Best GMAT Prep Books and Resources

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What’s the best GMAT prep book? And which GMAT self-study materials are the most up-to-date and comprehensive? Look no further.  Here are our up-to-date reviews of the top GMAT books and resources available. Our current recommendations include material from Magoosh itself, online GMAT forums, Manhattan GMAT, Nova, PowerScore, and GMAC.

Before you discover our recommended best GMAT prep books on the market, be sure to take a look at this giant list of Magoosh’s free GMAT resources. Free is nice, right? Also, check out our complete list of GMAT practice test resources here. (You can never have too many!) Now, let’s dive into our best resources for the GMAT test review.
 
 

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.

Below is a list of the only GMAT books and resources you will ever need to use. So don’t feel overwhelmed. Your prep starts and stops with the material below.


 

Table of Contents

The resources and book reviews in this post are organized by cost. We’ll start with three free resources and then look at four paid 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.


 

All GMAT Resource Reviews

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Read our review for Magoosh resources
Read our review for GMAT forums Read our review for Manhattan GMAT
Graduate Admissions Council (GMAC) logoNOVA Press logobest gmat prep
Read our review for The Official Guide (from GMAC)Read our review for Nova GMATRead our review for PowerScore GMAT
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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.

ResourceCompanyWhy You'll Love It
Magoosh.comMagooshWide range of free resources, including study schedules, eBooks, video lessons, and practice questions.
GMAT Math FlashcardsMagooshAvailable for Android, iPhone, or web. You can study anywhere.
GMAT Idioms FlashcardsMagooshAvailable for Android, iPhone, or web. You can study anywhere.
Beat the GMATBeat the GMATForum for GMAT students and instructors. Honest reviews on GMAT prep options.
GMAT ClubGMAT ClubForum for GMAT students and instructors. Honest reviews on GMAT prep options.

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Magoosh Resources

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 á 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:

Magoosh's Complete Guide to the GMAT eBook Magoosh's GMAT Idiom eBook-best GMAT books-magoosh Magoosh's Complete Guide to GMAT Integrated Reasoning-best GMAT books-magoosh

Or our detailed GMAT study schedules.

And watch videos on our YouTube channel.

While you’re at it, check out our video explanations for the Official Guide for GMAT Review 2016.

And if you’re interested in something you can use on the go…

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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 math flashcards-best GMAT books and resources-magoosh

Get the iOS, Android, and Web links here.

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.

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Get the iOS, Android, and Web links here.

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GMAT Forums

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beat-the-gmat-best GMAT books and resources-magoosh

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!

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Reviews of the Best GMAT Prep Books

Printed books generally cost money, and these GMAT prep books are no exception. When it comes to paid products, Manhattan GMAT, Nova’s GMAT math book, PowerPrep GMAT and the Official Guide to the GMAT get our top recommendations.

Remember before when I said that most students use a mix of free and paid prep resources? If you’re on a really tight budget (many students are), try to avoid discounting resources because they cost some money. GMAT prep is an investment. Magoosh’s goal is to make test prep accessible to all students. The point of this particular post is to help you save money by purchasing only the resources that are most worth your valuable time and money. Prep should be efficient and fun.

So, without any further ado, here are our recommended best GMAT prep books. (In our brief overview of the books in the table below, use the scroll bar at the bottom of the table to view more information. Then, underneath the table, read on for a more in-depth look at each book!)

 #1#2#3#4
BookComplete GMAT Strategy Guide SetThe Official Guide to the GMAT ReviewGMAT Math Prep CourseThe PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
PublisherManhattanGMACNovaPowerScore
Pages11791680516671
Most Recent Edition7th202020192019
Practice Tests/Questions6 practice tests1700+ questions600+ math questions600+ verbal
Approx. Price on Amazon (New)$145$54$38$62
NotesYou 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.

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Best GMAT Prep Book: Manhattan Prep GMAT (MGMAT)

MGMAT-best GMAT books-magoosh

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 which 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.

But we still think students who are further along in their studies might want to consider the 6th edition. Why? 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 might be especially economical, since Manhattan tends to publish some of the pricier GMAT preparation materials.

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 books (or “units”) are viewed by most students as teaching questions marginally harder than those of the GMAT, while the Verbal questions are noticeably easier. RC and CR passages in particular are simpler than they would be on the real test, and far too many of the RC, CR, and SC answer choices are obviously wrong or listed as wrong, but are technically right, which makes the Manhattan Verbal an often difficult resource to use. That being said, the SC book seems to be the best of the three Verbal books. It approaches grammar in a more granular way, and uses helpful drills to teach finicky grammar rules. This makes it highly useful to non-Native English speakers and for those who want to know their gerunds from their infinitives.

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.

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The Official Guide for GMAT Review (OG) by GMAC

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.

While the questions are thought to be the highest quality available, their explanations can be surprisingly vague (“C is not the answer, D is not the answer”), so don’t be reluctant to use a supplemental resource that explains their explanations (like a Google-search of a question which brings you to GMAT Club).

  • 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.

Changes in the 2020 OG

  • There are 123 new questions in total while 23 questions have been removed. This means that the 2020 book nets 100 more questions than the 2019.
  • Every section gets new questions, but CR and DS make up the bulk of them. This is notable because now there are an equal amount of DS and PS questions (230 each), as the biggest “add” has been the 56 new DS questions — with geometry getting the most attention. CR gets 29 new questions on its own.
  • There is a new OG app that syncs with their online questions (similar to the way you can use Magoosh and its app).

Changes in the 2021 OG

  • GMAC added 70 new questions (mostly on the PS section) which tend to be in the Medium-difficulty range. They highlight the “Advanced Guide” several times in the book, so it seems they’re trying to redirect those with 700+ goals to that book as a supplement.
  • A brand new flashcards app available on the app, or on Wiley’s online education system.
  • The ebook version can be bought here right now and the physical edition off of GMAC’s website or Amazon in June 2021. The ebook currently needs to be read from an unintuitive app or special website depending on your browser and computer, making it quite cumbersome to read.

Our final verdict? The changes between editions are usually just minor tweaks, but the 2020 edition adds quite a few new questions compared to its immediate predecessor. The 2021, in comparison, adds fewer questions, and only a handful of those are “Hard” difficulty or greater (with GMAC opting instead to push students toward the Advanced Guide for their 700+ needs). That means that the 2021 is technically the “best” edition of the book, but not by a wide margin, so we’d encourage students to consider buying the 2020 if they can save some money on the difference.

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The GMAT Official Advanced Questions by GMAC

The Advanced Guide complies 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).

A more in-depth review is forthcoming and will be posted here when ready.

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Nova

Nova Math Bible-best GMAT books-magoosh

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.

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PowerScore

PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible (book review)

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.

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.

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GMAT Study Material: What You Really Need to Know

As you’ve seen in these reviews, many of the best GMAT study materials 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.

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners and use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.

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