MCAT Mnemonics

MCAT Mnemonics: Sodium Potassium Pump

Ken Tao is the MedSchoolCoach expert on MCAT, and will discuss that the sodium potassium pump is an important membrane protein, especially in neurons. It’s also an example of primary active transport. And that’s because the sodium potassium pump burns a molecule of ATP in order to pump three sodium cations out of the cell, and two potassium cations into the cell.

Students get this confused all the time. Is it sodium or potassium that goes in the cell? And which one is two? which one is three? Our mnemonic today is going to help you keep track of this.


Full Transcription

Welcome back to another episode of MCAT Mnemonic Monday. My name is Ken and I’m an MCAT expert with MedSchoolCoach. Today we’ve got another biology mnemonic for you on the sodium potassium pump.

You’ll probably recall from your biology classes that the sodium potassium pump is an important membrane protein, especially in neurons. It’s also an example of primary active transport. And that’s because the sodium potassium pump burns a molecule of ATP in order to pump three sodium cations out of the cell, and two potassium cations into the cell.

Students get this confused all the time. Is it sodium or potassium that goes in the cell? And which one is two? which one is three? Our mnemonic today is going to help you keep track of this.

You can see here it’s two potassium cations in the cell, and three sodium cations out of the cell. What you want to focus on is the number of characters. Two characters. Everything’s gonna be two.

2 K+ two characters. IN two characters. So you can remember that two potassium cations go into the cell.

Sodium is the same thing, but we’re looking at three. 3 NA+ three characters. OUT three characters. So you can remember that it is three sodium cations that go out of the cell.

All right. So that’s a mnemonic for keeping track of what the sodium potassium pump does. Remember, if there are any topics that you would like us to create a mnemonic video for, please leave a comment below with those topics and we’ll do our best.

Ken Tao

Ken is nationally recognized as a premier MCAT mind. He has worked with thousands of undergraduate students as a graduate teaching assistant and MCAT instructor/tutor for the Princeton Review. At Princeton Review, Ken was the only tutor certified in all subjects, was one of the highest rated MCAT tutors ever and was a teacher trainer. Additionally, Ken worked to found Magoosh's MCAT division. He has written content for dozen's of MCAT books and guides. He is now the Director of MCAT at MedSchoolCoach

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