The Best MCAT Prep Books (Recommended By Top Scorers)

Student with some of the best MCAT prep books on his desk

One of the first questions every student asks me is what are the best MCAT prep books?

While I tell my 1-1 students that the books we use matter much less than they think, there are definitely some books that are WAY better than others

The difference between using a great MCAT prep book and a poorly-written one is significant, and it’ll increase your chances of performing well on the test (every little bit helps).

So let’s get into it!

In A Hurry? Follow These Steps:

1. Get the ExamKrackers Complete Study Package

  • This is for those who feel comfortable with their content and scored around a 496+ on their practice test.
  • If you don’t feel confident in your content, scored below a 495 on your diagnostic, or are retaking keep reading 

2. For your weak areas add on:

  • The Berkeley Review (TBR) for Gchem/Ochem/Physics (best but hard to order)
  • The Princeton Review (TPR) for Gchem/Ochem/Physics (will need to supplement practice questions, but much easier to order)
  • Kaplan for Biochem 
  • Khan Academy or Uworld for extra content practice 
  • If you need a thorough overview, I strongly would consider getting all the TBR books. Read the full explanation of why in the next sections 

3. Worried about Cost or Time? 

You can find used or perhaps online versions (we talk more about this below). Additionally, you can get away with older versions as long as they are post-2015

For used or borrowed books make sure the questions have no writing (it doesn’t matter if the content itself is marked up) 

What Should You Actually Look For In A Book

Before I give you my recommendations, let’s talk about what you need to look for. Too many students rush out and make a purchase before knowing what they need.

You can study for the MCAT in two main ways: 

1. By studying content directly (reading books, watching videos, taking notes, anything that is only content-related). 

OR 

2. Taking practice questions AND reviewing every single detail about why the answers are right/wrong to learn how the MCAT wants you to think about the content. 

Little hint, the second is the only way to get a good score. The students who use the first method typically don’t do well. This is why MCAT prep books aren’t everything. 

BUT books with great practice and explanations are, in fact, everything. 

And rare.

That’s why you’ll notice all my recommendations have great practice, and I suggest ways to supplement practice for the ones that don’t. 

List Of The Best MCAT Prep Books – Full Sets

With my 1-1 students, I try to use the best books for them. Usually, this involves a mix and match based on their goals and background. 

However, depending on the student, some companies just don’t work for them. 

Each company has a style of writing and a certain aesthetic. If one company doesn’t work for you, no worries. There are usually multiple options. 

Of note, each company covers the following topics: Biochemistry, General Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, Physics, Psychology and Sociology, and CARS.

However each company has a different focus and approach to the topics. Finding the right fit for you is key. 

So let’s get a general overview of how each of these companies set up their books. 

Here are the major players: 

The Berkeley Review (TBR)

The Berkeley Review (TBR) will always have the best practice and often the best content explanation. 

The downside is they’re sometimes they’re too thorough. They’re also the most pricey and cumbersome to order. 

But as I said in the quick picks, if price and time were not a factor and wanted a full set, this would be the set I would go with without question. 

TBR is a small company in Berkeley, CA (duh!) that focuses primarily on quality and local tutoring. They were a cult classic and remain one to this day. 

The books are set up similarly for the most part. 

There are two books for the main topics (although Psych and CARS only have one book each). 

Each chapter gives great content explanations, often with example problems to test your knowledge as you read. 

This is important because you want to learn MCAT-applicable content, not just random facts! 

Then each chapter has anywhere from 10-15 passages that are followed up by excellent explanations. Meaning you have at least 100-150 passages per main topic. 

No one else comes close.

And these are good passages. With good explanations. 

It’s almost unfair.

But, there are downsides: they are the most expensive. And, because they aren’t focused on taking over the MCAT game, their site is ancient. 

I mean it’s painfully ancient. And their ordering process is even worse. You have to mail in a form. Like, have to mail it in. Ew.

With everything else a premed has going on, having to do that is a real gut punch. Fortunately,  there are some workarounds explained in the “used books” section later. 

If you’re in a rush or want to study ASAP, then order TBR while using another resource to mix and match as I explain later as well.

Which brings me to my last point. You don’t have to order all the TBR. You can just order the books you want. 

Just get the ones I suggest if you want to save dem bills.

