When Should I buy an MCAT Prep Book?

I’m going to be starting my freshman year of college and I was wondering when should I purchase the MCAT Prep book. I’ve seen videos suggesting that people use these books while they are taking the course and other posts showed until 8 months before the test. Any suggestions?

How do you plan to use the books? As content review? Or as test prep?

I was also wondering when to buy an MCAT book as I am considering going to med school.
I was thinking to maybe buy and read as I go through college maybe even read it multiple times…

I was planning on using it as content review during the course and when it comes to junior year of college I will go back and answer the questions. I’m worried that the edition is important because I see they are publishing a new one in less than a month(Kaplan)

Probably not very realistic but…

sorry my comment was to my post before

I would hazard to guess that the book doesn’t really change from year to year
just as SAT books don’t change either except when they did that massive change recently.

Do your research into which books are the best though cuz it’ll make a big difference - experience from studying for the SAT’s for endless months from endless amounts of books and sites.

The MCAT is totally unlike the SAT. And preparation for the MCAT will be substantially different than SAT prep.

For one thing, the each MCAT subtest cover topics/concepts from multiple courses. The biology subtest includes content from intro bio, genetics, biostatistics, ochem and biochemistry. (Lots & lots of biochem) Physical sciences cover physics, general chemistry, math and statistics. All portions of the exam heavily emphasize critical reading, critical thinking, critical analysis and the synthesis of ideas.

Different people prefer different book series. In fact, many people prefer different series to prep for different parts of the test. But in the end, no MCAT prep book (or prep series) by itself is adequate prep for the MCAT. You will probably want to buy a few books from several different series and use them all since each has its own strengths & weaknesses.

Content review is a minor part of MCAT prep–and probably the best use for prep books.

Series to consider: The Berkeley Review, Exam Krackers, Kaplan, Princeton Review, NextStep, U-World. Barron’s sells flashcard sets to help speed up knowledge recall.

AMCAS sells question study packs for MCAT prep.

Khan Academy offers free online video MCAT tutorials.

Additionally, you will need to buy access to full length online practice exams. These are essential. The MCAT is 6.5 hour long beast. You will need to work on timing and endurance to score well on the exam. The major test prep companies all offer their own version of FL exams.

You can buy one-time only access to 4 timed FL retired MCAT exams directly from AMCAS, The price of access includes test scoring.

Thanks that’s really helpful to know!
So at what point should I consider starting to study?

Most students do 6-12 weeks of intensive preparation right before their scheduled test date. However, if your FL AMCAS practice exams are not giving you a score you can live with, then you should postpone your exam and rethink your study methods.

From my own experience of taking the MCAT, I reviewed subjects I hadn’t touched in awhile over the summer before my junior year, took a break during the fall semester, and restarted studying about 2-2.5 months before my test date, which was in late January. I did really intensive studying and the bulk of my practice questions and FLs for the last month or so, which coincided nicely with my winter break. Speaking from personal experience, it is really, really hard to study for the MCAT with a full credit load of classes, and it takes a lot of determination.

I don’t recommend reading the review books before you actually start studying for the MCAT. Your primary/initial source of knowledge should still come from your classes and textbooks—if you do well with those and build a solid foundation, you will find that you may not need to intensively read all the review books cover to cover. I also want to clarify @WayOutWestMom 's statement about how “content review is a minor part.” That idea comes more from the fact that the trickiest aspect of the MCAT for most people is the increased emphasis on comprehension/reasoning/analysis/synthesis, which you can only improve by actually working through practice problems. However, you can’t work through those problems easily if you don’t have a good content foundation. Do not get yourself caught up in memorization, but don’t expect to purely reason your way out of situations like you can on the SAT.

Doing the full length exams and the section banks sold by AAMC will be absolutely crucial in the later stages of studying. The overall test is increasingly moving in the direction of the section bank style, and the old question packs, with the exception of the CARS qpacks, are thus increasingly irrelevant to meaningful review of the actual test style (though they are good for interim content review).

Also, don’t buy the official AAMC materials too early before the test!!! You can work through the FLs, section banks, and question packs multiple times, but your access to them expires after a year. Do NOT buy these in your freshman year, or you will have to pay for them again.

And yes, the SAT is child’s play compared to the MCAT. I’d rather take the SAT 10 times than have to take the MCAT a second time.

Wow silmaril thanks so much for your in depth answer!

Those were really meticulous prep help @WayOutWestMom and @silmaril . Thank you both!