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GMAT Book Reviews 2013

Update: 2013’s old news. Check out the Best GMAT Books and Resources of 2014 and the Best MBA Admissions Resources for up-to-date info!


Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the GMAT books on the market in 2013. Not all of these are new. In fact most of them aren’t, but that’s okay. There’s plenty out there that will help you on the GMAT, but be wary, there’s quite a bit of chaff to separate from the wheat.  Follow the links to get detailed reviews of any book or topic.


GMAT book reviews – the GOOD

My good friend Chris has reviewed the best GMAT resources.  These include the Manhattan GMAT books (MGMAT), which are some of the finest GMAT study sources in print, and of course, the OG13, which every prospective GMAT test-taker should own.


GMAT book reviews – limbo

In our view, the Kaplan GMAT 800, 8th edition and Kaplan New GMAT Premier 2013 books certainly do not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as MGMAT and the other good sources, but they’re not nearly as atrocious as the ones we will meet below.  Thus, we have created a special limbo zone expressly for these two books.

Also earning a shelf in limbo are the two NOVA math books, the GMAT Math Bible and the GMAT Math Prep Course.  These are not for everybody, but if you’re a math nerd who already has exhausted other GMAT Math practice question sources, and you’re just looking for a truckload of math problems to practice, either of these books is wonderful.


 GMAT book reviews – the BAD

Both the Peterson’s Master the GMAT 2013 and the Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT 2012 are books that don’t have too much to recommend them.  From our point of view, it would disastrous if you made either one of these your sole source of preparation, and even as a supplement to another main source, neither one of these contributes much new that would be valuable.


 GMAT book reviews – the UGLY

Run away!  Run away!  These two are the bottom of the barrel —- if you are given either of these books for free, give it away without opening it!  The first is the Barron’s GMAT 16th Edition —- a surprising failure from an otherwise trusted name in test review.  Barrons — not bad at all for the SAT, but an unmitigated disaster for the GMAT.  The other is the GMAT for Dummies.  This 2006 book is woefully out of date — it doesn’t even know that the Integrated Reasoning section exists!  If this book were totally up-to-date, it would land in the “Bad” category, but the combination of mediocre material and half-a-decade behind the test — that combination lands it at the bottom of our list.



There’s a lot to sift through when searching for the right study materials. Do you have any experiences you would like to share about any of these books?  Any questions?  Please let us know in the comments section below! 


By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh GMAT Prep!

10 Responses to GMAT Book Reviews 2013

  1. Chris February 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Hey Mike,

    I will have about 8-10 hours a week to study for the GMAT (may be somewhat uneven since I am still in university and have exams).

    My question is if I am trying to get 620-650, and I have plenty of money to purchase GMAT prep, what would be the best resources to use?

    I live I Canada and am not close enough to a large city to take a night class.

    Would it be best to use Magoosh to start, then do all the Manhattan books, and then go through the og’s?

    I am about average in both math and verbal. Probably between 510 and 530 currently. I got 90% in my Financial management class, but being in Canada I have never taken a standardized test (we don’t have SAT’s).

    Thanks for your help!


    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike February 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

      Dear Chris,
      I would recommend looking at this post:
      for resources. I would recommend either this 3-month study schedule:
      or, if you have the time, this six-month schedule:
      Definitely get the MGMAT books and work through them as you are following the study schedule.
      I would urge you to buy some used books, even one of the books I review poorly on this page, just to start getting practice taking GMAT tests. If you take one cold in the near future, then you will get a better sense of your baseline. In that vein, I would also recommend the older paper-based tests
      just so you build as much experience as you can before you have to take the real thing.
      You should make use of the two forums:
      In fact, it might be a good idea to read through all the “general study strategies” articles on this blog, just to get a sense of the issues involved in preparing yourself for standardized tests.
      Does all this make sense?
      Mike 🙂

      • Chris February 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

        Hey Mike,

        Thank you for the advice. I have been reading a lot of the blog posts as well as Magoosh’s GMAT ebook.. I have used the Barron’s software that a friend of mine gave me but the problem is after I finish the test it will only tell me how many I got right and how many I got wrong (no score between 200-800). Do the paper tests you recommended give a score between 200-800? I know each question has a different weight based on how hard it is so knowing how many I got right doesn’t help me zero in on my score and give me a good baseline.



        • Mike MᶜGarry
          Mike February 7, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

          The GMAT paper tests have charts in the back that you can use to calculate estimates of your Q & V raw scores, and your scaled score. You could use these same scales to estimate from the Kaplan test you took. The Barrons’ book — well, you can see where we rated it — but it also has a system for giving you a scaled score of the test in that book. It might be worthwhile to buy this book used, take the test & use the scale, maybe use the Barron’s scale to guesstimate a score for your Kaplan test, and then set fire to the volume. Again, this is just to get a ballpark idea of your baseline. Save the high quality tests, the MGMAT tests and the GMAT Prep tests, until toward the end of your studying, as recommended in the Magoosh study schedule.
          Does all this make sense?
          Mike 🙂

          • Chris February 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

            Hey Mike,

            I will get my hands on one of the paper tests, the Barron’s practice tests I had were on the computer only and I did not have the corresponding book with the scale. I did a Veritas test and got a 520 (doing better in the verbal section). Is it reasonable to think I could get 600 or more on the GMAT with good preparation?



            • Mike MᶜGarry
              Mike February 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

              It will take some disciplined and thorough preparation, but if you are consistent in your studies, I believe you can score above 600.
              Mike 🙂

  2. Jamil July 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    What about mock exams. which ones are the bests?

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike July 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

      Dear Jamil,
      I don’t know about the best, but the MGMAT practice tests are good. That’s what we recommend in our study plan. I would suggest checking out our study plans in the side bars.
      Mike 🙂

  3. Ninad May 3, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    Dear Sir, I am Ninad from India and have just started with my gmat preparation. Also I am planing to give the exam in coming 4 months period. I request you whether you can guide me relevant study material for my gmat preparation. I would be really thankful.

    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike May 3, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Dear Ninad:
      Toward this top of this page, in the “GOOD” section, you will see a link — “the best GMAT resources” —- follow that link, and read that article assiduously.
      Mike 🙂

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