Are you looking for the best MCAT prep books? In this review, we will help you find the best prep materials for MCAT exams. These are the same study guides that have helped thousands of med school students score 520+ on the MCAT.
We won’t bore you with what the MCAT exam is. Instead, let’s jump right into the review.
MCAT Study Materials – Comparison Table
|RANK||STUDY GUIDE||PRACTICE EXAMS/QUESTIONS||REVIEW||PRICE|
|1||3 practice tests|
|4||3 practice tests|
|5||1 practice test + mini exams|
The Ultimate List of the Best MCAT Prep Books
If you are preparing for the MCAT exam, the best study course to use is the Kaplan MCAT study set. This is a comprehensive set of 7 books that are recommended by nearly all students that score highly in their MCAT exams. The books are highly detailed, have well-structured questions, and great visuals in each chapter that enhance your learning experience.
The Kaplan MCAT books help you to focus on the key areas that are likely to be tested in the exam thanks to their “star” feature. At the end of each chapter, there are 3 online practice questions and random questions derived from the content you have learned that will help you to internalize important concepts.
After reading the Kaplan MCAT study set, you will be about 95% ready to take the exam. We recommend you also get the MCAT Psychology and Sociology book by Kaplan as the books in the set do not cover 100 percent of the information you will need.
The Kaplan MCAT Complete Study Set is quite expensive but offers the best value for the money. Working out the math, the cost of each book turns out to be about $20. Moreover, you will have 3 detailed practice tests, which is more than any other MCAT prep course offers.
- You can focus on concepts that are likely to be tested in the exam as highlighted by the “star” feature
- Tons of practice questions
- Excellent graphical presentation of concepts
- Covers detailed information
- The study set is very detailed and hence may not be suitable if you are crunched for time
- The study set is quite expensive
If you only have a few days or weeks to your MCAT exams and would like to grasp important concepts fast, you should get the Examkrackers Complete Study Package.
The 10th edition of the psychology/sociology books comes with more questions and practice exams. The book goes straight to the point, only providing you with what you would need to know. The downside of this is that sometimes, you may feel that the book has not provided enough information
The 6 books are precise and Salty the Kracker will provide the much-needed break from the arduous studying you may be engaged in.
We love this book for its precise information and this is why it’s the best MCAT study guide for anyone that does not have a lot of time for their exam.
- Has a funny mascot that will kill the monotony of studying
- The updated version has extra questions and practice exams
- Is concise but still covers everything you would need to know for the exam
- Understandably, the set of 6 books is expensive
- Some topics are not covered in-depth in the book
Unlike Kaplan and Examkrackers, Sterling does not offer a study guide package. Instead, you have the ability to create your own package, whose price will roughly come to that of Kaplan’s.
Sterling test prep books are updated every month. Therefore, you can be sure that the material you are reading will reflect what you should expect in your MCAT exam. The “high yield” MACT question books have over 1200 questions that will help you brush your skills and knowledge in different areas. There is no better way to prepare for the MCAT exam than by going through the test questions,
Every Sterling MCAT book has detailed explanations for each question. Moreover, if you do not understand an explanation, the support tip is willing to help.
The Sterling MCAT books provide an overview of the foundations of the exam. However, if you are new to a particular topic, it would be better to get a different book or go through the MCAT test questions we have on our site before purchasing the books.
If you choose to buy the Kaplan MCAT prep book, you can add the Sterling book to give you a great foundation for the areas that you may be weakest in.
- The team is very responsive. You can easily reach them in case you face any difficulties with the concepts explained in the book.
- There are over 1200 questions covering specific topics for you to go through
- The book is updated every month. Therefore, you can be sure of having the latest information you would need for your MCAT.
- Only provides a brief overview of the topics. You will need a different MCAT study course if you would like in-depth information.
The Princeton Review MCAT is great but has some drawbacks to the Examkrackers and Kaplan study guides. If you do not mind learning additional material that will not be tested in your exam, then this book is an excellent choice. We recommend the book to students that want to expand their general medical knowledge.
