Three best GMAT prep books

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Take your GMAT prep book’s practice tests under timed conditions so you can practice your time-management skills and give yourself a sense of what to expect on exam day.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) can be the first step toward your dream of earning an MBA and becoming a successful business owner. The GMAT is an integral part of the admissions process to graduate business school. If you don't do what you can to prepare yourself for the test, you could end up with a low score that bars you from the school of your choice. That's why it's important to get yourself a good GMAT prep book that will get you up to speed quickly. Here's a quick look at the most important factors to consider when choosing a GMAT prep book, as well as our top three recommendations for the best prep books on the market.

Considerations when choosing

The first thing you have to ask yourself is what you're hoping to get out of your GMAT prep book. Some people just want an opportunity to practice with realistic questions and get used to the test format. Others need to brush up on the key concepts that will be covered on the exam and prefer prep books that do a full content review. Still others struggle with taking tests and want guidance on how to approach certain types of questions.

Think about your strengths and weaknesses, and choose a GMAT prep book that gives you the tools that you need to perform well on the exam.

Features

When comparing GMAT prep books, there are several features to look for.

Exam overview

The GMAT prep book should give you a thorough overview of what the exam will test you on, time constraints, and other important details you need to know about the test.

Content review

Some GMAT prep books have sections that review the key concepts that are likely to appear on the exam.

Full-length practice tests

Full-length practice tests give you a good opportunity to assess your performance and figure out which areas you're struggling in.

Question bank

Once you've pinpointed a particular type of question that's giving you trouble, you can use a question bank to give yourself extra practice on those types of problems.

Supplemental materials

Many GMAT prep books give you access to an online portal that contains extra practice questions and tests, instructional videos, and other helpful study materials.

Price

GMAT prep books range in price from under $15 to well over $50. You can expect to pay more for sets that include multiple GMAT prep books. Books that have more practice tests also tend to be more expensive.

FAQ

Q. What does it mean that the GMAT is computer-adaptive?

A. It means that the difficulty of the questions will continually adjust to provide a more accurate measure of your knowledge. Your first question will be of medium difficulty, and the next one will be easier or harder, depending on how you answered the previous question.

Q. How do I know which areas of the GMAT to focus on?

A. Take a practice test before you begin studying, and use your results to guide you. Spend extra time on the concepts and types of questions that you struggled with on the practice test. Then keep taking practice tests periodically to measure your progress while you study.

GMAT prep books we recommend

Best of the best: Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set 

Our take: If you're looking for the most comprehensive GMAT prep, this set is it.

What we like: This set contains 10 guides designed to walk you through each of the key concepts that will be covered on the exam. You also get a year's access to Manhattan Prep's six computer-adaptive practice exams and over 200 additional practice questions.

What we dislike: Users have complained that the books contain several typos, and some argue that the practice questions are not as challenging as the questions on the real exam.

Best bang for your buck: GMAC The Official Guide to the GMAT Review 

Our take: These GMAT prep books are your best option if you want to practice with realistic questions that are very similar to what you'll see on the GMAT.

What we like: These prep books are created by the organization who designs the GMAT, and they're the only guides that contain practice questions from real GMAT exams, so you know you're dealing with authentic material. You also get access to an online portal that offers a question bank and videos to help you prepare for the exam.

What we dislike: These books don't dive as deeply into the content you will be tested on, so you'll want to seek out additional materials if you need to review some of the GMAT's concepts.

Choice 3: Kaplan Test Prep GMAT Prep Plus

Our take: This GMAT prep book is a good option if you're looking for a solid grounding in the key concepts of the exam, plus test-taking strategies and opportunities to practice what you're learning.

What we like: This guide contains a detailed overview of the content you need to know for the exam, along with strategies for how to approach certain questions. It also contains a code that you can use to access five full-length, computer-adaptive tests, 1,200 additional practice questions, and online videos to help you understand key concepts.

What we dislike: Some students report that the question bank doesn't last very long before you start getting repeat questions.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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