The Best MCAT Prep Books

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If you want to become a doctor, you need to conquer the Medical College Admission Test, commonly known as the MCAT. The grueling 7.5-hour exam includes four sections: the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section, the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Section, the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section, and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Section. Sound like a lot? It is, and you will need a great guide or two to get you through the process with your sanity — and medical school admissions prospects — intact. To help you ace the test, we rounded up the best MCAT prep books to buy today.

Best Official Guide: MCAT – The Official Guide to the MCAT® Exam, 5th Edition

The only “official” MCAT guide produced, this comprehensive book by the Association of American Medical Colleges will get you well on your way to feeling prepared to ace the MCATs. It is not overflowing with practice questions: The guide includes just 120 questions and answers, 30 for each of the four sections of the MCAT. However, what it lacks in practice problems it makes up for with helpful advice about how the exam is graded, other factors that can make or break your admissions decision, and how to best prepare for the exam. While we wouldn’t recommend buying just this book, it is a great first read to start understanding the MCAT and how it works.

Best for Visual Learners: MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review

Kaplan’s “review” of the MCAT is a little bit of a misnomer: We do not think “review” is a good word for a comprehensive, seven-book series that covers every area of the MCAT in precise detail. If you are looking for a quick way to ace the MCAT, this is not it. If you are looking for an expertly-written path to guide you from the moment you decide to take the MCAT to the final question on exam day, this is it. The books include practice questions, 3D illustrations, and diagrams of complex scientific topics. They also offer three full-length practice MCATs, 24 “Quick sheets” that outline the vital things to remember from each prep section, making it one of the best books to study for the MCAT.

Best for Exam Strategies: MCAT Prep Books

While mastering the subject matter on the MCAT is vital, it is not enough to ensure a test-taker receives a perfect or near-perfect score. For that, you will need to remain cool, calm, and collected for the duration of the exam. The best way to ensure that you can do so is to make sure you master test-taking strategies, and this book from Test Prep Books emphasizes those test-taking strategies that will keep you sane come exam day. The book includes a detailed review of the main test sections, plus comprehensive solutions for each of the many practice problems inside, which will help you understand every question before you move to the next one. 

Best for In-Depth Subject Coverage: MCAT Princeton Review

This book series from Princeton Review provides many of the same benefits as Kaplan provides: Seven complete books, three full-length practice tests, full-color illustrations, and practice questions. However, their depth and summation of the subject reviews put them a cut above the rest if you want to be sure you have mastered each knowledge area you will need to know on test day. The Princeton Review guide includes extensive glossaries and chapter reviews that will be helpful when you are looking to re-review before exam day. 

Best for Auditory Learners: MCAT AudioLearn

If you learn best by listening rather than reading, this audiobook is one that you should add to your test preparations. Two medical doctors narrate the eight-plus hours of review, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’re pronouncing technical words wrong: you’ll hear them correctly from the get-go. The series covers not only facts and theories but also discusses formulae and equations. Unlike regular study guides, you can schedule study time that best suits you like on a run or while biking, all without having to lug a heavy book around.

Best Guide Along The Way: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

While you could spend thousands on an MCAT tutor who would keep you accountable and check in on your progress every day, this book is much more affordable—and much less annoying. The book is written by the host of The MCAT Podcast, who has helped many students master the difficult test. At under 200 pages, this guide includes everything you need to know to plan an MCAT study strategy that will work for you.

The book provides information on what to expect when you register for the test, the other books or classes you should purchase based on your learning style, and how to build a successful study group and individual study plan. 

Best for Extra Practice Problems: Examkrackers MCAT Study Package

Reviewers have noted that these books are easier to read and cover more information than the other boxed sets on this list. The books feature three quizzes after each lecture of pre-med material, which will help you understand the concept you are learning. There are also short 30-minute exams along the way to help provide you with “mini-MCATs” that you can complete in an afternoon or evening without feeling overwhelmed. 

Best for Extra Full-Length Exams: Barron's MCAT, 3rd Edition

Last but not least is Barron’s guide to the MCAT. In addition to the helpful review they provide, they also offer more practice tests than any other guide on this list. The science review sections stand out for their conceptual presentation rather than just providing a list of things that individuals should memorize. There are many, many practice problems throughout each step.

This book also includes a comprehensive sample study plan and advice on how to strategically pace yourself through each section of the exam, how to combat test day anxiety, and how to approach the different types of problems that will appear on the exam.

Our Process

Our writers spent 8 hours researching the most popular MCAT prep books on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 40 different books overall, screened options from 5 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 40 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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Your Citation
Delbridge, Emily. "The Best MCAT Prep Books." ThoughtCo, Jan. 5, 2023, Delbridge, Emily. (2023, January 5). The Best MCAT Prep Books. Retrieved from Delbridge, Emily. "The Best MCAT Prep Books." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).