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Amino Acids on MCAT

Since the release of the new MCAT in 2015, there is more and more evidence on the importance of student's knowledge of amino acids topic of biochemistry.

What exactly do you have to know?

1. The full structure of each amino acid. Yes, you should know how to identify and be able to draw yourself each and every amino acid.

2. Name of each amino acid (full name, 3 letter name and 1 letter name)

3. Category of each amino acid and what it means. We can divide amino acids into polar and charged, nonpolar non-charged, and polar non-charged amino acids. You should also know which amino acids are acidic and which are basic. Finally, you should be able to apply these categories in the context of biological systems. Knowing that we find nonpolar amino acids in the transmembrane portion of the proteins and polar one on the outside or inside of the membrane is critical.

4. You should be able to draw amino acids bound together. What kind of bonds are these?

5. You should be able to predict a charge of an amino acid chain (protein) under different ph's and therefore you should memorize pKa's of all of the amino acids.

6. You should understand the concept of pI, and how it applies to amino acids.

So make amino acids your best friends. Draw them every day and practice as many problems with them as you can find.

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