For a lot of students who are gearing up for the MCAT, choosing the right set of prep books can make or break their performance on the test. Just like for most standardized tests, there are no prep books that offer an all-inclusive solution to mastering the MCAT. Chances are you will need a prep book for when you’re just starting out, for when you’re covering the basics and building a good foundation, and for when you’re giving yourself an added boost in your weak areas of study. If you’ve already done the full lap of studying for the MCAT, there are also the prep books that can add to your points, giving you that extra push to do even better on the test. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of prep books out there, way too many to choose from if you’re taking the random approach. They’re all promising an increase in points and performance but which ones are really the best MCAT prep books for you? To help you out, we’ve compiled the best MCAT prep books available today for every scenario and for every hurdle you have to jump over in studying for this grueling exam.

1 – Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review

PROS

As prep books go, Kaplan is definitely one of the leaders in the industry. They’ve been around for a few decades and the Kaplan books have been go-to prep books for a lot of generations of students. But the name isn’t why the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review is on our list of best MCAT prep books that you should consider. This MCAT prep book is known and appreciated for being concise, well written, and for tying things together to promote understanding. On that note, the reviewer also maintains a light tone, unlike a lot of MCAT prep books that tend to go over as dry and heavy. These books won’t do you any good if you end up not using them because they’re either too dull or too complicated with their explanations.

More than other prep books for the MCAT, the Kaplan Reviewer captures the nuances of the exam, expecting students to not forget that the subjects aren’t isolated from each other and throwing a few curve balls in the practice tests too. For example, Biochemistry can make an appearance in the Organic Chemistry practice test, as it should.

I would recommend that students purchase the Kaplan MCAT Reviewer when they are just beginning to study for the MCAT so that they can cover all their bases and make sure that their foundation of the basics is solid. This is an all-in-one MCAT prep book, the best one under that category in my opinion. This means that you will get study guides, strategies, and practice tests with the package so expect it to cover the broad strokes for all of the subjects covered in the MCAT.

CONS

A lot of students found that the practice tests were more difficult than in the MCAT. This can be a good way of testing yourself but it can also mean that you are not getting a clear idea of how your actual performance will be on the test.

I always recommend that students use an official guide for their practice tests along with the MCAT prep books that they already have to get the closest experience to the real thing as they can. It’s good for practice and for learning time management and it’s always good to have test questions that are as realistic as possible.

My official recommendation is to use the Kaplan Reviewer practice tests to improve your test taking skills but to supplement the prep book with an official study guide that contains old tests as prep tests from the actual MCAT.

2 – Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review 2nd Edition

PROS

The Princeton Review for MCAT is the all-in-one study guide that you want if you really want to go in-depth with the subject matter. If you’ve seen the volumes included in this reviewer – there are seven, one for each subject covered by the MCAT – they are among the thickest reviewers in the market today. That’s because it covers all topics for the MCAT plus a little bit more so you can count on this prep book to be thorough and informative.

The Princeton Review prep books is also known for its organized and well-written content and the Princeton Review MCAT edition is no exception. It comes with chapter summaries, highlighted information, full colored illustrations, and online student tools. All of these well curated content is meant to facilitate learning and understanding for the reader.

A lot of readers also liked the three practice tests that came with this edition, with thousands of questions in total. Unlike the Kaplan practice tests, the Princeton Review’s MCAT practice tests seem to be on the same level of difficulty as the actual MCAT. That being said, I would still encourage students to supplement this prep book with practice tests that were actually used in the MCAT for a much more realistic view of your performance.

CONS

The downside of the Princeton Review for the MCAT is that it’s a little too in-depth with a lot of added content that a lot of readers felt were unnecessary for studying for the test. While a lot of information can be good, it could also take up more time that’s better spent studying topics that are more relevant.

Some people may prefer a more in-depth and thorough study process to build their confidence. In that case, the Princeton Review for MCAT is just the all-around reviewer for you. Like with most all-in-one study guides that cover all the subjects plus offers techniques and strategies, I would suggest that you utilize the Princeton Reviewer for the basics, not for polishing specific subjects you want to learn more about.

3 – The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam

PROS

The value of the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam is all in the practice tests that it offers. A lot of the best MCAT prep books out there are doing their best to offer practice tests that are as close to the actual MCAT as possible but there’s no substitute for the real thing. In this case, the practice tests are written by the same people who are in charge of developing the MCAT. That would be the Association of American Medical Colleges or the AAMC for those who don’t know.

The Official Guide also comes with tips from the exam makers and outlines for the different topics. It also offers information about the MCAT like who’s qualified to take it and what the prerequisites and requirements are. All useful information but again, for this prep book, it’s all about the practice tests.

