Best GMAT Prep Book

Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides

There are plenty of ways to prepare for the GMAT. Apps, books, flashcards, and similar tools. Web prep apps like Magoosh have also grown in prevalence over the years at the expense of prep books. But we're still fans of a good ole book. They're more affordable, personal, and just as effective. But finding the right one presents a challenge when there are countless available.

Some people need thorough subject review, and others only need hundreds of practice problems to work through.

We believe that the best GMAT prep book is one that provides a wide variety of practice opportunity alongside heavy subject review. Effective preparation for the GMAT requires a balance of the two. It is tough to find thorough subject review and practice questions all in one book. That is why we alternatively recommend the Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides. Yes, guides. A guide for each subject area of the test - especially useful if you've been out of school for some time.

All the GMAT by Manhattan Prep

Why We Picked the Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides

Finding a prep book that prepares you for the GMAT is trickier than it sounds. Here's what we looked for when we compared different books:

  • Comprehensive Subject Review - Reviewing all the subject material that's on the GMAT is a must. There are a plenty of books out there that briefly graze over test topics, but they don't teach or reinforce the information well.
  • Excellent Practice Problems - Having practice problems that mirror what you'll see on test day is also at the top of our list. Some prep books sadly lack good practice problems (we're looking at you Kaplan) which leaves you ill prepared.
  • In-Depth Practice Problem Answers - It's even tougher to find in-depth, well written practice problem answers. You'd think publishers would prioritize this, but it's a key factor in separating the good from the bad. If you're spending the time and effort to learn, don't settle on having to hunt for answers on your own.
  • Full-Length Practice Exam - To properly prepare yourself, you'll need to take a timed practice exams. One exam should be taken as a diagnostic tool when you first start studying. Later practice exams should be used as a benchmark for your learning progress.

Comprehensive Subject Review

Here are the four sections of the GMT Exam to account for according to the Graduate Management Admission Council:

SectionDescription
Analytical WritingMeasures a student's abilities in critical thinking and communicating ideas effectively.
Quantitative ReasoningAnalyzes data through problem solving and drawing conclusions using reasoning skills.
Verbal ReasoningMeasures a student's reading skills, comprehension of written materials, evaluation of arguments, and editing or writing.
Integrated ReasoningThis section measures a student's ability to analyze data and evaluate information shared in different formats.


The Strategy Guides give each of the three sections a further breakout:

  • Quantitative Reasoning
    • GMAT Roadmap
    • Number Properties
    • Fractions, Decimals, & Percents
    • Algebra
    • Word Problems
    • Geometry
  • Verbal Reasoning
    • Critical Reasoning
    • Reading Comprehension
    • Sentence Correction
  • Integrated Reasoning & Essays (Analytical Writing)


We like that the Strategy Guides cover the above major topics: With each topic being given an entire guide. The guides are arranged into chapters that start with content review and are followed by practice problem sets.

The guide for Fractions, Decimals, & Percents is broken down into Chapters of content review and practice questions.

Table of Contents from the Fractions, Decimals, & Percents Guide

Excellent Practice Problems

As mentioned earlier, having practice problems that mirror what you'll see on test day is critical. Although these are Manhattan Prep authored practice problems, they're very similar to those on the actual exam.

If you're looking for past authored GMAT questions, take a look at the GMAT Official Guide Bundle. The bundle is comprised of over 1,700 real GMAT questions taken from past exam from the makers of the GMAT.

In-Depth Practice Problem Answers

This should be self explanatory - problem answers that are easy to follow and effectively review how to answer a question are imperative to learning.


Example of an In-Depth Practice Question Answer from the Geometry Guide

Full-Length Practice Exam

It's critical to take a practice test before your exam day. It ensures you understand what taking the GMAT under time constraints is really like. As you tackle each test section, including Quant, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning you learn how to pace yourself through each section. Most of all, you'll see how you would score if you took the GMAT today.

That's why it's important to find practice exams that are as close to the official GMAT as possible. And Manhattan Prep does an excellent job at that. They utilize adaptive calibration and Selection Section Order, just like the real thing. Further, they provide detailed assessment reports that help you identify your strengths and weaknesses making for smarter studying.


Manhattan Prep GMAT Detailed Assessment Reports

The bundle includes access to 6 full-length practice exams alongside an integrated study plan. Manhattan Prep has an online portal called Atlas, which is essentially their online learning platform. There's a separate portal called Navigator, which contains solutions for all problems in the guides.

Price

The guide bundle costs around $125 on Amazon. It's a bargain when compared against private GMAT tutoring - which typically runs between $55 - $110 per hour-long session.

Acing the GMAT requires mastering the material and learning how to think your way through GMAT problems. The Manhattan Prep guides contain the most in-depth, comprehensive materials available.


A Great Alternative: GMAT Official Guide 2020 Bundle

Compared the the Strategy Guides, the GMAT Official Guide Bundle is much less comprehensive. There's no content review and no practice exams. But, they official guides contain 1,700 GMAT questions from real GMAT exams. And that's their selling point - questions from past exams from the markers of the GMAT exam.

If you're not willing to spend over $100 for test prep, this is the way to go. The official bundle of three books costs around $50. Or you can buy them separately.

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