Last Updated: March 25, 2021
Top 10 books for MCAT prep
MCAT is a standardized test taken by medical students for pursuing higher studies in the same field by obtaining admission in almost any medical school. This exam contains four sections with each section being interdisciplinary and yet removed from each other. The different sections are Physical Sciences, CARS, Biological Sciences, and Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviour.
The AAMC provides students with a total of only 7 hours and 30 minutes in all including breaks which amounts to only 1.5 minutes per question. The importance of this exam in attaining admissions in medical schools and the cost associated with it make students want to clear the exam with a high score on the first attempt. Prep books then become an essential extra investment in order to get into that dream college or university of the student’s choice.
A few of the very important and highly rated prep books have been listed here-
1. MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2021-2022 by Kaplan
These books contain guided examples, high yield badges indicating the most testable content, concept summaries, one-year online access to 3 full-length practice tests, instructional videos, practice questions, and quizzes that the student can utilize. The hundreds of practice questions available in these books have concepts and equations depicting how students can go about these questions. The entire set can be purchased for a hefty sum of $161 but is worthwhile since it contains information regarding all the sections and will not require an additional purchase of any other book.
This set of books will help one overcome the challenge of passing the MCAT Exam. The books and their content are designed and compiled by the experts of the field, Kaplan. 350 questions in each of these books in addition to numerous online practice questions prepare the student comprehensively to appear for MCAT. Charts, diagrams, graphs, and other colored and 3-D illustrations focus on important information that can be easily and quickly understood in visual form. All the topics mostly tested by AAMC are covered in all the books in this set.
The cons of the books are that there are a few typing errors and that the content review is over-detailed at many points. The book is recommended for students who have ample time to invest in preparation and not for people who are looking for a last-minute prep book that can save the say.
2. MCAT Prep Books 2021-2022: MCAT Secrets Study Guide, 4th edition
This book contains practice questions with detailed answer explanations, step-by-step video tutorials, tips, and strategies that are specific to the MCAT test and also includes a complete review of the different sections of the MCAT. For a price of just $44, this book published by Mometrix hasn’t received a single negative review but at the same time has been praised for being tailor-made for the test.
Besides hosting MCAT practice test questions with answers, this book gives a fair idea of the key areas of the real MCAT test. This book gives a chance to strengthen one's Verbal Reasoning, Biological Sciences, Physical Science and Vocabulary required for appearing in MCAT. With this book, in addition to practicing concepts with specific and detailed knowledge, students can master various procedures and principles required for clearing the MCAT Exam. Furthermore, this book prepares one especially for the MCAT exam because it gives the scores of test questions.
3. MCAT 528 Advanced Prep 2020-2021 by Kaplan
This book is 456 pages long and contains more than 500 questions in the book along with access to more questions online. There are comprehensive subject reviews and a full-length practice test available online for the students. The book doesn’t go into details of different concepts often offering only contents that are necessary for the test making navigating through the book easier.
The book has been termed a crash course for students attempting to crack the exam when they do not have enough time to ponder over every minute detail regarding the content. The book can be purchased for $29 and though it does not replace a complete study set, it is ideal for last-minute preparers who are looking for books that can cover most of the exam-related content in the least number of pages possible.
4. MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Review, 2nd Edition by The Princeton Review
This book contains subject explanations, end of chapter drills, hundreds of problems, MCAT style practice passages, and 3 full-length online practice tests that can be considered a steal for $22 when comparing it with other books. This book also contains additional information regarding CARS with step-by-step walk-throughs of sample questions.
They have a fundamental 6-step approach to cracking every passage type question and also includes test-taking strategies, active reading training, information regarding question types and formats along with detailed discourses on how the process of elimination and attractors work, what the ranking and ordering of passages is, etc.
Reviewers state that the extra focus on the CARS section has made the book miss relevant information regarding the biology and biochemistry sections. The book is graded highly for students who have troubling scoring high but is not recommended for students trying to cap their scores using the strategies and tips mentioned.
