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What’s the Best MCAT Prep Book of All Time?
Top 10 Latest Reviews

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: August 4, 2021

When it comes to MCAT exam preparation, there's a long list of MCAT prep books and study materials available in the market. While all of these may be useful, only a few MCAT prep books can help you study smarter and without wasting precious time.

Together with my team of academic experts, I have created a list of useful materials in this best MCAT prep books review. Take a look and see if what you're reading made it to our recommended list.

10 Best MCAT Prep Books in 2021

1 - Kaplan Complete 7 Book-Subject Review (Editor's Choice)

MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2020-2021: Online + Book + 3 Practice Tests (Kaplan Test Prep) 1st Edition

Kaplan has produced one of the best MCAT prep books for several years now. This MCAT prep material, written by an award-winning Kaplan instructor, contains detailed conceptual topics, which will be very useful for self-studying strategies.

This Kaplan MCAT Complete 7 prep study material consists of detailed diagrams, charts, and illustrations, which will help you remember things easily.

The Kaplan MCAT prep book provides an expert study plan and detailed subject review. It also provides hundreds of online and offline practice questions and practice problems with detailed answer explanations. It is not surprising that it is one of the best MCAT prep books available.

Based on our research, Kaplan's online resource includes 3 practice tests, which many students and test-takers find helpful. The charts, graphs, and diagrams are also useful when it comes to memorization.

Pros
  • Concepts are well-explained
  • Detailed diagrams and charts
  • Good online practice exams
  • Star ratings for every subject
  • Provides expert study plan and detailed subject review
  • 3 online practice tests
Cons
  • No full-length practice test

2 - Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package

ExamKrackers MCAT Complete

Examkrackers MCAT complete study package is our overall second best MCAT prep study guide as it provides a comprehensive MCAT prep approach to your overall review strategy.

It contains six MCAT practice books on general and organic chemistry, psychology; sociology; physics; verbal research; and mathematics.

This MCAT prep book also simplifies subjects like organic chemistry, biochemistry, and biological sciences, which will help you quickly grasp the concepts. A clear and simplified explanation is something that we looked into while searching for the best MCAT books.

There are 24 questions to test your logical reasoning and mastery of the subjects to assess your progress. Full-length practice tests are also given at the end of each chapter.

One possible drawback with this MCAT prep book is the publishing of several defective copies.  However, the company has claimed that they've already fixed the issue.

Pros
  • Provides brief and comprehensive MCAT prep information
  • Includes developmental tests at the end of each chapter
  • Uses visuals and infographics
  • Good for full-time study schedule
Cons
  • Fewer examples for psychology and sociology
  • CARS doesn’t include the ‘real-life ‘concept

3 - Princeton Review MCAT Subject Complete Set

The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set, 3rd Edition

The Princeton Review Complete MCAT Subject  set of books provides 3 full-length practice tests that are accessible online.

At the end of each chapter, you'll also find 1000 practice questions that you'll find helpful for MCAT preparation.

Although not as comprehensive as Examkrackers and not as brief as Kaplan, the Princeton Review study material offers essential concepts aptly presented with colorful illustrations to engage students, and it is one of the best MCAT prep books on our list.

Princeton Review gives you MCAT physics, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, psychological, social, verbal reasoning, and biological foundations of behavior.

 

Pros
  • Practice tests are similar to exam
  • 7 complete books that cover all parts of MCAT exam
  • Plenty of practice questions
  • 3 full-length practice test
Cons
  • Some content not updated
  • Lots of editing errors

4 - Sterling Test MCAT Prep Book

Sterling MCAT Organic Chemistry

The Sterling Test Prep MCAT prep book provides a brief and in-depth conceptual explanation for the MCAT.

What we like about this MCAT prep study material is the fact that it's updated every year. It contains different MCAT prep course review books for each subject. Some exciting topics we've found include biological and biochemical foundations of the living system; and chemical and physical foundation of the biological system.

