Physics tends to be one of those courses that premed students don’t put a lot of effort into. Don’t get me wrong, physics is not a blowoff course. However, if you are like me, you spent only the time you needed to do well in physics without developing a deep understanding of it.
Then the MCAT rolls around and all of a sudden physics becomes relevant again. Sure there isn’t a lot of physics on the MCAT but there is always something and there is always a chance you will be one of the unfortunate premed students who receive an MCAT exam with a significant amount of physics problems.
Therefore it is important to be prepared in physics just like any other MCAT subject. If you are needing extra help in physics, I have compiled the best resources available that can take you from basically no physics knowledge to understanding all the concepts you need to know for the MCAT. Different books are better for different students, so read carefully!
Best MCAT Physics Books for Content Review
Although all of these books will contain practice problems, their primary goal is to teach you the material and concepts that can be tested on the MCAT. If you feel like you have a solid physics foundation and you really only need to test yourself with quality practice passages, click here to skip to the Best MCAT Physics practice books.
Nova is not a very commonly used MCAT test prep company but they do a good job when it comes to physics.
Nova really dumbs down the material which is great for students who really struggle to grasp the concepts of physics. Also, they are very good for people who are visual learners.
Despite what you might think, physics is really not a memorization subject. Students that do well in physics are successful in understanding the different concepts taught in General Physics. If this book can help you grasp the basics, then it’s definitely worth considering.
Ideally, you should supplement with more material like The Berkeley Review or Khan Academy for concepts that you need a deeper review of.
Nova’s The MCAT Physics Book contains 16 chapters devoted to MCAT physics content. It has 49 MCAT style Physics passages and 500 physics problems. All with detailed step by step solutions to the problems. Additionally, each chapter will contain questions at the end which address the topic you just covered.
The Berkeley Review in general is very thorough and detailed and this is definitely true for their Physics book. They will cover virtually everything you need to know about physics for the MCAT.
Additionally, TBR’s MCAT physics books contain over 100 passages and 1000 practice questions. This is definitely a plus.
If you have the time to go through this very detailed book, then it is worth the consideration.
I have personally used The Princeton Review for Physics review and I’ve got to admit that they are a very good resource. This book is very easy to follow and understand. The Princeton Review throws in practice passages throughout the chapters to make sure you are understanding the material you just read.
It’s a safe bet to use The Princeton Review’s MCAT physics book for your review. However, I will say that they don’t have that many practice passages and problems to offer. Practice passages are very important for really understanding the material and doing well on the MCAT. If you purchase this book, strongly consider getting an additional physics practice book to supplement.
Okay, so what ExamKrackers is known for is their very short and concise material almost like you are reading someone’s notes on all of the topics.
Getting a physics book that is very concise like this ExamKrackers book is good if you have less time, otherwise you may want to go with one of the options above. However, they have really great 30 minutes exams for each chapter which really helps reinforce the material.
My recommendation if you purchase an ExamKrackers book is to supplement it with extra material on topics you struggle with more. The best material to supplement with is Khan Academy’s videos. If you need an even deeper understanding, and you have the money, then TBR is great for supplementing.
Although Kaplan is arguably the best overall resource for content review on the MCAT, it does get outshined by TBR and TPR specifically for physics because those books are much more thorough.
Also some people think some questions are unrealistic as they basically require a calculator which you cannot have during the MCAT. Additionally this books is lacking in practice passages/questions.
But if you are using Kaplan for the rest of your MCAT content review and you want to stick to one resource, you still can’t go wrong with this book. It will cover basically everything you need to know for physics on the MCAT.
Best MCAT Physics Practice Books
First, I want to stress the Importance of doing MCAT practice problems, especially in physics. The best way to score well on the MCAT is by doing practice problem after practice problem. Not only is solving problems a form of active learning that will help you grasp the content better, but it also puts you into the mindset of the MCAT.
You are basically conditioning yourself to go through MCAT problems quickly and with ease.
Nonetheless, you can’t really do practice problems without knowing the material somewhat first. Hence the reason why I listed the best content review books for MCAT physics above.
