Best GMAT Prep Books 2019-2020

Whether to widen your horizon as an entrepreneur or to equip you as you shift careers, a business school degree is certainly a major boost.

If you have cemented your goals and ​you are now certain about pursuing that Master's or MBA degree, the next step is preparing for the GMAT exam.

The GMAT or the ​Graduate Management Admission Test is used by business schools to assess your capability and readiness to thrive in their programs.

​While the internet is teeming with information, it is best to use review materials that are specifically made to help test-takers achieve their target GMAT scores.

This article lists down some of the best GMAT prep tools that will get you on the right track.

GMAT Prep Comparison

Rank

Name

# of Pages

# of practice Tests

Price

1

1,912

6 online

$$$$$

2

1,188

1 in the book, 5 online

$

3

250

1 in the book

$$$$$

4

1,464

1 in the book

$$

5

768

6 online

$

6

378

N/A

$

7

384

2 online

$

The Ultimate Prep List

Your GMAT scores significantly affect your chances of being accepted to your target business school as well as receiving scholarship grants.

Therefore, ​there is no question that an all-out preparation is necessary.

To assist you in this phase, we have selected the top prep books and review materials available on the market.

You no longer have to worry about wasting precious time with worthless review materials. We only listed those which have satisfactory review content, challenging practice tests, detailed answer explanations, and useful tips.

Let's get to know more about each of them in this section.​

Among the numerous GMAT prep materials out there, this set gives you the most value.

​The bundle includes 10 books covering all the GMAT sections, and the quality of each one does not pale in comparison to other heftier individual books.

Each book covers one GMAT section. It is impressive how it is done with so much depth, considering the book's modest size.

Manhattan Prep made sure that all sections are covered equally so each book is a useful material in itself.

The entire set may be a bit expensive, but if you are not willing to shell out the entire amount or if you only prefer to buy the ones that cover your weak points, you have the option to buy the books separately.

Another distinct characteristic of this set is its overall language tone.

The answer explanations are pretty straightforward. Manhattan Prep successfully found a way to make the explanations easier to understand.

Purchasing also gives you access to valuable online content.​

There are six full-length practice exams​ that you can use to test yourself. They follow the computer-adaptive nature of the GMAT so you are given the opportunity to actually practice under the same conditions.

However, you have to take note that the online access expires after one year.

Although the entire bundle focuses more on content and practice, there are bits and pieces of advice as well. If you want a prep book that is heavy on test-taking strategies, you would need supplementary materials.​

In general, the ​Manhattan GMAT Strategy Guide Set is perfect as an overall prep material.

Pros

  • Comprehensive content
  • Easy to understand explanations
  • Access to 6 online computer-adaptive practice tests

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some typographical errors in the Verbal section

If you want a prep book with lots of practice material, this is exactly what you are looking for.

There is only 1 practice test in this book but the online content has 4 more, plus more than 700 additional practice questions. That's a lot!

Although these are not official GMAT tests, they are carefully crafted by Kaplan experts who are very much knowledgeable about the way GMAT questions are presented.​

These practice tests are valuable because of the detailed answer explanations. More than knowing the correct answer, Kaplan teaches you what makes it right and why all the other options are not.

If you want even more practice material, they have an online Quiz Bank. You can challenge yourself more by selecting up to 200 questions ​based on your preferred topic and difficulty level.

The rich online content is not limited to the practice tests.​ 

There are videos that also contribute to your GMAT preparation. They effectively break the monotony after reading for quite some time, while still giving you substantial information.

Purchasing the book also gives you the privilege of a one-on-one Kaplan faculty support​ through their Facebook page. It may not be a major advantage but it's good to have that option.

Kaplan offers a money-back guarantee if you don't get a higher score after using the printed and online​ materials. That's how confident they are that this book actually works!

While this book is obviously good, it does have its share of shortcomings.

​Unfortunately, you can only access the online content for 6 months. You have to buy a new book so you can enjoy the online privileges again.

In addition, the book is quite bulky so if you want something that is easy to bring along, this might not be the right book for you.

You will also find some typographical errors on this 1,188-page book. They are minimal so it shouldn't affect the overall value of the book.

Nevertheless, the GMAT Prep Plus deserves to be named as one of the best GMAT prep materials you can find.

Pros

  • Comprehensive online content
  • Sufficient practice questions
  • Customizable Quiz Bank
  • Thorough answer explanations
  • Kaplan Expert support
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Access to online content is valid for 6 months only
  • Has a few typographical errors
  • Huge and heavy
Veritas Prep Complete GMAT Course Set, 3rd Edition

This set of books provides a solid foundation for your GMAT preparation.

It consists of ​12 books covering all the GMAT sections. It's a lot of material, but what is more noteworthy is the quality of these books.

Each book starts with a​ preview that gives you a glimpse of what to expect from the book as well as tips on how to maximize its use.

The meat of the book comes next. You are given an in-depth coverage of the topic.

​You are then given strategies for tackling the different types of questions in the GMAT.

​Lastly, you can assess yourself and practice what you've learned through the sample problems.

