Editor’s note: none of the following content is sponsored! Magoosh has purchased each of the best GMAT prep books reviewed below to ensure the most objective reviews possible.
Finding the Best GMAT Books and Resources
The first step in preparing for the GMAT is finding the best resources. With the welter of test prep companies touting their respective books, this first step can be downright daunting.
Over the years, the Magoosh team has logged hundreds of hours purchasing and researching dozens of GMAT books. In this article, we review five GMAT books and several additional resources, including material from GMAC, Manhattan GMAT, Nova, and Powerscore. Your prep starts and stops with the material below.
Table of Contents
We’ll start with five paid resources and then look at three free ones.
We know that you’re busy and have probably already done your fair share of research on the available options. Feel free to click the links below to jump ahead in the post. No judgement.
- Best GMAT Prep Books: Overview
- Best Free GMAT Resources
Top GMAT Prep Books
There’s so much great online material out there for the GMAT. But GMAT books definitely have their place in the canon of study materials! If you prefer non-digital study resources or eBooks, you definitely have a huge array of materials to choose from. So how do you pick?
Never fear! Here are our recommended best GMAT prep books. The table gives a brief overview, but you can also scroll down for more in-depth reviews, as well as our summary of the best free GMAT study resources out there!
|Book||Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set||The Official Guide to the GMAT Review||GMAT Math Prep Course||The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible|
|Pages||1912||1088 (OG), 336 (Quant), 544 (Verbal)||516||434|
|Most Recent Edition||7th||2022||2019||2021|
|Practice Tests/Questions||6 practice tests||1900+ questions||600+ math questions||600+ verbal|
|Approx. Price on Amazon (New)||$140.99||$77.85||$19.95||$33.24|
|Notes||You don't need the most current edition. The 10-book 6th edition that separates the books by section is an acceptable alternative.||3 books. Worth buying for the official practice material from GMAC.||Worth buying if you need additional challenging math practice.||Three books (one for each verbal section). Consider buying only for extra practice on the subjects where you need it. The CR book has best reputation.|
Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Books (MGMAT)
TL;DR: This is an excellent series of GMAT prep books. The newer versions (“All the GMAT”) are slightly better for Problem Solving questions and in terms of overall organization. However, the old ones are really top-notch as well—and can come quite a bit cheaper.
The best GMAT prep book award goes to Manhattan Prep. This full set (purchasable on Amazon.com) is a truly comprehensive guide to the whole GMAT. Don’t just learn a bunch of nifty tricks; learn the fundamentals behind the questions, so you won’t just be flailing about on test day, relying only on guessing strategies.
Across Magoosh we refer to different “books” from Manhattan, because the 6th edition has 10 books that have been changed into “units” in the new 7th edition (pictured below).
The 7th edition (purchasable on Manhattan’s website) combined all the three Verbal and Quant books into massive subject books (All the Verbal and All the Quant) with the sections that were once separated into separate books now reorganized as “units” in their respective book. IR and Essay remains its own book in any available edition, and the relatively unhelpful GMAT Roadmap (its own book) is now gone. The order of the units and books remains the same in either edition, making either a fine choice in terms of content.
The 7th has some advantages. It’s a much better organized package, and the formatting in the books is much cleaner, lending itself to an overall better studying experience. While practice questions broadly remain the same, the language now has been altered on roughly 20% of the questions (especially PS questions) to make them appear far more GMAT-like. That gives it a clear edge over the 6th by our estimation.
However, the 6th edition separates into 10 books rather than as units in a single package, which means that if you’re looking to only improve one particular section, then you can select your subject a la carte, only buying the books you need.
This brings us to another point: not every Manhattan book is built equally! In general, the Quant material is of a higher standard than that of the Verbal. The Quant material is marginally more difficult than what you’ll see on the test, while the Verbal questions are noticeably easier.
The Manhattan series consists of the following (click each link for a full Magoosh book review). Keep in mind that Quant and Verbal were books 1-5 and 6-8 respectively before the 7th edition grouped them together as units into the new All the Quant and All the Verbal books.
