Advice from Science Faculty


Preparing for Academic and Exam Success

Welcome to UAB and to the sciences programs designed to promote your success! You will take courses in chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics in addition to classes in humanities and social sciences as a chemistry major. You will also take a comprehensive entrance exam in your junior year for the health profession in which you are most interested.

Faculty members in the sciences, having given much thought to your success, offer these suggestions:

  • Students who express an interest in the health professions (MD, DO, DDS, OD) are strongly encouraged to attend the February Freshman Seminar, if not during the freshman year, then as a sophomore. The information you will obtain during this day will be invaluable to you as you take each science course, beginning with General Chemistry.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take Mathematics 106 (Pre-Calculus- Trigonometry) or Calculus as soon as possible so you can begin your science track. Additionally, you will have the most meaningful grasp of upper-level Biology courses if you have finished Organic Chemistry, or are taking it concurrently.
  • Most pre-health students are encouraged to take Chemistry 100 (Chemical Problem Solving) before Chemistry 115 (General Chemistry I), especially if your high school chemistry was in the high school sophomore or junior year. An “A” in Chemistry 100 and a strong start in Chemistry 115 is a strong start for the entire science course sequence. On the other hand, the highest scoring students in Chemistry 115 are incoming freshmen. So, the advice to take Chemistry 100 is not a blanket statement; the total record is important. A poster, available from your advisor, is available to help students recognize which path is best for them.
  • Expect an intense two-year preparation for the MCAT/DAT/OAT. Study for the admissions exam begins with the first prerequisite course. In the most ideal case a student will finish all the prerequisites during the first two years of college and take the entrance exam in summer or fall term of the junior year. Students are then advised to take the course Core Principles of Modern Science in the spring term before the exam to allow one term for independent study. Another option is for the student to take Core Principles of Modern Science in the fall term of the junior year, allowing the spring term for independent study. Then take the admissions exam in the spring before applying to professional school in the summer.
  • The course, Core Principles of Modern Science is taught in fall and spring and is a one-semester hour pass/fail course. Students may register for either Biology 307 or Chemistry 307. This course is designed to systematically address two areas - AAMC science concepts (and how to be confident with these) and MCAT exam-taking strategies. The focus is on what the student must do in order to be successful with each part of the exam, including verbal reasoning and the writing sample. Students should plan to take the MCAT only one time. Exam information can be found on the following websites: www.aamc.org/mcat; www.ada.org/prof/ed/testing/dat ; and www.opted.org/info_oat.cfm.
  • For the greatest probability for success on the exam, students may find it helpful to take the course in biochemistry. This course is taught only in the fall. By the spring, MCAT (given in late April) students should have completed all fundamental science coursework. Since genetics is emphasized on the biological sciences section of the exam, students may also find it helpful to have a course in genetics (taught each semester, including summer).

These conditions require that students engage in long-range planning from the beginning of their time at UAB!