When studying for the MCAT, it is important to find the resources that work the best for you. There are so many different companies and websites that it can become overwhelming and discouraging. When I studied for the MCAT, I used many different books and resources, which I felt was a good strategy. Not all books are the same, and the one that you should use depends on your personal goals for the MCAT.
Kaplan is one of the most popular testing companies that does everything from AP exams to LSAT . The 7 book MCAT set from Kaplan was the first prep material I used and found them to be a really great starting point. Most of the books contained sufficient content for the exam. I learned a lot of the material for the first time, and Kaplan, for the most part was enough.
The Kaplan Biochemistry Review Book was by far the best resource. Biochemistry has become a huge part of the new exam, and shows up in multiple sections. This book was extremely thorough and made it easier to learn some of the more difficult topics like metabolism. It was an invaluable resource and gave me that extra push to reach my target score.
On the other hand, the Kaplan Psychology and Sociology Review Book was definitely the worse resource, in my opinion. It did a good job of teaching material but in comparison to the Princeton Review Book and the AAMC questions, it was missing some information, especially with regards to the sociology portion. If you do end up using the Kaplan book set, I would be sure to supplement it with other psychology materials.
Princeton Review is very different from Kaplan in the sense that their books tend to be much more detailed. Depending on who you are, this can be a good or bad thing. In my opinion, the level of detail was unnecessary. If you feel the additional material would psyche you out or worry you, PR may not be for you. The tend to err on the side of more caution and want to include EVERY possible thing can be tested, regardless of how unlikely.
That being said, the Psychology and Sociology book was incredibly helpful. It filled in a lot of the gaps I had with Kaplan. I would definitely recommend especially this book and the rest of the set if you are looking for a lot of detail.
I only used the 101 Passage books from Examkrackers, but I found them to be a bit extreme. The passages were significantly harder than anything that I saw on the MCAT. For some that is ideal, but for me it was really concerning. I was not doing very well on the passages and I started to get very worried about the exam. Examkrackers wasn’t really for me, but that does not mean it won’t suit you.
Khan Academy is an incredible resource that I recommend to all. The website has thousands of videos on individual topics which I found particularly helpful when I got stuck on something. It is a free resource and has a lot of passage practice and covers a lot of topics incredibly thoroughly, but in short palatable videos. This really got me through the MCAT, especially during the last couple of weeks of studying. It is completely free, you just have to go their website.
The Association of American Medical Colleges are the best resource by far. These are the people that actually make the exam, so their exams are going to be the most similar to what you will see on test day. On their website, they provide question packs, section banks, and three full length practice exams, all of which I used and found extremely helpful. The only downside to using these products is that can be very expensive, but in my opinion it is a worthy investment. While all the test prep companies have practice exams and practice questions, the closest you will ever get to the MCAT is from the AAMC. While, I’m sure you could do well without them, the AAMC resources really helped improve my score and gave me a piece of mind.
These are only a few of the available resources for studying for the MCAT. This entire post is based on my personal experience, so be aware that your experiences may be different. If you are still figuring out what the MCAT is or need some study strategies, check out the other posts in our MCAT series. Good luck with your studies, and if you have some information that you want to share, leave a comment below!