9 Best MCAT Prep Books For 2020:
Top Picks & Reviews

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Going through your MCAT prep journey takes a lot more than just reading any sort of material you can get your hands on.

What you should look for is an MCAT prep book that’s comprehensive, easy to understand, and fits your learning curve.

Now, where do you find the best MCAT prep book?

A better question would be, what is the MCAT prep book that fits your study plan?

All MCAT prep books can provide you with lessons you need to understand more about the MCAT; however, one MCAT book might look different to you than all the rest.

This is because not every MCAT prep book is as digestible to read and understand for just about anyone.

As a student, you have a unique way of learning visually. Some learn better through illustrations while others learn better through plain text. 

Whatever the case, the best MCAT prep book is out there and this article will help you find it.

9 Best MCAT Books

What is the best MCAT prep book

While I can’t give you a solid answer, I can provide you with a list of the best books to use, 9 of which will give you sound options to choose from. 

These 9 MCAT books are:

  1. Kaplan
  2. Princeton Review
  3. AAMC
  4. Examkrackers
  5. Barron’s
  6. Berkeley Review
  7. Sterling
  8. MCAT Psychology and Sociology
  9. Kaplan MCAT flashcards

From here on out, you’ll find an overview of each MCAT book, their pros & cons, and key features to serve as the best MCAT study guide and help you succeed.

Compare Best MCAT Prep Books For 2020

Rank Products Feature Website
Best for

Gives out strategies that are effective and practical

Utilizes official practice tests

Will give you a different perspective on taking the SAT

Best for

Breaks down the question types chapter-by-chapter

It has a lot of quality passages that are close to the ones on the official SAT practice tests.

It has very thorough explanations. Includes practice questions from the College Board

Best for

Price-friendly

Waterproof

Customizable features

Best for

Contains 5 full-length practice tests

Has an online feature

Affordable

Best for

A good book for math practice

Teaches strategies

Has content for interpreting graphs

Best for

A good book for math practice

Amazing quality

Breaks down the step-by-step solution to a math problem

Best for

Using this material is as close as you can get to answering the real SAT

Practice question for each question type

Has essay practice tests

Best for

Great design and layout

Passages provided are high quality

Practice tests are almost as difficult as the real SAT

Best for

A good number of practice tests

Great layout and design

Has an in-depth analysis of questions and how to approach them

Kaplan’s knowledge base is incredible. 

The book leans toward detail-oriented lessons rather than conceptual orientation, so it’s a good read for any heavy reader. What makes Kaplan the best MCAT prep book to have for visual learners is due to the numerous illustrations, diagrams, and charts shown in great detail. 

You’ll also have over 2,000 practice questions as a bonus addition to using Kaplan’s MCAT books. There are also 7 review books contained in one book bundle. Along with the terminologies and an index section provided, this feature gives a far more detailed self-study learning experience. 

How Effective Is It? 

Kaplan offers the best MCAT prep book 2020. 

The passages are lengthy for any seasoned reader, but you’ll be at least 90% ready for the exam using Kaplan’s material.

If you have the time, patience, and commitment to sit down and read through the pages, you’ll be able to answer practice questions better and have a better understanding of each subject.

Although detail-oriented textbooks are a great study material, this may also be difficult for some. Some favor learning or material that is straight to the point. For those who have a hard time learning through text, this may prove to be a challenge. 

Key Features:

  • In-depth discussion of the MCAT topics
  • Content is AAMC aligned so this will help you achieve a thorough review of the program
  • Aside from the 7 subject review books, you’ll have access to a study plan and detailed visual orientations.  
  • Online and offline practice questions
  • Focuses more on detail-oriented learning than concept-oriented
  • Comes with 3 full-length practice tests
  • Content material developed by top-rated instructors & experts

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Kaplan’s Books: 

Kaplan provides one of the best books to study MCAT courses and grab a good understanding of each subject. Every Kaplan MCAT prep book provides additional information to boost your confidence and understanding to help you answer practice tests.