So overall, these are the best MCAT study books to get. But if time and/or money are a concern, I would look into the alternatives. 

Additionally, if you like having multiple resources to get more perspectives, keep reading. 

Pros: 

  • Great Content Explanation
  • Well-organized 
  • Thorough enough for beginners 
  • Complex enough for advanced 
  • Useful examples in the text to learn MCAT application 
  • The best non-AAMC passages 
  • Excellent answer explanations
  • Every Chapter well explained 
  • Customizable — pick which books

Cons:

  • Cumbersome to order
  • Will take a few weeks to arrive depending on the order method 
  • Double the books to carry 
  • Less engaging to read than other options at times 
  • Price
  • Some topics are too in-depth, especially in Bio II and Orgo 

The ExamKrackers (EK)

The ExamKrackers (EK) will usually be the most concise and most colorful. There are lots of diagrams and good practice (just not as much as TBR). 

I would absolutely not recommend EK if you did not have a strong background coming in unless you are a good self-learner. 

But if you did well in your content, then EK is a great and quick way to get through everything. But be wary that their biochem and psych/soc is especially lacking. 

I love pairing the EK books with the TBR books for the students who want a LOT of practice. 

The EK only comes in a six-book set called the “Complete Study Package.” They combine organic and general chemistry into one book, unlike the other companies. 

Overall, it’s the most concise overview of the MCAT. 

They cover virtually no content beyond the scope of the MCAT, and they probably cover between 85-95% of the MCAT content. But this is okay!! 

If I had to guess, this is the go-to resource for top scorers who came in confident with their prereqs.

If this is you, go for this set and just supplement the parts you need.

The books are all set up in the same way.

There are 4-7 chapters per book. Each chapter has content, broken up by three sets of eight questions. These “in-chapter” questions are all freestanding (aka without a passage). 

Then at the end, there are “In-Class Exams” for each chapter. Often referred to as 30-minute exams. 

These are all 3 hard passages with a few more freestanding questions. 

And at the very end, there are answer explanations. The explanations are okay, but sometimes leave a little to be desired.

Regardless, their passages really force you to think critically, so it makes for great prep. 

At the end of the day, good practice is always the most important thing

But a close second for these MCAT review books is excellent diagrams and attempts to keep the material engaging. 

They try to set up charts and illustrations to make it easier. For instance, I still have my best grasp of the endocrine system due to organization and illustrations in Ch3 of Biosystems. 

They also focus on tips and quick ways to memorize, understand, and apply. 

EK is focused on being an MCAT prep book vs a textbook. And it shows. 

Oh, and for a mass-produced book, they have by far the best CARS strategies

I personally like to combine EK and TBR math strategies to make my students faster at MCAT math (super important!). So lots and lots of positives here. 

They also sell books individually and have a few different versions out there so you can sometimes get an older version (which will work fine) for cheap 

So, what are the negatives? 

The newest edition is typically pricey compared to Kaplan or Princeton Review.

Additionally, some of the topics are really thin. The Biochem and Psych/Sociology book especially. 

Therefore these books really cannot be the main resource if you did not get mostly A’s in your undergrad courses or are not a good test taker. EK very much a refresher. 

EK throws you in the deep end. And you better come in knowing how to swim. 

If you need a step-by-step breakdown of topics, you may find it to be too brief. If you want easier passages to build confidence, you will not find them here. 

Interestingly, because they focus on making a concise MCAT prep book, every sentence is actually very important.

So if you’re not good at extracting information from a book, you may hate the EK books. 

Lastly, some students find the style distracting. They have a mascot and they try to be fun. 

You may find that annoying. 

But in general, I use them with students all the time and just supplement where needed. 

Pros: 

  • Concise Content Explanation
  • Focuses only on what you need to know
  • Simplifies the concepts to an MCAT level 
  • Excellent diagrams 
  • Color and therefore more engaging to read 
  • 3 practice passages per topic
  • Much thinner 
  • Faster to order — directly on Amazon
  • Individual books also available
  • Older versions available at lower costs 

Cons:

  • May be too concise for those with weak content 
  • More Typos
  • Less practice than TBR
  • Practice may be too hard for the test-taking challenged
  • More Expensive than Kaplan and Princeton Review 

Kaplan

The Kaplan 7 book set has a good, thorough content explanation. Many students like it. 

