MCAT Psychology and Sociology Freestanding Practice Questions: interacting with the environment

Home > MCAT Test > MCAT behavioral sciences practice tests

Test Information

Question 8 questions

Time minutes

See All test questions

Take more free MCAT behavioral sciences practice tests available from

1. Suppose that a researcher subliminally flashed words for negative and positive emotions (i.e., sad, happy) for a millisecond before showing subjects a neutral picture of people in a room. The words flashed so quickly that they were only perceived as a flash of light, but subjects were more likely to describe the scene in negative or positive terms (corresponding to the word that was flashed before the image), than subjects who did not see a subliminal word beforehand. What phenomenon does this describe?

  • A. Primacy effect
  • B. Priming
  • C. Divided attention
  • D. Episodic memory

2. If a two-year-old child repeatedly asks his mother for his favorite toy after it has been lost, what understanding has the child obtained, according to Piaget's theory of cognitive development?

  • A. Schemas
  • B. Conservation
  • C. Object permanence
  • D. Formal operations

3. After hearing a telephone number, one only has a few seconds to write it down before the information is lost. What aspect of Baddeley's information processing model accounts for this ability?

  • A. Phonological loop
  • B. Visuospatial sketchpad
  • C. Episodic buffer
  • D. Central executive

4. The "candle problem" is a famous experiment whereby the subject is given a wax candle, a small cardboard box containing several thumbtacks and a book of matches. The subject is asked to affix the candle to a corkboard so that wax will not drip onto the floor below. The only correct way to solve the task is to empty the box of thumbtacks, tack the box onto the corkboard, and light the candle and place it inside the box. Most subjects are unable to figure out the solution to this task, but if the thumbtacks are presented next to the box, not inside of it, they can solve the task easily. Why can't the subjects solve the task in the first scenario?

  • A. They are bound by a mental set that does not comprehend how to light a candle in this way.
  • B. They are unable to employ trial and error quickly enough to solve the task.
  • C. They are overconfident about they own strategies for solving the task.
  • D. They are unable to see alternative uses for the box containing the thumbtacks due to functional fixedness.


Figure 1 Average Melatonin Production (in ng/mL) over a 24-hour Period by Age Group

A normal 15 year old is participating in a sleep study and falls asleep at 10:30. This subject enters her first REM cycle at midnight. According to Figure 1 above, which of the following measures would most likely be recorded at midnight?

I. Melatonin levels of 90 ng/mL

II. Moderate to high EMG activity

III. EEG measures include theta waves and K-complexes

  • A. I only
  • B. III only
  • C. I and III only
  • D. I, II, and III

6. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when an individual with a dependence on alcohol suddenly limits or stops alcohol consumption. Symptoms of withdrawal can be very dangerous, including seizures, uncontrollable shaking of the extremities, and other nervous system issues. What is the most plausible mechanism of action for these physical symptoms?

  • A. Chronic alcohol consumption causes down-regulation of GABA receptors, leading to a reduction in CNS inhibition, and excito-neurotoxicity.
  • B. Long-term alcohol abuse stimulates the autonomic nervous system, causing tremors.
  • C. Cessation of alcohol consumption leads to a reduction in dopamine production in the nucleus accumbens.
  • D. Alcohol is a hallucinogenic, and withdrawal acts by relaxing, disinhibiting, and amplifying sensory information.

7. A patient recently-admitted to the ER is reported to have had a stroke. At present, he is having some trouble communicating with hospital staff. When he addresses the doctor, he seems to have great difficulty forming sentences. His speech is rather monotone and lacks many function words. This patient is most likely experiencing:

  • A. Somnambulism
  • B. Wernicke's aphasia
  • C. Broca's aphasia
  • D. Receptive aphasia

8. According to the James-Lange Theory:

  • A. motivation follows action.
  • B. emotion follows physiologic arousal.
  • C. physiologic arousal follows emotion.
  • D. emotions are validated by inner dialogue.