The Best MCAT Prep Books for 2017
There are a lot of “Best MCAT Prep Books” lists out there. Most of them aren’t all that great. So we’ve built a better list. We’ve reviewed most of the books on the market today and wrote a brief bio for our favorites.
Your MCAT score is important. And as you’ll be spending a lot of time studying, it’s critical you get the right advice.
The following is a chart of the best MCAT prep books. Keep reading for a short review of them all.
|Rank||Book Title||Pages||Practice Tests||Price|
|1||Kaplan MCAT Complete Subject Review Set||3,192||3 Full Tests||$150|
|2||Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Set||2,832||3 Full Tests||$120|
|3||Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package||N/A||N/A||$240|
|4||Princeton Review Complete MCAT||1,488||4 Full Tests||$65|
|5||Sterling Test Prep MCAT Practice Tests||532||8 Subject Tests||$50|
|6||Kaplan MCAT 528||468||1 Full Test||$30|
|7||Kaplan MCAT Flashcards||1,000 Cards||N/A||$20|
So what makes this a better guide?
We understand that your MCAT score is a very important factor on your path to medical school. And if you’re aiming for a top score we know you’ll be spending a good amount of time studying. But what you study with is tremendously important. Follow a weak study routine or practice with the wrong material and your score will suffer.
That’s why it’s important to find the right MCAT prep plan. Since you’re looking for the best MCAT prep books, you’ve probably already decided that a prep course isn’t for you. And that’s fine. We firmly believe that a solid prep book partnered with consistent and dedicated preparation results in strong scores. So why should you trust our opinion?
Here’s why we believe this guide is better than others found online:
- We explain what makes each book great. Content is king. For our reviews we look through each book’s review material, practice question quality, and testing strategy effectiveness.
- We evaluate which books are best for training on specific sections of the MCAT. Everyone’s different and we all have our own weaknesses. Knowing who each book is designed for makes it easier to match to your own needs.
- We genuinely want you to succeed. We’ve taken the MCAT and know how stressful it is. Take comfort in knowing that it can tackled and that there are plenty of avenues to aid in your success (us being one of them!)
Who is this guide for exactly?
This guide is created first and foremost for students that are motivated to work towards getting a high score on the MCAT. Going through these books will take time and effort. You’ll have to work through hundreds of practice questions before things begin to stick. Practice makes perfect, remember that.
But if you’re willing to put the man hour into studying then buying a prep book will be the easiest step in your preparations. Just understand that if you’re not willing to put time into studying, your choice of book does not matter.
Why and how is this guide divided?
We’ve divided our list of the best MCAT books into a few categories as everyone has different needs for their prep plan. Our categories are broken down into two tiers:
- Best: our favorite and highest recommended books that everyone should strongly considering using regardless of skill level. They offer comprehensive review or have the highest quality practice questions available.
- Good: good all around prep books but not the best – these are solid options to use for supplementary practice or if budget is a top priority.
The Best MCAT Prep Books
Kaplan’s seven book set is one of the best collection of MCAT books on the market today. It’s also the best bang for your buck. Last year, Kaplan offered a 5 Book Subject Review set that was fantastic. This year’s set has expanded for the latest MCAT changes.
Each of the seven books is comprehensive. Packed with content review and rich illustrations. The books feature expert tutorials and explanations. Kaplan’s side notes target the concepts that are most likely to appear on the test.
There are plenty of practice test questions to work with too. For starters there are end of chapter content reviews. They’re great at helping reinforce the material learned. You also get access to online resources. This includes three full length computer adaptive practice tests. The MCAT is a computer based test. Practicing in the same format as the official test is excellent.
If you’re planning to self study this is the most comprehensive MCAT prep. You might be taken back by the price, which is around $150. But compared to the cost of prep classes, this is a bargain.
Princeton Review’s MCAT Subject Review Complete Set is our second favorite MCAT prep bundle. The set contains everything you’d expect from a solid MCAT prep review bundle.