Students who pay a high amount of attention in a class setting can benefit the most from this book. What Kaplan offers is an MCAT book that can help you score high in the exam.

2. Princeton Review

The Princeton Review (TPR) is a reviewer course often compared to Kaplan. 

The two prep companies stand toe-to-toe in many aspects, and just like Kaplan’s book set, Princeton Review also provides a good number of illustrations and practice questions. 

What stands out with Princeton Review’s MCAT books is their ability to deliver concise information, so the content doesn’t feel as long as Kaplan does. The content structure is also well-structured and provides a thorough explanation of each MCAT topic.

How Effective Is It? 

Users mentioned that although Princeton Review is a strong resource material to use, the practice tests are not as abundant as what Kaplan offers. 

At best, Princeton Review books are great refresher review materials. But if you’re someone who doesn’t have a keen understanding of the basic MCAT topics, this will be harder for you to understand TPR material.

The Princeton Review performs best at reinforcing and solidifying fundamental MCAT concepts, hence its comprehensive program. 

Overall, Princeton Review is the best content material for any in-depth coverage you need for each MCAT topic. The delivery of their textbook information is concise, which makes studying efficient and not as heavy to read. 

Key Features:

  • Concepts and lessons provided are explained in the most concise way possible to make it easy for the reader to digest information
  • Gives a good balance between length and an informative approach
  • Every end of chapter section has a quick recap with summaries and glossaries for quick reference
  • A solid understanding of MCAT topics needed to perform well in the exam
  • Self-studying with these books is efficient

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Princeton Review’s Books: 

The Princeton Review is a great MCAT prep book if you’re looking for information that’s digestible and easy to understand. 

What it lacks are details and explanations needed for basic concepts on each MCAT topic. 

Nevertheless, The Princeton Review is considerably the best MCAT prep book for high scorers despite its shortcomings and lack of visual aid in some areas. 

Overall, TPR is an excellent resource and is the best MCAT study guide book for students who have a decent knowledge foundation and conceptual understanding of each MCAT topic. 

Their books are also ideal for students who don’t enjoy reading lengthy texts and want an efficient self-study approach.

The AAMC MCAT book offers something different compared to other fellow prep companies. What you’ll find are basic elements surrounding the MCAT with no in-depth coverage or comprehensive review.

At the very least, you’ll have access to 120 practice questions with 30 questions per MCAT sectionalmost as if it acts more like an MCAT practice test book.

How Effective Is It? 

Why recommend this, then? First, because this AAMC book is written by the official exam makers. 

The advantage of learning about the MCAT from the official instructors and experts make it the best MCAT study guide to prepare any student before diving headfirst into reading MCAT books. 

Second, the content material tells you how to strategize and prepare for the exam, the rules of the MCAT, the scoring system for each section, and factors that guide the admissions committee to accepting you or not. 

Yes, it lacks any in-depth coverage of the MCAT topic, but it makes up for providing you with an ultimate preparatory tool for the MCAT along with your admissions acceptance rate, which isn’t based solely on your academic score. 

Key Features:

  • Information found in the AAMC book covers everything you need to know about the MCAT exam 
  • You’ll understand the scoring system, rules of the test, and the factors that affect your admission acceptance rate. 
  • Written by the official exam test-makers
  • You’ll have 120 practice questions, 30 for each MCAT section
  • There is no in-depth learning about the MCAT topic except for basic elements about the MCAT exam

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose AAMC Books: 

For an MCAT prep book 2020, it’s a must-have. 

As an MCAT practice test book or an MCAT test prep book, it doesn’t meet any qualifications to help you learn MCAT subjects.

Remember you don’t become successful in the MCAT solely through studying alone. Your study plan, pacing, and test-taking strategy are just as essential to achieving the score you want.

I recommend using the AAMC book as the first book to read as you start your MCAT prep journey. This will help you understand the fundamentals behind the MCAT exam, scoring, and how to study for it. 