The Princeton Review has 3 helpful practice tests and questions at the end of each chapter. Going through the questions will help you to remember the concepts you have learned. However, the questions are not as many as are available on Examkrackers and Kaplan study guides. Therefore, to get real exam practice, we recommend purchasing the Princeton review together with a supplementary book such as the Sterling MCAT book.
The Princeton MCAT study guide has dozens of visuals that are useful in aiding you in the learning process. However, we would have preferred if the book used photographs when explaining key concepts rather than drawing figures.
Overall, the Princeton MCAT book is well-written and ensure you are well-prepared for the exam. Just keep in mind that you should buy more books to practice your weaker sections.
- Has 3 full-length practice tests
- Covers information in-depth
- The physics section does not have a lot of visual aids
- Has some materials that are not tested on the exam
There are no great study books for the MCAT psychology section. However, we found one book that has the most practice tests and we highlight recommend it for brushing up your skills in the Psychology and Sociology areas. This book should be used as a complementary of other online MCAT psychology and sociology resources.
The MCAT Psychology and Sociology book has passage breakdowns and explanations to the test questions.
- Has excellent explanations and passage breakdowns
- Dozens of practice passages for the exam
- Not comprehensive enough. Should be used together with other sources to be fully prepared
Flashcards are excellent resources for improving your prospects in the medical field. The study accessories make it easy for you to memorize difficult topics. Moreover, you can use them to remember older material.
There are different MCAT flashcards on the market. However, the best flashcards are made by Kaplan. The 1000 flashcards will come in handy when you need to review a lot of material for the exam.
However, keep in mind that the flashcards only contain general information. If you need in-depth information on different topics, you will be better off with a fully-fledged MCAT prep book. We recommend the flashcards for jogging your memory and ensuring you understand the concepts on a higher level.
As you go through the flashcards, you can add other important information you may need to know for the exam. For example, you can add quick notes, graphs, and so on.
The Kaplan MCAT flashcards are somehow flimsy but will last you for a couple of months as you prepare for your exam.
- Excellent for jogging your memory at a higher level
- Recommended for spaced repetition and studying on the go
- Does not have detailed explanations
- Flimsy, but will last for a couple of months
MCAT Books to Avoid
MCAT 528: Advanced Prep
We do not recommend this book because it is flimsy and just a copy of the official AAMC prep guide. This book also has a couple of chapters that are dedicated to Kaplan strategies. However, you will be better off buying the Kaplan Study Guide for the strategies rather than the MCAT 528.
How long is the exam?
The MCAT exam can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to complete, depending on the number of breaks you take.
How is the MCAT scored?
The MCAT has four sections where you can score from 118-132. Therefore, you can score from 472-528 points on the final exam.
How many times can you take the MCAT?
You are allowed to take the MCAT up to 3 times a year, and 4 times in a 2 year period. The total number of times you can take the MCAT in your lifetime is 7.
How many hours are sufficient for studying the MCAT?
Generally, you should dedicate from 250 hours to 700 hours depending on the amount of material you know. Most students do well by studying from 2 to 6 hours a day for 3 to 6 months.
What is an optional break?
Like the name implies, the break is not mandatory. You can skip it without getting penalized. However, keep in mind that you cannot use the extra time in the next section.
It is best to use the optional break to recharge your brain with water and some light snacks, stretch your legs, and go to the bathroom.
Can you use old MCAT prep materials to prepare for a new exam?
The old and new MCAT exams are similar but also have some differences. Therefore, it is best to use new prep course or book for the new exam.
Editor’s Verdict: Best MCAT Prep Book
If you are looking for a comprehensive MCAT prep book, we recommend getting the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7 Books. The books cover all the topics that are tested in MCAT. Moreover, they have thousands of practice questions that will make you more comfortable to undertake the exam.
If you need a quick guide that will help you to remember the concepts you already know regarding various MCAT topics, you should get the Sterling Test Prep book.