- The Manhattan GMAT Series (Quant)
- The Manhattan GMAT Series (Critical Reasoning)
- The Manhattan GMAT Series (Reading Comprehension)
- The Manhattan GMAT Series (Sentence Correction)
- Manhattan GMAT Advanced Quantitative
- Manhattan GMAT’s six online tests
(Note: Again, these mock GMATs, like the free MGMAT mock test, are fairly GMAT-like in Quant, IR, and AWA, but weak when it comes to Verbal. The Verbal questions on the MGMAT mocks are simply too easy. )
GMAT Official Guide (OG) by GMAC
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, check out our GMAT expert’s video review of the OG and where it ranks among the best GMAT books!
As Erika says here, books in general aren’t the ideal or only way to prep for the GMAT, because:
- The test is taken online with a computer, so it’s best to prep with one!
- And books aren’t adaptive (of course!)
However, when you’re out of GMAT materials online, the OG is a solid book to have on your bookshelf. In fact, some would argue that the GMAT OG material is the actual bible of GMAT preparation, and the rest mere apocrypha. After all, the main OG book and its two companion books that focus on Verbal and Quant are made by the brilliant people (GMAC) who actually write the questions you’ll see on GMAT test day.
- With that said, we suggest that you don’t rely on the Official Guides for strategies (the way you would with MGMAT), instead using official material for the best source of high quality GMAT questions.
You can get an elite score using any one edition of the OGs, but we still encourage students to use one of the more recent editions of the GMAT OG (2018 and on). By contrast, the older books (pre-2018) have practice tests and format explanations that don’t reflect the changes in the test that took place in April 2018. In other words: if you started to study for the GMAT a couple years back and you already have the 2018 or 2019 book, then that will do the trick.
However, if you don’t already own one of a copy of the Official Guides, we usually recommend buying the most recent available. Owning the newest edition is not 100% essential, but just preferable to older copies due to the small changes they make between each edition.
For example: the 2022 version of the OG has 50 new practice questions than the 2021 version, while the 2021 version has 70 more questions than the 2020 version. In turn, the 2020 version has 100 more questions than the 2019 version.
That sounds like the setup for a Quant question in and of itself, but the takeaway: while the 2022 version is technically the best buy, it’s not by a huge margin. Definitely consider getting an older book, particularly if you can save some money in doing so.
The GMAT Official Advanced Questions by GMAC
The Advanced Guide compiles 300 difficult questions from all sections of the exam, making it an excellent supplemental resource for those looking to reach 700+ scores on the test. Released in September of 2019, the Advanced Guide is one of the most recent and helpful resources for the GMAT. Its strengths and limitations are very similar to those of other GMAC-created resources. Expect excellent practice questions (coupled with frustratingly opaque explanations).
It also, interestingly, leans more towards more DS than PS questions in the Quant section, while the Verbal questions are nearly evenly distributed between CR, SC and RC. Across the book, the RC gets the highest difficulty spike, because each question is engineered to be very hard (whereas an ordinary RC section would have a much wider spread of difficulty for each question reading prompt).
Need even more math questions? Nova’s GMAT Prep Course has a wealth of math practice material and advice. Magoosh’s experts have taken a close look at this resource and found it to be flawed but still very useful.
The newest edition, released in 2019, appears to be virtually the same book as the 2016 edition. Upon review of the books side-by-side, we still can’t spot the difference! In fact, 2019’s edition still lists the testing requirements for the pre-April 2018 GMAT. That means we recommend choosing whichever is the better priced of the two copies at the time you look into purchasing the book.
Understand that this book uses the same studying philosophy as Manhattan’s resources: it prefers to challenge test-takers with questions slightly more challenging than their supposed difficulty. Some might prefer this approach, which tends to over-prepare students by testing the upper-limits of what is tested on the exam, but for others the process could be disheartening.
