Best GMAT Prep Books for Self-Study - Recommendations

I am planning to start prepping for the GMAT next summer during my internship (it will be in F500 corporate finance so I will have plenty of time on the side lol) and I was wondering what books and materials do you fellow monkeys recommend for self studying?

I would do a course if there was any courses located in the city I will be working in but I do plan on doing a course (if needed) during my final year in school since they offer many prep courses in the city I go to school in. So if you have recommendations on courses I should look into as well please do share as well!

What GMAT Materials Should I Purchase?

Generally speaking, our users think that either the official GMAT books or the Manhattan prep materials are the best way to prepare for the GMAT. Our users shared their thoughts below.

ChEM3:
The Official Guide for GMAT books (general, quant, verbal) and the Manhattan GMAT series should be all you need to score above 700.

RealMeal:
Official Guide, uses actual exams questions. Other guides may use questions that are more difficult or easier. For the most accurate go Official

dubbadub - Equity Research Associate:
In addition to the OD, Knewton GMAT worked very well for me. It's an online course with on-demand sessions. I highly highly recommend it, got a 740

fourwes:
I would use a Kaplan or some throwaway book to familiarize yourself with the test and questions, then move on to the official "real" questions. You don't want to "waste" all the real questions before you know what you're doing. When you buy a Manhattan GMAT book it gives you something like 5 online adaptive tests, those are helpful too.

Manhattan GMAT Prep Book

Many of our users believe that the Manhattan course is the best offered.

BusinessGreek - Investment Banking Associate:
I'll agree with the above - I did the Manhattan GMAT prep series, and they tell you the practice questions to do for each topic. Ultimately, in combination with the Official Guides to Verbal and Quant, which I also used, the only other piece you can spend a lot of time on is practice exams. While MGAMT's were not quite the same as the official GMAT practice exams (which you get when sign up), they did provide a new set of practice problems and perhaps more importantly, developed the stamina you need to make it through the test and understand where you fall in terms of timing it so you use the time but don't go over.

mbastand:
I found the Manhattan GMAT books to be the most comprehensive and the practice tests to be the most accurate. If you really want to learn the fundamentals of the concepts, I suggest using those (plus the Official Guides). Otherwise, Kaplan provides a good overview of all the concepts. You might find this comparison table helpful: MBA Stand Best GMAT prep book.

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Comments (80)

Dec 20, 2013 - 12:37pm
ChEM3, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The Official Guide for GMAT books (general, quant, verbal) and the Manhattan GMAT series should be all you need to score above 700.

Rise early, work hard, strike oil.
Jan 8, 2014 - 7:37pm
IB1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why does the official guide for GMAT books link to Veritas? Shouldn't it go to this?

http://www.mba.com/us/store/store-catalog.aspx?tabs=CAT2680001

Dec 20, 2013 - 12:57pm
BusinessGreek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'll agree with the above - I did the Manhattan GMAT prep series, and they tell you the practice questions to do for each topic. Ultimately, in combination with the Official Guides to Verbal and Quant, which I also used, the only other piece you can spend a lot of time on is practice exams. While MGAMT's were not quite the same as the official gmat practice exams (which you get when sign up), they did provide a new set of practice problems and perhaps more importantly, developed the stamina you need to make it through the test and understand where you fall in terms of timing it so you use the time but don't go over.

Otherwise, there is not a whole lot else you can do self-study; if that doesn't do the trick, you'll need to up it to a class or a tutor to fix problem areas.

Dec 20, 2013 - 1:09pm
RealMeal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Official Guide, uses actual exams questions. Other guides may use questions that are more difficult or easier. For the most accurate go Official

Dec 20, 2013 - 2:06pm
dubbadub, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In addition to the OD, Knewton GMAT worked very well for me. It's an online course with on-demand sessions. I highly highly recommend it, got a 740

Jul 13, 2014 - 8:43pm
mbastand, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I found the Manhattan GMAT books to be the most comprehensive and the practice tests to be the most accurate. If you really want to learn the fundamentals of the concepts, I suggest using those (plus the Official Guides). Otherwise, Kaplan provides a good overview of all the concepts. You might find this comparison table helpful: MBA Stand Best gmat prep book.

Jul 13, 2014 - 9:44pm
fourwes, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would use a kaplan or some throwaway book to familiarize yourself with the test and questions, then move on to the official "real" questions. You don't want to "waste" all the real questions before you know what you're doing. When you buy a manhattan GMAT book it gives you something like 5 online adaptive tests, those are helpful too.

Jul 15, 2014 - 11:25pm
freddyflintstone, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey everyone thank you for the answers I really appreciate it! When referring to the Manhattan prep book are you referring to the complete strategy set or something else?

