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The States of Matter

Matter is made up of minuscule particles which, governed by the conditions, will interact to form one of several possible macroscopic phases: solid, liquid or gas. Although technically, the phases of matter may also include such variations as plasmas and Bose-Einstein condensates among others, in general chemistry our discussion will be concerned with the three phases common on the earth. Solids have a fixed volume and shape. Liquids have a fixed volume but take the shape of the portion of the container they occupy, and gases assume the shape and volume of the container they occupy. Our study includes the intrinsic properties of each phase as well as the thermodynamic factors underlying the transformation of one state of matter to another in the processes of phase change.

Content such as phase equilibria diagrams, the behavior of real gases, and the vapor pressure are MCAT favorites. With liquids, surface tension and capillary action have been on many exams. Occasionally, an MCAT even may expect familiarity with the terminology of crystal structure in solids. In other words, this is core general chemistry knowledge. You should be prepared for questions from this material on your exam.

The WikiPremed MCAT Course is a free comprehensive course in the undergraduate level general sciences. Undergraduate level physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and biology are presented by this course as a unified whole within a spiraling curriculum.

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