But once you build that foundation of content knowledge and you need to reinforce it, practice passages and practice problems are the way to go.
Here are the best MCAT physics practice books:
Yes this book was mentioned above as a concise content review for physics. However, it is also full of valuable MCAT practice problems. In addition to the questions you receive after each chapter, there are five 30 minutes mini exams.
This Physics question pack comes straight from the official AAMC’s website. AAMC is the creator of the MCAT exam so you can expect their practice passages and problems to be very accurate.
This question pack has 120 practice problems delivered in your standard MCAT exam format (multiple passages with discrete problems sprinkled in).
The only complaint is that these questions can be a little bit outdated. Some people say that these passages are from the old style MCAT exam. Regardless, if your goal is to strengthen your physics knowledge, then these questions will definitely help reinforce the content you have been reviewing.
Sterling Test Prep definitely makes the list for great MCAT physics practice books. This book is chock full of practice passages and problems. Sterling Test Prep also does a fantastic job of explaining the reasoning for correct and incorrect answers.
With over 860 practice problems, you will have more than you need to really drill in those physics concepts. Getting the answer right is important, but equally important is speed. The MCAT does not give you a lot of time, you want to make sure you can solve these physics problems efficiently.
The Examkrackers MCAT 1001 questions series of books are a great resource for MCAT practice.
Yes, it’s true that they don’t offer passage based problems only discrete. Nevertheless, there is a huge benefit to doing these practice problems while you are reviewing content. This book is organized by difficulty and topic which makes it a great supplemental resource for any MCAT subject review book you choose to purchase.
Supplement With Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an amazing resource for the MCAT. They have tons of videos going over every topic that can be on the MCAT. I wouldn’t rely solely on their videos to study for the MCAT but I would highly recommend using them to help better understand topics you are weak in.
Best part, it’s all FREE!
Okay, So Which MCAT Physics Books Should You Purchase? (Based on How Much Time You Have To Study):
Okay so I gave you a list of the best MCAT Physics books out there. But obviously you don’t want to purchase all of them.
So to make your decision easier, I went ahead and compiled my recommendation for the combination of products you should purchase. Given that everyone’s situation is different, I went ahead and listed the materials recommended based on the length of time you have to study.
Here you go.
Let’s say you are a full-time student and you have a long time to study for the MCAT. Your physics needs a lot of help and you want a very thorough review.
Here is what I would do:
- Read through The Berkeley Review MCAT Physics I and II
- After each chapter, do the corresponding questions from Examkrackers MCAT 1001 Questions in Physics in addition to TBR’s questions
- Further reinforce difficult to understand topics with Khan Academy’s videos.
- In the last month make sure you are only doing practice problems either through the AAMCs question pack, Sterling Test Prep MCAT Physics Practice Questions, or both.
3 months is a pretty standard amount of time to study for the MCAT. You won’t be able to be as thorough as you could if you were studying for 5 months, but you should still be able to cover mostly everything. Here is what I would do:
- I recommend getting Nova’s MCAT Physics book. This will give you a solid content review and practice problems.
- During the Last month make sure you are only doing practice problems either through the AAMC’s question pack, Sterling Test Prep’s MCAT Physics Practice Questions, or both.
1 Month or Less
If you are studying for the MCAT in 1 month or less and you need to brush up on your physics, I recommend going straight for Examkrackers MCAT Physics review. As mentioned above, this book is very bullet point centric and will quickly get you up to speed on the subjects. With whatever time you have left, focus on doing the AAMC’s Physics Question Pack.
Physics can be a very difficult subject to understand at a deep level. If you can really learn the material and not simply memorize it, you will be successful on the MCAT’s physics-based problems.
Understanding the concepts is even more important on the new MCAT than it is on the pre-2015 MCAT. This is due to the fact that every subject on the MCAT is becoming more and more blended together. Meaning, physics isn’t going to be a standalone passage but rather integrated into some kind of biology or chemistry article.
Make sure you review all the content you need to know with one of the quality MCAT physics content books mentioned above. But most importantly, make sure you are constantly doing practice problems. Only then will you truly master the material!
Feel free to leave a comment or email me via our contact page if you have any questions!