*If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Best MCAT Prep Books In 2021 For Self-Study

A medical career is a dream come true for most individuals who have been looking forward to it since childhood.

But for you to qualify for medical school you have to undertake the MCAT exam. It’s a pretty difficult exam, which requires adequate preparation if you want to pass.

But that shouldn’t freak you out. With the correct preparation using various books in the market, you can undoubtedly hack it.

The main problem for most individuals, however, is to select the best books for revision.

And that’s why we have prepared this article for you; to review the best MCAT prep books and a buyer’s guide to help you make a perfect choice.

Here we go;

The Best MCAT Prep Book Sets

1. Kaplan Test Prep MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review

If a comprehensive revision is what you need, then this Kaplan Test Prep MCAT book will serve you right.

It takes you through an in-depth subject review with the highest-yield questions you can never get from other competitors within the same range.

With this book comes clear and precise instructions, useful commentary from the Kaplan MCAT experts and purposeful focus on commonly tested concepts.

You will love the coverage of numerous questions that helps you get ready for the exams.

The downside of this set is that it requires a lot of time to go through everything. So, it’s ideal for individuals with a lot of time on their side.

And in case you find yourself having a hard time understanding the various questions, you can always reach out to the MCAT experts for a side panel and the Real-Life ties.

Also, to ease everything up, the authors use random science jokes, which is a great way to introduce seemingly difficult chapters.

So, you can easily relate to what they’re going through.

Pros
  • Includes concept summaries in each chapter
  • Contains up-to-date methods of handling challenges for the CARS content
  • Full-color Quick sheets/graphs/diagrams for memorizing
  • Indication of the degree of testing in each chapter
  • 1-year online access to essential content
  • Test your knowledge questions at the end of each chapter
Cons
  • Time-consuming
  • Some reports on lack of online content

Check Current Price on Amazon

2. Examkrackers MCAT Study Package, Jonathan Orsay

This great MCAT book is generally precise and straight to the point, intending to teach you essential secrets on how to think and act MCAT.

When you go through the book, you will realize that the authors are not only trying to teach you all the useful information you need to know about MCAT.

While at the same time showing you how to correctly digest the content and use it to address the various case scenarios of MCAT questions and research passages.

To prepare you for the cross-discipline nature of questions, this study guide includes MCAT learning tools in each page’s column, to help you develop a mental map of what to expect.

You will also learn when and how to read the MCAT materials leisurely and thoroughly.

There’s also a full-mini exam at the end of each chapter so that you don’t get caught off guard on examination day.

Pros
  • Includes proven test-taking strategies
  • A full review of MCAT test-content
  • Cross-discipline concepts
  • Complete study package set
  • Full-color visuals on every page for quick memorizing
  • Mini-exams at the end of each chapter
Cons
  • Reports on some Biochemistry errors

Check Current Price on Amazon

3. The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review,3rd Edition

This complete package set from the Princeton Review gives you everything you need to crack the MCAT.

With it comes 3 full-length practice tests, which will come handy in helping you predict your score.

The tests can be easily accessed online.

You will also benefit from numerous questions at the end of each chapter to help you remember what you’ve read.

Also, the MCAT style passages come in handy, though I wish they could add enough of them.

Like other sets above, the package contains full-color illustrations to help you master the concepts quickly, together with a quick chapter review.

Pros
  • Updated online students tools
  • Challenging tests on subject reviews
  • Strategic test-taking guide
Cons
  • Not enough passages

Check Current Price on Amazon

4. The Berkeley Review MCAT Complete Set-10 Books

The Berkeley Review is the sure way to go if you want to crack MCAT.

It beats hands down other competitors to bring you the best organization of materials, clear material presentation, and balanced questions difficulty.

This is done to give you a thorough and efficient preparation outcome.

You will understand the e-configurations much better and you will love how detailed their passages are.

The explanations are top-notch and meant for your understanding.

And yes, going through the entire package might take longer. But what do you expect if what you want is only the best?