I prefer the TBR (and used TBR + EK for my own studying) but will often have students get the Kaplan/EK if cost or time is a factor. 

A big negative to the Kaplan is they have very limited practice. 

The books do come with an online account, which has some practice. However, the quality isn’t nearly as good as the EK or TBR practice 

The books are essentially a condensed textbook. There is a book for each main topic, so there are 7 books in total. 

One really nice benefit is how easy it is to get the books. You can get the set or the individual books right off of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. 

The biochemistry book is especially good. And if you like the style, then you’ll like all of them. 

Another nice thing is they tell you in the table of contents what is high yield in each chapter. But don’t be lulled into a sense of security by this as half the book ends up being high-yield. The stronger your base the better.

There is a high chance a Barnes and Noble or library near you will have these if you want to skim them before you commit. 

That brings me to the last big benefit, they’re less expensive than the TBR and EK. However, the lack of good practice is something that shouldn’t be ignored if you want a good score. 

Pros:

  • Easy to purchase
  • Especially easy to purchase individual books
  • Well-organized
  • Comprehensive
  • Relatively easy read
  • Good reference if you have a strong background
  • But also great if need heavy content review 
  • Online test included
  • Price — cheaper than TBR if you supplement with free practice 

Cons:

  • Very limited practice
  • Need to supplement to practice 
  • Not worth reading thoroughly if you have a strong background 
  • Ebook not as good as paperback
  • Online tests are poor quality and not highly recommended 
  • More expensive than Princeton Review 

The Princeton Review (TPR) 

What I said for the Kaplan is basically the same for The Princeton Review aka TPR (not to be confused with TBR) 7 book set. 

TPR is better in some areas and Kaplan is better in others. But either is fine. 

The TPR full set is also $60 cheaper than the Kaplan as of writing.

So then why not TPR over Kaplan if they’re basically the same, but TPR is cheaper?

For a long time, TPR was clearly ahead of Kaplan in content (both their books and their class). But with the new test, Kaplan repackaged their old books into a 7 book set and added info for the new test. 

TPR did a worse job of this than Kaplan did and didn’t expand enough for the new test, particularly in the biochemistry. 

Because of this, you’ll often hear students preferring the Kaplan to the TPR as many students found comfort with Kaplan after 2015. 

But recently TPR switched over to a 7 book set to mimic Kaplan’s. 

Personally, I always liked the TPR books and used them as a resource when I studied. I found them more engaging to read than Kaplan because of their set up. 

Especially their “Biology Review.” This book is actually phenomenal in my opinion. I learned all of Mendelian Genetics way better from that than any other resource. 

The MCAT prep books have a unique setup. There are footnotes throughout the chapter that expand or ask good questions to really engage the student. 

I’m guessing the TPR will come back in vogue eventually. I haven’t done a full side-by-side comparison, but it seems the TPR once again covers all the content well. 

One thing to note is their biochemistry is still untested since it came out recently. We know the Kaplan biochem is great, whereas the TPR biochem is still an unknown. 

Quick Tip: It would actually be cheaper to get the TPR full set and then the Kaplan Biochem separately.

I’m guessing in 1-2 years, they’ll be on an equal or preferred level to the Kaplan set. 

One negative is that TPR no longer sells individual books like Kaplan does, so that’s a negative if you don’t want the full set. 

Another negative is the practice. Similar to Kaplan, they give you some online tests. But these are meh. 

Their review books have a few passages for each chapter, but nothing close to the TBR or EK. 

Just like Kaplan, you can look them over at the library/bookstore to see which one gives you a better feel.

With that being said, I like to find the best resource for each topic, so check out my ultimate mix n’ match set and some tips on gathering them used/online versions. 

Pros:

  • Easy to purchase
  • Well-organized
  • Comprehensive
  • Engaging to read due to the footnotes
  • Good reference if strong background
  • But also good for those with weak content 
  • More practice than Kaplan 
  • Online test included
  • Price — cheapest recommended resource 

Cons:

  • Very limited practice
  • Need to supplement to practice 
  • Not worth reading thoroughly if strong background 
  • Ebook not as good as paperback
  • Can be a lot of reading at times
  • Online tests are poor quality

AAMC

A quick note. You may hear the AAMC has the best products by far. 

This is absolutely true.

So why didn’t I suggest them above? They don’t make content review books. 