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:30am
ConsultingQuant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yes to the general strategy set - I said this on another thread, but I would recommend using the Advanced GMAT Quant as well in the last few weeks before the exam to adapt to working through those types of questions if you want to score 700/720+.

I used Strategy Guides + Official GMAC materials + Adv GMAT Quant and was able to get a 750 with some decent studying (about 6 weeks, mostly weekends).

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:31am
bicoastal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

GMAT Prep... Kaplan or Princeton Review (Originally Posted: 04/08/2007)

So I've got to choose between Kaplan or Princeton Review for my GMAT prep course. Anyone know the strengths & weaknesses or each? Or are they pretty much identical?

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:32am
eric809e, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The general structure looks really similar. It depends a lot on the teacher and the students in the class, so a particular Kaplan course may be better than Princeton Review or the other way around. One thing that seemed pretty cool about Kaplan is the Ultimate Practice Test. The person at the center told me that I could take a practice test at the actual test site and it wouldn't count and no one else would know the difference.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:33am
cardinalfire, what's your opinion? Comment below:

they're a relatively new player on the gmat prep market but they're really good. they work with places like Goldman Sachs. teachers are very qualified. They have to score in the 99th percentile on the GMAT(i.e. get at least a 760) and have extensive teaching experience. also, they're really nice and have a great program consisting classroom instruction, homework, online videos, and free over-the-phone tutoring.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:34am
Monkeysee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with Cardinalfire, well worth checking out Manhattan. They have really good teachers who are able to make a really painful process quite enjoyable.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:36am
glee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

dont do the course--waste of money. I bought two books..one random with 6 paper practice tests. did those... and then i bought the Kaplan GMAT 800 book. get that kaplan book! It is really challenging and much harder than the actual test. I spent 3 days with it, took the GMAT and rocked the hell out of the test!

courses arent worth it...there isnt any strategy that will really help you game these questions and t he book gives you basic stuff

livin large in miami
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:38am
eric809e, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I was considering taking one of the GMAT advanced classes that Kaplan offers. 650+ on the diag to be let in, so you're in a class full of overacheiving GMAT students. Great place to meet people applying to top tier MBA programs and the class is more focused on the toughest questions. Too bad the classes don't fit my particular schedule. I might just go the tutoring route instead.

The GMAT 800 book sounds like good practice. But I agree with Analyst2002, I really have no motivation to study without a class/tutor. I had a GMAT book sitting on my bookshelf since I was a freshman in college and it just sat there.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:40am
TonyPerkis, what's your opinion? Comment below:

gmat test Prep (Originally Posted: 09/12/2012)

Time for a serious post

im starting to prep for the GMAT. I was gonna take it at the end january, and was thinking about doing about an hour a night until jan starts and then diving into it harder.

does anyone have any good test prep plans? I got the new Kaplan book (its like 1200 pages and looks pretty overwhelming)

SB for positive non trolls (good trolls will also receive SBs)

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Apr 3, 2015 - 10:53am
gmatquantum, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It is fine to use any of the general strategy guides, however when it comes to doing practice questions and CATs, I would highly recommend to stick to Official GMAT questions. There are tons of official content available: upcoming Official Guide 2016(900 Questions), Quant and Verbal Supplements(600 questions), GMATPrep Question Pack 1(400), 4 CATs two in GMATPrep and two in Exam Pack 1, and the list goes on. The key thing is to get used to the style and format of the gmat test writers and your valuable time is best spent on Official GMAT questions. I am saying this based on years of experience teaching students and seeing what works.

www.gmatquantum.com
  • 1
Best Response
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:42am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sit and take a practice test so you can get a good benchmark of where you are at and a feel for the test.

I did TPR (mind you this was back in 2007) and it was alright I'd say, but ManhattanGMAT is generally considered the cream of the crop for prep/strategies. Can't speak for Kaplan.

Get the GMAC orange book, and do every single question (800) if you can. I think this includes a good diagnostic so you can see where you fall on different categories. The Orange Book contains generally I think 500-700 level questions - moderate to difficult - and is great practice.

Master Data Sufficiency - the AD/BCE strategy - and learn to love DS questions, they are your friend.

You'll do better spending 3 hours every 3 nights than 1 hour every night - consider spending more time too maybe, and pick a date and stick to it.

Practice tests like crazy - do not underestimate the pressure of time and get used to writing things by hand.

Don't underestimate Verbal, you can make up a lot of points here. My breakdown was V42 (95%) and Q48 (84%) and overall this equated to 730. I don't think I could have done much better on math if I had spent a lot of time, but to get to 42 on verbal was not all that hard as a native english speaker with a keen eye for grammar. This is because on math, you are up against Indians/asians/engineers/biochem guys.

