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;
In case books are not your favorite, there is better options out there.
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The Best MCAT Prep Book Sets
Best MCAT Study Guides For Each Section (Subject)
Best MCAT Biochemistry Book
Best MCAT Physics Book
Best MCAT Book for Psychology and Sociology
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.