With so much information out there, how do you even know where to start?
Here is a list of resources (and why) I recommend using in preparation for your upcoming exam.
Start with the the ‘How to use your MCAT resources‘ chapter in my new guide.
Wondering how I'm any different than the other information sources? Read about me here
Must-Have AAMC Resources:
Why? Because they write your exam! This means the AAMC resources will be closest to the real thing and ultimately your BEST source of practice.
- The Complete Official AAMC MCAT Bundle – Get all of the AAMC practice resources listed below at a bulk discount.
- AAMC Official Sample MCAT – Unscored full length – If you use this as your baseline, I recommend taking this twice. Once as a pretest before you begin studying. DON'T review it. Then take it again one week (at 8am) before your MCAT to see where you stand (hoping you forgot it in all the hectic studying) – Read: The Best Time to Take Your 1st MCAT Practice Test
- AAMC Official Practice Tests – 5 SCORED Unlike the sample test, these exams give you a score out of 528 just like the real MCAT. I recommend taking these in the final 4/3/2 weeks before your real exam at 8am each. I recommend RETAKING these exams in the final month even if you've taken them once before.
- AAMC Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (Amazon) <– Amazon ships faster than AAMC.org They also have a kindle version which you can browse on your computer/laptop/tablet
- AAMC Section Bank Feedback from students who've tested in 2017 suggest that THESE PASSAGES are closest to the real thing. Yes, even closer than the official practice tests.
This new section bank consists of 300 all-new questions with an emphasis on the NEW topics not covered in the bundles below. Biochemistry, psychology, and sociology.
At $45 this is a MUST according to students who tested in 2017.
- Official MCAT Question Pack Bundle Students who've taken the old and new exam claim this is simply old material repackaged for ‘the new exam' Not amazing but still helpful and therefore A MUST! Individual packs are $15 each, bundle is $76.50 and includes:
- Biology Volume 1
- Biology Volume 2
- CARS Volume 1
- CARS Volume 2
Full-Length Practice Exams
Full-length practice tests are crucial to building up your endurance and familiarity with the exam style/format/duration. Here's how to use them the right way.
AAMC exams are best but with only 5 scored full length exams to-date (see above) you'll need a third party exam for additional practice.
In chatting with students who've taken the new MCAT, they say Blueprint is the closest to the real thing and thus the best source of preparation.
I receive a small referral bonus at no extra cost to you if you use this link for Blueprint.
Altius is in second place followed by ExamKrackers full-lengths (no affiliations).
Books are KEY for review/skimming and practice questions.
Note on old books: If you have books written for the old (pre-2015) MCAT that’s okay for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Orgo ONLY. You’ll still require new books for CARS (verbal), Biochemistry, Psychology and Sociology. You'll also want to acquire books to practice ‘new exam' style passages.
Below are links to get the most popular company books on Amazon. Be sure to register for a free student prime account (Amazon). (If you purchase through these links I get a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.)
These books are ranked based on my personal comparison AND student feedback
- Examkrackers Study Pack (Amazon) – Second best source of content but BEST source of in-chapter and end-of-chapter questions + excellent 30 minute subject exams. Any version past 2015 is ok
- Kaplan Prep Pack (Amazon) – The best CONTENT books based on my personal review and student feedback. Not the best practice questions. Any version past 2015 is ok
- Next Step 108 CARS Passages (Amazon) <- great for weekly practice
Additional Psych/Soc Resources
With no company fully able to cover all of MCAT psychology and sociology, my students have taken to studying from AP and GRE books. As more and more students try these my feedback will get stronger on which books to use.
- This Kaplan GRE book (Amazon) is currently well recommended by my students
“like the short explanations of each theory (there are no pictures). And they have an experimental design chapter that helps you think about the problems different experiments could have.” ~Student
Tutorials, Videos, and other Study Material
In addition to my course, it never hurts to have additional resources handy. Of course I’ll start with my own FREE Resources
Additional CARS Practice
- Daily MCAT CARS Practice! By Jack Westin (Free)
- Combine your Newspaper Strategy with difficult readings to improve your CARS & science skill. My students recommend AEON.com especially for example philosophy to get used to ‘boring' articles.
- Testing Solutions 30 day CARS guide (Amazon) FREE with an Amazon Kindle Unlimited Subscription which you can get a FREE 30-day trial (Amazon)
MCAT Prep Course
Taking an MCAT prep course is recommended if you need the formal structure and guidance. However, the big-name courses tend to be ‘generic' and leave it up to YOU to make the best of it. Their CEO doesn't know about you nor care about your outcome. My program is the EXACT OPPOSITE as I personally work with you every step of the way.
- MCAT Study Hall – my personal MCAT program where I guide you through every step of your exam prep.
Strategy, Skills, and Useful Study Techniques
- Overall: The Ultimate MCAT Prep Guide
- Mental Prep:
- How much time do you REALLY need for MCAT Prep?
