Anyone in the United States, Canada, Australia or the Caribbean Islands who wants to get into medical school to study medicine is going to have to take the MCAT. The MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admission Test, is a standardized examination that strives to test the student’s knowledge and analysis of scientific principles and concepts. To help our readers achieve the highest possible chance of receiving a good score on this test, we’ve decided to review some of the best MCAT prep books currently available. Any of the following books should provide the student with the information and the study skills they need to do extremely well on this test.
Quick Summary of the Best MCAT Prep Books
- Best Overall
MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review (Amazon) – Review
- Also Recommended
The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Box Set (Amazon) – Review
- Also Consider
Exam Krackers MCAT Complete Study Package (Amazon) – Review
Best Overall: MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review
Any prospective medical student who is looking for one of the most comprehensive MCAT prep books are going to want to pick up this copy. That’s because it’s 3,288 pages of material spread out over 7 books and gives the student all the information they need to study to get a good grade on this exam. The books that can be found in this collection include a Biology Review, a Behavioral Science Review, a General Chemistry Review, Organic Chemistry Review, Psychics & Math Review, Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills Review, and Biochemistry Review. All the information that the student needs to get them started.
This set is published by Kaplan Test Prep, a company that’s been producing professional prep books for over eight decades now. They’ve not only published MCAT prep books but have also published prep books for the SAT, ACT, LSAT, MRE and similar tests. Why is that important? It’s important because they know how to organize their material in such a way that it makes it easy for the student to study and assimilate the information contained within their covers. And although their prep books, including this set, are usually more expensive than similar ones, most experts agree that their prep books are usually the best.
This set not only features full AAMC alignment, but it also includes proven strategies that help students take their studies to the next level. It also features three full practice tests, so the student can ascertain their weaknesses and get used to the tests’ format. In each book are 350 questions, complete explanations and also comes with bonus online content. And probably best of all, the material in this book is the most up-to-date material that’s currently available for studying. That means that the student won’t waste time with outdated material, which allows the student to be more successful during their studies.
Also Recommended: The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Box Set
The Princeton Review is another publisher that’s well known for creating quality prep books and this book set isn’t an exception to that rule. This book set comes with seven complete study guides and three online practice tests that will ensure that the student has all of the information they need. This book set has 2,864 pages of information across seven books. Books that cover every part of the MCAT including psychology, sociology, critical analysis, biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and reasoning skills. And each chapter has practice sections that will help the student hone their skills to a fine point.
Other things that students will notice about these books are that they present the information in a very easy to digest manner. Not only is the test written so that it can be easily read, but each book comes with diagrams, tables, and full-color illustrations. These books also feature strategies that will help the student maximize their study time and glean the most information out of each book. And if that isn’t good enough, then there are glossaries in each book that allow the student to reference and cross-reference the material in a way that makes it easier to digest and dissect.
If there’s any problem that students have with this book set, it’s not the information in it but it’s the price tag. And we have to admit that this book set isn’t inexpensive. But it’s also the not most expensive book on the planet, and we think that for the information it presents to its readers, its price tag is more than reasonable. Taking all of these facts into consideration, we have no problem recommending this MCAT prep book set to anyone looking to get a good score on their test. We thought that it presented information well, was easy to study, and was complete—meaning that students should have everything they need with this set to achieve a good MCAT score.
Also Consider: Exam Krackers MCAT Complete Study Package
As we review this study package, we have to start things off by stating that this isn’t the most comprehensive prep guide set available. Actually, as we’re going over it, we have to say that it isn’t even close. Sure, it’s a great study guide that’s a good introduction to the MCAT, but we don’t think students should rely on this volume by itself. They should make sure that they grab a copy of the actual official AAMC syllabus to see where the gaps in the information exist in this set. However, we think that if students keep that in mind and don’t rely on this set exclusively, it can be used to great benefit as a beginning road map to the MCAT.