This easy to follow structure is consistent through all the books in the set. The pattern helps condition your mind, therefore making it easier to absorb the things that the book teaches you.

The books can also be bought individually so if you want to focus on just a few topics, you are free to do so.

The set also comes with a board and a dry-erase marker that you can use while practicing with the test problems.

There is only one practice test but if you want more, purchasing the books also gives you access to the Veritas Prep Question Bank where hundreds of GMAT-like questions are available.

Some people find the Veritas Prep questions a bit more difficult than the actual exam. While this may give you a good mental stretch, make sure that you do not become overconfident.

However, a common criticism is the lack of detailed answer explanations. You can only access them if you are enrolled in any of the Veritas Prep courses.

This set of books is a good review material by itself, but its value will double if the answer explanations are made part of the purchase.

Lastly, Veritas provides in-depth guides about the top business schools all over the world. You may be already be considering one at the moment, but reading through these guides may make you realize that another school might be a better fit for you.

​Overall, the Veritas Prep Set is a helpful resource for your GMAT preparation.

Pros

  • Consistent, easy to follow structure
  • Challenging practice questions
  • Online access to Question bank for more practice
  • Includes guides to top business schools

Cons

  • Only 1 practice test
  • Detailed explanations are only available online if you are enrolled in any of their courses

If you want to practice with first-rate GMAT material, this bundle is perfect for you.

​It is composed of three books: the Official Guide, one for Verbal Review, and another one for Quantitative Review.

They may be bought separately but it is highly recommended to get the bundle ​for an integrated approach.

The set includes a diagnostic test so you can accurately assess yourself and know where to focus your efforts.

Although there aren't a lot of study tips and test-taking strategies, don't think of skipping them because they are very much worth your time.​

However, its biggest advantage ​is the volume and the quality of its practice questions.

The practice tests - all 1,500 questions - are from past administrations of the GMAT. No other review material gives you that edge!

Purchasing the set also gives you exclusive access to their site where you will find additional practice material.

Based on where you are in your GMAT preparation, you can build a practice set by choosing from their question data bank.

​The books are organized according to the type of question. This structure makes it easy to go back to where more of your attention is necessary.

However, you have to keep in mind that the GMAT isn't arranged in the same manner.​ Here's a tip: use the online test-builder and mix things up so you can rehearse going through a variety of questions without losing your focus.

The answer explanations are adequate, but the ones for the math and sentence correction sections could still be improved.

In general, the GMAT Official Bundle provides highly useful practice material.

Pros

  • Lots of practice material
  • Real questions from past administrations of the GMAT
  • Comes with access to helpful online resources
  • Organized content

Cons

  • Some answer explanations are insufficient

If you have just decided about taking the GMAT, this book is perfect for getting your preparation started.

​It condenses quite a comprehensive content in just more than 700 pages. And it does not disappoint at all.

​The book focuses on test-taking strategies. It teaches you how to effectively use the process of elimination, among others.

Another technique called PIA or "plugging in the answer" can be used when you have absolutely no idea about the question. You can substitute all the given options to see how each one fits in the equation. From there, you can make an intelligent guess.

Tests like the GMAT are structured in a way that makes you think a couple of times before getting what the problems really require. This book helps you recognize the common traps so you won't fall for them.

While these tips and tricks do work, ​you should be cautious about relying on them primarily. Remember to study your concepts too!

The bulleted summary at the end of each chapter is also a valuable feature because it helps you recall the salient points without having to re-read everything.

When you feel confident about testing your knowledge, you can log in to the Princeton website and work on the 6 full-length practice tests.

However, high-scorers may find the practice questions less challenging. If that's the case, it is best to have supplementary materials on hand.

Aside from these tests, purchasing the book also gives you access to video tutorials featuring Princeton's course instructors.

On the same site, you will also find examples of essays and interview transcripts of people who successfully made it to business school. These should give you inside information as well as much-needed inspiration that you can make it there too!

​To help you understand the GMAT as you go into more intense preparation, get a copy of Princeton's Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition.

Pros

  • ​Comprehensive subject matter content
  • Useful tips and test-taking strategies
  • Bulleted chapter summaries
  • 6 full-length computer-adaptive tests
  • Helpful online content

Cons

  • Practice questions are not very challenging

Try asking those who are preparing for the GMAT and most probably, it is the Critical Reasoning section that majority dreads the most.

If you are one of them, this book is going to help you a lot.​

​This gem from PowerScore isn't called the CR bible for nothing. 

Critical reasoning can be tricky, and this book's main strength is the way it scrutinizes and explains the questions so that you will better understand what they require.

The questions are organized in such a way that those of the same type are grouped together.

The question types are described in detail, highlighting the distinct characteristics of each one.​ The book does not stop there. It also provides strategies to help you answer each type of question.

Instead of simply memorizing concepts, immediately recognizing the question type and how to respond accordingly definitely gives you an advantage.

Furthermore, the answers are explained very well. ​It gives the rationale behind the correct answer. In the same manner, it explains why an answer is wrong. This is equally important because it exposes how you can fall for a tricky question's trap.

​However, the book would be even more effective if there are more practice questions. Some full-length practice tests would also be really useful. 

