The Best Free MCAT Study Guide

The Best Free MCAT Study Guides and Resources

Years of dedication have gone into building an impressive GPA and completing the necessary courses, all leading towards your medical school dreams. Yet, there’s one final challenge that stands between you and those aspirations – the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT.

The MCAT is a standardized exam designed to evaluate the critical skills pre-med students need to excel in medical school. It assesses your ability to think critically, solve problems effectively, and demonstrate a solid understanding of fundamental concepts related to science and human behavior. While the comprehensive nature of the exam might seem overwhelming, with proper preparation and guidance, you can confidently conquer this hurdle.

The key to achieving high marks on the MCAT lies in effective preparation. Fortunately, there are valuable resources available to help you navigate this process. This article will serve as your compass, providing essential information about the exam and guiding you towards the best MCAT study guides and strategies to ensure your success.

What’s on the MCAT?

The question many aspiring medical students have is, what’s on the MCAT? The current version of the MCAT, introduced in 2015, assesses your knowledge and skills across four individual sections:

  • 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

The goal is to see what you know about key concepts and to test the skill sets necessary to practice medicine, specifically critical thinking and problem-solving.

How Important Is the MCAT?

The MCAT is a pivotal milestone for aspiring medical students, with nearly all medical schools in the U.S. and Canada considering it a crucial component of their admissions process. While it’s not the only determinant of acceptance, it’s a significant measure of a candidate’s readiness for medical school. Each institution has its unique criteria for evaluating MCAT scores, emphasizing different exam sections. 

When Should You Start Studying for the MCAT

As for the timing, it’s generally advised to commence your MCAT preparation 3-6 months before the exam. The decision of when to take the MCAT during undergraduate studies varies among students, but it’s essential to factor in academic progress, study schedules, mental readiness, and application timelines. Remember, most medical schools require recent MCAT scores, typically within the last three years.

Find a Free MCAT Study Guides

Navigating the MCAT preparation journey doesn’t mean you’re on your own. A wealth of free guides and resources available to show you how to study for the MCAT. Here are some standout options:

Association of American Medical Colleges

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the body behind the MCAT, provides a comprehensive toolkit of constantly updated free planning and study resources. Aspiring medical students can rely on these materials to reflect the latest MCAT syllabus and test format, ensuring access to the most current and relevant information for effective preparation.

Key Features: 

  • Webinars: Attend informative webinars hosted by MCAT experts to gain insights into test-taking strategies, content review techniques, and stress management tips.
  • Practice Tests: Utilize official AAMC practice tests to simulate the actual MCAT experience, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and track your progress over time.
  • Study Guides and Articles: Delve into comprehensive study guides and articles that cover all aspects of MCAT preparation, from content review strategies to effective time management techniques.
  • Schedule Strategies: Discover effective scheduling methods to optimize your study time, balance your workload, and ensure adequate coverage of all MCAT topics.
  • Textbook Recommendations: Explore recommendations for textbooks and other study materials that align with the latest MCAT syllabus and provide in-depth explanations of key concepts.

The Princeton Review

With decades of experience in test preparation, The Princeton Review offers a meticulously crafted MCAT study guide that streamlines your preparation journey into manageable steps. This comprehensive guide ensures you’re well-equipped to approach the exam with confidence, covering everything from study habits to critical reading skills.

Key Featrues:

  • Countdown to MCAT: Develop a strategic timeline for your MCAT preparation, ensuring adequate time for content review, practice tests, and review sessions.
  • MCAT Study Schedule: Craft an effective study schedule that aligns with your learning style and preferences, balancing your workload and maximizing productivity.
  • Study Habits: Cultivate effective study habits that promote active learning, long-term retention, and efficient time management.
  • Memorization Tips: Discover proven memorization techniques to efficiently retain key concepts, formulas, and scientific terms.
  • CARS: Master the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section by developing critical reading skills, analyzing arguments, and identifying logical fallacies.
  • Sample Questions: Practice with a variety of sample questions that mirror the actual MCAT format, allowing you to assess your understanding and identify areas for improvement.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers a comprehensive MCAT test prep course, meticulously organizing the vast syllabus into well-structured sections. This virtual classroom experience provides a deep understanding of the material through engaging videos, practice questions, and expert instruction. For instance, their approach to the CARS section includes in-depth video lessons, ensuring you tackle each topic with precision and focus.