But they have 1000x better practice than everyone else (maybe only 100x better than TBR). 

DON’T WASTE IT. If you need a content review phase, do NOT touch the AAMC until your content phase is over. 

It is too precious a resource to waste. 

They do list out all the important content for the MCAT, however, so check this periodically as you study to come up with a plan of attack. 

All Other Companies 

Choice can be overwhelming. Luckily in when it comes to the best MCAT prep books there are only a few major players. 

You might see other books with great reviews on Amazon, but I would ignore them. 

Many of those reviews are fake, purchased, or incentivized. 

With that being said, you may find the Sterling and Nova books useful for practice if you need more practice. However, at this point, I suggest Khan Academy passages (free) or Uworld (expensive, but excellent except for CARS). 

If you disagree or have a resource you want me to check out, contact me directly and let me know! 

Best Books By Topic (And How To Create The Ultimate Combo)

If I had to make my ultimate book combo, this is what I would suggest as a starting point to balance time and budget:

  • General Chemistry: The Berkeley Review (TBR) — General Chemistry 1&2
  • Biochem: Kaplan Biochemistry
  • Cell and Physiology/Gen Bio: TPR + EK/TBR
  • Physics: TBR or EK 
  • Psych: Kaplan or EK + Khan Academy 
  • Organic Chemistry: Any
  • CARS: EK 
  • Math: EK + TBR

When I studied for my MCAT, I had multiple books for each topic. I liked seeing the content from multiple perspectives. 

This is common for top scorers. We don’t care about the resource, we care about finding the best way to learn and apply it to the test.

But nowadays, so there are so many good and free resources online that you likely don’t need more than one or two books per topic. 

Just make sure you have at least one resource with good practice questions per topic. 

As a reminder, this is why you’ll see me always suggest the TBR or EK as one of the options. They have great practice!

The best way to assemble this is buying the EK set and then supplementing with other MCAT prep books when needed for content or practice. 

I’ll talk more about this at the end. 

For now, let’s get into the individual books! 

General Chemistry: The Berkeley Review (TBR) General Chemistry Books 1&2

I still use the version of these books that I have from 2009!! I LOVE them. 

There’s no better GChem resource in my opinion.

There are updated versions for the new MCAT that are just as excellent too.

Pretty much everything I say here applies to all TBR books, however, the reason I suggest this one in particular is because of how much better it is than every GChem resource out there. 

Here’s what makes it so great: 

They teach the content at the right level – with enough depth to really understand the topics, but not so much that you go beyond the MCAT. 

It’s also presented in a logical and easy to understand manner.

And they fill it up with great example problems to break up the content so that you learn most of your content through practice, which is the best way to learn by far. 

But here’s the best part:

TBR has the best non AAMC passages around. This is the most effective way to make you think critically and combine your content into multiple steps like the MCAT often will have you do. This is the best non-official practice you will find. 

Ultimately, this book will give you the best general chemistry prep in a comprehensive fashion before you move on to practice tests 

I have never talked to a single person from TBR, I have no affiliation with them, but I simply cannot undersell this book. 

You often won’t hear about this MCAT study book in other articles online for this exact reason – they won’t make a profit from the recommendation. But I don’t care. This book is the best. 

There is a negative: Their website is trash, and it’s slow to order. And the books are pricier (but rightfully so, because they’re higher quality in terms of content and problems). 

So if you are in a rush, I would see if you can borrow one or buy it second hand. 

Overall, all TBR books are great. If you are ordering from them directly, I would get the full set. 

But, if that’s too pricey or slow, focus on getting your hands on the Gchem books. 

Pros: 

  • Great Content Explanation
  • Well-organized 
  • Thorough enough for beginners 
  • Complex enough for advanced 
  • Useful examples in the text to learn MCAT application 
  • The best non-AAMC passages 
  • Excellent answer explanations

Cons:

  • Cumbersome to order
  • Will take a few weeks to arrive depending on the order method 
  • Two books to carry 

Biochemistry: Kaplan Biochemistry + Extra Practice Resource

The big negative with the Kaplan books is they have very limited questions. 

However, I often use the Kaplan Biochemistry content book with my students who are weak in biochem.

It’s well organized and balances complete coverage of the material in an easy to digest manner. 

But I cannot underemphasize how important it is to supplement it with practice. 

