Facebook Pixel Code
 

Best MCAT Prep Books

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 16 Models Considered
  • 39 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 145 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best MCAT prep books

    Last Updated December 2018

    When applying to medical school, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is one of the most important and most stressful parts of the application process. The rigorous exam covers a wide range of subjects, from biology to critical reasoning. If you want to ace the test, investing in a good MCAT prep book is essential.

    But with so many MCAT study books on the market, choosing the right one can be confusing. You have to select a prep book that offers the sample questions, practice tests, and test-taking strategies that work best for your studying style.

    At BestReviews, we take the stress out of shopping with our recommendations and guides. Looking for an MCAT prep book that will help you study effectively? The product list above has our top picks. For everything you need to know about finding the right MCAT prep book, our shopping guide has all the advice you need.

    The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) suggests that pre-med students devote at least 300 to 350 hours preparing for the MCAT in the months leading up to the test.

    What is the MCAT?

    The MCAT is a standardized test that’s used as part of the medical school admissions process. It is a multiple-choice test that almost every medical school in the U.S. and Canada requires for admission. The MCAT tests the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in medical school and medical practice.

    The test is offered multiple times a year, from January to September, across the U.S. and Canada. There are also international testing sites for students outside North America. You should sit for the exam during the calendar year before you plan to start medical school, and you’re only permitted to take the exam three times each calendar year and seven times over the course of your life. If you take the MCAT more than once, medical schools will see all your scores.

    How is the MCAT scored?

    Your MCAT score includes five different results. There is one score for each of the four exam sections and a total combined score.

    The section scores range from 118 to 132. The total combined score is the sum of all the section scores, so it can range from 472 to 528.

    The most thorough MCAT prep book set on the market

    Forget simple chapter-long subject reviews – the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review offers dedicated guides for all the major subjects on the exam, including behavioral sciences, biochemistry, biology, physics, and math. Each book contains 350 practice questions to help you hone your knowledge, as well as full-color 3D illustrations, graphs, charts, and diagrams, so you can study with confidence. Best of all, the set also includes three online practice tests to help you get comfortable with the MCAT’s computer format.

    What does the MCAT test?

    The MCAT contains four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.

    Biological and biochemical foundations of living systems

    • Contains 59 multiple-choice questions that you have 95 minutes to answer

    • Features questions related to biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry
       

    Chemical and physical foundations of biological systems

    • Contains 59 multiple-choice questions that you have 95 minutes to answer

    • Features questions related to biochemistry, biology, chemistry, and physics
       

    Psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior

    • Contains 59 multiple-choice questions that you have 95 minutes to answer

    • Features questions related to psychology, sociology, and biology
       

    Critical analysis and reasoning skills

    • Contains 53 multiple-choice questions that you have 90 minutes to answer

    • Features questions similar to reading comprehension sections of other standardized tests, with passages that cover social science and the humanities

    EXPERT TIP

    While studying for the MCAT is key for a competitive score, be careful not to overload yourself. Take the occasional day off to do something fun with friends or family. This will help you to combat stress and refocus your mind.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Focus on accuracy when you’re starting to study for MCAT. It’s important to get the questions right to know if you have the necessary knowledge for the exam. After that, you can work on improving your pace on practice exams.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Pay attention to trends when you are taking MCAT practice tests or going over practice questions. If there is a particular type of question that you often get wrong, pay special attention to those topics during subject reviews.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Features to consider for MCAT prep books

    Test-taking strategies

    When you’re studying for a standardized exam, it helps to have a strategy in mind to maximize your score. With the MCAT, it’s important to know how to apply basic knowledge of specific science subjects, as well as critical analysis, in a format that you may not be used to. A good test prep book offers specific test-taking strategies, like using the process of elimination to find the correct answer or answering every question even if you have to guess. Look for an MCAT prep book with a chapter or section on general test-taking strategies that will prepare you for the exam and bolster your confidence when you take it.

