If you’re an aspiring medical student, then I’m sure that by now you know the importance of passing your MCAT exam. Failure to pass this exam might get you locked out of your dream profession. That is why in this article, we are going to discuss some of the things that test takers should know. This will better prepare them for the exam, when it finally comes.
Understand your premed material
It is not advisable to memorize all your premed material, but rather fully understand introductory-level concepts and get comfortable answering questions about unfamiliar material. Most of the questions in a MCAT assess your reasoning and communication abilities.
Studying is important
You need to put time into studying for good grades in the exam. Many students are putting as much as 20 hours a week for up to 3 months just preparing for this exam. You wouldn’t want to be left out because you felt that you already knew enough for you to continue studying. Remember, regardless of your GPA, if you get low MCAT grades, the selection committee will automatically decline your application.
Don’t be afraid to retake the test
There are factors such as anxiety, test preparation or personal issues that could affect your performance on the first go. Don’t be afraid to retake the test until you attain the grades you want.
Best MCAT Prep Books 2017/2018
We are now going to look at MCAT book reviews, so that we can give you an idea of what to get when you’re preparing for your exam.
Kaplan MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review + Online Materials
This set is by far the best to get you prepared for the exam, although you would have to go through the whole set of 7 books. The books come highly recommended because they are very detailed, coming with great visuals and well-structured practice questions in every chapter. They even go further to tell you a “star feature”, whereby they go ahead to mention the areas that will most likely be covered in the exam. Once you’re done with this set, you’ll be 95% ready for your MCAT. The only problem is that their psychology book doesn’t cover all areas, and you’ll still have to get another psychology and sociology book.
- Very detailed
- Great graphical representations of concepts
- Plenty of practice questions
- The “star feature” lets you know what’s likely to be on the actual exam
- Very in-depth with a lot of content, which might not work well for those with limited time on their hands
Examkrackers Complete Study Package
This package gives you the essentials without going through all the deeper details, making it the best alternative for those without time. They only give you what you’ll need for the exam, although at times, they might not provide everything. Just remember to go for the newest edition, which is the 10th, since it has greatly improved content, with corrections made on the previous version.
- Concise, covering everything about the exam
- Corrected mistakes from previous versions
- Funny mascot distracts from the pain of studying
Feels expensive if you won’t use all the books
Sometimes there’s not enough information covering all the topics
Sterling Test Prep Books
Unlike Kaplan or Examkrackers who provide packages, with Sterling one can create their own package, with their books updated on a monthly basis. Each of their books comes with numerous questions, over 1200, which is good because if the students take the tests over and over again, they are more likely to pass their MCAT. All the questions have detailed explanations in the back as well as an incredibly good support team that will help students better understand. This are not the best books for first timers as they only contain an overview of the topics, and purchasing other books or using the Khan academy or similar resources, is highly recommended.
- Updated books guaranteed to cover the new exam
- 1200+ questions for specific subjects
- Very responsive support team that’s almost like your own personal tutor
- Only contains an overview of topics. You’ll need to actually learn them elsewhere
Princeton Review MCAT Complete Box Set
Although they are not as great as Kaplan or Examkrackers, they are worth a try, coming with extra material that might not be featured on the exam to expand your knowledge base. At the end of every chapter, there are questions, ensuring that you’ve understood what you studied. The set also comes with visual aids to aid in understanding. With this set, you must be willing to purchase more books in order to prepare well for the exam.
- Very in-depth
- 3 full-length practice tests and other practice
- Contains material that might not feature in the exam
- Not enough visual aids in the physics section
MCAT Psychology and Sociology
Although the MCAT psychology part is not the best, this book has the most practice passages. The information not covered in the book can be found in other books, or the Khan Academy and other online resources. The book nowadays comes with a full length exam along with practice sections.
- Highest number of exam practice passages
- Contains great explanations and passage breakdowns
- Poor psychology section
- One needs to purchase other books in order to be fully prepared
Kaplan MCAT Flashcards
Kaplan have the best flashcards, and these are used for studying on the go, memorizing hard topics and remembering older material. It comes with 1000 flashcards packed with material that you’ll need for the exam. The only downside with flashcards is that they don’t contain detailed information, since it all can’t fit in there. Despite that, one can add their own quick graphs and notes, which aid in remembering.
- Perfect for spaced repetition and studying on the go
- The perfect tool for jogging your memory and understanding concepts
- They are flimsy, although they should last the period of your study
- Lack detailed explanations
If you’re serious about passing your MCAT, the resource mentioned above are some of the best that you’ll find on the market. For me, I think that I would go for the Kaplan set anytime.