Are you looking for the best MCAT prep books and materials? Have a look at our hand-picked list of the Top 10 best MCAT study books for 2018 and read reviews on why we think these latest guides are the most effective for mastering the test. Additionally, we also offer an overview of the best MCAT prep courses.
If you’re considering applying to medical school and are already researching the best MCAT prep books then you probably don’t need to be told how fiercely competitive the process can be. Each year schools across the U.S. are forced to whittle down their pool of applicants to the very best, and this brutal selection process leaves many students bitterly disappointed.
However, there are many things that students can do to boost their chances of getting accepted into their dream school – and picking the top MCAT books is one of them.
As a short introduction, the MCAT is of course a standardized test, administered by AAMC, that tests students’ problem solving, critical thinking, and relevant scientific knowledge that will determine how well-suited they are to the world of medicine. It’s required by almost all major U.S. medical schools, and a high score can really give you the edge and make the difference between success and failure.
These are our Top 3 Picks for 2018
Kaplan’s fully updated MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review (Book and Online) is, in our opinion, still the best MCAT prep book – or, rather, collection of books – on the market. It is now available in its third edition for 2018.
Particularly good for visual learners, this best-selling set offers a cornucopia of MCAT information alongside stunning colorful illustrations and detailed diagrams. With its easily digestible text and a well-designed layout, this set should be at the core of your MCAT prep strategy.
Written by Kaplan Test Prep’s leading instructors, the extended and revised set now offers seven subject specific books: Behavior Sciences; Biochemistry; Biology; General Chemistry; Organic Chemistry; Physics and Math; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
Readers also benefit from countless MCAT practice questions scattered throughout the books, three full-length MCAT practice tests, targeted practice tests at the end of each chapter, and access to comprehensive online resources. This guide’s practice questions are particularly well written and boast a high degree of similarity to the types of questions found on the actual MCAT, making them indispensable.
Kaplan has devoted more resources than any other publisher in the run-up to the new MCAT (which was substantially revised last year) and this study guide shows that it was worth it. Almost as good as attending an actual Kaplan MCAT prep course, the quality, freshness, and reliability of these materials make it a must-have resource. Just like Goldilocks, if you are looking for MCAT test prep materials that are ‘just right’, this set is the one for you.
- Full of visually pleasing diagrams and graphics
- Digestible and easy to read
- A total of 7 books, each dealing with a specific topic
- Lots of practice questions and 3 full-length practice tests
- Fully updated for the latest version of the MCAT
A close second in the race for the title of the best MCAT prep book is Princeton Review’s MCAT Subject Review Complete Box Set, 2nd Edition. This guide contains all the material necessary to excel on the MCAT. Indeed, this is a juggernaut of material for in-depth MCAT preparation.
The box set has also been re-mastered for the new version of the MCAT and is now in its second, improved and extended edition, which is longer (in terms of page numbers) than Kaplan’s. It has good coverage of the three new sections of the test (psychology, sociology, and biochemistry) and consists of seven subject review books: Biology and Biochemistry Review; General Chemistry Review; Organic Chemistry Review; Physics and Math Review; Psychology and Sociology Review; Critical Analysis; and Reasoning Skills.
Princeton Review has equipped this resource with over 2,400 realistic practice questions. There are also three full-length online practice tests modeled after the new version of the MCAT, although these tend to be somewhat on the harder side than the actual test. Nevertheless, they should still be a welcome practice opportunity for test-takers. As an added bonus, access to online student tools with helpful tips and information on the exam is also provided.
The books are overall well written, boasting an easy-to-understand style and full-color illustrations. Equally helpful are the bulleted end-of-chapter summaries and the glossaries, which are useful as a reference tool. Presentation and the books’ visual learning effects are excellent, although we think not quite as impressive as Kaplan’s. Furthermore, some of the books contained in the set are still in their first edition, while others are already in their third edition, which seems confusing.
Overall, Princeton Review’s MCAT Subject Review is a highly readable and thorough study guide. Its practice questions and tests are also substantially similar to the actual MCAT, making this one of the best MCAT prep books to buy. Despite its price tag, given its expansive offerings this set is excellent value for money.
- Huge amount of material
- Covers all the new sections of the test
- 2400+ practice questions
- 3 full-length practice tests
- Access to online resources
- Well-written and accessible
The completely reworked 10th edition of the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package offers a host of study materials for any aspiring MCAT test-taker. Errors contained in previous editions have been corrected and the overall text has been improved and sharpened.
The package offers six books including: Reasoning Skills Manual: Verbal, Research and Math; Biology 1: Biochemistry Manual; Biology 2: Systems Manual; Psychology & Sociology Manual; General & Organic Chemistry Manual; and Physics Manual.
Written in Jonathan Orsay’s (one of the original founders of Examkrackers) usual concise style, the package offers easy to understand morsels of information, which is aimed at providing test-takers only with the amount of knowledge needed for the MCAT without superfluous information. It further provides hints on the information to focus on as well as useful mnemonic tools. Moreover, each of the Examkrackers books provides questions to reinforce the learned information as well as between four and seven (depending on the book) 30-minute topical exams that mimic the real MCAT format.