5. Barron's MCAT, 3rd edition
The leaders in all types of test preparation do not lag behind in offering valuable content for MCAT preparation too. This book contains a full-length diagnostic test and two full-length model MCAT tests along with answers. This book exclusively offers subject reviews in all four sections of MCAT followed by practice questions. Additionally, here is a guide to test-taking strategies. This book is available in print form and e-book form.
The book contains a comprehensive review of all the content areas and separate sections for additional areas that are covered only in MCAT. The review is concept-centric than fact-centric letting students understand the concepts than memorizing them for the test. This book is well over 1000 pages and hence is a multi-month study book than a last-minute option. The book costs just $20 and is a cheaper option when compared to most other books in the field.
6. MCAT Verbal Practice, 3rd Edition by Next Step Test Prep
This book focuses on the MCAT CARS section providing enough and more practice required to ace the test. The one hundred practice passages available through this book are arranged as timed practice sections that can hone the critical abilities of the student. The book costs a total of $44 but can also be purchased as a used book since most people who attempt the MCAT use this book to ace the exam.
Students will get access to the online MCAT diagnostic test with this book. This book is made for students who already know the basic concepts and are only looking for materials that help them practice for the test. Reviewers do claim that the question styles deviate a little from the original test and that the answers in the options provided a too long when compared to the official test.
7. MCAT Prep Books 2021-2022 by Test Prep Books
This is the 4th edition of the MCAT book released by Test Prep Books and contains an index of what the book contains which helps students navigate through the different sections of the book. It also contains test-taking strategies that have been specifically made for MCAT and then follow through with an introduction, content reviews of the different sections of the exam, and practice questions.
The practice questions in the book include detailed answer explanations which help students understand their mistakes and correct them in time before the official exam. The book comes at $49 which is a decent range for prep books in this field but not the cheaper option either. There are reviews stating that the practice questions are relatively easy but is considered to be good for even beginners except that it does not contain information relating to the test and starts directly with the content.
8. Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package, 11th Edition
This version comes in a set of 6 volumes covering Reasoning Skills: Verbal, Research, and Math; Biology 1 Molecules: Biochemistry; Biology 2 Systems; Psychology & Sociology; Chemistry: General and Organic Chemistry; Physics. This set is the ultimate guide to cracking the MCAT. The book guides the student through all the topics. There are notes all over mentioning how one would typically approach a question but how one should actually approach it. Apart from the MCAT exam prep tests, there are mini exams at the end of each chapter to make sure that the student has grasped the chapter properly.
The book remains on the expensive end of the spectrum with a total of $286 for all the volumes but the book is said to cover all the areas of the exam by providing practice questions that are of the same difficulty level as the official exam. The books also refrain from providing unnecessary information regarding the test by sticking only to the content.
9. Sterling Test Prep MCAT (Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry Practice Questions; Biology & Biochemistry Review)
While listing top MCAT books, one cannot miss mentioning the name Sterling. Its various books explain concepts of General Chemistry, Physics, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Psychology, and Sociology. All the books cover all these subjects in detail to impart every bit of knowledge to help crack the examination. Talking about this book particularly, it gives a thorough review of General Chemistry topics that are usually tested or expected to be tested in the MCAT Exam. It also explains numerous principles and theories covering topics like chemical bonding, states of matter, solution chemistry, and many others on the list.
These books cannot be purchased together but can be purchased by students who have understood the concepts thoroughly and want to hone their skills to cap their already high score. Such students, who are particularly weak in one or two sections of the test may buy the corresponding book for a range of $39-$50 and prepare until they are adept in that section. This book is not recommended for beginners.
10. Barron's New MCAT, 2nd Edition
Barron’s New MCAT is the older version of the Barron’s MCAT with Online Tests but the relevance of the book in the preparation for MCAT has not diminished over time. This book contains 4 full-length practice tests including 2 on CD Rom along with detailed subject reviews and practice questions. The book is considered good for beginners since it contains essential outlines for just $10 and can be used as a base before moving on to advanced practice books that have more MCAT-specific test strategies and tips.