- Building Endurance for the 7.5 hour exam
- Start and end with a WIN Strategy for avoiding procrastination
- The Pomodoro technique
- Study Strategies:
- Newspaper strategy for improving in CARS
- Audio Study Strategy for maximizing driving/chores…
- Flashcard Strategy for utilizing them the RIGHT way
- Studying the bathroom because hey, you're there every day anyway
- Active Writing for concept and equation memorization
- Note-Taking Strategy for fast-paced effective studying
- 3 Steps to Raising Your MCAT Scores With Full Length Practice Tests
- 5 Steps to Mastering MCAT Sciences
Hear from Students Who Have Tested
Student Interviews on MCAT preparation and the Official Exam itself
The VERY BEST Premed and Medical School Advice:
Have you listened to the MedicalSchoolHQ podcast hosted by Doctors Ryan (Twitter) and Allison Gray (InTraining.org)? They offer the very best advice on everything from your applications, interviews, preparation, and so much more. Listen Here: Medical School Headquarters Podcast
First, your materials are amazing! Thank you for making so many great resources available! I wondered do you have any physics review sheet and/or cheat sheets for sound and optics as they seem to play a more prominent role on the new mcat?
Again, so many thanks! 🙂
Anne Jean says
A lot of the links are not working, it starts from the amazon links and as you scrolling down.
I was just wondering what you thought about the EK 1001 Practice Problems and 101 Passage Based Problems books. I know for me that having enough practice with the concepts is a huge thing for me so I can answer test questions and I currently have the Kaplan set, but they just don’t have enough practice problems. I know AAMC is probably the best way to go and I do plan on doing them, but I feel like I’ll run out of practice problems before I’m confident that I understand or have a good handle on the material.
Henry Duran says
What MCAT Question of the Day’s can I do?
I currently do:
I know there are some out there [including some recommended on your site!]
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Tylan Jamison says
Are the Sterling Prep books a good source? I have those already-are they too simplistic?
Hi Leah, I plan to take the MCAT in July and I have been studying for 2 months now . I am using Kaplan right now. However, I realize no matter how much I study, I still make the same mistake even through I know the answer. For instance, I took the aamc bio section Bank and I made silly mistake due to strategy wise. I was wondering if Tutoring was the best option ? If so which tutoring company do you think is the best? I think I need someone to keep me check
What do you recommend for an in depth bio review? It’s been 5+ years since I’ve taken bio, and I would like a very thorough review of this content. I have the Kaplan books but am wondering if the material will be detailed enough. I plan on taking the MCAT either at the EOY or in January next year. I’d really appreciate your insight into this.
Depends on what you’re looking for Rimy. Options range from books and YouTube videos, to in-depth MCAT specific series like my MCAT bio bootcamp
Angela Livingston says
I feel your pain. I took Biology, Chemistry, Physics, in 1988. As a retired nurse some stuck with me but certainly NOT enough to feel comfortable through the practice exams. I found Khan Academy extremely helpful and so easy to bone up on materials in less than an hour. The videos from Kaplan are so blasted fast I am constantly pausing and rewinding.
With Chemistry I and II in the late 1988 & 1989, I do feel very apprehensive taking Organic Chemistry this fall (please pray for me!).
Best to you. I will be taking the MCAT this September (2018). I expect my 4 Children and 7 Grandchildren to throw me a party!
D Shvets says
Hi Leah – thanks for all of the great resources! Quick question – when the AAMC says “un-scored” exam we will still receive feedback on the percentage and questions we got right/wrong we just won’t get a scaled MCAT score (ie. 512), correct?
D Shvets: correct, just percent correct though, not percentile rank
Florence Erie says
Hi Leah! I’ve just started studying for the MCAT using the Kaplan 7 books. I’ve also purchased the AAMC bundle for more tests and practice material. But now after reading your list of recommended resources, I’m worried that I will not have enough quality practice questions. Is there another way I can just get good practice question that are not full length exams and without purchasing the entire Examkrackers package?
Other than AAMC the other resources are recommended but not a must. if you are progressing as needed without the extras don’t pressure yourself to get through it all
Hi, I need to do more CARS passage for daily practice and am unsure what source to use for this. I been given recommendations to purchase the Next step 108 passages or EK 101 passages. Any ideas?
Both are good!
Which books/company would you recommend to start from (I barely have a chemistry or physics background)… im going to start taking these classes this semester as i study for the mcat
EK or Kaplan
Just wanted to let you know that the link for the complete AAMC MCAT bundle is not available anymore. Can you please update it. Thanks
Rachel D says
Thank you Danielle, the link has been updated!
I own the 2015 Kaplan set (and have an ebook of the Examkrackers 2015 set). It’s been a few years since I have taken some of my pre-reqs (mainly intro bio, gen chem, orgo) and I have more recently taken physics and biochem — currently taking 2 gap yrs. Because I need to brush up on a lot of the Sciences, would it be best to go with Kaplan instead of Examkrackers? I’ve heard great things about Examkrackers but I know they’re very concise and not as detailed, so I’m afraid I’ll be doing myself a disservice going w/ them. Your advice is very much appreciated!