For those looking for a concentrated, no-nonsense effort at studying for the MCAT, Examkrackers – by itself or in combination with other study guides on our list of the best MCAT prep books – may well be the ideal set. Complete with a host of impressive illustrated diagrams and illustrations, these books are effective and actually enjoyable to read.
- Improved and corrected from previous editions
- Covers all necessary topics
- Concise and fun to read
- No unnecessary info
- Contains strategy advice as well as study materials
- No-nonsense and gets to the point
Some of the material is the same as previous (cheaper) editions
We Also Like the Following Guides
The Princeton Review Complete MCAT
Short on time? Do you need a guide that covers the contents of the revised MCAT in a concise manner? Then this is the best MCAT prep book for you. The Princeton Review Complete MCAT offers a one-stop-shop for all your MCAT needs.
This test study guide offers all the basics of the MCAT including information on Biology, Psychology and Sociology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. It also provides a good content review at the end of each chapter, where readers will find helpful targeted freestanding practice questions and practice passages. Other notable features include expert contents reviews and drills as well as online access to four full-length MCAT practice exams with answers and explanations.
Given the plethora of information needed to complete the MCAT, this book cannot compare to the multiple book study guides that Princeton Review itself and other companies offer. In that sense it is not quite as complete as its title would suggest. Nevertheless, as a supplement to other MCAT study guides, as a refresher, or as an access point to more MCAT practice exams, this book is excellent. Read this guide, master the MCAT, and then go on reading of our best books for medical students!
Sterling Test Prep MCAT Practice Tests
Details and thorough explanations – these two terms fully describe the benefits of the Sterling MCAT 2016 Practice Tests: Chemical & Physical Foundations and Biological & Biochemical Foundations book, which is continuously updated by the publisher.
The book – from Sterling’s popular MCAT practice guide series – offers a particularly useful foundation for studying the nuances and intricacies of the MCAT’s science material. The book contains four practice tests for each subject; that is four Biological & Biochemical Foundations MCAT practice tests and four Chemical & Physical Foundations MCAT practice tests. Equally important, test-takers are provided with detailed explanations for the correct answers as well as explanations why the other answers are incorrect.
Additionally, readers can also gain online access to the MCAT practice tests in the book and additional practice tests, complete with computer based simulation of MCAT testing conditions and diagnostic reports with scores.
Every test can only be fully mastered through plenty of practice. Given its practice focus and quality, these books are therefore clearly among the best MCAT books available as a means of increasing test takers’ MCAT success.
- In-depth and detailed
- Answers are explained in full
- Online practice tests and MCAT simulations
- Material is similar to the real test
- Some of the questions may be a little easy for advanced students
Gold Standard Review Complete MCAT
The Gold Standard Review Complete MCAT incl. AAMC Guide: 2016 MCAT by medical exam prep specialists The Gold Standard offers an extensive home study kit. It is ideal for extra thorough test-takers with a preference for learning through audiovisuals.
This is an impressive MCAT home study kit, filled with books, videos, and audio tracks that cover the full range of subject matters tested on the new MCAT. It comes complete with in-depth book and video reviews of each subject matter tested as part of the new MCAT, audio tracks, a copy of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Official Guide to the MCAT (which includes previous MCAT questions and answers), and a flashcard study system with mobile app. As an added bonus, buyers of this kit also benefit from a DVD on the medical school interview and how to master it.
Also included is online access to MCAT practice tests that simulate the actual test’s computer-based interface. These come complete with explanations and instant scoring. The MCAT practice tests, of which there are 10 in total, are particularly noteworthy as the experienced Gold Standard team and its lead author, Dr. Brett Ferdinand, MD, have compiled some of the most realistic (and hardest!) practice tests in the industry. Note that access to online materials is limited to four months, although this should be enough for most test-takers.
No doubt, the Gold Standard kit doesn’t come cheap, but it’s well worth the money, especially if used strategically for review purposes or as a replacement for attending an in-class MCAT prep course.
- Works well for audio-visual learners
- Lots of media including videos, books, and audio
- Flashcard study system
- Mobile app
- DVD on how to approach medical school interviews
- Practice tests simulate the real MCAT and are highly realistic
Kaplan MCAT 528: Advanced Prep for Advanced Students
Have you prepped and prepped for the MCAT but are still looking for an edge to achieve that unbeatable score? The Kaplan MCAT 528 is designed for test-takers like you – the most ambitious of the bunch.
As a book that is meant to complement more subject specific study guides, Kaplan MCAT 528 is above all a strategy book. How do you approach a particular question on the MCAT? What are the test makers looking for? What is the best way to study for the MCAT and attack a particular problem? How is answering a biology question different from answering a general chemistry question? These are the questions this guide seeks to answer. Emphasizing skills, suggesting reading techniques and demonstrating how best to work out passages, it teaches the strengths that someone aiming for admission to the best medical schools must have. However, the book also offers plenty of practice questions as well as access to online practice and review videos.
While this book is not for the faint of heart and not for those who have just begun their MCAT study process, for advanced students who are looking to ace the MCAT, this is one of the best MCAT prep books on the market.