So, while it might be tough to some extent of making you want to “cry” at some point, but getting those questions wrong will push you to try much harder.

Thereby emerging stronger and ready to sit for the exam.

Pros
  • Difficult questions to toughen you
  • Detailed explanations for a better understanding
  • Contain example questions to help with concepts
  • Nice organized texts
  • Great insight into common passage styles and questions
Cons
  • Too long for those on limited time.
  • Difficult than the MCAT exams

Check Current Price on Amazon

5. MCAT with Online Tests (Barron's Test Prep), 3rd Edition

This 3rd edition MCAT comes well revised and expanded to suit the needs of the current MCAT exam expectations.

It’s well detailed, to ensure you thoroughly receive all the necessary explanations for a better understanding.

The author ensures to use simple but precise language to explain even some of the most neglected but essential test-taking strategies.

You will also love the additional information you will master.

This comprises dealing with test anxiety, time coverage, solving scientific questions, and critical reasoning and analysis.

The science review chapters take you through important test-topics highlighted by the AMMC, that too written clearly for easy concept grasping.

All these, complete with various examples, problem-solving, and illustrations.

There’s also comprehensive coverage of sociology, psychology, and Biochemistry, which will be tested by MCAT.

Pros
  • Numerous passages and practice questions concerning the MCAT patterns
  • A detailed multi-month study plan
  • Access to 2 additional full-length online MCAT tests
  • Easy breakdown of the questions
  • Simple layout
Cons
  • Some few inaccuracy reports

Check Current Price on Amazon

6. Kaplan MCAT Flashcards + App, 3rd Edition

The Kaplan test prep flashcards are an important way of information dissemination. Any serious medical career student should understand this.

The cards present an awesome way to study on-the-go.

Also, they make it easy for you to memorize those hard topics and keep those old materials on your fingertips for easier remembrance.

This set of flashcards by Kaplan is currently the best in the current market.

With the package, you will receive 1000 cards, which covers tones of important materials for exam preparation.

You should, however, lower your expectations, if what you want is detailed information as the cards only cover limited information, due to their small nature.

But you can use them as a reference point to source out for other useful detailed information that you should know before the exams.

Also, the cards seem quite fragile, but that shouldn’t be a problem as they’re meant to serve you for a couple of months.

Pros
  • You get to study on-the-go
  • Excellent way to jog your memory
  • Cards are filled with useful questions
Cons
  • The cards are quite flimsy
  • Not detailed

Check Current Price on Amazon

7. Test Prep Books MCAT Prep Books Study Guide 2020 & 2021

Test Prep Books provides you with this MCAT Prep Books 2020-2021: MCAT Study Guide 2020 & 2021 to help you attain a passing score in your MCAT exam.

It is an ideal pick for individuals seeking detailed coverage of topics.

This study guide thoroughly explains various concepts ensuring you don’t miss out on anything important that can boost your score.

With the package also comes numerous test-taking strategies.

These are designed to help you put your best foot forward when undertaking the exams.

You will also get a detailed explanation of the critical analysis and gain useful reasoning skills in line with the MCAT patterns.

The best part is that the package contains detailed answers explanations, which seeks to make you understand why certain answers can be better than others.

At the beginning of each chapter, you will be treated with a quick overview so that you know what to expect.

It includes important medical terms that you will need to know and several graphs for concept memorizing.

Pros
  • Concise test preparation book
  • Includes graphs and a medical terms glossary
  • Detailed explanations
  • Practice test
  • Detailed answers
  • Easy to read and understand diagrams
Cons
  • Few complaints of black and white copies, which makes diagrams hard to understand. But this shouldn’t be a problem if you purchase from authorized sellers.

Check Current Price on Amazon

Best MCAT Study Guides For Each Section (Subject)

Best MCAT Biochemistry Book

1. Sterling Test Prep MCAT Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry Practice Questions

The best news about this Sterling Teat Prep MCAT book lies in the fact that it’s updated every year.

