Which MCAT prep books are best?
Also known as the MCAT exam, the Medical College Admission Test covers a diverse range of subjects, including critical reasoning and biology. The exam is also one of the most stressful and crucial parts of your medical school application process. That’s why it’s important to purchase an excellent MCAT prep book. The Kaplan Test Prep: MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review is a top choice that can help you prepare for your test.
What to know before you buy an MCAT prep book
Understand how the MCAT is scored
It’s important to know how the MCAT is scored before you even purchase your prep book. Your score features five results, including one score for each of the four test sections and one total combined score. The exam section scores range from 118-132, while the total combined score combines all of your section scores and ranges from 472-528.
Consider what the MCAT tests
The MCAT includes four different sections, including critical analysis and reasoning skills; psychological, social and biological foundations of behavior; chemical and physical foundations of biological systems and biological and biochemical foundations of living systems. The critical analysis and reasoning skills section features 53 multiple-choice questions that you have 90 minutes total to respond to, while the other three sections each have 59 multiple-choice questions that you have 95 minutes to respond to.
Choose a prep book with illustrations
It can help to select an MCAT prep book with illustrations, graphs, charts, tables and other diagrams to help you better understand the information, especially if you are a visual learner.
What to look for in a quality MCAT prep book
Test-taking strategies can definitely help when you are studying for any standardized test. The best MCAT test prep books out there feature test-taking strategies that are specific to the MCAT exam.
The MCAT exam will test your knowledge in the science subjects, so you should select an MCAT prep book that offers an in-depth review of every subject, including critical analysis and reasoning skills, psychology and sociology, physics and math, organic chemistry, general chemistry, biochemistry and biology.
Practice tests are an excellent way to prepare for the MCAT exam since they help you see your strengths and weaknesses. Choose a book with at least three practice tests but ideally more.
How much you can expect to spend on an MCAT prep book
You will typically pay somewhere between $12-$200 for an MCAT prep book. The most budget-friendly study guides range in price from $12-$30, while mid-range books with practice tests and subject reviews go for $30-$75 and in-depth premium test prep books range from $75-$200.
MCAT prep book FAQ
When should you start using an MCAT prep book?
A. It’s important to begin studying for the MCAT exam 3 months or more before you plan on taking the MCAT. Three months will give you sufficient time to take multiple practice tests and review all of the content on the exam. Since it’s better to start studying earlier, you should purchase the study guide about 6 to 9 months before you plan on taking the exam.
How important is your MCAT score for getting into medical school?
A. Your MCAT score is certainly a crucial part of the criteria used to evaluate possible med school students, but it is just one part of your application. Medical schools also evaluate your letters of recommendation, your activities, your awards, your personal statement and your undergraduate GPA. There is also typically an interview, which can have a huge impact on whether or not you are accepted.
What’s the best MCAT prep book to buy?
Top MCAT prep book
What you need to know: This concise yet comprehensive test prep guide uses helpful mnemonic devices and real-life examples to prepare you for the MCAT exam.
What you’ll love: This recently updated study guide features over 3,000 pages with access to three practice tests and multiple different education methods to reinforce the concepts that you need to know for the MCAT exam.
What you should consider: Keep in mind that the material in this guide doesn’t always match the real test questions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top MCAT prep book for the money
What you need to know: This concise study guide is catered towards students looking for a Spark Notes version of test prep or those with anxiety around test-taking.
What you’ll love: The information in this budget-friendly study guide is written as concisely as possible. The test prep book features helpful links to online resources and real-world advice on test-taking.
What you should consider: It’s important to consider that this is more of a strategy guide around test-taking than a comprehensive test prep book.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This thorough test prep book from the Princeton Review goes over all parts of the exam rather than just the most common subjects.
What you’ll love: Many customers report that they received higher test scores after using this study guide. The test prep book includes helpful online material and access to one demo test and two practice tests.
What you should consider: Some of the material in this guide is outdated or inaccurate, and there is a lot of extra material that is not included on the exam.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Alex Kilpatrick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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