Becoming a doctor is no easy feat. It requires strong dedication and years of hard work and focused study. If you have your heart set on becoming a doctor, you need to start working for it years in advance and make sure to maintain a good GPA in college. However, the first big challenge that you need to overcome to actually begin your journey to becoming a doctor is to get into a Med school. And for that, you need to ace the MCAT.
The 7.5-hour long Medical College and Admission Test is known to be one of the most difficult and competitive admission tests. You need dedicated effort, a well-thought-out study plan, the right prep material, and ample practice to get a high score on MCAT. While the rest is in your hands, we can certainly help you collect the right preparation material. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the best MCAT prep books available on the market.
Top 10 MCAT Prep Books for 2020-21
Take a look at our top picks for the best MCAT prep books before buying one to make sure you’re investing your money and time in the right place. Not all the prep guides available on the market are worth buying and practicing from. Choose a prep book from this list to make sure you are on the right track.
1. Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review
Kaplan is one of the top names that come to mind when we talk about entrance exams. Be it SAT, GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, Kaplan doesn’t disappoint test takers and offers a variety of helpful prep material for students of every field. This 7-book set for MCAT preparation is a comprehensive guide prepared to help aspiring doctors get into their dream medical school.
Comprised of seven books (as evident from the name), this book set covers each and every aspect of the MCAT exam in detail –from study material to practice questions to test strategies. Don’t mistake the word review in its name to think that this set is just a short and quick MCAT guide. It offers a lot more than what you expect from review books. The set includes separate books for:
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Physics and Math
- Behavior Sciences
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning
The books include detailed study plans and guides, 24 quick-view sheets outlining the most important facts and information from each section, and about 2,500 practice questions, including three full-length practice tests. To make things easier and ensure better understanding, the subject reviews also contain diagrams, charts, graphs, and illustrations for complex topics. This is particularly helpful for visual learners.
The books also include summaries, outlining the most important information at the end of each chapter. Every book also includes a detailed glossary. Both these things make it a lot easier to quickly review and revise the most important details during the last few days before the exam. To test your knowledge and learning, each chapter is also followed by a short quiz. They help students quickly identify the areas that they need to work more on.
If you’re looking for a detailed, expert MCAT prep guide that caters to every area of the MCAT exam, this seven-book set is one of your best options. While most test takers and MCAT tutors agree to this, some are of the opinion that the book set doesn’t offer as much information for psychology and sociology as it does for other subject areas. Hence, you may need to get an additional resource to get a good grasp on this section of the MCAT exam.
2. The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Set – 3rd Edition
This MCAT prep books set by Princeton Review is similar to the Kaplan books set, mentioned above, in several ways. It also includes seven books with detailed information on every subject area supported with diagrams and colored illustrations, plenty of practice questions, and three full-length practice tests. However, some students and experts believe that Princeton Review books offer more detail on every subject than the Kaplan books. Some people, however, think that these books lie behind the Kaplan books when it comes to practice questions; they aren’t as plentiful in this set as they are in the Kaplan one. Also, some believe that the full-length online practice tests you get access to with this set are a bit harder than the actual MCAT exam (it can be a good thing or a downside, depending on how you see it).
One of the best features of this prep guide is the way information is presented in the books. It’s not only easy to read and review, but also helps you identify the most important areas.
This Princeton Review book set may be a better choice (than Kaplan) for people who need or want to do a more in-depth study of each subject.
3. Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package -10th Edition
This MCAT prep set is comprised of six books. It not only provides in-depth information about each subject area of the MCAT exam but also offers proven strategies to ace at the exam and a comprehensive review of all the content that has been tested on the MCAT exam so far. The package also includes a detailed study plan that will help you come up with an effective schedule for your MCAT preparation.
The books present information in an easy-to-read format and make abundant use of everyday examples and colored visuals. Also, each chapter includes three to four different types of quizzes, interspersed through the content to help students evaluate their learnings as they proceed.
Knowing that it can be overwhelming to practice full-length MCAT tests, the creators of this prep guide have included several mini MCAT exams in it. They are based on the real format of the MCAT exam, so you’ll get the hang of the pattern without feeling overburdened. It also provides effective memorization tips to make it easier for you to learn and remember key facts.
While the books present information in an easy-to-read format, which allows students to quickly review the essential details, it is recommended to devote at least three months (preferably five to six) to make good use of these books.
4. The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam – 5th Edition
This may not be the best MCAT prep guide available out there, but the fact that it’s produced by the Association of American Medical Colleges makes it worth buying. The book isn’t as comprehensive as many others and only includes 30 practice questions (and answers) for each section of the MCAT exam. However, it offers plentiful information and great advice about different aspects of the test, such as the best ways to prepare for it, how it’s graded, and what factors can have the most impact on your result.
While this isn’t the book that you can rely on for MCAT preparation, it’s a good one to start with; to develop a better understanding of the MCAT exam. Since it’s the only official MCAT prep guide, having it with you will also give you the assurance that you’re not missing out on official guidelines or tips and will make you feel better prepared and confident for the exam.
