The list author says: "Preparing for the MCAT can be a daunting task. With seemingly a seemingly endless stream of test prep materials, the process can be made even more challenging. But the truth is, all you need is a solid plan in order to be successful. Below each product, in the comments section, I have outlined several suggestions to help you make the most out of your study experience.
Before you start preparing, you should already have developed your test taking skills and study skills. Consider your pre-requisite coursework in biology, chemistry and physics MCAT prep. Learn the material thoroughly and study hard in these introductory courses and you'll be ahead of the game when it comes time to start preparing for the MCAT.
Doing well on the MCAT will require two things: 1) Sufficient background knowledge (this comes with study) and 2) Understanding how to take the test (this comes with practice).
You should plan to spend anywhere from 3-7 uninterrupted months preparing and the bulk of that time should be spent *practicing*. Its always best to start by taking a real AAMC practice test (an old, real MCAT) which is available free online from the AAMC. When you take the test, do everything in your power to simulate the real thing. You should have no distractions, no noise, no food, drinks, notes and friends around and you should time yourself. Your baseline score should reveal how far away from your goal you are and what section(s) you might need to devote extra attention to throughout your preparation.
After your initial practice test is out of the way, you should develop a study plan. Below I have commented on the products I found most helpful and what suggestions I have to make them work for you as much as possible. I have also listed products in “order of importance”—meaning you should focus on the higher up materials and work your way down the list for the most part."
"There’s a manual for each of the major subject areas: chemistry, physics, organic and biology. These books should be read, reread and reread. You need to know this stuff inside out and backwards. Caution: don't knock yourself out making fancy flashcards and memorizing every keyword in sight. Remember your ultimate goal is *practice* and learning to apply what you know to passages on the MCAT."
"Is physics making your MCAT prep seem impossible? Don’t feel so guilty… the Examkrackers Physics book is not the best but THIS one is! This ones much more lengthy, contains more problems and will take longer to work through; But, you’ll feel more confident in your physics (if that’s what you need!)"
"After several weeks of regular, uninterrupted science review (I realize this is easier said than done) you should start working your way through the 1001 question books for each subject. First, suggestion: organize your answer sheets for these books by the corresponding lecture in the study book. Mark your percent correct for each lecture and so the end you’ll be able to see your weakest areas."
"I suggest that you divide the questions into manageable sets that can be completed in 30-60min. For each set, you should solve each problem without looking at the answer. Then, check your answer against the key (without looking at the detailed solution). Go back and rework missed problems and see if you can recognize what concept is being tested and why each of the wrong answer choices is wrong."
"It’s worth mentioning that organic chemistry is being increasingly replaced by genetics on the current MCAT. However, you can expect a minimum of 1 organic passage and at least 3 standalone organic questions—so, don’t neglect the subject entirely! At the same point in time, you should not waste time memorizing complex mechanisms; rather, understand trends (boiling and melting points, NMR spectra)"
"You will probably agree that the author of this 1001 book was a little overzealous. These questions are tough, detailed and really test your knowledge of the material beyond the scope of the MCAT. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle with these, just use the opportunity to develop your test taking skills (looking for the best answer when you aren’t sure of the right answer)"
"Unlike most of the 1001 books, these are passage based questions and are likely to be the most difficult you could encounter on test day. I would use these towards the end of your preparation (perhaps one month or a few weeks before your test day)"
"I suggest you regularly take practice exams, particularly as your test date approaches. For example: do a timed and environment-simulated practice test every 2 weeks. To get the most use out of the practice, refrain from viewing the solutions until you have attempted to re-solve missed problems. You should take note of concepts you are missing and review them in the study books."
"This book features problem-sets divided by subject. The authors attempt to provide you with “MCAT hacks” by posing common question types and teaching you what a “good” answer choice sounds like. In reality, you should have accomplished a strong sense of this on your own by now. Also, if the MCAT were that plain and simple, everyone would do well. Nonetheless, the problems here are good!"