- Magoosh’s Full Review of the Nova GMAT Math Prep Course
- Purchase link for Nova’s GMAT Math Prep Course
PowerScore built its reputation as an LSAT company with its LSAT Critical Reasoning Bible. For those who don’t know, the LSAT is the GMAT Critical Reasoning section on steroids, so you can bet that PowerScore really knows how to dissect one of the most difficult question types on the GMAT. We’d recommend it as a supplement for those wanting an academic approach to CR. It also seems consistently accurate, especially compared to Manhattan’s CR resources.
The 2019 edition is currently the definitive version of this book. It expands helpfully on timing strategies in the beginning of the book before going into a nearly content-identical (but more organized) reiteration of the 2018 and 2017 books. The questions used in each chapter are the exact same in recent editions. So, if you already have the previous editions, there is no rush to purchase the 2019 version. If you don’t have an older edition, however, then we recommend the 2019 one.
The book has chapters on every type of CR question, which is helpful, but this surgical approach leaves the book feeling overly “busy,” packed to the margins with information. As a result, it feels far more academic than its peers in CR strategy, skewing much more towards theory than practice, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your learning approach.
Expect an in-depth study aid, and prepare to be thumbing frequently between the chapters and the book’s expansive glossary. You might very well feel that you’re ready for either the GMAT or the LSAT after diving into learning about logical fallacies and cognitive traps.
- Magoosh’s full review of the PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
- Purchase link for the GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
Best Free GMAT Exam Resources
Remember: Just because a resource is free doesn’t mean that it isn’t high quality. A lot of students begin prepping for business school and start to think that the number of dollar signs in front of something is a symbol of quality. Sure, there’s often a correlation there — but $:quality isn’t a causal relationship. Most students will use a mix of paid and free resources to prep.
Here are the best free resources you can start using right away.
|Resource||Company||Why You'll Love It|
|Magoosh.com||Magoosh||Wide range of free resources, including study schedules, eBooks, video lessons, and practice questions.|
|GMAT Math Flashcards||Magoosh||Available for Android, iPhone, or web. You can study anywhere.|
|GMAT Idioms Flashcards||Magoosh||Available for Android, iPhone, or web. You can study anywhere.|
|Beat the GMAT||Beat the GMAT||Forum for GMAT students and instructors. Honest reviews on GMAT prep options.|
|GMAT Club||GMAT Club||Forum for GMAT students and instructors. Honest reviews on GMAT prep options.|
Want to get accustomed to taking a stressful test on a computer? Magoosh (that’s us!) offers hundreds upon hundreds of practice questions, all with the stress-inducing timer. Want to learn the fundamentals à la MGMAT, but on a computer? Magoosh has hundreds of lessons modules to get you up and running. That’s our paid product.
But Magoosh is all about making prep accessible. So, in addition to our brilliant Premium GMAT Prep, we offer lots of free online resources. And they’re all awesome. (Sure we’re a little biased toward our own prep program, but it’s a seriously great online resource.)
And don’t forget to check out our free GMAT eBooks:
For diagnostic and practice exams, we recommend our free GMAT practice test resources!
And if you’re interested in something you can use on the go, keep reading…
FREE Magoosh GMAT Math Flashcards
Learn and review the most important GMAT math concepts with free online flashcards. Improve your GMAT Math score. Available for Android, iPhone, and web.
FREE Magoosh GMAT Idioms Flashcards
Master the 160 most important GMAT idioms and grammar rules with free online flashcards. Improve your GMAT Verbal score. Available for Android, iPhone, and web.
No man is an island, John Donne once intoned. So don’t be an island, and get out there with your newly acquired GMAT knowledge. Think you can provide a strong explanation to a question? Help the community out. Stumped? Then there are experts waiting to give you a hand over at the GMAT forums. You’ll probably even run into our GMAT expert Mike while you’re at GMAT Club!
GMAT Study Material: What You Really Need to Know
As you’ve seen in these reviews, many of the best GMAT prep books come from online forums, reputable websites, and book publishers such as Manhattan, Nova, PowerPrep, GMAC and so on. But good GMAT study material can come from many other sources. What’s important is that you seek out as much high-quality GMAT prep as possible! If you’re looking for something more than self-study GMAT books, we recommend you check out our review of the best GMAT prep courses.
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