This MCAT prep book provides four practice tests for each subject to help you while studying for the MCAT. You'll also see that they've provided explanations in each MCAT practice test for both correct and incorrect answers.

Since this MCAT study material includes illustrations, graphics, tables, and diagrams, most students find it visually interesting and motivating, making it one of the best MCAT prep books on the list.

Pros
  • Updated every year
  • Answers are explained
  • Includes four practice tests
  • Contains illustrations and diagrams as study guides
Cons
  • Simple explanation for chemistry and physics
  • Some students find the biology section too tough
  • Incomplete study guide

5 - The Berkeley Review MCAT complete set 10 Books

Berkeley Review MCAT Complete

The Berkeley MCAT Review includes 10 content books that talk about different sciences, i.e., physics, biology, and chemistry. It also contains one MCAT verbal section review and an MCAT organic chemistry review.

Based on our review, we find this book expensive, but it may be worth the cost if you're after improving your skills in critical analysis and reasoning as you study for the MCAT.

The MCAT course book includes 9 diagnostic MCAT practice sets, 27 practice passages, and 447 questions. The study guide covers Physics, Psychology, and CARS in sections for a more thorough explanation.

Pros
  • Includes 3500 MCAT practice questions
  • Contains explanations to answers
Cons
  • Book series is bit expensive
  • Includes unnecessary content
  • Not updated

6 - Barron’s New MCAT, 3rd edition review

Barron MCAT

Based on our review, Barron’s new MCAT book is among the most affordable MCAT prep books and review materials. This MCAT test prep manual includes a CD-ROM to provide you an in-depth explanation of the concepts.

It also includes critical test-taking strategies, which cover timing, test anxiety, scientific problem solving, and critical analysis, which many students find helpful.

We like how it reviews the expanded science chapters and covers the topics recommended by the AAMC.

This MCAT prep book focuses on conceptual understanding rather than presenting the facts for memorization. The comprehensive multi-month study plan may provide the students with a well-organized and streamlined way of studying. If you are looking for budget-friendly MCAT prep books, this one may be the right choice for you.

One downside we've noticed is the poor construction of the MCAT practice tests, which many find confusing. The questions aren't based on the actual MCAT, as well.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Includes chapters recommended by AAMC
  • Includes answer explanation
  • Contains 4 online tests and 39 passages
Cons
  • MCAT practice questions are poorly worded
  • Questions not based on actual exam

7 - Princeton Review complete MCAT, 2nd edition Total Preparation

Princeton Review MCAT Total_Preparation

The Princeton Review is an all in one MCAT resource designed to provide a good general overview of the MCAT.  Based on our research, it is the first single book study guide for MCAT. It has 4 full length online practice tests and several test-taking strategies to help students prepare better.

It covers biology, biochemistry, psychology and sociology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and math. It also aims to develop your critical analysis and reasoning skills.

The full-color 16-page reference guide covers essential formulas, diagrams, concepts, and charts for each MCAT section.

At the end of each chapter, you'll also find test taking strategies and practice questions to test what you've learned. One particular drawback, however, is the layout.

While many find the practice questions helpful, you'll most likely encounter problems with concepts that have not been discussed yet. This might leave you both frustrated and confused.

Pros
  • First single book study guide
  • 4 full-length online practice tests
  • Full-color 16-page tear-out reference guide
Cons
  • Poor layout
  • Practice questions are based on concepts that have not been discussed

8 - Official guide to the MCAT exam – AAMC Guide

Official Guide MCAT Exam

The Official Guide to the MCAT prep book is a preparatory guide written by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the official organization that conducts the MCAT exams.

It also covers different test-taking strategies, including the critical rules during test day and the scoring guide. With over 100 practice questions, you'll have plenty of exercises to test your knowledge and skills.

However, based on our review, this MCAT prep book is not as comprehensive as we've expected. Some also find it difficult to read.