    Subject reviews

    The MCAT tests your knowledge in science subjects, which you likely studied as an undergraduate. To make sure you’re as prepared as possible for the test, choose a prep book that provides an in-depth review of each subject so you can be confident with all the exam questions. Look for reviews for the following subjects:

    • Biology

    • Biochemistry

    • General chemistry

    • Organic chemistry

    • Physics and math

    • Psychology and sociology

    • Critical analysis and reasoning skills
       

    Practice questions and explanations

    As with any exam, studying with practice questions is an ideal way to prepare for the MCAT. Some prep books offer thousands of practice questions that cover all the subjects on the exam, so you can get a feel for both how the questions are asked and what type of knowledge is required. The more practice questions that a prep book contains, the better.

    However, be sure that the prep book also includes detailed explanations for each correct answer. If you don’t know why an answer is correct, you’ll have a difficult time answering similar questions on the actual exam.

    Practice tests

    Practice tests are one of the most effective ways to prepare for the MCAT because they allow you to see exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are as you study. Nearly all MCAT prep books contain some practice tests, but it’s best to choose a book that offers as many as possible. Look for a book with at least three practice exams – one to take at the start of your studying, one in the middle, and one at the end – so you can effectively track your progress.

    Illustrations and diagrams

    For visual learners, it helps to choose an MCAT prep book that includes illustrations, tables, charts, graphs, and other diagrams that help you comprehend the topics on the test visually. The MCAT covers detailed biological functions and other scientific knowledge, so clear, easy-to-understand illustrations often make it easier to grasp key concepts.

    Glossary

    The subjects covered on the MCAT often have a specific vocabulary that’s important to understand if you’re going to do well on the exam. Look for a prep book that contains a glossary with all the key terms that you might see on the test. With a glossary, you can quickly and easily find the meaning for any words that you don’t know.

    Supplemental resources

    In addition to the book itself, many MCAT prep products contain supplemental materials to aid your studying. Some books include flashcards, which can be helpful for quick, targeted study sessions. Others offer online materials, such as additional practice questions or tests that you can access through the publisher’s website. Some provide online videos to explain certain concepts and terms that are likely to appear on the exam. There are even MCAT prep books that offer a smartphone study app with additional practice questions and subject reviews.

    Comprehensive study guide that’s highly accessible

    The MCAT Exam Secrets Test Prep Team MCAT Secrets Study Guide offers specific, detailed chapters for each section of the exam to help you review all the key concepts. But the guide is written in a way that’s easy to understand, making it accessible for all students. The practice questions feature detailed answer explanations, too, which allow you to truly understand the knowledge that the exam is testing.

    MCAT prep book prices

    MCAT prep books usually range in price based on how many practice tests, practice questions and explanations, and other study materials they contain. In most cases, you’ll pay between $12 and $200.

    • Budget-friendly

    MCAT prep books that contain mainly subject reviews and some practice questions but only one complete practice test (or none) usually range from $12 to $30.

    • Mid-range

    MCAT prep books that contain subject reviews, hundreds of practice questions, and one to three practice tests usually range from $30 to $75.

    • Premium

    MCAT prep books that contain in-depth subject reviews, thousands of practice questions, and three or more practice exams usually range from $75 to $200.

    When you take the practice exams in your MCAT prep book, try to recreate actual testing conditions. Use a timer, and don’t eat or drink unless it’s time for a break.

    FAQ

    Q. How important is my MCAT score for getting into medical school?

    A. While an MCAT score is an important criterion used to evaluate potential medical school students, remember that it’s only one part of your application. Your undergraduate GPA, personal statement, activities, awards, and letters of recommendation are also used to determine if you would be a good fit for a medical school. Most schools also require an interview, which can play a significant role in your candidacy.

    Q. What are the most important features to look for in an MCAT prep book?

    A. Most experts stress the importance of taking practice exams when you’re preparing for the MCAT. That’s why it’s best to choose a prep book that offers as many practice tests as possible. Subject reviews are important, but many students focus too much on review because they believe they need more in-depth knowledge of the science topics than they actually do. Practice exams not only give you a sense of your progress as you study, but they also help you understand the type and depth of knowledge the MCAT tests.

    Q. When should I start using an MCAT prep book?

    A. It’s usually best to start studying for the MCAT at least three months before you plan to take the exam. That should give you enough time to review the test’s content and take several practice exams. However, the earlier you begin studying, the better, so you may want to buy your prep book six to nine months before you plan to take the test.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Michael
      Michael
      Writer

    BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
    and give us feedback about your visit today.

    Take Survey