Every student will go on AAMC practice, but it’s important to have practice before that point (even during the content phase). 

There are many content resources out there. Some acceptable ones are the Uworld Question Bank, the TBR bio books, the TPR Workout, EK books, and the free Khan Academy passages. 

While good practice is 80% of the battle, when you start, any practice passages are better than no practice. Go with what you can afford to supplement. 

Pros:

  • Easy to purchase
  • Well-organized
  • Comprehensive
  • Relatively Easy read
  • Good reference if strong biochem background
  • Online test included
  • Includes DNA/RNA and molecular biology techniques 
  • Price – cheaper than TBR if you supplement with free practice

Cons:

  • Very limited practice
  • Need to supplement to practice 
  • Not worth reading thoroughly if strong background 
  • Ebook not as good as paperback

General Biology (Cell, Physiology, Genetics, etc.): EK, TBR, TPR  

This recommendation is tricky. Stick with me. 

The nebulous General Biology grouping makes up the largest percentage of science topics on the MCAT, so we need to find you the best MCAT prep book based on your background. 

Luckily, it’s also the most prevalent topic that premeds have seen.

Often, I notice a student’s biology and chemistry base is what makes or breaks their MCAT.

So much of the science on the MCAT is based on these topics. So you must not only know them but understand them.

With that being said, I have a few recommendations for this topic. 

When I took the test, I was pinging between 3-4 resources to get a really strong base – to the point where I could visualize all the material.

I would suggest getting at least two of the following: ExamKrackers BioSystems, TBR Biology Book 1&2, TPR Biology Review.

The tricky part here is that how you purchase the books will impact which ones to get.

Luckily, they’re all great. But why two? 

For enough practice and to get multiple perspectives. 

Yes, YouTube will have all this content online. However, the books will prevent you from getting lost in a sea of content. They will help you stay in the scope of the MCAT.

So use YouTube after you know what to look for. 

I’m going to briefly talk about each book.

TPR Bio:

As I said above when talking about TPR full set, this book used to have both their Biochem and non-biochem biology including Mendelian genetics, cells, physiology. 

However, it really only covered biochem from a protein and energy standpoint. So it’s very much a Gen Bio book. 

And it’s great. To me, it is ideal for those who want the best content overview. It balances giving details without going overboard.

The issue is it has limited practice. So this is where the other two come in. 

TBR Bio 1&2:

Book 2 covers all the physiology whereas Book 2 gets into cells and microbiology along with biochem and genetics. 

Book 2 often goes overboard with details. It reads like an encyclopedia. However, it is a solid reference. 

I would not use them as your main content resource. But I often would flip through the TBR to check out the way they explained something I did not understand. 

They have a way of making the concepts seem more logical.

But most importantly, they have AMAZING practice. Again, 10-15 passages per chapter. 

With 10 chapters total, that is a lot of practice. 

EK BioSystems:

While this book is very condensed, I think it’s a great overview of general biology. This is one EK book you can get away with if your content is lacking.

However, unlike the other two, it does not cover molecular biology nor proteins in the gen bio book. So it would not provide all the practice you needed if you were combining it with Kaplan biochemistry. 

EK also sells their books individually, so it complements either book nicely 

So if you wanted the ultimate stack for Gen Bio, you can get all three: EK for reading and practice, TBR for practice and reference, and TPR for multiple perspectives (with especially good chapters in Genetics and Cardiology).

If you end up supplementing with online passages, then start with the EK BioSystems. If you realize that’s not enough, add the TBR or TPR depending on if you want more practice or more content.

Physics: EK Physics or TBR Physics 1&2

Most students come into the MCAT and feel physics is their weakest point. 

While you may have struggled the most with physics in undergrad, I promise you physics is one of the easiest parts of the MCAT.

What?! How come?!!!!! 

It only makes up a quarter of the first section, and it only tests about 20% of what you learned in your class.

And if you get good with the math skills, the units, and just understanding the major concepts, you’ll be okay. 

A lot of what I said about TBR General Chemistry can be applied here. It’s a great study book, and I have no major negatives in recommending it other than price and ordering. 

So with that being said, the EK Physics actually would work as a solid substitute. They teach the bare bones of MCAT physics well. 

The passages are very tough, but you will learn what you need from them. 

