In this Examkrackers vs Kaplan MCAT prep matchup, we’ll compare and contrast the products of these two leading MCAT prep book publishers to help you choose the ideal book set and ace the exam.
Each company offers both holistic prep courses and stand-alone books. If you are more interested in directed prep courses to help you prepare rather than book sets, check out our definitive guide to the top MCAT prep courses.
Let’s get into it.
Overview: Kaplan vs Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Sets
We will kick this matchup off with a brief overview of each company and the key comparative pros and cons of each.
Kaplan MCAT Prep Book Set
Kaplan is one of, if the definitive, leading test prep companies in the world. The MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2021-2022 includes:
- 7 books
- 3 full-length practice tests
- 24-page “quicksheet” visual reviews
- “Test Your Knowledge” tools for maximum retention after each chapter
Kaplan’s book set currently has a 4/7-5-star satisfaction rating from Amazon customers who have purchased and used them. It’s also worth noting that their book set made our list of the best MCAT prep books for 2021.
Kaplan MCAT Prep Book Set Pros:
- Heavily vetted and well-reviewed materials from the test prep industry standard-bearer
- Authored by leading medical and test prep experts
- One more book compared to Examkrackers
- More complete content, including a heavy focus on psychology/behavioral sciences
Kaplan MCAT Prep Book Set Cons:
- More serious, “drier” approach to test prep content
- Some med school hopefuls have characterized the material as “mundane” (admittedly a subjective opinion)
Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Set
Color commentators have described Examkrackers and its MCAT study books as the “Honda Civic of MCAT test prep,” the premise being that they get you where you need to go (into med school) without the pageantry of better-known prep companies.
When you purchase the study package, you get:
- 6 books
- 32 thirty-minute exams in real MCAT format
- Hip graphics and cartoons using a mascot named “Sparky”
Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Set Pros:
- Clear and concise practice questions
- Sprinklings of humor in the materials (enjoyable relief when you are in the test prep gallows)
- More casual, “fun” approach compared to Kaplan
- Sleek formatting
Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Set Cons:
- Limited focus on Psychology and Behavioral Science (a relatively new but important component of the test)
- More expensive than Kaplan’s book set
Head-to-Head Features: Kaplan vs Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Sets
Now that we’ve introduced the basics of each company’s offerings, let’s dive into the specifics in terms of cost, features, and content covered and see who wins in each of these Kaplan vs Examkrackers categories:
Kaplan’s 7-book set will set you back $154 when you buy through Amazon.
On the company website, Examkrackers’ 6-book set costs $274.
If price is of the utmost concern for you, and you are deciding between Examkrackers or Kaplan, the obvious purchase would be Kaplan’s book set.
Practice Questions and Tests
When you purchase Kaplan’s set, you automatically receive one-year online access to 3 full-length practice tests 350+ practice questions. Also, at the end of each chapter of each book, you will find 15 multiple-choice “Test Your Knowledge” questions.
Kaplan’s book set is highly suited to visual learners. Visually-oriented features include full-color, 24-page MCAT “Quicksheets” and charts, graphs, diagrams in full-color, and 3-D illustrations from Scientific American. So, if you learn best through visual representation (i.e., if you are a “visual learner”), Kaplan might be your best bet.
Examkrackers’ book set contains 32 thirty-minute topical exams that mimic the MCAT format as well as 24 questions throughout each lecture that are similar to those encountered on the actual exam. Examkrackers does offer a full-length practice test – but you must purchase it separately.
Kaplan slightly edges out Examkrackers here in the Examkrackers vs Kaplan Practice Questions and Tests category.
Related: 14 FREE MCAT Practice Tests
Number of Books
Alas, the “quantity vs quality” debate rages on. Is more always better? Some people certainly live their life by this maxim.
