The Highest-Yield MCAT Prep Materials to Purchase

Success on the MCAT does not necessarily mean getting a high score. Personal success is instead defined by overperforming your own expectations. Since there is no one single content review book or set of practice problems that sufficiently covers all the MCAT content, we recommend using a variety of resources that work for you. And that’s why we structured our FREE MCAT eCourse to filter out the endless sea of MCAT material into an easy-to-follow guide using resources that worked for us (and hundreds of other premeds.)  Today we are going to walk you through the best prep materials to buy, as well as other important purchases to boost your chances of achieving a top MCAT score. As you may already know, MCAT Self Prep is all about providing the most help for the lowest price. So, we wouldn’t recommend anything to you without firmly believing that it’s worth the investment. 


We cannot recommend strongly enough that you buy all of the AAMC material. You’ll need it. All of it. It’s truly worth every penny. Save at least 4 AAMC FLEs (full length exams) until your last month of studying during MCAT Bootcamp, and ideally all 5. Try to evenly space out when you take the first 4 AAMC FLEs, and make sure this includes the unscored exam. The order doesn’t matter. Then, take your last AAMC FLE (one of the scored ones) five days before test day. Then review it the next day (four days away from test day) and taper down your studying. When reviewing AAMC tests, make sure you spend at least 3-4 hours reviewing the day after you take them. AAMC has also given us the opportunity to take thousands of prepared, official questions. Make sure you do them all. 

Other Practice Exams

We have an entire page where we list the best cheap and free full length exams and practice passages, and highly recommend you read over this before buying any other additional practice problems or passages. Aside from buying the AAMC practice tests, some students purchase third party full-length exams (FLEs) if they have time in their schedule (consider bundling with the prep books to save money). Only buy more practice tests if you have extra study time available, otherwise, just stick with the AAMC material. Practice tests are incredibly helpful because they teach you test-taking endurance and build your familiarity with the MCAT format. They are also a great way to learn content! The common practice test makers are Kaplan, BluePrint, Altius, and Princeton Review. All of them are generally harder than the AAMC tests themselves. Kaplan’s are the most similar to the AAMC (add 2-3 pts to your FLE score) and Princeton Review’s are the hardest (I bombed a PR test and then scored 16 points higher on an official AAMC practice test THE NEXT DAY). BluePrint (add 3-4 pts to your score) and Altius (add 5-6 pts to your score) are in the middle. I would recommend buying the Altius tests if you want to practice with greater resistance (think of training with heavier weights to make competition seem easier) or Kaplan/BluePrint if you want to practice with a similar level of difficulty. Most of the top scorers will say that doing FLEs is the best way to prepare for the MCAT. I agree


Buying review books can be tricky. Reading them can be even more exhausting. Because I am a visual learner, reading MCAT prep books were less helpful for me. But if you absorb information best through reading you should definitely buy them using the links above! I don’t want my experience to color yours as a lot of students find them to be incredibly helpful. The basic breakdown is that the Kaplan books are the standard and they cover all of the main material for the MCAT. Most people buy those. I bought the Princeton Review books because they are more detailed (with less engaging pictures). The added depth makes the Princeton Review books more dense and difficult to read but includes lots of low-yield topics for those trying to score 520+. All in all, the review books were helpful except the Princeton Review CARS book. Terrible suggestions. Again this is just my experience, but I found tutoring and working through the CARS strategy course to be much more helpful. I also stopped reading the content books altogether after about 2 months of study. But hey… some students swear by it. For another list of MCAT book options, refer to another blog post that spells out more of the details.  But if you’ve already purchased books and prep materials for the MCAT, the most important thing you can do is create an effective study-plan. The Create-your-own Study Plan Course will help you map out a successful plan using a proven step-by-step process. But if you haven’t gotten started, let’s review what you should buy—from books, to practice tests, to the official AAMC material.


Other students, like me, choose to watch MCAT prep videos on YouTube. There are lots of options to choose from between Khan Academy, AK lectures, and more. Khan Academy is the gold standard because the AAMC paid Khan Academy to make the only official prep videos. Khan Academy, therefore, had insider access to all the AAMC material. Some students don’t like Khan Academy because they speak incredibly slow. I got a FREE Chrome extension called Video Speed Controller so you can watch videos at over 2x speed (I would watch them up to 3.5x speed on subjects I understood really well) to save me hundreds of hours. 