When we talk about ordering, it will be clear which one you should get. However, if you are ordering any of the TBR books from TBR directly, then definitely add on their Physics book. 

TBR Physics 1&2

Pros:

  • Great Content Explanation
  • Well-organized 
  • Thorough enough for beginners 
  • Complex enough for advanced 
  • Useful examples in the text to learn MCAT application 
  • The best non-AAMC passages 
  • Excellent answer explanations
  • Every Chapter well explained

Cons:

  • Cumbersome to order
  • Will take a few weeks to arrive depending on the order method 
  • Two books to carry 
  • Less engaging than EK physics 
  • Price

EK Physics

Pros: 

  • Concise Content Explanation
  • Focuses only on what you need to know
  • Simplifies the concepts to an MCAT level 
  • Excellent diagrams 
  • Color and therefore more engaging to read 
  • 3 practice passages per topic
  • Much thinner 
  • Faster to order 
  • Cheaper even if not part of a set
  • Excellent Fluids Chapter

Cons:

  • May be too concise for some 
  • More Typos
  • Less practice than TBR
  • Practice may be too hard for the physics challenged

Organic Chemistry: Any Brands Listed

Any?! What. Isn’t there a best one?? 

Well, hopefully you see the trend of TBR being on the most thorough/most practice end of the spectrum. 

Kaplan and TPR being good for content only. 

And EK having good practice, but a brief overview. Like really brief. Ochem is just two chapters of the EK Chemistry book. 

Although I will say, it’s a good two chapters for those who can follow. But their chem book is meh, so I don’t typically advise buying this just for orgo. See if you can rent or borrow it instead! 

Much of the organic chemistry builds off of the basics. Structures, Isomers, Separations and other experimental techniques, and a brief knowledge of reactions. 

So if you are even moderately competent in organic chemistry, you can likely watch videos online and use whatever book you get from your main set. 

If you need a heavy orgo reup, I would go for the TBR. My only hesitation with the TBR Ochem books is that they are probably overkill for the current MCAT.

I normally have students invest in their orgo last and just do it when they’re taking practice tests to fill in the gaps. 

This is why general and biochemistry are SO vital. Because you need to use them as tools to relate to organic chemistry and learn the topics. 

For instance, if you don’t know the difference between functional groups when learning your amino acids, then use that as a way to learn functional groups. 

Psychology and Sociology: Khan Academy (KA) Videos + Any book 

Ah, the poor Psych and Soc section. The often-overlooked stepchild of the MCAT. 

They added this section to make the MCAT more holistic. However, even my psych loving students just roll their eyes at this section.

Why? Because it’s mostly memorization.

However, I will contend that you do, as with all sections of the MCAT, need excellent reading skills. 

I like to say this section is CARS with vocab. 

So then why is my main recommendation free videos from Khan Academy? 

Well, let me get this out of the way: there are a ton of videos and this is not the most efficient strategy. 

However, practically speaking, I have always seen this work best. For some reason, even though they aren’t anything amazing, students tend to extract info from the videos even when they didn’t try to memorize anything. 

And I have had students run through all the psych in a week. Although a more general estimate would be around 3 weeks at a few hours per day. 

Combine this with the AAMC Content Outline, and you should be all set. 

However, if you want to pick up an MCAT study book for this, I would get the Kaplan, TPR, or TBR to supplement. The EK is lacking as a main resource, but if combined with the KA videos, you are all set! 

CARS: ExamKrackers Reasoning Skills 

Most CARS strategies out there are terrible. 

I got a 132 (100 percentile) and my students average a four point increase on CARS. 

I know my CARS. And I know that most of the stuff out there is just a gimmick.

Sure, maybe it worked for so and so anecdotally, but I would never put any money on most CARS strategies helping. 

The data just shows this to be the case, as does my experience.

With that being said, I do think the EK has the best CARS strategy if you’re looking for one. 

They don’t suggest gimmicky things. They get into the psychology of a good CARS student and they help you implement it. 

I used the EK strategy when I started and it was the only one that didn’t feel like total busywork.

Over time, I came up with my own thing that works for me and my students (this is what got me the 132). But if I had stuck to the TPR or Kaplan strategies, I probably would have hated CARS. 

This MCAT prep book has the same set up as their other ones, so you also get four 30 minute CARS exams. 

While no CARS passages come close to the real deal AAMC ones, EK probably has the best non-AAMC CARS passages. 