The book has only a few practice questions for each section. But, given the fact that they are written by the test developers themselves makes them worth practicing again and again. They should be at your fingertips.
5. Kaplan MCAT Flashcards
If you’re someone who detests reading big blocks of texts or reading several pages long chapters to pick out the key points, these Kaplan flash cards will be your best prep tool for MCAT. The pack contains one thousand flashcards, highlighting only the most relevant and important details that you need to score high on the MCAT exam. The cards are divided across different subject as follows:
- Biology – 247 flash cards
- Behavioral science – 230 flash cards
- Biochemistry – 187 flash cards
- General chemistry – 143 flash cards
- Physics – 103 flash cards
- Organic chemistry – 90 flash cards
These flashcards are great for memorizing and reviewing the most important details; facts and figures. They also come in handy for studying on the go and make learning faster and a lot easier. There is also a mobile app for these flash cards. So, if you don’t want to be carrying thick bundles of flashcards everywhere, you can use the app.
While these Kaplan MCAT flash cards are great, they only contain the key concepts and vital information. They do not explore topics in detail, so it’s recommended to pair them up with another (comprehensive) guide.
Some students complain that the quality of the cards isn’t the best. However, they are decent enough to last you for a few months that you will spend preparing for the med school entrance exam.
6. The Berkley Review MCAT Complete Set
This comprehensive MCAT study set is comprised of ten books, one for each of the following:
- Organic Chemistry I
- Organic Chemistry II
- General Chemistry I
- General Chemistry II
- Biology I
- Biology II
- Physics I
- Physics II
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
Although this book set is one of the most expensive options out there, it covers almost everything, so you won’t be needing multiple resources to prepare well for the MCAT exam. In addition to detailed information about every topic, the books also include 9 diagnostic tests and detailed analysis of sample passages (in CARS book), which most other MCAT guides lack. They also include one of the highest number of practice questions: about 3,500.
Apart from the price, the only downside of this MCAT study pack is that the books haven’t been revised since their publication, which was in 2017.
7. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills – Volumes 1 and 2 – Virtual Guides by AAMC
Wondering why do you need to buy a separate book for critical analysis and reasoning skills?
Because most MCAT prep books, unfortunately, do not do justice with this section of the exam; they barely scratch the surface. Produced by the official test developers, the Association of American Medical Colleges, these books contain more than a hundred sample passages and plenty of practice questions from past exams.
They are also highly pocket-friendly, so you don’t feel financially burdened to buy additional resources after spending on your main prep guide. You get unlimited access to these official prep books for a year for just $15. Can it get any better than this?
8. MCAT Prep by Test Prep Books
It’s essential to get a good grasp on each subject area that’s included in the MCAT. However, it is not enough to score high on the medical entrance exam. For that, you also need to master test-taking strategies. This MCAT prep book helps you improve in both areas.
The book is divided into four sections, just like the real exam, and each offers a concise but comprehensive review of important topics followed by plenty of practice questions. The book also provides detailed explanations for each question to help you develop a better understanding and learn smart ways and tips to solve questions. While this book, alone, may not be enough for MCAT preparation, it is a good option to get started. It is also a good choice for those who do not have several months’ time on their hands.
9. Barron’s MCAT – 3rd Edition
Like other MCAT prep books, Barron’s MCAT also offers comprehensive reviews for all subject matters. It also offers a large number of practice questions. However, what makes this book stand out from others is the test-taking strategies regarding critical analysis and reasoning, scientific problem solving, overcoming or managing test anxiety, and time management – areas that are often neglected but are of vital importance. The science review section of this book also gives it an edge over many other prep guides. Instead of just listing the information, the book offers an in-depth conceptual presentation that makes it easier to understand and memorize complex scientific details.
The book also includes a detailed, monthly study plan. Students also receive access to two additional full-length online tests with the purchase of this book.
The only downside of this MCAT prep book by Barron is that some people have complained that some of the practice questions are poorly worded and hence, confusing.
10. Sterling Test Prep MCAT Books
Unlike other MCAT prep book publishers, Sterling doesn’t offer a comprehensive guide or a set of books that cover all areas of the MCAT exam. Instead, it offers stand-alone books for each subject. While buying each book separately may seem like a hassle to some people, it actually is an advantage. You don’t have to buy books for all subjects if you don’t need them. For example, if you already have a complete book set, but need an additional resource for only one subject that you believe you need to work more on, you can get a Sterling Test Prep book for just that.
While this convenience is a plus, the best part about Sterling MCAT prep books is that they are updated every month. These are the most updated MCAT prep books on the market. So, if you are highly concerned and want to make sure that you don’t miss out on any latest piece of information, get Sterling test prep books.
There you have it – the ten best MCAT prep books for 2020-21. Take a look at all of them and carefully evaluate your options before buying one.