CONS

A lot of readers feel that a lot of the content made available in this MCAT prep book is also available online. On one hand, it’s good to have something for free but on the other hand, it never hurts to have the complete version of the practice test, especially if it’s for something as important as the MCAT.

Also, this is not an all-in-one MCAT prep book like the earlier prep books I mentioned in this article (Kaplan and Princeton). This is mostly made up of practice tests and does not cover the subject matters included in the MCAT individually. Buy the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam for the practice test when you have already covered studying for the basics and want to gauge your performance.

4 – 9th Edition Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package

PROS

If your biggest hurdle for studying for the MCAT is your short attention span or if you find most MCAT prep books too dull or dry to handle, then the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package may be exactly what you need. Written with the intent to be just as entertaining and humorous as it is informative, this MCAT prep book is designed to be a page turner.

It is also less of an all-in-one study package and is more of a strategy and techniques kind of prep book, though it does cover all of the subjects found in the MCAT. It comes with useful mnemonics, explanations written in a friendly manner, and exam taking tips; all delivered in a fun way to facilitate learning.

A lot of readers also appreciate the mini-quizzes at the end of the chapters which help reinforce what you’ve just learned. That’s aside from the practice tests which are longer and are closer to the real thing.

CONS

The biggest downside of the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package is its typographical errors which can create confusion when studying with this prep book. Though spelling errors will hardly make you fail the MCAT, it does make studying with the prep book a little more bothersome than if all the typos had been taken out.

5 – The Princeton Review Complete MCAT: New for MCAT 2015

PROS

The Princeton Review Complete MCAT for the New MCAT is the study guide is a good investment for the practice tests that come with the volume which are offered online. It’s important that some version of the practice test be online to replicate the same situation that you will be taking the MCAT in. And as practice tests go, the four prep tests that come with the Princeton Review Complete MCAT are pretty great.

For a lot of students who are gearing up for the MCAT, choosing the right set of prep books can make or break their performance on the test. Just like for most standardized tests, there are no prep books that offer an all-inclusive solution to mastering the MCAT. Chances are you will need a prep book for when you’re just starting out, for when you’re covering the basics and building a good foundation, and for when you’re giving yourself an added boost in your weak areas of study. If you’ve already done the full lap of studying for the MCAT, there are also the prep books that can add to your points, giving you that extra push to do even better on the test. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of prep books out there, way too many to choose from if you’re taking the random approach. They’re all promising an increase in points and performance but which ones are really the best MCAT prep books for you? To help you out, we’ve compiled the best MCAT prep books available today for every scenario and for every hurdle you have to jump over in studying for this grueling exam.

6 – Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review

PROS

As prep books go, Kaplan is definitely one of the leaders in the industry. They’ve been around for a few decades and the Kaplan books have been go-to prep books for a lot of generations of students. But the name isn’t why the Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review is on our list of best MCAT prep books that you should consider. This MCAT prep book is known and appreciated for being concise, well written, and for tying things together to promote understanding. On that note, the reviewer also maintains a light tone, unlike a lot of MCAT prep books that tend to go over as dry and heavy. These books won’t do you any good if you end up not using them because they’re either too dull or too complicated with their explanations.

More than other prep books for the MCAT, the Kaplan Reviewer captures the nuances of the exam, expecting students to not forget that the subjects aren’t isolated from each other and throwing a few curve balls in the practice tests too. For example, Biochemistry can make an appearance in the Organic Chemistry practice test, as it should.

I would recommend that students purchase the Kaplan MCAT Reviewer when they are just beginning to study for the MCAT so that they can cover all their bases and make sure that their foundation of the basics is solid. This is an all-in-one MCAT prep book, the best one under that category in my opinion. This means that you will get study guides, strategies, and practice tests with the package so expect it to cover the broad strokes for all of the subjects covered in the MCAT.

CONS

A lot of students found that the practice tests were more difficult than in the MCAT. This can be a good way of testing yourself but it can also mean that you are not getting a clear idea of how your actual performance will be on the test.

I always recommend that students use an official guide for their practice tests along with the MCAT prep books that they already have to get the closest experience to the real thing as they can. It’s good for practice and for learning time management and it’s always good to have test questions that are as realistic as possible.

My official recommendation is to use the Kaplan Reviewer practice tests to improve your test taking skills but to supplement the prep book with an official study guide that contains old tests as prep tests from the actual MCAT.

7 – Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review 2nd Edition

PROS

The Princeton Review for MCAT is the all-in-one study guide that you want if you really want to go in-depth with the subject matter. If you’ve seen the volumes included in this reviewer – there are seven, one for each subject covered by the MCAT – they are among the thickest reviewers in the market today. That’s because it covers all topics for the MCAT plus a little bit more so you can count on this prep book to be thorough and informative.