Pros
  • Written by the MCAT exam makers
  • Includes 120 practice questions
Cons
  • Difficult to read
  • Not comprehensive
  • Requires additional resource

9 - MCAT Psychology and Sociology

Princeton MCAT Pyschology Sociology

The MCAT Psychology and Sociology review book covers the MCAT’s psychological, social, and biological foundations. It includes several practice sections that many students may find helpful.

It provides free access to the online MCAT diagnostic test plus a free full-length exam. You'll see instructions on how to register for this free exam.

This study material comes with MCAT prep practice tests and explanations of the answers.

Pros
  • Good resource for sociology and psychology
  • Access to free full-length exam
Cons
  • Limited content

10 - Kaplan MCAT flashcards:

Kaplan MCAT Flashcards

The Kaplan MCAT flashcards cover the terms, definitions, and concepts of the MCAT for mastery and better understanding. The Kaplan test prep set contains 1000 essential flashcards and an app.

Based on our research and students' feedback, the Kaplan flashcards and MCAT 528 Advanced Prep are considered one of the best MCAT prep books since they may serve as your notes during your study sessions.

Includes:

  • 230 flashcards for behavioral science
  • 247 flashcards for biology
  • 143 flashcards for general chemistry
  • 90 flashcards for organic chemistry
  • 103 flashcards for physics
Pros
  • Includes 1000 flashcards and an app
  • Convenient study companion
Cons
  • Not durable
  • Not for comprehensive studying

What is the MCAT?

The medical college admission test (MCAT) is a computer-based standardized test for medical students applying in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

It is designed to evaluate the problems, critical thinking, written analysis, and association of scientific concepts and principles. The exam is divided into four sections, with the scores from each section added to form a compound score.

According to AAMC, the average score for US medical school applicants for each section is 125, with a total average score of 500.

Section Number of questions Time Content
Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems. 59 95 minutes Tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics.
Critical analysis and reasoning skills. 53 90 minutes Similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines.
Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems. 59 95 minutes Tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and biochemistry.
Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior. 59 95 minutes Tests introductory psychology, sociology and biology.

10 Tips for MCAT Preparation

  1. Go through the MCAT study essentials: The MCAT essentials like MCAT prep courses, MCAT prep books, test prep books, and test-taking strategies are updated every year by the exam makers, so going through them will help you gather suggestions and tips on the current year’s exam.
  2. Use flashcards for wrong questions: Flashcards are the easiest way to remember and improve your mistakes. Make a flashcard for each MCAT practice question that you get wrong and go through it.
  3. Use online resources as an MCAT study guide: Online resources are the best way to improve your score. These resources are almost available free. If you are starting your preparation, then it will help you a lot to build your base.
  4. Try to practice on the computer from the beginning: As the MCAT is a computer-based exam, it is essential to practice through it. Answering the practice test online will help you a lot in the actual exam.
  5. Don’t spend too much time on one question: Spending too much time on an item can be frustrating. If you feel the MCAT question is taking too much time, move to the next one.
  6. Read the questions before reading the context: Make sure that you are reading questions before the context. Reading the question will make it easier for you to pinpoint the concept that goes with it.
  7. Don’t waste time memorizing details: Don’t waste your time remembering the details. The exam is meant to test your understanding of the concepts and not test whether you remember everything.
  8. Don’t ignore the introduction for each subject matter: Most important instructions are given in the introduction of the practice passage, so make sure you don't skip on them.
  9. Don’t take lots of notes: Taking a lot of notes may waste your time, but if you have to, make them short, concise, and straight to the point.
  10. Answer questions on the familiar topics first: Answer the questions on the topic you are are most familiar with as this will boost your confidence and might help you score better.

Study Plan For The MCAT

We recommend setting up a study plan for the MCAT before you begin. It will help you stay on track during the study period.

3-Month Study Plan

You should start your studying by taking a diagnostic MCAT test. We recommend taking a full-length content review version, which you can find online or in a practice book. This diagnostic test will help you gauge where you should focus your studying efforts, especially when you're after building good chemical and physical foundations.