This study set includes manuals on reasoning skills, verbal skills, math, biochemistry, biology, physiology and sociology, general and organic chemistry, and physics. It also comes with thirty-two 30-minute topical exams in real MCAT format, 24 questions in each lecture that’s designed to reinforce the material being learned, and mini-exams at the end of each chapter. Although this makes the study guides a little bit light as far as the psychology and sociology parts are concerned, the rest of it is pretty solid and should get the student up and running towards a good score in no time flat.
Although this study guide set might be a little too expensive for what it actually offers, it’s still a no-nonsense set that makes for a great springboard for studying the material at hand. The student is still going to need to bolster their skills with additional study guides, but that isn’t a problem for most students to do. Overall, although we don’t consider this to be the best MCAT prep book, we do think that they fill a niche and some people might prefer them over some of the other guides that we’ve reviewed.
How To Study For The MCAT
We didn’t feel that any guide on studying for the MCAT would be complete without an actual study guide. Sure, we can spend all day recommending the best MCAT prep books, but it won’t do any good if our readers aren’t able to extract the information from these books in a timely manner. That’s why we’ve decided to write this guide on how students can get the best results from the MCAT studies.
Start With The Best MCAT Prep Books
The first thing the student should do is to buy the best MCAT prep books that they can afford. Yes, we know that these books cost more than the prep books for other professional tests, but trust us when we say that they’re worth it. Unless the person taking the MCAT is a savant, then they will probably want to buy and study the MCAT prep books in this guide.
Discover Your Baseline
The next thing that you’re going to want to do before you begin studying is to determine your baseline score. The baseline score will allow you to quickly identify your strengths and weaknesses. Your baseline score can be obtained by taking a full-length practice test and taking it under the same conditions that you would under a normal MCAT test. This will allow you to see what your score is likely to be and where you need to focus your studies on. This is invaluable information that will make your study time a lot more productive than it would’ve been if you didn’t take the practice test.
Practice Is More Important Than Content Review
One of the biggest mistakes that first time MCAT test-takers make is that they think that content review is more important than actual practice. What we mean, is that they spend all of their time studying science and not enough time practicing for the test. What some people fail to realize is that the MCAT doesn’t test you on your scientific knowledge as much as it tests you on your ability to apply your knowledge to different or unique situations. Another thing that the MCAT tests require students to do is to reason out their arguments and evaluate them logically. Now don’t get us wrong, the test does require the student to have scientific knowledge, but it also focuses heavily on reasoning skills and critical analysis as well.
Build Up Your Studying Time
If there’s one thing that absolutely certain, it’s that the student is going to have to spend a lot of time studying. And when we say a lot of time studying, we mean a whole lot of time studying. However, that doesn’t mean that the student should bury themselves in practice and study immediately. No, they should slowly work up to it over a period of time. In our opinion, it’s best if the student starts to practice a year before taking the test, so they have time to build up their stamina. After a few months of gradually increasing their stamina time, they will be able to hold and maintain their concentration levels and studying won’t seem like such a burden. Learning slowly over a period of time is also superior to trying to cram all of the information in at one time. It ensures that the student retains the information they’re studying.
Assess Your Practice Work
As you take practice tests and believe us when we say that you should take several practice tests before taking the MCAT, you should take the time to evaluate your work. Look at the answers you got wrong and mark them as potential weak areas. However, you shouldn’t just take note of the mistakes you’ve made, but you should also take note of the answers you answered correctly. Markdown how you arrived at these correct answers and why you got them right. Over time, this will help you build up a pattern of thought that will make future study sessions a lot more effective.
Some Final Study Tips
Now that we have a basic outline of how to study for the MCAT and have obtained the best MCAT study materials available, it’s now time for you to stack as many factors into their favor as possible. The night before they take the MCAT, they should ensure that you’re properly rested. This means 8-hours of solid sleep. You should also make sure that you have a hearty breakfast on the day of the test. These two things will ensure that your alert and ready to give your best performance.