How To Tackle MCAT style Logarithm Questions

MCAT math tutorial video on logarithms and negative logsWhen it comes to mathematical calculations on the MCAT shortcuts are the way to go. But with most shortcut you have the option of falling back on the long yet proven pen-and-paper calculations to get your results.

But this is not the case when it comes to logarithms. Logs or negative logs, unlike multiplication, division and similar cannot be solved in a simple written out manner.

Therefore, learning a non-calculator trick for solving log questions is a must for every MCAT student. And that’s why my newest video shows you how to quickly tackle simple negative log questions, and a trick for solving the more difficult questions, all without a calculator.

Logarithms and Negative Logs Without A Calculator

(click to watch on YouTube or catch the video transcript here)

MCAT Style Question Mentioned In This Video:

Chemistry Question: Find the pH of a 2.3 x 10¯⁴ molar solution of NaOH

<– Watch Previous Video: Trigonometry + Sin/Cos Value Trick
–> Watch Next Video: Antilogs


Need additional MCAT style math practice? Click HERE for my FREE MCAT Math Quiz

This is Video #8 in my MCAT Math Without A Calculator tutorial series. Click HERE for the entire series


  1. I like your tutorial. Can you please help me in simplifying 10 to the power -4.2.

  2. Hi Leah

    How would you find the pH give the [H+] 9 x 10^-6 M.
    I am trying to apply your concept and my answer would be ~ 6 since it’s just 9 by itself.

    Can you explain how you would approach something like this?


  3. Very helpful, thank you. What’s the trick if I want to find the [H+] concentration? What is 10^ -10.36?

  4. Hi Leah, thanks for sharing your knowledge. But I’m having trouble with one question.. how come this rule doesn’t apply to -log(1.5×10^-4)? From what I’ve understood, it should be between 3 and 4 and since 5 is #.3, shouldn’t it be 3.3?? But the answer is 3.8. am I missing something here?:S
    Thank you in advance!

  5. how would you ( log 4.5 X 10^5) and (log 4.5 X 10^-5)

  6. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  7. Imani Agard says

    Hey Leah, I love your videos so far, but I’m having problems understanding how you make the estimations. Take for example -log (2.3* 10^-4).

    What is your reasoning behind deducing that the pH will lie between 3 and 4? Why are you rounding down to one and rounding up to ten? I think you rushed on that concept and it missed me.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Leah4sci says

      The log trick only works on numbers like 1 and 10. So if you estimate that 2 lies betwen 1 and 10 both times 10^-4 you get your range

  8. how will you find -log(1.8 X 10^ -5 ) ?
    what will you do for .8 after finding the range which is between 5 and 4..?

    thanks in advance..

    • Don’t overthink it Jagan. On the MCAT an answer that is close enough is good enough. Estimate your equation as -log(2×10^-5) or even better, 1 x 10 ^ -5

  9. Hi Leah,
    AS a sophomore university don’t you think it’s soon for me, for the MCAT Exams.?
    I don’t want to go for it twice.

  10. Very helpful…

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