The MCAT is one of the most challenging graduate school admission exams. It is lengthy, rigorous, and covers a relatively immense amount of information. For many pre-med students, preparing for the exam is a full-time endeavor and takes weeks or even months of dedicated studying. Fortunately, there are a number of useful MCAT prep books available on the market that make the process of learning and mastering exam content a more straightforward process. We’ve provided an overview of the best MCAT prep books and other resources for anyone preparing to take the MCAT exam. Our team may earn a small commission from purchases made using the below links at no additional cost to you.
- The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set
- Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review
- Mometrix MCAT Prep Books
- Kaplan MCAT 528 Advanced Prep
- Kaplan MCAT Flashcards
- AAMC Official Guide to the MCAT Exam
The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set is one of the gold-standard sets of study books used for MCAT preparation. Perhaps due to the complexity and quantity of exam content, or maybe simply because they are difficult to one-up, the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review and The Princeton Review set dominate the MCAT prep book market. There are not many competitors. Your classmates are probably using either the Princeton Review set, the Kaplan set, or both.
The Princeton Review set is well-organized, covers the vast majority of exam content in sufficient detail, and presents information with an easy-to-understand narrative. You are likely to find it helpful. Consider reading each book in the set cover-to-cover and be prepared to double back and review topics in which you lack confidence. The path to a 528 involves reviewing the vast majority of content repeatedly until it is mastered. As you take practice tests, carefully evaluate the questions you felt unsure about or answered incorrectly and use the prep books as tools for reviewing relevant concepts.
However, do not use prep books as your primary means of learning exam material. It is far better to take a physics course and enhance your knowledge with the prep book than to rely on the prep book alone. If you haven’t taken all of the relevant courses prior to exam day, don’t worry, you are not alone. Consider using Khan Academy, a free resource, to cover material that you missed out on at university. Even if you’ve taken all of the requisite classes, you are likely to find Khan’s videos useful for reviewing MCAT material.
If you are trying to decide between The Princeton Review set and the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review, consider reading the reviews on Amazon. Choosing between textbooks is often a matter of personal preference, and some students prefer one over the other. Some individuals find The Princeton Review’s writing style more palatable. Kaplan’s books are thinner, sleeker, denser, and come with useful “quick review” study sheets. Both books are replete with the necessary information, informative illustrations, and practice questions.
Though much shorter than the Princeton Review and Kaplan sets, Mometrix’s MCAT Prep Book can get the job done. Only a single book, the Mometrix book follows the AAMC outline and can be helpful to individuals strapped for time. The book is accompanied by “step-by-step” video tutorials and, like the other sets, contains practice questions and advice for exam day.
Students that have already mastered MCAT exam content and that are looking to take their test score “to the next level” should consider using the Kaplan MCAT 528 Advanced Prep book. The book provides a superficial overview of exam content, sacrificing the depth of one of the MCAT prep sets in favor of a rapid overview of MCAT material and also provides numerous practice questions with explanations. Some students find the authors’ strategies for exam day helpful, while others find them to be a “one-size-fits-all” approach that fails to account for differences between students.
Though not a prep book, a good set of flashcards are useful for committing the immense amount of test material to memory. The Kaplan MCAT flashcards provide a reasonable overview of the content of each section of the exam and cover a great deal of information. Some students find that the flashcards are too cursory and should include more imagery instead of providing written descriptions of certain information. You could also consider using one of the MCAT decks available on Anki, a free flash card software. Anki is used widely among students in medical school and is also helpful for pre-medical students preparing for the MCAT.
Finally, the AAMC Official Guide to the MCAT Exam is useful to anyone preparing for the MCAT. It is not a prep book but provides guidance on how to prepare for the exam, how it is scored, and which content is covered. The AAMC also offers other resources for exam prep, including practice exams which mirror the actual test better than external sources.
Follow a study plan, stay disciplined, and be prepared to grow as a student and a person. Medicine is a profession that demands immense dedication, and the MCAT is only the first of many exams on your journey into the clinic.
Trying to find the best textbook for your coursework? Consider checking out our other book reviews.