The 10 Best GMAT Prep Books

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This wiki has been updated 34 times since it was first published in June of 2015. If you're planning on going back to school for an MBA, you may need to take the GMAT in order for your institutions of choice to assess your analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills. Our selection of prep books will help you study smarter, not harder, and will let you face the test with increased confidence. Many come with complementary online resources, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. GMAT Official Guide

2. McGraw-Hill GMAT Cross-Platform

3. GMAT Prep Plus

Editor's Notes

May 16, 2020:

Preparing for the GMAT can be a daunting process, and there are few students who don't turn to resources for help, whether that be a tutor, textbook, or books like the ones on this list. The last big change the exam saw was a couple years ago to its structure, while the content remained the same. That being said, we still feel it's paramount to have the most up to date information possible, and so we ensured no editions were printed prior to 2017 and brought all volumes up to their most current iterations. That included All the GMAT, Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition, GMAT Prep Plus, and GMAT Official Guide.

We removed Ace the GMAT, as it neglects to explain quite a few concepts, however, if you're a notoriously poor test-taker, it's worth picking up for its strategies on how to tackle each question type. We noticed our list lacked a homed-in selection for the quant section, an extremely difficult portion that is tricky to ace, and so we added GMAT Advanced Quant for high flyers striving for a perfect score.

We also added GMAT For Dummies, as we felt this roundup needed a launchpad for students looking for a place to start. It's an inexpensive option for getting grounded in the basics and comes with access to online flashcards and practice tests to help you get your footing and see where you stand. It should in no way be used as a primary source, though, because it's far from comprehensive.

The GMAT Official Guide comes from the people who actually created the test, so it's hard to beat as a study tool. Some tutors maintain that test-makers sometimes cannot see outside their own perspectives, so if you want to take a well-rounded approach, consider supplementing it with something dynamic and complete like the McGraw-Hill GMAT Cross-Platform, GMAT Prep Plus, or Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition, as it can be beneficial to have something that was written by experts who were not involved with setting the exam.

It's important when cramming for a test like the GMAT that you study hard, but also take breaks and allow yourself to reset and reorient. One of our books for aspiring business leaders should provide an inspiring diversion that also helps keep you motivated through those grueling hours.

Special Honors

Magoosh Magoosh is a company that offers rigorous GMAT prep tailored for students who require autonomous or supervised study assistance. They offer digital materials that can be accessed on a range of devices, video and text explanations for over 1,300 practice questions of varying difficulty, two full-length practice tests, and more. Choose between a general self-study plan, an intensive one that focuses on math and integrated reasoning, or a guided plan that includes tutoring.

Graduate Management Admission Council As the official website for the council that created the GMAT exam, has a wealth of information for students, including the latest news, a list of universities that accept the test, and how to understand your score. You'll also find resources for professional development, educational materials, events, and conferences.

4. Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition

5. GMAT Flashcard Study System

6. All the GMAT

7. Barron's GMAT

8. GMAT Advanced Quant

9. PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible

10. GMAT For Dummies

Do You Actually Need To Prepare For The GMAT Exam?

This is a great thing, as a good score on the test is often seen as a competitive edge with the admissions office.

The Graduate Management Admission Test is an adaptive exam people take after their undergraduate program. It is used as an educational assessment tool for admission into a graduate program. It is important to understand that the GMAT is not a career aptitude test or an intelligence quotient test. It will not give the participant a score to use for their own personal understanding, but is more designed for schools and educators to judge the student’s ability in areas like problem solving, critical reasoning, and analytical writing — all based on what the Graduate Management Admission Council believes is vital knowledge to have for success in business and management. Many undergraduates think that good marks in their courses and a sufficient understanding of the concepts of business will be enough to get through the GMAT. As any GMAT veteran who has failed the test will likely admit, nothing could be further from the truth.

The GMAT is notoriously challenging. This is a great thing, as a good score on the test is often seen as a competitive edge with the admissions office. At the same time, the difficulty of the test can make it extremely stressful for students. Yet, it is a challenge that anyone wanting to earn an MBA and seek a career in business must undertake. To put the test in perspective, just over 20 percent of test takers get above the 650 mark. The statistics of test takers who score above the coveted 700 mark are even more frightening. Eleven percent of GMAT takers score a strong 700 or above. Rather than cower in the face of inevitable defeat, it is much more effective for a student to equip themselves with a GMAT prep book and prepare to conquer the challenge.

The best idea to help prepare for the GMAT is to create a study plan and stick to it. A great starting point is for the student to first take a GMAT practice exam to get an understanding of their personal level of understanding in each of the tested areas. From there, a GMAT prep book can help students prepare by working on their weak points and further strengthening their knowledge in areas where they are already adept.

What Will A GMAT Prep Book Cover?

The purpose of a GMAT prep book is to help prepare the reader for the structure and timing of the GMAT exam. The benefit to this is a lot of hands on experience in a form that mirrors the actual test. This can ease the stress of test day and prevent the test taker from becoming another GMAT failure statistic. To help students prepare, GMAT prep books will cover a wide variety of topics and concepts that are crucial for exam day.

Many GMAT books not only prepare the reader for the subject matter, but also the structure of the test itself.

There are even specialty books for those who feel they need more help in a specific area. Oftentimes, the difference between an amazing score and a failing score is one weak subject. For instance, many people struggle with the quantitative reasoning section of the GMAT. Luckily, there are quite a few books that thoroughly cover difficult topics like quantitative reasoning and critical reasoning. There are many people who fear the GMAT because of the extensive math-based portions. For instance, advanced concepts of probability, like correlation and regression, can be difficult for many people to understand, even if they have studied it before. Most GMAT prep book makers understand this, and will break concepts like these down to their most basic terms to make studying easier. Constant practice with a GMAT prep book can easily bridge the gap of understanding in cases where people are weak in one specific subject.

Many GMAT books not only prepare the reader for the subject matter, but also the structure of the test itself. This is extremely important, as knowledge on the subject matter will only be so useful if the user was not expecting to have to write an essay, for instance. Some people are terrible at essays, and require much more practice in this area. Using a GMAT prep book will help prepare them for the analytical writing assignment portion of the test with practice prompts; covering likely questions or themes, and giving content and structure tips for crafting the best possible answer.

Why Are GMAT Prep Books Important

GMAT scores are important, and not simply for admissions into graduate school. A recent review studied the long term impact of the GMAT on career success and satisfaction with both work and life in general. While many standardized tests have little bearing on a person’s self esteem or feelings of their own competency, GMAT scores actually appear to be tied to both satisfaction and success. According to the research posted to Frontiers in Psychology, having a higher GMAT score can significantly predict a greater sense of satisfaction in life. A high GMAT score is also a strong predictor of career success. Using a GMAT prep book may not simply prepare the reader for a successful test, but a successful life.

This is not to say that a poor GMAT score will leave a person destitute and unsatisfied in life, merely that there is a positive correlation between a good GMAT score and some key markers of success. This may also be attributed to the fact that people tend to have a general inability to properly self-assess. People who tend to score lower in standardized tests may take this as a sign of their own inadequacy and rate themselves lower in markers like happiness, satisfaction, and success. The reverse may also be true. People who do well on standardized tests may overestimate themselves and have overconfidence in their abilities, leading to higher subjective ideas of personal success and achievement.

While nothing can help with proper self-assessment like critical analysis of one's own life experience, the evidence remains that high GMAT scores are an indicator of success and satisfaction in life. With this in mind, opening a GMAT prep book and getting serious about studying for the exam seems like a great idea.

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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