- Aimed at top students who are trying to achieve the very highest scores
- Focus on strategy
- Contains techniques to study and take the test as effectively as possible
- Plenty of practice questions
- Online resources such as review videos
- Not aimed at new students, or anyone looking to simply pass
- Not a standalone resource – must be a complement to a more thorough guide
NextStep MCAT Psychology and Sociology: Strategy and Practice
The MCAT ’s new Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section is perhaps the most underestimated part of the revised exam. While it is understandable that test-takers often focus on science topics, this part of the MCAT should not be neglected.
Luckily, NextStep’s Bryan Schnedeker – an MD/PhD with extensive MCAT coaching experience – has created an excellent resource to prepare you for this section.
This book provides almost 400 pages of smart strategies for tackling this new hurdle, focusing not only on conveying knowledge but in great part also on explaining how best to apply it. Using plenty of practice passages, readers learn how to dissect them and how to identify the correct answers even for the most difficult questions.
Written in a clear and approachable style, this is one of the best MCAT prep books for those looking to shed light on the new psychology and sociology aspects of the MCAT.
- Focus on the psychological/social section of the MCAT
- Combination of knowledge and strategy
- Easy to read and clear
- Written by an MCAT expert
- Only for those looking to improve the psychological section, doesn’t deal with other areas of the test
Kaplan MCAT Flashcards and APP
Flashcards may well be the “fast food” of test preparation – but the contents of this box are definitely satisfying.
Kaplan’s MCAT Flashcards and App set contains 1,000 flashcards for efficient study and review of physical and biological sciences at home or on the go. The cards contain the key concepts, terms, and definitions for the MCAT in a condensed format.
Whether you are reviewing atomic structure or protein folding, these cards add a bit of fun to the learning experience. Highly recommended to use as a study companion to traditional MCAT books.
- 1,000 flashcards to help with studying for the MCAT
- Great study aid
- Should be used in combination with a real study guide
Medquest MCAT Fastpass
Medquest MCAT Fastpass acts as a centralized source for all your MCAT study needs.
This book, authored by Elizabeth Malphrus and Conrad Fischer MD, offers a streamlined approach to studying for the latest version of the MCAT exam, covering all the essential information without being overwhelming. One of its key features is that it provides the essential content for the MCAT in the same order as the AAMC does in its official guide.
The book is clear and concise and outlines in one source the bare bones of the MCAT. Even better, its content is indexed, meaning that you can look up troublesome concepts easily, and its highly organized manner allows for access to everything from essential equations to amino acids quickly.
As a streamlined study guide to the MCAT, the Medquest MCAT Fastpass is a superb resource for test-takers, making it one of the very best MCAT preparation books.
- Streamlined and condensed outline of relevant MCAT topics
- Content is in the same order as the official AAMC guide
- Good overview of all key points
- Indexed for easy location of information
- Well organised
- Contains some errors
- Not super in-depth
While we recommend you use at least one of the above books while preparing for the MCAT, there is also a wide range of extra resources, many of which are completely free and available online, which you can use in your studying.
We’ll go through some of them here and break down why they might be an invaluable tool for you.
The AAMC is the organization that actually administers the MCAT, so candidates can be assured that their materials are reliable and trustworthy. The official MCAT guide can be purchased for a low cost, as can several practice tests and self-assessment materials.
What’s more, it’s also possible to access the content outlines for the test for free online. This is highly useful as it provides a neat list of all the topics that could feature in the exam, showing students where to direct their efforts.
Dr. Flowers has decades of experience preparing students for the MCAT and has even written his own prep book on the topic. His useful resources are available online at a low cost – he started the program because he felt that many of the courses out there were far too expensive for many students.
Although Magoosh are yet to publish an MCAT study guide of their own, they do offer a wealth of online resources including more than 300 video lessons, 700+ practice questions, and access to a network of experienced MCAT tutors. Prices are low, and there is a one week free trial available too.
Always a useful resource, Khan Academy now offers a section dedicated to the MCAT. It’s all completely free, and offers breakdowns of all the main test sections along with practice questions to test knowledge. It doesn’t replace ownership of one of the best MCAT prep books but it’s certainly a useful complementary.
Best MCAT Prep Books
|Ranking||Publisher||Book Title||Pages||Year||Practice Tests||Price Range|
|1||Kaplan||Complete 7-Book Subject Review||3160||2015||6||$$$|
|2||Princeton Review||MCAT Subject Review Complete Set||2832||2016||3||$$$|
|3||Osote Publishers||Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package||N/A||2016||N/A||$$$|
|4||Princeton Review||Complete MCAT||1488||2014||4||$$|
|5||Sterling Test Prep||MCAT Practice Tests||532||2016||8||$$|
|6||Gold Standard Review||Complete MCAT incl. AAM Guide||N/A||2016||10||$$$$|
|8||NextStep||MCAT Psychology and Sociology||432||2014||1||$|
|9||Kaplan||MCAT Flashcards and App||2004||2014||N/A||$|
|10||Booklocker||MCAT Fastpass Study Guide||236||2016||N/A||$|