Emily: If you already have both comb through them to see which you like better and use accordingly. If it’s not detailed enough supplement with videos from YouTube, study hall or other
Hi there 🙂
I want to purchase full length exams, but am not sure which. So far I have a tie between EK and Next Step. I saw that Next Step is preferred a bit more mainly because of the format and grading, but which of these two would you say closely resembles the real MCAT in terms of difficulty and content emphasized? Thanks for your time 🙂
Brenda: I recommend Next Step. They resemble the real exam in more than just format and grading. My students who’ve tested say their passages and length are comparable to the real thing making it a great source for preparing FOR the real thing.
Hey Leah, thanks for your detailed post! I was wondering, what is it about the NextStep exams that made you rank them above ExamKrackers?
My ranking comes from the feedback I get from my students after they take the exam, and what they tell me worked for them. A lot of them like NextStep better because the format is closer to the real exam and their passages are slightly more realistic. ExamKrackers is a very close second best with their biggest downfall being that they don’t give you a numerical score. They only give a percentages. And when you are taking exams because you want to know how you did, you don’t want percentages. You actually want to see your score. So given that NextStep is slightly better and they have scores makes it a much stronger and better exam for you overall.
How do you recommend studying for an MCAT exam 4 weeks away? I have taken a multiple Kaplan FL and I keep getting around 498 on them. Thank you!
Hi, Ash! I’d love to help. You can find more about my MCAT Strategy Sessions here: https://leah4sci.com/strategy/
Hi Leah, just thought to let you know that it looks like the hyperlink for The Kaplan books needs to be updated as it’s currently showing the EK pack not Kaplan pack. Thanks 🙂
Thanks so much Kay. Updated 🙂
hi leah! just curious – how long will your promo w/next step be up until?
hope to hear from you soon!
Next Step has agreed to grant this promotion on a trial basis. They have not yet decided if/when to end it
I know I study best from a Kindle or tablet-type device (ironically they didn’t exist when I started college but I somehow transitioned from studying with text books/DVD’s to tablet/Kindle/Youtube – thank you for making your content available online btway! I do use your Youtube vids and hope to join the Orgo Chem Study Hall this fall.) … are there any MCAT 2015 study guides you would recommend for Kindle/generic tablet users or is Next Step (or Examkrackers) in print the way(s) to go?? (I don’t use social media since it disrupts my study time, I do have a LinkedIn account I established late last month, but I logged out of it this month. I am saying all of this because even though I study best on an electronic device I find “personal” online media forums distracting – SnapChat, Ig, FaceTime, etc. – while studying for something so important, as, I don’t know, the MCAT!) Thank you for your advice Leah!!
How long should you take to review a FL? If I’m scoring 500 then I feel like there are a lot of areas to improve on, which seems overwhelming. Any advice on how to focus areas?
If you’re only scoring 500 then I suspect you still have to improve in content and practice. As you review make sure you devote time to learn/study all the the topics you missed on your exam: Read this for more https://leah4sci.com/how-to-review-your-aamc-practice-exam/
I’m 4 weeks away from my test, scoring at about 498 with Kaplan.
I’ve been trying to take a practice test a week (I’ve taken about 7) I’m feeling kind of burnt out and am not really sure what to do.
How many practice tests have you taken? do you take a day off? Breaks? Perhaps skip one week but you definitely want to take a weekly exam the final 3 weeks including the AAMC sample test
Hello, have you used the next step strategy and practice books? how good are the books? i’m thinking about purchasing them, any feedback would help thank you
I like their strategy books for CARS, psych/soc. Sciences are ok but am not a fan of their biochem book and recommend Kaplan instead. I’ve only compared Kaplan, Princeton and Next-Step biochem in making this statement.
Syeda Sharifi says
i have recently looked at EK and Berkley Review books for content and strategy, if so which would you prefer out of 5 companies? thank you, leah.
NextStep is what my students most often recommend! But EK and Berkley are good too!
i can’t find the linked 8 princeton review practice tests!! i was able to find them a week ago, do you know if they got removed?
I think they removed it. They’re not that good anyway so I’d consider NextStep instead
You should wait to take the AAMC practice test till the 4 days before, not before you start studying. Why would you take the same exam twice? The score will just be inflated cause you’ve seen everything before.
The reason I recommend taking it right away is to get a baseline, see how you do, and also learn what to expect before you launch into your lengthy journey of MCAT prep. Taking the exam AGAIN before your real MCAT is to reorient yourself to what the exam is like. Obviously the score won’t be realistic but it’ll remind you of exactly what’s to come. I’ve worked with so many students who didn’t fully understand what to expect and the actual MCAT was a horrific wake-up call for them. Obviously many will disagree with me but this is my personal take on the matter
Pasang Sherpa says
I love your organisation of the materials. I appreciate your effort. I am planning to take my MCAT on summer. I shall be needing your resources during that time.
Thank you Pasang. Have you taken the sample AAMC exam yet?