Despite this, the PowerScore Bible greatly helps in increasing accuracy and speed in answering CR questions.

Pros

  • Organized
  • Analyzes question types
  • Provides tips and strategies
  • Easy to understand
  • Excellent answer explanations

Cons

  • No practice test

If you already scored in the 70th percentile and you are aiming to push it further, this book will boost your chances.

Don't expect basic concepts to be discussed in this book because there aren't any.

The book assumes that you already have advanced ​quant knowledge, and that you are looking to push yourself harder through more challenging practice materials.

There are 250 practice problems to flex those mental muscles. If you are bored with simple or average problems, the ones in the book will definitely make you think twice about being the math genius that you thought you were.

The quality of the problems stretches your capacity, preparing you for the questions that get tougher as you go along in a computer-adaptive test like the GMAT.

This works for some people, but it is the same thing that also makes the book disadvantageous to others. The faint-hearted or those with average math skills will most probably be at a loss trying to figure things out.

​But if you feel that you are up to the challenge, you have to acknowledge that the book is not out to make life difficult for you. On the contrary, it helps you analyze the problem so you can correctly identify what it asks for.

​When are you are feeling more confident, you can work on the 2 practice tests that online. Access to these is included when you purchase the book.

If there is one flaw that we hope ​Manhattan Prep will address, it would have to be the typographical errors.

Although we did not find a lot, this type of mistake has a significant impact on a mathematical statement. A wrong figure or character can spell a huge difference!

​Nevertheless, this book by Manhattan Prep is a solid resource for GMAT quant preparation.

Pros

  • Challenging practice questions
  • Access to 2 online tests

Cons

  • Few typographical errors

GMAT Books to Avoid

If you are preparing to go to business school, you're most probably in the midst of a hundred and one other responsibilities.

Therefore, you wouldn't want to waste precious time on prep books that aren't going to help you garner your target score.

You already know the best GMAT ​prep books. This time, take note of the inferior ones that don't deserve your time and money.

1,012 GMAT Practice Questions (Princeton Review)

There is just one word that summarizes why buying this book is a terrible idea: errors.

​The total number and the severity of the errors will make you wonder if there ever was any editing done.

Typographical errors may be harmless, but if there's a lot, it becomes really annoying.

We browse the book further and we discover more serious blunders.

Mathematical errors are also ​frequent. Diagrams are necessary to solve some problems, but a lot of them are missing.

Even the answer explanations are problematic. They are often insufficient and there are also some explanations that don't even match the answers.

Stay away from this book and save yourself from so much frustration.

Kaplan GMAT 2009 Premier Program (Book and CD-Rom)

This may be an old material but it's still being sold so here's a little warning in case you are still considering it for your GMAT preparation.

It is also laden with errors like Princeton Review's GMAT Practice Book. Although not as numerous, they are still pretty obvious enough to give you a headache.

It also fails in another critical prep book attribute: the answer explanations. Such poor execution!

Some are just​ plain wrong while the others are non-existent at all. 

Kaplan has years of experience in the test-prep industry ​so it's unfortunate that they failed in this one.

GMAT FAQ

Going to business school is no joke.

Because you have to invest a significant amount of money and effort, it's just fitting that you research about it as extensively as possible.

This section sheds light on some of the most commonly asked questions about the test. Start your preparation right by learning more about the GMAT here.

What is the difference between the GMAT and the GRE?

While both the GMAT and the GRE are standardized tests used for admission to graduate programs, they also differ in several ways.

Taking the GMAT means specifically targeting an MBA. On the other hand, the GRE has been used for masters and doctoral programs but a lot of business schools have also starting honoring GRE scores.

The GRE's sections are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The GMAT has those as well, but it also includes an Integrated Reasoning section, which measures the skills used to analyze and integrate information.

​As far as the Verbal Reasoning section is concerned, the GRE tests you on vocabulary but the GMAT has a different focus: reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction.

How much does it cost to take the GMAT?

The fee for taking the GMAT is $250. However, there are corresponding charges for additional requests.

An additional score report costs ​$28 while an Enhanced Score Report is worth $24.95.

Should you need to reschedule your exam appointment, you will be required to pay ​up to $250 if the postponement is made within seven days of the original date.

What does it mean for a test like GMAT to be computer-adaptive (CAT)?

Computer-adaptive tests are said to be more accurate in determining a test-taker's aptitude.

As you progress through the test, the level of difficulty adjusts depending on your performance. A correct answer in the verbal and quantitative sections will be followed by a more difficult one. If a student answers incorrectly, the next item will be easier.

This system results in a score that is representative of the test-taker's overall capability.

How long are GMAT scores valid?

GMAT scores, like the GRE, have a five-year validity period.

You can still request for scores of GMAT tests taken five to ten years back to be sent to schools. However, make sure to check if the school you intend to apply for accepts scores that are not recent.

Can I cancel my GMAT score if I am not happy with it?

The answer is yes, but take note that you are allowed to do so only before you see the results.

​Canceling GMAT scores is not advisable because schools can see that you previously cancelled a GMAT score. Although there are no rules against cancellation, it could still be detrimental to your chances of acceptance.

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