Don't sweat the essays but don't ignore them either - do a few practice essays so you know how much you can type. Be brief and word things extremely clearly - GMAT is all about eschewing ambiguities.

Let me know if you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
  • 5
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:43am
frgna, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think to put in a serious effort for your very best score, you need to spend about 150 hours prepping, but that's just me.

if you like it then you shoulda put a banana on it
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:44am
R0bin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I use Veritas, but I think for certain sections Manhattan's material is better. I hear Kaplan sucks...

Baby you're the perfect shape, baby you're the perfect weight. Treat me like my birthday, I want it this way and I want it that way. It makes a man feel good baby.
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:49am
Vyraal, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I did about 100 hours of study (3 hours a day or one and a half month) with distractions in between a lot. However for a fact the best prep materials you're going to get are from the official questions. Don't exhaust these resources lightly, esp the more difficult ones (they're in order of difficulty in the books).

I'm assuming you're going for a 700+, which would require more prepping for the test than actually studying - Always practice by timing yourself - Maintain an error log - I never took a 4 hour test before, so my endurance started to fade, this sucks because in Verbal attention is pretty much all you need to score well (in my opinion) as a native english speaker

I only got a 710, and I'm planning to re-take it again with MGMAT/Veritas materials. I got a bit over-eager thinking I could score higher on only just the official guides themselves, but I've heard many good things about MGMAT's SC correction and Veritas math books.

edit: added another bullet point

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:47am
djc225, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm currently using manhattans material, i think it's great for the foundations and for learning the concepts. after that it just seems to be about practice so i'm accumulating as many practice probelms as possible (mgmat, mgmat online banks, kaplan, official guide review, official guide quant, official guide verbal, ect)

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:48am
seamlessftw, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wait, you mean the 800 gmat score in your profile isn't official (yet)??

  • Highly recommend the Manhattan gmat prep books. Great content and very straightforward, not dense. I haven't heard similarly great things about Kaplan. The Manhattan GMAT books are also really light and easy to carry around for studying on the go.
  • There aren't any shortcuts for improving your score. You just have to spend a lot of time on prep material and practice questions/tests. Your strategy of 1 hour a day sounds right given how much time you have.
  • The AWA essay and IR scores aren't that important today but IR will probably become more important in the future, so don't neglect that section.
  • The GMAC practice tests are by far the most realistic in terms of question difficulty and scoring. Use them wisely... there are only two.
  • When you get closer to January, start doing your practice problems and tests with the Manhattan gmat test simulation booklet. Some people get thrown off by the whole dry erase thing on test day if they're not used to it.
Apr 3, 2015 - 11:52am
General Disarray, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The orange book is now tealish/blue. Make sure you get the 13th edition as it includes the new IR section. Also, I would try and stick to one book type (either Manhattan or Veritas). They teach the same things but in different styles.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:54am
Soapy.Detergent, what's your opinion? Comment below:
TonyPerkis:
thinking about doing about an hour a night until jan starts and then diving into it harder

I was thinking of doing the same thing......but I'm not studying for the GMAT.

Apr 3, 2015 - 11:57am
Brady4MVP, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm studying hardcore for the GMAT right now, already took it a while back but will be retaking it in october. Here's what i've found helpful.

  1. Manhattan GMAT sentence correction book is a MUST. It's long and boring, but it does an excellent job of going through all the rules and mechanics that most of us never actually learn. This is your bible; treat it as such.

  2. Powerscore critical reasoning bible: my only beef with this book is that there are so few practice questions. But it does an awesome job of analyzing the various types of critical reasoning questions, ways of approaching it, strategies, etc. This has helped me approach these questions much more effectively.

  3. For math i'm using resources from GMAT Hacks. I bought the "total GMAT math" book and bought the 1,000 problem challenge set for around $130. Totally worth it. You get the questions in pdf format, covering every topic imaginable. The author, jeff sackmann, also breaks up the questions by difficulty, so you know how well you are doing on easy, medium, and hard questions. His answer explanations are very detailed and illuminating. I HIGHLY recommend this for math.

More specifically, regarding math, if you want a 49+ score, you need to have a very strong understanding of number properties, algebra, and inequalities, especially when it comes to data sufficiency questions. Many of the tougher DS questions are abstract, and although testing out numbers can work, it's time consuming and more prone to error. By being able to manipulate the variables efficiently, as well as understanding how numbers are related to each other, that can help you a lot in the hard DS questions. Contrary to urban myth, combinatorics and probability aren't that improtant, although you should definitely know how to solve them. You're much more likely to get hard word problems regarding work/rates and distance/time. Also pay attention to problems involving overlapping sets. But by and large, I think the 3 most critical areas are number properties, algebra, and inequalities. You will NOT get a high quant score if you are not fluent in those topics.