Next, you should break up each week into approximately 3 hours per day and 6 days per week. You should set up a rotating schedule with one topic for each, including biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and behavioral sciences. You should briefly study for the critical analysis and reasoning section every day.

You should focus on core topic areas within each subject for the first week. During weeks 2 through 8, shift your focus to specific content areas like the psychological, social, and biological aspects within each subject.

During weeks 9 through 11, you should take a practice test at the beginning of each week to gauge your progress. Continue to study specific content areas within the 6 subject areas and the critical analysis and reasoning section.

For the final week, you should start by taking a practice test from the AAMC website. Evaluate your score and see which subject you feel need improvement before test day. We recommend visiting the test center to see where it is and how it is set up during the week.

If you wish to learn more be sure to check out our article about MCAT study plans.

Recommended Article: How Many Times Can You Take the MCAT?

What Will Happen On Test Day?

To ease some of your pre-test jitters, we think students who are studying for the MCAT should know precisely what to expect on test day. The MCAT is a computer-based exam that will last approximately 6 hours.

Here is a brief guideline below of exactly what will happen once you sit at the computer.

TASK TIME SPENT
Examinee Agreement 8 minutes
Tutorial 10 minutes (optional)
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 95 minutes
Break 10 minutes (optional)
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 90 minutes
Mid-Exam Break 30 minutes (optional)
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 95 minutes
Break 10 minutes (optional)
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 95 minutes
Void Questions 5 minutes
Satisfaction Survey 5 minutes (optional)

We recommend you take advantage of the breaks. It can increase blood flow to your brain and improve your ability to focus. You should also eat lunch during the 30-minute break, which will refuel your body to complete the remainder of the test.

FAQs

How far in advance should you study for the MCAT?

You should set up a 3 to 6-month study plan depending on how well you understand the test prep books and materials beforehand. Your study plan should include biology, biochemistry, physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and behavioral sciences.

Are MCAT prep courses better than books?

It depends on how you like to study. MCAT prep courses can be a great study tool for students who do well in a structured learning environment. We recommend taking an MCAT study course along with purchasing MCAT prep books. This will give the best results when trying to improve your MCAT score.

How long is the MCAT exam?

The MCAT exam is about 6 hours of actual test time. The exam is about 7.5 hours if you include all breaks, agreements, and surveys.

How many times can you take the MCAT?

You can take the MCAT 3 times in a one-year period, 4 times in a two-year period, and 7 times over one lifetime.

Is it okay to postpone the MCAT if I have already signed up?

Yes. In fact, if you are not scoring as high as you would like on your MCAT practice exam, then you should postpone your scheduled test date until you feel ready to tackle the exam. It is better to take the exam and get the score you want.

How is the MCAT scored?

The MCAT is scored from 118-132 in four sections. The best score you can receive is a 528 with perfect on all four sections.

How long does it take to receive your MCAT scores?

MCAT scores are usually released 30 to 35 days after the testing date. You can also view your scores online at the AAMC website.

What's the Best MCAT Prep Book?

Based on our extensive research and interview with students, we recommend Kaplan MCAT complete 7 book subject review as the best MCAT prep book if you're planning to take MCAT.

Aside from being written by an award-winning Kaplan instructor, this study material explains the concepts very well. It includes diagrams and charts that many students find visually interesting and motivating.

We are particularly impressed with the star ratings for each test prep book subject.  The streamlined study plan also helps you create better strategies while studying and when taking the test. We suggest enrolling in an MCAT prep course to strengthen your knowledge.

MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2020-2021: Online + Book + 3 Practice Tests (Kaplan Test Prep) 1st Edition

Our #1 Recommendation

Kaplan Complete 7 Book-Subject Review

  • Concepts are well-explained
  • Detailed diagrams and charts
  • Good online practice exams
  • Star ratings for every subject
  • Provides expert study plan and detailed subject review
  • 3 online practice tests
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of September
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About the author

William Cohen

William Cohen

William is an electrical engineer whose great passion is helping promising students achieve their goals and dreams. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with aspiring learners from all over the world.

2 Comments

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