Key Features:

  • CARS Overview: Gain a comprehensive overview of the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section, understanding its purpose and the skills it assesses.
  • Foundations of Comprehension: Master the fundamentals of reading comprehension, including identifying main ideas, analyzing arguments, and understanding authorial intent.
  • Reasoning Within the Text: Develop the ability to extract and interpret information directly from the text, drawing inferences and identifying supporting evidence.
  • Reasoning Beyond the Text: Elevate your critical thinking skills by evaluating the text’s broader implications, connecting it to external knowledge, and assessing its validity.


Anki, a versatile flashcard app, offers pre-med students, including MCAT aspirants, a portable and effective study tool. While not MCAT-specific, Anki’s spaced repetition algorithm and customizable flashcards enhance memorization and long-term retention of key concepts.

Key Features:

  • Spaced Repetition: Leverages a scientifically proven method for optimal long-term memory retention.
  • Customizable Flashcards: Create personalized decks tailored to specific MCAT topics.
  • Mobile Accessibility: Study on the go with convenient access to your flashcards.
  • Memorization Tips: Gain valuable strategies to enhance your learning process.

Kaplan Quick Sheets

Kaplan quick sheets provide a comprehensive collection of condensed study materials covering essential MCAT topics, primarily in the sciences. These PDFs serve as a practical review resource for quick reference and last-minute revision.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Encompasses 24 sheets covering a wide range of MCAT topics, from behavior to optics.
  • Condensed Format: Distills key concepts and formulas into concise summaries for efficient review.
  • Portable Resource: Easily accessible PDFs for quick reference on any device.
  • Targeted Review: Focuses primarily on science content, ideal for last-minute science concept reinforcement.

MCAT Podcasts

MCAT podcasts offer a versatile and convenient way to supplement your MCAT preparation, providing valuable insights, expert advice, and on-the-go learning opportunities. 

Key Features

  • Diverse Content: MCAT podcasts cover a wide range of topics, from Q&A sessions with experts to in-depth reviews of specific test areas, providing a comprehensive learning experience.
  • Expert Insights: Gain valuable perspectives and insights from experienced MCAT instructors and high-scoring test-takers, learning from those who have successfully navigated the exam.
  • Flexible Learning: MCAT podcasts allow for on-the-go learning, enabling you to enhance your understanding while commuting, exercising, or performing other activities.
  • Auditory Learning: Complement traditional study methods with auditory learning, catering to different learning styles and enhancing your overall comprehension.

The Benefits of a Mentor

As you embark on your medical school journey, it’s crucial to avoid tunnel vision. While the MCAT is an important component, it’s just one piece of a comprehensive application process. Medical schools evaluate candidates holistically, considering various factors beyond test scores.

Given the competitive nature of medical school admissions, a comprehensive approach is essential for maximizing your chances of success. For many aspiring medical students, seeking guidance from pre-med advisors or mentors can make a significant difference.

Advanced eClinical Training’s Pre-Med Mentorship Program offers an affordable and effective solution, connecting you with experienced Student Advisors who understand the intricacies of the admissions process. They’ll help you avoid common pitfalls, such as overemphasizing one aspect of your application, and guide you in strengthening all areas of your profile.

If you have lingering questions about preparing for the MCAT and navigating the medical school admissions process, consider enrolling in ACT’s Pre-Med Mentorship Program. It’s an affordable alternative to traditional medical school admissions consultants, providing personalized guidance from experienced MD mentors. Enroll today

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