Kaplan offers 7 books in its package that include:
- MCAT Behavioral Sciences Review
- MCAT Biology Review
- MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Review
- MCAT Physics and Math Review
- MCAT Organic Chemistry Review
- MCAT General Chemistry Review
- MCAT Biochemistry Review
Examkrackers set comes with 6 books, the titles of which are:
- Reasoning Skills: Verbal, Research and Math
- Biology 1 Molecules: Biochemistry
- Biology 2 Systems
- Psychology & Sociology
- Chemistry: General and Organic Chemistry
So, if your main priority is the volume of books, the score here is 7-6 in favor of Kaplan.
Both Kaplan and Examkrackers dedicate material to every section of the MCAT.
However, many students find Examkrackers lacking in its focus on behavioral sciences and psychology. Historically, the MCAT has focused more on chemistry and biology as the foundational disciplines that the exam covers – which makes sense, as they traditionally have dominated the medical field.
That said, medicine evolves on the heels of new discoveries and research. In recent times, the critical connections between mental and physical health, the growing understanding of the mind-gut connection, and other overlaps between psychology and conventional medicine have forced the medical industry to now focus more heavily, as it rightly should, on the role of psychology in overall health.
Accordingly, the MCAT has also evolved to include more material related to the mind and mental health.
The bottom line here is that Kaplan, as the industry standard-bearer, has done a better job at keeping pace and incorporating psychology prep into its materials, including its books. In the Examkrackers vs Kaplan Sections Covered, Kaplan takes the cake!
Standout Features: Kaplan vs Examkrackers MCAT Prep Book Sets
By now, we’ve hopefully helped clarify some of the key differences between Kaplan and Examkrackers prep book sets. Here are a few more standout features of each that will further inform your decision.
MCAT Test Day Simulation
Because the stresses of the MCAT exam can be intense, many preppers look for study materials that can help them practice to manage their anxieties on test day.
While Examkrackers does offer a plethora of 30-minute exams designed to mimic MCAT format – 32 – these are not full-length tests and cannot, therefore, fully recreate the feel of the actual test.
Kaplan, on the other hand, offers 3 full-length practice tests, sharpened with questions specifically based on real-world MCAT content. The roster of Kaplan’s staff, which develops the company’s proprietary study materials, is chock full of test-taking professionals who know what is on the exam and, more importantly, how to design materials that accurately reflect the types of questions you will face on the MCAT.
As we mentioned previously, Kaplan’s materials are superb for visual learners, containing a wealth of artistic renderings of complex concepts that, often, are best understood through illustration.
Examkrackers reinforces its material with 24 questions within each lecture to test your absorption of the content as you move through the books.
Kaplan, however, takes the concept of constant reinforcement to the next level with “sidebar” illustrations, mnemonics (a strategy of using “memorization tricks” to retain information), real-world examples to make the material relatable and practical, mnemonics, and MCAT tips based on the real experiences of those who have taken and aced the test previously. Kaplan’s books also, like most prep packages, test students’ retention with end-of-chapter quizzes.
In short, Kaplan is the full package when it comes to knowledge retention.
The Amusement Factor
Far and away, the one factor that differentiates Examkrackers from other test prep companies is its extensive use of humor. Let’s be honest here: MCAT preparation – and, indeed, any form of test prep — can be a dull, soul-sucking affair. Examkrackers alleviates the tediousness of test prep with frequent humorous references and off-the-wall commentary that you simply won’t find in most dry, academic test prep materials.
Kaplan’s test prep materials are more “by the book,” as they say.
The Bottom Line on the Ideal MCAT Prep Book Set
Use Kaplan’s MCAT prep book set if you:
- Want more practice questions and tests
- Are a visual learner (Kaplan’s materials have plenty of graphics and charts)
- Desire an array of strategies to help you memorize and retain the information presented
- Are on a tight budget (Kaplan’s book set is slightly less expensive than Examkrackers’)
Use Examkrackers’ MCAT prep book set if you:
- Appreciate a sprinkling of gallows humor to help cope with test prep
- Don’t necessarily need multiple full-length practice tests
- Are more “process-oriented” in your learning style as opposed to reliance on memorization
- Want a prep package with a heavy emphasis on biology (Examkrackers is one of the best-rated in this specific aspect of the MCAT)