Math and Stats: ExamKrackers Reasoning Skills 

If you’re wondering if this a typo, it’s not. 

The first two chapters of the ExamKrackers Reasoning Skills book goes into MCAT math and statistics. 

This “math chapter” as I so fondly call it may be the most important thing I did for my MCAT studying. 

I was never good at doing math quickly. It made me feel stupid. Even after getting A’s in all my math classes. 

Simple things like scientific notation felt fuzzy. But this book quickly changed all that. 

Now, do you need this book? No! I can teach my students these skills in 1 session.

But it comes with the set and will cost you less than an hour with me 🙂

Plus, you will already need it for the CARS.

These little things are why I suggest starting with the EK set and building from there. 

Tips On Acquiring The Books 

I just spent 20 pages covering the ins and outs of the best MCAT prep books. 

But what about getting them? 

Well, obviously, many you can get on Amazon. And I’ve talked extensively about TBRs horrible ordering process. 

So what this is section is really about is how can you get all the books you need within budget. 

Now if you are in the position where you can get the books new and not sweat it, I would recommend doing that.

It’s the easiest option. Just click buy and be done with it. Plus you’ll know your questions are usable. Lastly, you can sell/rent them in the future if you don’t write in them. 

However, the costs really add up, so what if you can’t get them all new?

There are a few options:

  • Buy used
  • Borrow/rent from a friend, the library, or sometimes even on Amazon! 
  • Buy an older version (after 2015 however)
  • Online versions

Let’s look at all of these. There is really only one big rule: DO NOT GET BOOKS WITH WRITING IN THE QUESTIONS. Make sure the questions and answers are blank. 

Additionally, don’t delay your studying too much. Get something and get started with it as you continue to add to your collection as needed. 

Do not cut into your studying or increase your stress beyond the point of it being worthwhile. 

The MCAT is important. This is not the place to cut corners. Don’t cheat the MCAT. 

Used Books:

There are lots of places you can buy the books used. If you’re really in need, I am sure you can get them for half or even a quarter of the cost. 

I’ve seen them sold in all sorts of places. Amazon, SDN, Reddit, Craigslist, eBay. Just be smart when buying used, and make sure you triple-check there is no writing in the questions. 

Rented Books:

As I said, you can also check out where you can rent the books. If you can get them for free from the library, then that could be ideal! 

The negative here is time restrictions and again making sure they are usable. 

Amazon used to rent all of them. I don’t believe they do anymore, however, I have still seen some as an option to be rented.  

Older Versions (my favorite option):

Buying an older version is often a great alternative. For instance, you can sometimes find the EK books at even a fifth of the cost for an older version!

Sometimes the versions are basically the same. I will say the EK have some updates to their typos, the 9th edition being especially flagrant with the errors. 

Or you could get the 10th edition for less of a discount but more updates. 

Just come up with a budget, and then decide which books you want to spend the most on, and fill in the rest within the budget with used options. 

It could get really overwhelming and you could spend a lot of time and energy trying to maximize.

Do not do this. Again, all the resources will work. Use the pros and cons and get after the ones you need as quickly as you can. 

Overall using these options could be worth it and you will have additional resources to double-check any issues as needed. 

Ultimate Mix n’ Match Bottom Line

If you have read this whole thing and feel confused, here is a quick recap:

  1. Get the EK Set
    1. For used or borrowed books make sure the questions have no writing (it doesn’t matter if the content itself is marked up) 
  2. Add on supplemental books suggested above based on your weaknesses
    1. TBR for Gchem/Ochem/Physics
    2. TPR for Gen Bio and Chems/physics if wanting only content help
    3. Kaplan for Biochem 
      1. Remember if cost is a factor you can find used or perhaps online versions 
      2. Additionally, you can get away with older versions as long as they are post-2015

When you follow this plan, you’ll be covered for sure with CARS, Math, Physics, and Psych/Soc when supplementing with the free Khan Academy videos 

If you are strong in all the topics then you are all set. Period. 

If you are not, then you can supplement the topics as needed. 

You can also use the EK Chem to see if you need more Orgo help. You can likely get away with supplementing the EK Orgo with Khan Academy Videos as well. 

So overall, you actually have a pretty balanced set of resources when it comes to the best MCAT prep books. 

Now get to work!

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