When looking for the best MCAT books by subject, it’s hard to find reviews for specific books.
If you take a class with Princeton Review, Kaplan, Examkrackers and other MCAT prep companies, your MCAT books by subject, CDs and online resources will be included in the cost of the class. However, that doesn’t prevent you from going out and looking for some supplemental materials to help you where you need it most.
You can find a review of MCAT prep book sets here, but let me take you through my thoughts on the best book for each subject across 4 different brands—Kaplan, ExamKrackers, Princeton Review and Berkeley Review.
1. Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: Chemistry and Physics Edge to Kaplan
Studying for the MCAT can seem overwhelming, as you are forced to review subjects you learned (what seems like) ages ago! The key to effective studying, especially General Chemistry and Physics, is to NOT let yourself get overwhelmed.
Kaplan does a great job of presenting information and ideas in a way that is easy to follow and understandable. Also, their practice questions are effective at testing what you’re relearning.
2. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: Edge to Berkeley Review
A number of the test prep companies will literally throw a bunch of technique for CARS success at you. They’ll give you checklists and methods that you can use to approach each reading, but honestly, succeeding on the CARS section just takes lots and lots of practice. Maybe you’ll find a method for approaching each section that works for you, but most importantly you need to practice that approach.
Berkeley Review offers TONS of practice questions in their books. That’s why I would say that their CARS book are the best MCAT prep book for the CARS section.
While you must understand the concepts of Biology and Biochemistry to succeed on the MCAT, the Biochemistry questions especially require that you interpret data and apply what you know to the questions being asked. Much like with the CARS section, this is an acquired skill. You need a book set that offers good content, but more importantly, excellent practice questions. That’s what ExamKrackers is all about. While their content is good, their practice questions are superb. They force you to learn how to read an excerpt from a research paper and apply your own knowledge to answer questions. Also, if you do buy their full book set you’ll have access to their practice tests, which are awesome.
4. Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior: Edge to Kaplan
While some of the book sets get down into the nitty-gritty of psych terminology, Kaplan stays away from definitions and vocabulary. Instead, the book focuses on examples and learning the general principles of sociology and psychology. Because this section is new to the 2015 MCAT, it seems like the test prep companies had a hard time figuring out how to write content for their books. Most aimed to help readers memorize terms, but just like every other section on the test, knowing how to analyze a reading is the key to success on test day. Stick with Kaplan.
Check out our comprehensive list of MCAT books for this year HERE.
Ok, those are some of the best MCAT books by subject. Hope it helps. Let us know your thoughts after trying them out! And if you want to share your favorite finds, please do, and we’ll post those as well.