Many sites claim that they have the best MCAT prep books listed. However, not all of them hold equal value. To ensure that your successful career is covered, you need the best MCAT Prep books to help you prepare for and beat the exam.
Studying for the MCAT requires the right studying techniques and prep books to bolster your score. Here is a list of 6 best prep books for MCAT that can help you find the perfect material to help you ace the exam. Also, we interviewed a lot of med school students who got a high score (520+) on MCAT and creators of MCAT prep materials to come up with this list.
MCAT prep books at glance
- Examkrackers Complete Package for Studying MCAT
- Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set
- Our best pick: Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review with Online Materials and 3 Practice Tests
- MCAT Test Prep and Practice Test Questions
- Kaplan MCAT Flashcards with App
- Sterling MCAT Prep Books and Practice Tests
Best MCAT Prep Books Review
If you don’t have much time to study comprehensively or you just need to learn the basics without having to go through volumes of extra information that won’t probably come out on the exam, you could consider this MCAT prep package.
We recommend getting the 10th edition instead of the 9th edition since the latest edition is apparently a way improved version of the latter. Publishers corrected the errors from the 9th edition in the newest edition. They also added more practice questions and updated the psychology and sociology book.
Because Examkrackers mostly provide information you probably need on the exam, you might find yourself looking for more. Nevertheless, the 6 books in this package use precise language. Salty the Kracker, the material’s mascot, could make you feel relaxed after hours of intense studying.
- On-point and covers the basics
- Easy to read
- Funny mascot
- Has more accurate information
- Could have more detailed explanation for some solutions
- Few illustrations on psychology and sociology
Not enough CARS practice
This MCAT review set is great in broadening your current general knowledge database. Nevertheless, if you don’t want to learn extra material, you might want to think twice.
You can benefit from the three practice tests and questions at the end of every chapter. Although the questions are not as many as the ones in Examkrackers or Kaplan, they are enough to make you understand the concepts. You can just buy a separate question book to simulate the actual test.
It also improves your visual comprehension since the illustrations in the book are in full color. There could’ve been more in the physics book, so that the theories are a lot easier to understand. All in all, they wrote the books well for this package. If you’re willing to buy additional books for your weak study points, this book can definitely prepare you for the test.
- Review content is balanced
- Practice questions are similar to the actual test
- Could master all levels of the MCAT exam
- Biology book is good
- Psychology book lacks visuals
- Quite a lot of extra material
Having the time (ideally, at least 12 weeks) and effort to study all the seven books, this is one of the best MCAT studying sets you can purchase. You can also use it as your reference material since the books are reviewed by a doctor and holders of advanced science degrees.
Most of the students we interviewed who got a high MCAT score recommended this. They said that the details are clear, visuals are great, and the practice questions in every chapter are well-structured. Other MCAT books are not as detailed as Kaplans’ books.
The star feature of this book is that it is also helpful to identify the parts that would more likely appear on the test. When the books aren’t enough for you to practice, you can review the end of chapter sections, answer the questions all over the book and the practice tests online, and visit the Khan Academy video archives.
To better prepare, you can get the MCAT Psychology and Sociology book since the one in this package doesn’t include one. Even though it’s the priciest in this list, you get what you pay for or even more.
- Accurate and realistic practice package
- Detailed online practice tests
- Strategy sheets are good and succinct
- Organized end-of-chapter summary
- No complete practice exam
Do you want a faster way to start prepping for MCAT? Then, this can be perfect for you. With only 304 pages, it is a concise and brief study guide that covers every part of the exam. It’s also a great book to use when you don’t have any idea how to start studying for this mind-boggling test.
By reading it from cover to cover, you can determine the topics you need to work on, as you assess your performance from answering the practice tests.
It can also be a convenient review book, for those who have already prepared well enough for the test or those who are pressed for time to study to suffice their MCAT prepping needs.
You can study the chapters of MCAT sections, the concepts, and the subject reviews which could come out on the exam.
Aside from a number of sample questions and two full-length practice tests, you can also get some tips on how to take the test. Even on a budget, you can practice for the test well.
- Covers the basics of the test
- A detailed explanation of the answers
- Concise info presentation
- Occasional typo errors
Have you been studying for the exam for quite some time now? We know you understand how important flashcards are. This studying material is great when you want to study wherever you are, review difficult topics, and not to forget previously studied concepts.
Many MCAT review material companies have created their own versions of flashcards. Nevertheless, these flashcards from Kaplan are by far the best. The 1,000 flashcards can help you absorb the information you need quickly to be able to answer the exam with ease.
Keep in mind that since these are flashcards, don’t expect to see detailed explanations or information since it’s not possible to fit it on a flashcard. However, it can help jog your memory and comprehend the information at a high level.
According to the students we interviewed who used these, they suggested adding your own notes after you go through this study material. It may be somewhat time-consuming, but it helps remember important details.
Though the cards are flimsy and not that glossy, they can probably last until you finish preparing for the exam.
- App is good
- Straightforward information
- Good supplementary review material
- Challenging to find sections for compartmentalized studying
Unlike Kaplan and Examkrackers, Sterling prep books don’t come in one package. However, you can make your own with the same price as the set from Kaplan.
Every month, Sterling updates their books to ensure that their materials reflect the recent MCAT. With over 1,200 questions on particular subjects, their books yield a lot of questions, so it’s a great way to prepare for the test. The most effective strategy in taking exams is answering mock questions again and again.
