is part of the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Sciences section of the MCAT. Foundation 4 covers topics in physics and atomic chemistry, whereas Foundation 5 covers topics in general and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry.
This statement by the AAMC describes the significance of Foundation 4 topics for pre-medical students: “Complex living organisms transport materials, sense their environment, process signals, and respond to changes using processes understood in terms of physical principles.” Accordingly, many of the MCAT passages in this section apply physics and chemistry concepts to topics in biology and medicine.
Passages in this set are labeled with topics that roughly align with those listed in the AAMC Chemical and Physical Foundations blueprint, under Foundation 4. The passages are also organized by topic, in an order consistent with the AAMC blueprint. The topic of each passage is indicated by its subtitle, as circled below.

Here is a list of our Foundation 4 passage topics and their corresponding AAMC content categories:

Content Category 4A: Translational motion, forces, work, energy, and equilibrium in living systems
  • Translational motion
  • Force and motion
  • Force and equilibrium
  • Work and energy
  • Mechanics of the human body
Content category 4B: Importance of fluids for the circulation of blood, gas movement, and gas exchange
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Fluid dynamics/circulatory system
  • Gases
Content category 4C: Electrochemistry and electrical circuits and their elements
  • Electrostatics
  • Circuit elements
  • Magnetism
  • Electrochemistry
  • Physics of nerve cells
Content Category 4D: How light and sound interact with matter
  • Sound
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Light and optics
Content Category 4E: Atoms, nuclear decay, electronic structure, and atomic chemical behavior
  • Atomic structure
  • Particles/radioactivity
  • Periodic trends
  • Stoichiometry

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