Most students dive headfirst, and while this is admirable, it can also be seen as reckless if you think that pure academic study is what garners a score between 510 and 528.

Examkrackers is the best choice for answering practice tests/exams. It’s also an ideal choice for students who have time constraints. The material provided by Examkrackers is highly concise, so you won’t have trouble reading the information found here. 

All the information you need to know is exactly what you’ll get. 

Unfortunately, what you see is definitely what you get. There isn’t extra or additional information on the MCAT topics.

How Effective Is It?

This is perfect for students who have time constraints and want to read through content swiftly. 

You might feel though that there’s more you can still learn. 

Nonetheless, you won’t waste time reading Examkrackers content material. Because the information is also comprehensive, your study time will be highly efficient. 

Unlike Kaplan or TPR, you’ll have access to 6 subject books and 24 practice questions along with 32-minute exams. The practice exams offer great development in test-taking, training, and improve logical reasoning. 

It is for this specific reason that Examkrackers ranks high among student reviews and on this list. 

Key Features:

  • Information is brief, comprehensive, and easy to understand
  • Provides just the right amount of information needed on every MCAT topic needed to do well in the exam
  • Subjects such as biochemistry and organic chemistry are simplified and highly digestible
  • You won’t have to worry about any unnecessary fluff that won’t appear in the MCAT exam
  • 24 practice questions at the end of each lesson
  • Practice tests provide great development that improves a student’s overall aptitude in taking the MCAT exam

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Examkrackers Books: 

I strongly recommend using Examkrackers books if you have a hard time reading wordy material. 

Examkrackers books offer good visualization aids, and since the text is already brief and concise as it is, your study time will also feel a lot less heavy. 

While the content is sufficient, it’s not wise to rely solely on these books. For extra additional material, you feel you need improving on, choose a selected number of books that provide in-depth detail like Kaplan’s.

5. Barron’s

Similar to Examkrackers, Barron’s MCAT books are concise and on-point so they’re straightforward to read through. 

A noteworthy aspect of using Barron’s is the price. It’s the best budget option on this list, and you’ll also get a CD-ROM to provide you with in-depth content. 

Barron’s books follow a conceptual approach. This will give you a better understanding of each MCAT topic rather than memorization.

How Effective Is It? 

Normally, you’d think that a book with a cheap price would have poor quality. Not even close. 

The quality is more than adequate to help you understand topics around the MCAT, and it comes with 4 practice tests and 39 passages, all of which you can access online. 

What’s also unique is how Barron’s practice tests closely simulate the pattern of MCAT questions and passages found in the actual exam. 

Using Barron’s books will not only leave you well-prepared, but you’ll also feel more confident and at ease on exam day. 

Their critical test-taking strategies, developed by experts with years of experience, help you improve your pacing, critical analysis & problem-solving, and test-taking anxiety. 

The drawback, however, to using Barron’s books is that the practice questions are poorly worded, so you might feel confused answering and reading them throughout. 

Key Features:

  • Information is concise, straightforward, and comes with a CD-ROM that provides in-depth content
  • Strategies are unique compared to other prep companies where you can improve not just academic reasoning and aptitude but also how to improve test anxiety
  • Budget price and reasonable pricing offer makes it available for any student
  • Access to 4 online practice tests and 39 passage questions
  • The study guide comes with a multi-month study plan

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Barron’s Books: 

Barron’s books are great for any student who is looking for a cheaper resource alternative. 

In regards to the strength of their content, the quality provided is solid. Also, their strategies boost your confidence, promote clarity and ease of mind when taking the exam or encountering tough situations, and improve pacing. 

The multi-month study plan also acts as a helpful guide for any student who uses it and is ideal for students who prefer to have a reference schedule to stick to while studying for the MCAT.

Berkeley Review offers an expensive yet full-coverage reviewer material.

While Kaplan and TPR offer 7 subject review books, Berkeley Review offers 10 books. 

The set comes with two forms of sciences for biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics, along with a verbal section for the MCAT.

How Effective Is It?