This means you receive as much current information as possible to help be relevant to the exam.

The authors are also brief and offer depth conceptualized details suitable for the MCAT exam.

So, you can be sure to receive a study guide that will perfectly feed you with all the relevant material you require according to the MCAT pattern.

This is all thanks to Sterling Test Prep’s years of experience in this sector.

This book solely deals with matters concerning the Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry section, which makes it easy to understand.

There are also 4-practice tests for each subject, complete with detailed explanations for both correct and incorrect answers.

Buyers of this book gain access to the online answers to various questions and other exam-related questions.

And although some individuals argue that the biology part is tougher than the biochemistry one, it does provide you with sufficient practice and that’s what should matter.

Pros
  • Detailed answer explanations
  • Provides questions and solutions
  • 4-practice tests for each subject
  • Annual updates
  • Online access to users
  • Brief and simple for easy understanding.
Cons
  • Some parts are too simple
  • Biology section too tough for some.

Check Current Price on Amazon

Best MCAT Physics Book

1. Sterling Test Prep MCAT Physics Practice Questions

Like the Sterling Test Prep for Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry, this book also offers step-by-step calculations on all topics concerning physics.

These types of detailed explanations will come in handy when undertaking the chemical and physical foundations section in the MCAT exam.

It comes with 860 practice questions to help you sharpen your skills. Also, it is updated annually.

So, you can be sure that the information you receive is what you need at that particular time.

It makes preparation much easier as you can decide to use it alone or pair it with other guides to form your preferred settings, for a comprehensive topic coverage.

This book is prepared by experienced tutors who understand the MCAT patterns. So, you can trust the questions to be of high-quality and effective for your success.

Pros
  • Easy to grasp subject details
  • Contains a list of all the covered topics
  • Easy way to master solutions for physics practice issues.
  • Includes diagnostic tests
Cons
  • Has stand-alone questions, which won’t be helpful in passage training.

Check Current Price on Amazon

Best MCAT Book for Psychology and Sociology

1. The Princeton Review MCAT Psychology and Sociology Review, 2nd Edition

This MCAT prep book offers users comprehensive coverage of practice passage like no other competitor within its range.

With it, you receive a free full-length exam, which will help you test the waters and identify areas that you need to work on most.

You will also receive relevant instructions on how to register for this full-length exam.

With all this preparation, you really don’t have to worry about messing things up.

If you need a realistically set practice resource for behavioral biological, social, and psychological foundations, then this book is the ideal pick.

You will also benefit from accessing various strategies that will help you tackle the arising issues to help you pass the exam.

There are also various practice sections in this book to help you measure your skills, while at the same time teaching you how to correctly apply the knowledge you receive.

Pros
  • Excellent passage breakdowns and useful explanations
  • Written in an easy and clear way
  • Free full-length exam
  • Useful in testing your skills
  • One of the best MCAT prep book for Sociology and Psychology in the present market
Cons
  • Limited to sociology and psychology sections
  • Could do better with more passage.

Check Current Price on Amazon

How to Choose the Right Study Material for You

The MCAT exam requires thorough preparation as it determines whether you have a future in your preferred medical course or not.

Therefore, selecting the correct materials for your study plays a key role in helping you crack the exam and finally secure a place for yourself in that prestigious institution of your choice.

Below are some essential tips on how to choose the right study material for you;

          a) Testing as You Study

Reading and reading without testing yourself might result in no great results.

Reason?

Minds can be deceiving. You might think that you have grasped all the concepts only to realize that what you’ve in mind is only but a small percentage of the exam expectations.

Taking time to source out preparation materials that allow you to test yourself as you study the content, will ensure you understand all the useful details.

This is because you will only feel comfortable moving to the next chapter or book after answering all the questions correctly.

And if you don’t, you will have the chance to go through all the details until you’re sure and content with the results of your practice test.

