Manhattan GMAT Math (Guides 1-5) Book Review


MGMAT has compiled what is most likely the most thorough, in-depth, and rigorous approach to GMAT Quant. Ever. Does that mean using this GMAT book will help your math score soar? Most likely, yes. In fact, if you diligently work through the guides (Guide 1: Number Properties, Guide 2 Fractions, Decimals & Percents, Guide 3: Equations, Inequalities, & VICs, Guide 4: Word Translations, and Guide 5: Geometry) you can become a GMAT Quant machine.

But there is an ‘if.’ The MGMAT math books are not for the complete beginner. Information is dense, and I can see the GMAT neophyte losing heart. He or she would be much better served by Kaplan, which does a good job of holding a student’s hand, so to speak, to about the 600-level. Kaplan also provides a good overview of the test.  MGMAT is so vast that one can feel at sea. For instance, where exactly is an introduction to Data Sufficiency?

Of course, if you are already are pretty decent in Quant than you might want to dispense completely with Kaplan and use only MGMAT. Not only will you get this book in conjunction with the Official Guide (and I really like how there are sections offering “rephrased questions” from the Official Guide), but you will also have access to MGMAT’s CAT exams, which help you apply the concepts covered in these guides.


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The Guides

The overall quality of the five guides does not differ enough to warrant a review for each guide. MGMAT does an effective job, hewing to the format of introducing strategies with sample problems and then ending each chapter with exercises.

The breakup between the books is sound, though again, a special section dedicated to Data Sufficiency, regardless of concept, would be helpful. The Geometry book could have been a little less slim. But this critique simply reflects how high MGMAT has raised the bar with these guides. Kaplan, by contrast, doesn’t even come close to 100-pages in Geometry.



  • Each chapter delves into the quant concepts you have to know for the GMAT.
  • Helpful exercises following each chapter help reinforce concepts.
  • The organization of the chapters is mostly helpful though—and you can read this in the “Cons” sections—within chapters the information is sometimes a little too dense.
  • MGMAT does a very good job of approximating the “flavor” of questions found on the actual exam.



  • There is so much information that many pages seem “busy.” This is not so much a critique as a warning: the MGMAT Quant books are dense, but stick with it and you will learn many, many valuable insights into the GMAT Quant section.
  • Not for the total beginner, or even the somewhat beginner. If you fall into either category, MGMAT as a Math Foundations books and/or use Kaplan.
  • Some of the tables seem a little unwieldy. While following these tables will get you the right answer, doing so will most likely take you longer than other methods.
  • An introduction/overview to Data Sufficiency would really help those new to the test.



If you are serious about doing well on the GMAT Quant, there is no prep book more comprehensive and effective than the MGMAT Quant Study Guides. If you are just starting off, then Kaplan could be more helpful. But once you’ve had a month studying under your belt, the MGMAT Quant guides are a must.

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Grade: A

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  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

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6 Responses to Manhattan GMAT Math (Guides 1-5) Book Review

  1. Daniel January 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    I just cmae upon this website and I am looking for a good book to study the GMAT. I just graduated university and I am not too sure which book to use. What is a book that you can recommend? I am looking for a score of nearly 700, I think. Something that can let me get into schools that have good MBA programs such as UPENN.

    What is a good book you can recommend? I am I guess average on Math and a little poor on critical reading. Grammar is average as well. So I guess not a preferred applicant to UPENN but I would like to be considered a good applicant. What book can I use to achieve that score? Something that is good and can train me step by step.

  2. kunal September 10, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

    Thank you for all your helpful reviews on the prep materials. When in your review, you say ‘He or she would be much better served by Kaplan, which does a good job of holding a student’s hand, so to speak, to about the 600-level.’ Which Kaplan book are you referring to? I left maths 15 years back and moreover, i wasn’t good in Maths even in schools. Presently, I have OG16 and also MAGMAT Math and Verbal foundation. So, would it be a good idea for me to still buy Kaplan? And if yes, which Kaplan? Thanks for your valued advise.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 11, 2015 at 10:14 am #

      I would say Kaplan books in general are more geared towards the sub-600 level. That said, the MGMAT foundation books start off very basic and a great way to go. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Kaplan unless you’ve run out of study material. I don’t think the quality of questions is up to the standard of MGMAT. And MGMAT has questions from across the range, from 200-800. Hope that helps!

  3. Avinash D'Souza June 18, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Chris, I’m going to strongly disagree with you on certain points here.

    a) MGMAT guides in themselves won’t help you cross the 650-700 mark. No really, they won’t.
    b) A few chapters are covered sketchily at best; a prime example of chapters which just aren’t up to scratch is Combinatorics and Probability. And you said Geometry, not me. 😉
    c) I don’t get why the integration of DS is so weak. I’ve bought the Advanced Quant book which has helped out loads in DS but I don’t get why this isn’t brought into play n the regular guides.
    d)This is purely my opinion here, but I really don’t think rephrasing of the OG questions helps much. The OG is a bank of historical questions. Ideally, we’d see questions which look like them. Rephrasing doesn’t really help the candidate’s cause. Again, that’s just my opinion.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      HI Avinash,

      Thank you for your valuable insights. In a way I could have been a little more critical, at the same time there is no perfect book out there. Additionally, MGMAT CATs give you plenty of practice questions, many of which are above 700+. And while I didn’t explicitly point this out in the review, the existence of their CATs did color my review a little. Anyhow, thanks for your helpful point on DS. I will be reviewing the Advanced book soon and will make reference to this.

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