1. Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Set
Why do you need the Best GMAT Prep Book?
If you are thinking about getting an MBA, chances are you will be studying for the GMAT. With the best GMAT prep book, you can come fully prepared for the test and maximize your potential. The GMAT is not like the SAT – it is actually pretty hard. But it is a test that you can totally prepare for and your test score is directly proportional to the amount of time you study.
Generally speaking, there are three hurdle scores in the GMAT. One is right around 550, the other is 650, and the final one is 700+. The progression from one hurdle score to another requires incremental amounts of studying. You will need to bang out practice sets after practice sets and get totally familiar with the format. Timing and pacing are also things you can practice. There are only so many questions in the question bank and with enough practice of a certain problem type, you can be fully prepared to tackle all types of questions.
We believe the GMAT is 75% preparation and 25% IQ. In order to maximize your potential score, you have to be completely fluent in the GMAT language. And with the best GMAT prep book, we think this is much easier to accomplish. We have thoroughly gone through a dozen of this GMAT prep books page by page and narrowed down which book will best prepare you for the GMAT. Please see our recs below.
Best GMAT Prep Book Reviews
- Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set (Top Pick)
- Mometrix GMAT Secrets Study Guide
- Kaplan GMAT 800: Advanced Prep
1. Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set
The Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Set is the best GMAT prep book if you just want to all-round best. It has great review materials and covers every concept within the realm of the GMAT test bank. It really leaves no stone unturned. If you go through this series of prep books, you will be well prepared for the GMAT as it is literally everything you will ever need to cover. If you are serious about maximizing your score, you should get this GMAT guide set.
The questions in this prep book tend to run harder than the ones on the actual GMAT, which is a good thing. It means you will be better prepared and will understand the concepts better. We really like this GMAT prep book series because it covers the fine details of every concept. It does not just mention them and give you a few practice problems. The book really tries to hammer in every little concept through repetition.
We suppose the biggest downside is a lot of time wasted. Since there is a lot of material to review, it takes quite a long time to go through all of it. Some people give up and don’t even go through all of it. There will be a lot of obscure concepts that you go through in detail that may not even appear on the GMAT. But then again, it is easy to criticize the amount of time wasted prepping after the GMAT exam. In all honestly, we believe no preparation is wasted. Just because the concept did not appear on the test doesn’t mean you wasted time on it. We view it as insurance and just because you didn’t trigger the insurance policy doesn’t mean you can skip paying your premiums. The Manhattan Prep series is great for those who are obsessive and want to squeeze out the maximum score.
2. Mometrix GMAT Secrets Study Guide
The Mometrix GMAT secrets study guide is the best GMAT prep book if you are looking for a short condensed prep for the GMAT. It is definitely not comprehensive like Manhattan Prep’s course and doesn’t cover every single nitpicky concept. However, it covers the important concepts and the concepts that matter the most to the GMAT test makers. There is a saying less is more and it certainly applies here. If you are strapped for time or don’t really care about scoring 20-50 points higher, then this book is your weapon of choice.
It does a great job outlining the GMAT as a whole and has in-depth guidelines as to how everything works. The language is clear and concise and easy to understand and remember. The explanations for the answers to practice questions are lengthy and fully cover every angle of the question. They help you understand why you made the choice you made and what to do better next time.
We think this book can take you up at least 100 points in your GMAT score. If you are interested in memorizing every small detail, this is not really the book for you. The power of the GMAT Secrets study guide lies in the 80/20 rule. You cover 80% of the material with 20% of the effort. For the additional 20% of the material covered, you need to apply 80% more effort. For some people, it is simply not worth it because it presents a negative value proposition and a low return on invested time. For others, they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a higher score. Whatever it is you like to do, please just keep in mind that the GMAT secrets book is tailored towards those who go for efficiency. They are the ones who like the put in the least amount of effort for the maximum amount of gains.
3. Kaplan GMAT 800: Advanced Prep
The Kaplan GMAT 800 is the best GMAT prep book for those who really want to get the perfect score. Business school is getting extremely competitive to get into as the supply of business schools stays the same and the demand for applicants increase. The top 10 schools are extremely competitive and there’s an unspoken hard cutoff of 700+ GMAT to even be considered for these schools.
The Kaplan GMAT 800 course is designed to get you into one of these elite schools by focusing only on the hardest questions and concepts. Since answering a few of the hardest questions right could be game-changing, the Kaplan GMAT 800 is designed to prepare you to tackle these types of questions.
It is great for the verbal section, which is arguably one of the hardest to prepare for since you have been preparing your entire life for verbal reasoning. The reading comprehension passages are incredibly difficult and the critical reasoning questions are designed to be confusing with multiple answers. The math section is quite hard as well and really challenges you in thinking outside the box.
These practice questions are definitely harder than the real GMAT but they are designed so that you can parse out the junk and answers designed to trick you. Since there are many situations where there could be multiple right answers, the practice questions in this GMAT prep book really help you learn hard concepts well because there is definitely only one right answer.
How to Decide on the Best GMAT Prep Book?
There are many things you need to consider before picking the best GMAT prep book. First and foremost, you need to make sure the review material is comprehensive. You need to figure out if it is a comprehensive prep. You may also want to know how many practice exams are included in the book.
Many books only include 2 practice exams, but some books have many more. We believe that practice exams are the best material to help you prepare because they help you become acquainted with the timing of the exam.
Next, you may want to consider the difficulty of the practice questions in the GMAT prep book and the actual questions on the GMAT. There are some brands that are known to give you only difficult questions and some that are known to be too easy. In general, we would err on the side of caution and get a book with more difficult practice questions. This is because these harder questions teach you the basic theories behind the questions in the real question bank far better than easier questions.
If you have mastered the tough questions, then easy questions should be a breeze. Finally, you should consider the price. As far as GMAT prep books go, they are pretty fairly priced and there is not much discrepancy between brands. You generally get what you pay for.
While you can spend money on the GMAT prep book, don’t forget to supplement it with other resources. For one, you can join a GMAT club in your area and find a study buddy. This gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and share tips. You can even hire a GMAT tutor, but there are definitely steep costs associated with this option. Then there is plenty of free material online as well.
You can find apps available for Android and ios that even have free practice tests on them and flashcards for memorizing theories. If you just google free GMAT prep resources, you can find plenty of free material. However, not all material is free and most of the good stuff isn’t. Free resources are only good for quick studying on the go and to help you memorize but are definitely not a substitute for the best GMAT prep book. These books are designed in a logical sequence and are well constructed to give you a comprehensive overview of the GMAT. Finding resources elsewhere will be disjointed and disorganized.
How to Prepare for the GMAT
First and foremost, you should take a practice exam to see where your level is at. From what we have seen in the past, you can improve your score by up to 150 points. There’s only so much you can improve because the GMAT is also a test of logical reasoning and IQ, which you have been preparing for your entire life. If you score above 700, then you know there’s not much more you can prepare for.
Generally, you want to set aside a set amount of hours each week to study the GMAT. Ideally, you want to be with a study buddy so you can share strategies. If you can’t find a study buddy you may have to hire a tutor, which is the more expensive route. Every session should start by going over some basic theories and reinforcing them through a series of practice questions.
Focus on doing a full practice exam at least once a week and then thoroughly go over the mistakes you made after. This is probably the most important part of preparing for the exam. Make a note of what areas you are weak in and concentrate on questions in that area.