So, your preparation material should include;

  • A list of questions that correlate with the content you read to validate the exam points
  • A detailed explanation as to why the answers are either right or wrong.
  • Offer you the flexibility to test yourself in specific areas, where you feel you have an understanding weakness.

          b) Comprehensive Explanations

Being told your answer is simply right or wrong shouldn’t be enough.

Your preparation materials should provide sufficient explanations not only on the content they provide but also for all the sample exam questions you undertake.

This is because, in MCAT, it’s common to come across questions whose answers seem pretty the same. In fact, it isn’t surprising if you find multiple answers “correct.”

But even then, only one answer will be termed as correct by the MCAT. And this where detailed explanations come in handy.

They will help you clearly understand why the examiners will pick the one answer over the other. What merit does that answer have?

This will help you make the perfect choice when facing the exam.

Also, understanding the explanations/rationales will help you understand various subtle languages, which are useful in giving you clues to help you succeed in the exam.

And there’s no way you can simply understand this by yourself.

          c) Give You Cues of Your Current Position in Your Study Plan

Preparation prepares the body and mind for the upcoming tasks.

Just the same way sportsmen prepare for games to ensure that their body is ready both mentally and physically when the big day arrives, so do you need to maintain track of your studies.

This will help you how ready you’re in case the exam comes earlier, on time, or later than scheduled.

Your preparation materials should help you keep a track of the content you need to master for the upcoming MCAT exam.

This includes how much content you’ve covered within a given time, how much of it is remaining, and how you plan to cover it all before the exam period.

Gaining access to such markers is the best way to allocate sufficient time to various subjects and even help you set up goals to help you achieve the bigger objective.

Remember, it’s the smaller section goals that will largely contribute to your overall performance. So, no neglecting any section, no matter how small it might seem.

By all means, avoid any kind of study material that doesn’t show you how far you are in terms of your study plan and how much time you require to focus in specific areas.

This might be the reason for your downfall and that’s the last thing you want.

          d) Up-to-Date

As you have already seen from the preparation materials reviewed above, most of them indicate how frequently they’re updated to suit the current MCAT exam patterns.

This is usually clear to help you know that you’re reading the right content.

So, if you can’t seem to locate the date of publishing or the latest update of the content you’re about/are reading, then it’s better to avoid them as much as possible.

And if you decide to proceed, then do so with maximum caution.

Remember, the MCAT exam content isn’t constant. It changes frequently.

This is because the examination board has to consistently audit the exams and update them to suit the most current quality and professional requirements.

This is to mean that old questions get phased-out and new questions get introduced.  So, using preparation materials that reflect how the latest exams are conducted is key to your success.

          e) Accurate Data and Information

This might seem obvious but it’s one of the out looked factors when sourcing out for studying materials. Don’t make that mistake as well.

You see, some materials contain information that’s not only wrong but also outdated or even incomplete.

This is quite common and sometimes it comes by error and not intentional. But that doesn’t mean you have to bear the burden.

It’s your right to have the best and so, if you had already purchased content and there’s no option of returning or exchanging material, then look for other available options.

But, don’t settle for what you know isn’t right. If you apply it in your exam, then you’re bound to fail.

Also, to avoid such errors, ensure to check the company’s credentials and find out the list of experts involved, this should give you a clue of how trustworthy they’re or not.

A quick look at the recently updated versions of the materials will also give you an idea of how often the content is updated and if it suits your needs.

It’s your responsibility to search out for ways to improve your experience and guarantee your success in the MCAT exam.

          f) Areas of Focus

When selecting the best preparation materials, always pick the ones that clearly indicate which areas you should focus most on and which ones don’t need much of your attention.

This way, you will know how to allocate your studying time.

For instance, if specific sections promise to offer you higher performance, then you can a lot more time top that and then “pass-through” the other sections to at least have a clue in case you’re caught by surprise.

Remember, you have less time to study, so you don’t have to give equal importance to every section.

That’s where your test prep materials will come in handy; to pinpoint crucial areas, while helping you not to draw out the other sections of less importance.