As a poster above me said, don't take verbal lightly. By kicking butt on verbal, your overall score will improve greatly. Since there are 16 sentence corrections out of 41 total, you can pick up the most points by doing well there.

Good luck.

Apr 3, 2015 - 12:00pm
hockey1316, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ok to echo others i started prep round 650 and used manhattan and the official material exclusively for 3 months and ended with 740. In all seriousness the most important thing for me was learning how to skip a question that was to time consuming and not freaking out over it. Time management is the most important thing, the questions are not to tough. Know data sufficiency AD/BCE strategy and the verbal idioms.

Best of luck

Apr 3, 2015 - 12:01pm
TonyPerkis, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Can anyone clarify on the AD/BCE strategy please?

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Apr 3, 2015 - 12:07pm
peterg, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For quant, this guy is a genius - gmatquantum.com. He has very detailed video instructions for pretty much every Official Guide question out there and his lessons are great too. I believe the OG question explanations are free and it's only $145 to sign up for his video lessons. Also, I would use gmatclub.com. There are thousands of questions on that site but I would only do the ones that are answered by the site's resident quant wizard Bunuel. The GMATclub quant tests are very highly regarded by the high scorers on that website.

For verbal read 3 to 4 articles per day from the science section of the NYT. Go to Manhattan GMAT's website and watch the "Thursday's with Ron" videos.

Apr 3, 2015 - 12:14pm
Yekrut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would recommend purchasing the 6 MGMAT practice CAT exams. They were very good and had an excellent break-down of your weak/problem areas.

The error of confirmation: we confirm our knowledge and scorn our ignorance.
Apr 3, 2015 - 12:15pm
AKF, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am selling Jeff Sackmann's 1800 set (includes Fundamental, Challenge & Extremem Challenge set). Contact if interested.

Apr 3, 2015 - 12:17pm
TonyPerkis, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So I just took a practice test... Smoked the verbal but got crushed on the math..data sufficiency and fractions with variables/exponents...does anyone have any tips involving those?

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Apr 3, 2015 - 12:19pm
RomeoOne3USMC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've just gone through the first 24 diagnostic quant questions in the GMAC review book. I got 5 correct. I haven't touched math in 11 years and when looking at the answer explanations, I'm completely lost. What would be he recommended course for me to improve drastically. An I didn't do so hot on the data sufficiency either.

Sep 14, 2017 - 8:39am
mygreexampreparation, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Everything you do now is for your future, think about that."

MBA journey starts right from GMAT prep to internships to MBA jobs. The first step is gmat preparation. For GMAT preparation there are lot of different kind of GMAT books are available in the market. Therefore it is very difficult to choose from where to study

You should make sure that your travel bag contains the BEST GRE PREP BOOKS that money can buy. mygreexampreparation
Sep 14, 2017 - 8:40am
BrianHunter, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Where do you have studied for your GMAT? (Originally Posted: 04/22/2017)

Hi guys, from this summer I have to start the GMAT prep. I'm searching the best books for gmat preparation. Can you suggest me some in particular? A friend told me Manhattan books are the best ones. For you? (I mean quant+verbal parts)

Sep 14, 2017 - 8:49am
TheGrind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I second this, but would substitute the MGMAT Critical Reasoning book w/ the Powerscore Critical Reasoning Bible. I found the latter to be quite a bit more useful.

Sep 14, 2017 - 8:43am
electriclighto, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Personally since my job at the time was demanding and I couldn't parse out enough time to attend prep, I relied solely on the official gmat prep book from the board, and went through all of the practice questions and tests in it, sometimes twice over. If you are short on time and only had to focus on one prep book, this is definitely the one since the wording and language etc. are all old real questions. FWIW I took the GMAT once and got the score I needed.

  • 2
Sep 14, 2017 - 8:44am
Mountain_Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Like the others said. Manhattan for the major part of your review. I also found Magoosh is great if you're working full-time and have a tough time squeezing in studying, they have great practice questions and its pretty easy to squeeze in 20 or so questions each day before work.

Sep 14, 2017 - 8:47am
BreakingOutOfPWM, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As a tutor, I don't agree. The answer explanations are extremely formula driven. From what I have seen the vast majority of candidates would be much better served to learn the frameworks that Manhattan/Veritas suggest. Especially for quant. It's less important for most of the verbal. But the OG doesn't tell you when you should have applied the frameworks and how - the Manhattan/Veritas q banks do.

The OG also doesn't teach out shortcut math while the prep companies all do - this is really important not just for time but error reduction.

Sep 14, 2017 - 8:48am
Wallstreetneversleeps, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Sep 14, 2017 - 8:53am
IBY1229, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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