The Psychology and sociology section is one of the most underestimated parts of the MCAT. Some people think they can get by with what they remember from Psych or the SOC101 they took their freshman year of college, but that’s not nearly enough to get a good score.
Of course, if you want a 480 on the exam, then don’t worry about this section. But if you actually want a good score, you need a good MCAT prep book to prepare.Sadly, none of the books currently available cover everything you need to know for the MCAT. Your best option is to combine multiple books with Khan Academy and the information provided on the official MCAT website.
The MCAT Exam
The Medical College Admission Test, otherwise known as the MCAT, is a 7.5-hour exam that students take to get into medical school. Almost all medical schools in the United States and some in Canada require a good MCAT score for admission.
The MCAT exam is made up of four sections, including:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
You’ll be able to find MCAT prep books that focus on the exam as a whole. However, you’ll also be able to find MCAT books that target one particular section or topic, such as a book on MCAT Physics or a MCAT General Chemistry Review. You may find the MCAT Organic Chemistry section easy but struggle with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section. This is where it’s worth researching the best MCAT books on the areas you find the most challenging.
For this article, we’ve found test prep books that focus on Psychology.
The Best Way to Prepare
Usually, we’d include a section where we rank multiple MCAT prep books and MCAT study materials from best to worst. However, when it comes to the MCAT Psychology exam, you need to combine at least two books together to get a complete picture.
We actually recommend using all three of the books listed below. If you’re short on time, two books should be enough, provided you watch the Khan Academy videos. This will help you learn MCAT content that’s not covered in the books.
Also, keep in mind that many poor-quality MCAT books seem to have fake reviews on Amazon, so don’t be fooled by 5-star reviews.
The Best MCAT Prep Books
Remember that the best MCAT prep books for you will highlight your strengths and help you improve your weaknesses. The books we’ve included in our list below feature MCAT practice questions, test-taking strategies, detailed explanations, and more to help you prepare for the MCAT exam and get into medical school.
MCAT Psychology and Sociology by NextStep
This is the book we recommended in our complete MCAT books article. However, even though we recommend it, it’s not perfect.
Next Step describes this book as realistic practice for the MCAT’s Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Systems section.
The best part of this book is the practice passages. There are 240 questions in total, and you get a free full-length exam. Unlike other MCAT prep books, Next Step breaks down the passages with a comprehensive analysis of each question and answer.
You also get a free, full-length practice test and free access to their online diagnostic test.
There is also a section that explains the layout of the new exam, and a bunch of pages for you to write notes.
However, as we mentioned above, this MCAT prep book is not perfect. For example, the glossary section is unhelpful, and, at times, we found the book lacked substance.
Next Step constantly updates the books to correct typos, update explanations, and improve content. However, the overall format of the book will always stay the same.
When combined with other materials such as MCAT prep courses, flashcards, and books, the MCAT Psychology and Sociology will be a comprehensive study guide, making it one of the best MCAT prep books on our list.
The Princeton Review MCAT Psychology and Sociology is our second recommendation for this exam. If you only plan on getting two books, we recommend investing your money in this one and the one by NextStep. Together, these MCAT prep books should cover most of what you need to know for the exam.
This book has a few redundant chapters, but the quality of the content makes up for that issue.
The Princeton Review follows the format of the new exam well. They have two practice tests you can take, which is essential if you want a good score. Princeton advertises that they have three tests, but in reality, the third MCAT practice test is the one that’s available to everyone for free on their website.
You also get access to detailed answer explanations and drills, as well as test-taking strategies to keep your cool in the actual MCAT exam.
You can also register online to get the corrections to a couple of errors in the book. You also get access to more information that’s not included in the book. We highly recommend registering online, as you’ll need to know that additional information for the exam. Princeton sends any additional info in a PDF, which is a bit annoying, but it’s better than not getting anything at all!
Experience full-color diagrams, tables, and illustrations. So if you have a visual learning style, this MCAT study guide may be best for you.
The Princeton Review MCAT also doesn’t go into too much detail about the topics and questions you need to know for the actual MCAT exam. You’ll just have to study all of the content – taking the time to figure out what will be and won’t be on the exam will take more time than actually learning the material.
Lastly, Princeton Review is a trusted brand that has been preparing students for years. You can trust that they’ll help you get through the exam.
While this book has glowing reviews on Amazon, don’t be fooled. If you look at the profiles of the people who have reviewed it, they’ve only reviewed Sterling test prep stuff before, and trust us – this book isn’t as amazing as they say it is.
It doesn’t have any practice questions, so why are we recommending it?
That’s simple – it’s the biggest review book for this section on the market!
It has a whopping 582 pages, and it’s packed full of great examples and explanations that are sure to be helpful to you, especially if you find that there are not enough explanations in the other books.
However, this book also has a lot of content that isn’t on the actual exam.
This is the perfect reference book to quickly figure out something you don’t understand or jog your memory. However, it’s not the best book for actually learning the material. For that, the previously mentioned two books are your best bet. If you do end up choosing this MCAT prep book, it’s vital you pair it with one of the other books above or take an MCAT prep course.
The Ultimate Study Combination
If you can afford to, we recommend you get all three of the books above.
Focus most of your studying efforts on the Next Step book and the Princeton Review while using the Sterling Test Prep book for additional examples. You’ll soon fix the things you don’t understand.
We also recommend going through the Khan Academy playlist and watching videos on topics you haven’t heard of or those you’re not completely clear on. It’s also worth scouring the internet for some full-length online practice tests. Alternatively, there are a great number of paid MCAT courses you could try.
If you have extra time, visit the official MCAT website and go through their Section Overview to make sure that you’ve covered everything you need to know. If not, check out those topics in the Sterling Review book or Khan academy videos.
It’s a shame that no single book can guarantee a good MCAT score. However, we’re confident that the above combination will prepare you well for the exam.