The set’s updated for the latest version of the MCAT. That means there’s added coverage on three new sections of the MCAT. Psychology, sociology, and biochemistry. The seven other subject review books cover: biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, general chemistry, physics and math, psychology and sociology, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.
Like Kaplan, you’re given access to three full length online practice tests. The tests questions are good, in line with what you’d see on the official MCAT.
The books themselves are well written. Full color illustrations throughout are a nice touch too. Content review touches base on all the relevant tested concepts. Princeton Review does a great job at reviewing the exact amount of content needed to succeed on the MCAT. No less and no more.
The 10th edition of the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package is fantastic. It’s the most comprehensive MCAT prep book set we’ve seen. But it’s on the pricier side.
The bundle includes six books: Reasoning Skills: Verbal, Research and Math; Biology 1 Molecules: Biochemistry; Biology 2 Systems; Psychology & Sociology; Chemistry: General and Organic; and Physics.
The entire set reviews all the material that’s needed for the MCAT. Examkrackers is quite unique though. It teaches you to think like the MCAT wants. It rewards a deep understanding of concepts over memorization. To that effect there are plenty of hints and mnemonics used. Engaging colorful illustrations add to that logic too.
There are plenty of questions to work with. After each lecture there are review questions to help reinforce material. There’s also a simulated MCAT practice test with thirty two 30 minutes sections. Just like the real MCAT format.
From content review to practice problems, this set provides you with the tools to tackle the MCAT.
Good MCAT Prep Books
If you’re short on time or have a tight budget, Princeton Review’s Complete MCAT guide is worth a look at.
This isn’t a comprehensive offering, like the above recommendations. But it does review information on critical MCAT topics. Including Biology, Psychology and Sociology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
The text structure is standard. There are chapters of content review followed by practice questions. You get access to 4 full length practice tests online. The answer explanations, also found online, are quite solid.
The book’s name is deceptive. This isn’t a complete offering but at this price point you won’t find anything better.
Sterling’s MCAT Practice Tests teaches through detailed answer explanations to MCAT practice questions.
The book targets biological, biochemical, chemical, and physical foundation questions. Detailed answer explanations follow. The explanations explain why the answer is correct. And why other answers may have seemed correct but are wrong. This method of learning through practice and answer is highly effective.
The are eight practice tests in total. Each test contains 59 passage based and independent questions.
If you learn well by following answer explanations, this is a fantastic guide to pick up.
Kaplan’s MCAT 528 is for those striving for a top score. The book’s designed to help you improve on solving difficult questions. It’s a complement to some of the subject specific study guides mentioned above.
If you’re scoring in the mid 400s and need a boost, this can help you enter a higher percentile.
There are 500 advanced MCAT practice questions to work with. You also get access to an online full length practice test. The third edition has fixed many of the previous typos and errors that plagued the second edition.
This isn’t a comprehensive prep book though. We recommend it as a “finishing up” book once you’ve completed your MCAT content review. Use this as as practice for those tougher the average questions.
Flashcards are an engaging way to learn and test yourself with. Kaplan’s MCAT Flashcards set contains 1,000 MCAT flashcards. The cards contain the key concepts, terms, and definitions. They’re split as such:
- 230 Behavioral Sciences terms, definitions, and concepts, from parts of the brain to health disparities.
- 187 Biochemistry terms, definitions, and concepts, from protein folding to inborn errors of metabolism.
- 247 Biology terms, definitions, and concepts, from anatomy to evolution.
- 143 General Chemistry terms, definitions, and concepts, from atomic structure to thermochemistry.
- 90 Organic Chemistry terms, definitions, and concepts, from carboxylic acid derivatives to spectroscopy.
- 103 Physics terms, definitions, and concepts, from Newtonian mechanics to nuclear phenomena.
We recommend using flashcards in your MCAT prep. They’re an effective and fun way to study with. Especially when you’re traveling or on the move.