Khan Academy Videos vs Prep Books

Both options provide advantages and disadvantages. Khan Academy uses the official AAMC material to make their videos, but it will take you much, much longer to work through all of them than getting through the books. Ask yourself: do I get more distracted during boring lectures or reading boring textbooks? There’s no other way to put it, getting through dozens of science subjects will inevitably become incredibly boring no matter how nerdy you are. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the options for starting to study for the MCAT on your own, feel free to reach out to Andrew or to me directly with your questions. I personally scored a perfect 528 on test day and you can message me using the link at the bottom of my tutoring page.

Warm regards,

Theo Bennett


Theo Bennett scored a perfect score (528) on the MCAT and was accepted at Harvard, UPenn, Columbia, UCLA, and other top 10 medical schools across the country. You can learn more and sign up to work with him one-on-one here. For more MCAT Tips: Sign up for our affordable elite MCAT tutoring. Sign up for our FREE MCAT Prep Course. Follow us on:


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How we Matched up the Khan Academy Passages with the eCourse Lessons

Each lesson of the eCourse contains links to 1 to 5 Khan Academy science passages for the purpose of providing you with non-AAMC material to practice your science passage reading skills on. By completing all the linked passages within every lesson, you will have finished all the freely available Khan Academy science passages.

To match up the Khan Academy Science Passages with the eCourse lessons, we carefully examined the passage and question content of each one. Then we decided which lesson of the eCourse best correlated with that content. You may notice that some passages don’t match up perfectly with the current lesson. If they don’t match up with the current lesson, they should match up with one of the previous lessons in the module. We did this carefully so that you could practice your science passage reading skills on passages that contain the content you’ve already learned.

Why we don’t recommend non-AAMC CARS practice questions

We recommend practicing CARS by reading non-AAMC CARS passages but not doing the associated practice problems. The reason we don’t recommend doing the practice problems is because the MCAT is written by the AAMC. They have a very unique style in which they write CARS practice questions that third-party companies (try as they might) are unable to replicate. When students spend time on non-AAMC CARS practice problems, they get familiar with the wrong style of questioning, leading them to overthink and incorrectly respond to the questions written by the AAMC. Thus, it is in your best interest to solely practice on AAMC CARS practice questions.

That said, we highly recommend practicing your reading skills on non-AAMC CARS passages. In our Ultimate CARS Strategy Course, we provide you with 1,000 free CARS passages and 100+ homework assignments, giving you ample material to practice on. Reading countless passages while practicing the proper reading habits and strategies will prepare you well to conquer the CARS section as it was written by the AAMC.

Which books do the lessons match up with?

The books we use in each lesson are linked below. We plan to stick with these older editions of the books since very little has changed and the older editions are much more affordable:

First Edition of the Kaplan 7-book Series
First Edition of the Princeton 7-book Series

Do the chapters match up perfectly?

The Kaplan Books, Princeton Books, and Khan Academy Videos were all produced by different authors. For this reason, there are some chapters in the Kaplan Book or Princeton Book that are not even found in the Khan Academy Videos and vice versa. For instance, the Kaplan and Princeton Books have chapters that cover certain experimental procedures that the Khan Academy Videos do not cover.

Our goal in matching up the books with the videos was to correlate the content as best as possible while also covering ALL the content from every resource. For this reason, when nothing in the Kaplan Books matched up with one of the video playlists, instead of leaving the reading assignment for Kaplan blank, we inserted material that did not fit in anywhere else (i.e. one of those chapters on an experimental procedure that was not covered by Khan Academy). So, when the assignment doesn’t appear to match up right, please know that this was intentional.

*If you follow the reading assignments outlined, you will finish the entire Kaplan 7-book series and/or Princeton 7-book series by the time you finish all 10 content modules.

Do the sections match up perfectly?

If the sections assigned in our eCourse do not match up with the sections contained in your content review book, you may have a different edition. The sections should still match up the large majority of the time, but in the rare instance that they don’t, I’d recommend simply reading sections that do match up and saving the ones that do not for a future lesson.

MCAT Launchpad Required!

Before jumping into our free eCourse, you’ll need to complete orientation by watching MCAT Launchpad. During this free 35-minute intro session with Head Tutor Andrew, you’ll learn 6 Keys to Earning a Top MCAT Score, the 5 Essential Elements of an Effective Study Plan, 12 Tips for Taking the Best MCAT Study Notes, and more! Andrew will also provide you with a detailed overview of the Free MCAT Prep Course, teaching you how to get started.

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