Every back of the book has a thorough explanation of the questions. Furthermore, you can contact their support team if you don’t understand an explanation. The support team responds effectively and fast. It’s like having a personal tutor.
One word of advice, though, it will be better to buy a different bok or use another learning resource to practice when you’re just starting to concentrate on a specific topic. It’s because Sterling books only provide an overview of the concepts.
Also, med students recommend buying a Sterling book for your weak spot when you get the MCAT prep package from Kaplan.
- Challenging passages have data interpretation.
- Provides excellent explanations to answers
- Questions and solutions are helpful.
- Wonderful customer support
- Physics and chemistry are basic
MCAT Prep Books Buying Guide
You probably wonder now on how to find the right MCAT book for you. This guide may help you realize the test prep materials you need.
It’s a good thing that there are a lot of MCAT review books to choose from. However, choosing the right book can make you feel overwhelmed due to a lot of options available. All books seem to guarantee to help you study and get good scores, but that’s not always true. Thus, you need to make sure the book you’re going to choose can bring about good results.
To help you make the right purchase, we listed down some effective tips to guide you in picking out the right book. Continue reading to find out how.
Know your learning options
First, you need to understand the options you have to study, make a plan, and stick to it. One option is signing up for an MCAT prep course class so that you can interact with experts. Whether you want your classes in a classroom setting or at the comforts of your home, you can surely have an orderly study session.
A good MCAT prep book is a must-have whatever studying approach you opt to have to prepare well for the test. Since this kind of book can also be used as your reference, it’s helpful in navigating the difficult and complicated process of test preparation.
Do a lot of research.
It’s highly important to research well about MCAT before looking for a specific book title. When you are well informed about MCAT, you could find the prep book that fits your studying requirements and needs to prepare adequately for the test.
Once you know the essential test points, it will be easier for you to look for the details you need in the books you’ll check out. As a result, you can maximize your test prep.
What do I expect on the MCAT?
This is the question you need to answer when you do your research. Getting the answer can help you decide on the content you want your prep review book to have.
Depending on the MCAT date you choose, you can purchase more than one test prep book. Because the exam has broad coverage, some books come in a package to save you time from searching for separate books. Nevertheless, a set of books could not be a good choice if you only have a short time to prepare.
Seek recommendations and carefully read a lot of reviews
When you think you have enough background about MCAT, you can check out prep books recommended by former test-takers and subject matter experts. The titles they recommend can help you narrow down your choices.
Know your learning methods and strategies
It’s natural to consider buying the most famous or positively reviewed books. Nevertheless, much consideration has still to be given even for books like these. If they don’t match your learning methods and strategies, no matter how comprehensive the information is, it probably won’t help you ace the actual exam.
Look at how the book presents the information. Some aspiring med school students could handle studying drab content, but you could benefit from content that is less dragging and concise, which doesn’t require extensive memorization.
If you remember more from answering simulated tests than going through volumes of information, you can purchase books that have full-length practice tests to get the feel of an actual test.
To sum up, check the prep book you’re eyeing on carefully.
Choose an updated version of the book.
You can get a book published 2 to 3 years before the year you intend to take the exam. If you plan to take it in 2021, you can purchase the 2018 or later version of the book. Depending on how the American Association of Medical Colleges or AAMC creates the test, books get outdated quite fast. When you buy the latest version, you are likely to study information that was given on the previously given MCAT.
Don’t feel intimidated by getting a lot of prep books.
The more prep books you have, the more context you can study. There’s no need to use prep materials from one publisher. You can benefit from having different titles, although it’s not an assurance of getting a high score. However, it can help you prepare more by covering a wide range of theories.
On top of getting a couple of various review books, you can opt to try other studying materials. Tools such as flashcards and workbooks for MCAT practice tests, among many others, can make you more confident and well-prepared.
Since these materials utilize different approaches, they can match the studying methods and habits of medical school aspirants.
When should I start preparing for MCAT?
2 to 6 months before your test is an ideal preparation time. Nevertheless, the more time to prepare, the better.
How many hours should I spend studying MCAT?
Around 250-700 hours is the ideal number period you prepare for the MCAT. This depends on the background knowledge you have on the material you have. You need to allocate around 2 to 6 hours every day for 3 to 6 months.
Can I take the MCAT as many times as I want?
No, you can’t. You can only take it three times every year or four times in 2 years. In your lifetime, you can only take it seven times.
How do they score the MCAT?
They score based on four parts, where you can get a total of 118 to 132 points. When you sum up the points from all the parts, you can get 472 to 528 points. Since the test varies in terms of difficulty, your score is standardized so that it will be fair.
Can I use old MCAT prep books to study?
There are similarities and differences when it comes to taking the new and old MCAT. Therefore, it is better to use an updated version of prep books to study more effectively.
Conclusion and Our Best Pick
Finally, we hope our top 6 best MCAT prep books and our buying guide can help you choose the best MCAT book for your study needs. Having an understanding of the test and your needs, it won’t take long before you get your hands on the best study buddy for you. Whatever material you use, make sure that you study it well and answer all the tests to fully prepare.
The Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review with Online Materials and 3 Practice Tests is our best pick. This set is complete and comprehensive. Also, the explanations are thorough, so you won’t spend much time trying to figure out a certain concept. This book is the best choice if you only want to use one review source. Besides, it also receives a lot of positive feedbacks from MCAT test-takers. Kaplan is well known for prep courses and offers many other online courses.
Overall, on top of having the best books, you need to exert your best efforts and focus on enjoying the results you want. With the right materials and sheer persistence, MCAT is always beatable.