Because of this, study materials with an interest in highlighting various key content and providing more information and resources to such areas will in a great way help you to understand.

Thus, contributing to your success.

          g) Organization

The study materials you select should be well-organized to help you learn faster and retain whatever you go through.

This is because, when materials are easy to understand, then they are equally easy to remember.

So, the way your study material presents the various interconnected sections, will in a greater way contribute to how you efficiently store the details you learn.

The last thing you want is to open material and find all content being “dumped” at you. This will make studying frustrating and you will be miserable.

Think of it this way, even if the material has all the necessary content you need, what will be its use if the bad organization works against you to ensure your retention is running at nearly 0%?

Always go for materials that are not only simple but also precisely worded to give you an exam-like feel.

Remember, you have so much to cover before the exams, so if the materials make it easier for you, the better.

This will help you maximize your time and be successful.

FAQs About The Best MCAT Prep Books

How Long Is the MCAT Exam?

The MCAT exam will take you around 6-7.5 hours to finish.

But it can sometimes take you another extra hour to complete, especially if you haven’t been practicing, as you adjust.

So, if you want to take a shorter time, then you better start practicing early enough.

How Is the MCAT Scored?

The scoring of the MCAT is based on 4 four sections.  And this is around 118-132. Here, 132 is the best in that area.

So, you should get anywhere from 472-528, when you sum-up all your points from all areas.

But the examiners always standardize the scores to ensure the results are fair to everyone, given that some variations are easier than others.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the MCAT?

This will depend on how dedicated you’re. But on average, you should at least expect to spend 240 hours in a period of 12 weeks.

But it’s always good to aim at being better than just average.

Therefore, before you set your goal, ask yourself the following questions;

  • How strong are you in the sciences? The better you’re the more time you will have to spend on other areas
  • What time will you be studying? This is important especially if you have other things going on the side like a part-time job or school. You should set aside time for your MCAT study
  • How busy is your schedule? This will help you know how further you can spread your prep
  • What’s your goal? Understand how much work you will have to exert to achieve your goals. And for that, you should understand your current position.
  • What’s your studying style? How many hours can you comfortably set aside for studying in a day? Will they differ from day to day? You have to be as realistic as possible.
  • Are you planning on enrolling in a prep course? While this can be a great investment, you should choose a course that suits your time frame, daily schedule, and the learning style you stated above.

When Should You Start Studying for the MCAT?

The best way to study for the MCAT exam is to start early. So, that should be at least 2-6 months before the exam date.

If you have sufficient time by your side, then you can do 300 hours a week, which roughly translates to 8 hours a day and you should be ready in two months. That’s assuming you’re studying 5 days a week.

What Is the Best Way to Prepare For MCAT?

Nothing good in life comes easy. So, the best way to prepare for the exam is to come up with a study plan, which is not only effective but can also allow you to start studying early.

How Much Does MCAT Prep Cost?

This purely depends on the path you choose to take.

For instance, if you choose to do it by yourself, then it will cost you only a few dollars.

But if you seek tutoring services, then it can cost you some thousands of dollars, of course depending on the expertise of the trainer you hire.

Is Kaplan Or Princeton Review Books Better For MCAT?

Honestly, both two companies offer awesome materials that can impact your success in the MCAT exam.

But that said, most reviews point out to the slightly better features that Kaplan offers as compared to Princeton.

Conclusion

If you want to settle in a medical school, then you will have no choice but to pass the MCAT exam. And, it doesn’t come that easy.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t pass. Many people have and so can you.

But for that, you require excellent preparation materials such as the ones in our best MCAT prep books review above.

If you religiously follow the selection process tips we gave above, then you will choose the perfect materials for your needs and you will definitely pass the exam.

Ours is to wish you success in your journey to medical school.

Do share how it went down. We love hearing from you. Always.

John Reed
My name is John Reed and I am the chief editor of TestPrepPal.com. I am alumni of university of of Pennsylvania and want to help future graduates with their tests.

Leave a Comment