The books in itself are comprehensive and are a reliable resource to use. 

The site may not be as appealing in interface and navigation features, but the books are high-quality content and even limited in stock. 

Along with the detailed content found in Berkeley Review’s books, you’ll also have access to 447 practice questions, 27 passage questions, and 9 diagnostic exams. 

Key Features:

  • Concepts explained in the books are detail-oriented 
  • Strong CARS section learning 
  • All sciences come in two forms which can improve the readability and understanding without making the reader feel burdened
  • Access to various and an abundant amount of exams and practice questions

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Berkeley Review Books: 

If you’re looking for high-quality content books, Berkeley Review is a solid choice in that domain. 

Aside from its great reading material, you can also use Berkeley Review books for the good set of practice questions they provide, along with the explanations for each answer. 

Although it comes at a steep price, it is worth the value, thanks to a strong CARS learning experience, a solid content material for each of the sciences, and a useful study guide to improve your test-taking aptitude.

For self-study learners, Sterling is a worthy addition to your list of review materials to use. The explanations are brief, concise, and offer in-depth conceptual explanations. 

Also, the content is updated every year so you can be sure what you’re reading and learning is taken from the latest updates to keep your study plan and learning experience on track.

How Effective Is It?

There are over 700 high-yield MCAT practice questions, all of which provide explanations for correct and incorrect answers. If you have trouble along the way, the support team at Sterling responds swiftly and provides tremendous support. 

While the concepts on each MCAT topic are very clear, some subjects feel too easy like Biochemistry. Biology, on the other hand, can prove to be very difficult. 

Using Sterling books can help you understand your answers more as to why they’re right and wrong. The clear explanations and content material also place Sterling as one of the best MCAT prep books.

Key Features:

  • Explanations are clear and come with visual aids like illustrations, graphs, tables, and diagrams
  • You can differentiate between right and wrong answers, thanks to the detailed explanations provided in their practice tests
  • In-depth conceptual explanations for each MCAT topic
  • Over 700 practice questions give students a solid training ground to practice answering a variety of questions
  • Content material is updated every year

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Sterling Books: 

Sterling is a great option for self-study learners. 

Not only is their prep book a reliable and high-quality resource, but their practice tests prove to be a useful asset to boost your preparedness for the MCAT exam. 

Keep in mind though that Sterling books might be a harder learning curve if you don’t have a good basic foundation of the MCAT topics. 

With an incredibly responsive support team; however, any gaps along the way won’t be as hard to close.

Using Khan Academy or even a book from Kaplan might help shed light on any foundational concepts you’re weak at.

Princeton Review also offers individual books and in particular, the Psychology and Sociology strike a fair option to go for. 

What makes this book interesting and worth the purchase are the passage questions available for practice. Also, they offer the most realistic scenarios compared to most reviewers.

Like any good MCAT study plan, practice exams are just as fundamental as learning and understanding each MCAT topic. 

These practice exams make the bulk hours of studying and can prove to be extremely useful on exam day to improve pacing, test-taking aptitude, and versatility to unpredictable questions. 

How Effective Is It? 

The MCAT Psychology and Sociology book provided by TPR teaches you how to apply the knowledge you learned, thus, giving you a better conceptual learning experience. 

If you’re looking to improve on your psychology and sociology sections, this book is written in a clear format, and the passage explanations and answers will also be of great use to anyone who reads it.

Key Features:

  • You’ll be given a free full-length exam
  • Practice tests are the most realistic, which is great for expounding on real-life situational learning
  • Rather than just learn the concepts and knowledge of Psychology and Sociology, you’ll also learn how to apply it
  • Highly geared towards students who want to improve their Psychology and Sociology sections or is weak in this area
  • Passage questions and explanations are useful
  • The book offers strategies on how to face new obstacles

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose MCAT Psychology and Sociology Books: 

These books are a focus-driven learning experience towards a specific area of the MCAT. 

While this book is an astounding resource to use, it’s also not for just any student. 