The Princeton Review prep books is also known for its organized and well-written content and the Princeton Review MCAT edition is no exception. It comes with chapter summaries, highlighted information, full colored illustrations, and online student tools. All of these well curated content is meant to facilitate learning and understanding for the reader.

A lot of readers also liked the three practice tests that came with this edition, with thousands of questions in total. Unlike the Kaplan practice tests, the Princeton Review’s MCAT practice tests seem to be on the same level of difficulty as the actual MCAT. That being said, I would still encourage students to supplement this prep book with practice tests that were actually used in the MCAT for a much more realistic view of your performance.

CONS

The downside of the Princeton Review for the MCAT is that it’s a little too in-depth with a lot of added content that a lot of readers felt were unnecessary for studying for the test. While a lot of information can be good, it could also take up more time that’s better spent studying topics that are more relevant.

Some people may prefer a more in-depth and thorough study process to build their confidence. In that case, the Princeton Review for MCAT is just the all-around reviewer for you. Like with most all-in-one study guides that cover all the subjects plus offers techniques and strategies, I would suggest that you utilize the Princeton Reviewer for the basics, not for polishing specific subjects you want to learn more about.

8 – The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam

PROS

The value of the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam is all in the practice tests that it offers. A lot of the best MCAT prep books out there are doing their best to offer practice tests that are as close to the actual MCAT as possible but there’s no substitute for the real thing. In this case, the practice tests are written by the same people who are in charge of developing the MCAT. That would be the Association of American Medical Colleges or the AAMC for those who don’t know.

The Official Guide also comes with tips from the exam makers and outlines for the different topics. It also offers information about the MCAT like who’s qualified to take it and what the prerequisites and requirements are. All useful information but again, for this prep book, it’s all about the practice tests.

CONS

A lot of readers feel that a lot of the content made available in this MCAT prep book is also available online. On one hand, it’s good to have something for free but on the other hand, it never hurts to have the complete version of the practice test, especially if it’s for something as important as the MCAT.

Also, this is not an all-in-one MCAT prep book like the earlier prep books I mentioned in this article (Kaplan and Princeton). This is mostly made up of practice tests and does not cover the subject matters included in the MCAT individually. Buy the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam for the practice test when you have already covered studying for the basics and want to gauge your performance.

9 – 9th Edition Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package

PROS

If your biggest hurdle for studying for the MCAT is your short attention span or if you find most MCAT prep books too dull or dry to handle, then the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package may be exactly what you need. Written with the intent to be just as entertaining and humorous as it is informative, this MCAT prep book is designed to be a page turner.

It is also less of an all-in-one study package and is more of a strategy and techniques kind of prep book, though it does cover all of the subjects found in the MCAT. It comes with useful mnemonics, explanations written in a friendly manner, and exam taking tips; all delivered in a fun way to facilitate learning.

A lot of readers also appreciate the mini-quizzes at the end of the chapters which help reinforce what you’ve just learned. That’s aside from the practice tests which are longer and are closer to the real thing.

CONS

The biggest downside of the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package is its typographical errors which can create confusion when studying with this prep book. Though spelling errors will hardly make you fail the MCAT, it does make studying with the prep book a little more bothersome than if all the typos had been taken out.

10 – The Princeton Review Complete MCAT: New for MCAT 2015

PROS

The Princeton Review Complete MCAT for the New MCAT is the study guide is a good investment for the practice tests that come with the volume which are offered online. It’s important that some version of the practice test be online to replicate the same situation that you will be taking the MCAT in. And as practice tests go, the four prep tests that come with the Princeton Review Complete MCAT are pretty great.

Meant to be an all-in-one study guide, this prep book also covers all seven subjects of the MCAT but I would not recommend it for covering the basics and studying the subjects topic by topic. The real value of this MCAT prep book set is really in the practice tests that it offers.

CONS

For a general, all-in-one MCAT prep book, the Princeton Review Complete isn’t so great. It is particularly lacking in the psychology/sociology section and it also fails to go sufficiently in-depth for the other subjects. My recommendation is that you purchase the Kaplan MCAT Complete Study Guide and use the Princeton Review Complete MCAT for the practice tests.
Meant to be an all-in-one study guide, this prep book also covers all seven subjects of the MCAT but I would not recommend it for covering the basics and studying the subjects topic by topic. The real value of this MCAT prep book set is really in the practice tests that it offers.

CONS

For a general, all-in-one MCAT prep book, the Princeton Review Complete isn’t so great. It is particularly lacking in the psychology/sociology section and it also fails to go sufficiently in-depth for the other subjects. My recommendation is that you purchase the Kaplan MCAT Complete Study Guide and use the Princeton Review Complete MCAT for the practice tests.