Although, if you want to improve your approach and learning experience when it comes to passage questions, this might be a good place to start, thanks to its realistic practice resource. 

Psychology and Sociology passage questions tend to be lengthy, so using this book to your advantage can also help you flourish in one of the major MCAT sections.

9. Kaplan MCAT Flashcards

For something a little extra, that’s exactly what these flashcards are for. 

Terms, concepts, definitions, and an app to help reinforce your vocabulary and master content found on each MCAT topic. 

In total, you’ll have access to 1,000 flashcards. A breakdown of these 1,000 cards are namely:

  • Biology – 247 flashcards
  • Organic Chemistry – 90 flashcards
  • Behavioral Science – 230 flashcards
  • Biochemistry – 187 flashcards 
  • General Chemistry – 143 flashcards
  • Physics – 103 flashcards

Many prep companies also offer flashcards for review; however, among all of them, Kaplan offers the best.

How Effective Is It?

Using these flashcards are great if you’re on the go or you want to verify just how well you remember any content material you studied the night before. 

However, these flashcards contain general information at best, so don’t expect any detailed explanation similar to what you’ll find in an MCAT book. 

At best, flashcards are a complimentary review refresher that can help jog your memory and make sure you understand the concept at an advanced level.

If you want to maximize the usage of flashcards, you can add notes, charts, graphs, or even side notes that can act as extra questions to review while you’re on the go. 

Key Features:

  • 1,000 flashcards perfect for a good review when you don’t have online access or aren’t at a suitable place to study your books and any reviewer material
  • Access to terms, concepts, and definitions that can help you master the MCAT topics and understand them at an advanced level
  • Great to use for a rapid-fire review approach
  • Flashcards also come with an app you can access easily

Pros

Cons

Should I Choose Kaplan MCAT flashcards: 

It’s highly recommended that you have access to extra reviewer materials and resources aside from just books or video lessons. Read the review of the best MCAT prep courses and choose a course that is best for you if you opt to take a prep course.

This does not only prevent you from feeling too bored along the way but also diversifies the learning experience. 

Using a variety of resources can test your knowledge and understanding in the best of ways where it prepares you for any unpredictable or surprising questions you may encounter in the MCAT exam. 

These flashcards are perfect for any student and are useful as a complementary revision resource for reinforcing MCAT concepts, terms, and definitions.

Frequently asked questions

You should set aside at least 3 – 6 hours every day, 6 days a week to study for the MCAT. A good study plan will put you at 4 – 5 months of study time and practicing 10 -15 full-length practice exams.

You can study for the MCAT in 2 months but this would already be cramming for the exam. Mind you, taking practice exams a month before exam day might make you think it will stay in your head longer, but this can backfire greatly. 

If you find out after taking a practice exam that you have a lot of areas that need improving, this can lead to panic and cause big detriments on test day.

You can use old prep materials as long as the sources are reliable and can provide you with the foundation you need. Although, we prefer using newer editions or up-to-date resources to stay on track and cover as many gaps as possible.

Final Verdict 

The best MCAT prep books mentioned on this list are the best resources you’ll find to help you succeed in the MCAT. 

Be that as it may, MCAT books aren’t the only prep resource you should focus on. 

Using practice exams and other review materials, such as flashcards and intuitive tools like a Quiz Builder App or the Qbank, are essential tools to complete your MCAT prep package. 

The MCAT might be heavily focused on a firm knowledge base, but a large portion of the test also tests other qualities. 

These include your pacing or how well you manage your time through each question, your flexibility to handle unfamiliar scenarios or passages, your experience in reading comprehension and reasoning, etc. 

It’s also for this reason why even if some practice tests and books have poor readability, they can also be a strength you can learn to build for the exam. 

High-quality prep books can do more than just prepare your reasoning and understanding. They also help you prepare your mindset or mental capacity to handle situations that don’t benefit your expectations.

Use these 9 prep books as a standard for your book resources, but also stay open to any additional reviewer materials you find.

References

Bes for Visual Learners

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