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  • 99 Models Considered
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Shopping Guide for Best GMAT Prep Books

    There are a number of prep materials for the GMAT — books, DVDs, and more. 

    But which is the right GMAT preparatory material? You'll find all kinds of options out there, and it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    That's where we come in!

    At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the best GMAT prep books for your exams.

    We're dedicated to writing the most honest and unbiased reviews out there. We never accept free products from manufacturers

     Instead, we study the products ourselves, consult experts, and examine feedback from buyers to form our opinions.

    Our ultimate goal: to become your go-to source for trustworthy product recommendations whenever you’re faced with a buying decision.

    At the top of this page, you'll find our five favorite GMAT prep books on the market. These highly rated products all qualify for our top-contender list.

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    Products we Considered

    • Manhattan Prep
      Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set
    • GMAC
      GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle
    • Princeton Review
      Cracking the GMAT
    • Kaplan
      Premier 2017

    Considerations

    Considerations

    Review Materials

    How extensive are the review materials that the books provide? Do they cover the quantitative and verbal topics comprehensively or do they only give a general review? Do they include preparation for the writing section?

    Considerations

    Practice Tests

    How many practice exams are included in the preparation materials? Some books have only 2 practice exams, while others offer as many as 8. These mock tests can play an important role in helping you rehearse your timing and rhythm before the real GMAT exam.

    Considerations

    Proximity to Real Exam

    How closely do the books emulate the real GMAT exam? Do the questions seem forced and/or inauthentic or do they mirror the real exam? Is the overall difficulty of the material easier or harder than the real exam or is it on par with the actual GMAT? Don't waste your money on exam materials that will prepare you for questions that you won't actually see on test day.

    Considerations

    Price

    Which books offers the best deal for your money? Don't waste your money on materials that won't help you move the needle on your GMAT preparation.

    Ben
    Expert Consultant

    Ben is an MBA admissions consultant with one of the country’s premium MBA admissions companies. His writing and advice on MBA admissions, test taking, and the overall graduate school perspective has appeared on CNN, Business Insider, GMAC.com, MBA.com, TopMBA.com, and many other publications.


    Ben  |  MBA admissions consultant

    Review Materials

    Review materials

    Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set

    The Manhattan Prep review materials are extremely thorough, almost to a fault. They stress and hone in on every concept that is within the GMAT scope. While this is a significant advantage for test-takers who are just beginning their preparation and are not at all familiar with the material, it can also be a slight distraction - several students have reported spending tireless hours on concepts that were never appeared on any of the previously released GMAT exams.

    Review materials

    GMAC GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle

    The GMAC books lie on the opposite end of the spectrum with respect to review materials. The level of preparation they provide on key concepts is limited and very high level. These books do a good job of identifying the important concepts to focus on, but if you want to take a deep dive and really become an expert in each area, we highly advise purchasing supplementary review materials.

    Review materials

    Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition

    Many users have been mildly disappointed with the review materials in the Princeton Review books. While the concepts that are covered are fairly comprehensive, they are not organized in a very intuitive way, and students often have a difficult time deciding which areas to focus on.These books also tend to include superfluous prep material that is not likely to show up on the real exam.

    Review materials

    Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

    The Kaplan study materials are the gold standard. They are designed to give you just what you need for the exam, while excluding concepts that may be potential distractions. These books also include several test-taking strategies specifically engineered to give students an edge in terms of timing and strategy on the exam. Users have unanimously found the strategies for the writing assessment to be particularly helpful, and several have also praised the quantitative strategies for helping them cut down valuable minutes off of their completion time.

    EXPERT TIP

    The Kaplan study materials are the gold standard.


    Ben  | MBA admissions consultant

    Practice Tests

    Practice tests

    Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set

    Manhattan Prep features 6 practice tests which are designed to mimic the format of the actual exam. The explanations to the practice tests also tend to be extremely clear and straightforward, especially relative to the other prep books whose explanations are somewhat terse and confusing. Overall, the majority of students we surveyed find the practice tests to be significantly beneficial in their preparation for the actual exam.

    Practice tests

    GMAC GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle

    The GMAC book includes a 100 question diagnostic exam as well as a bank of 900 questions from previous GMAT exams. The practice questions are organized by level of difficulty, which many students found useful as they ramp up their familiarity with the material. While these questions are helpful in providing test-takers with additional practice materials, they lack the format and structure of a real practice exam; luckily, the GMAC offers 2 real practice exams available to download through their website.

    EXPERT TIP

    There is no substitute to practicing with real, previously administered GMAT questions, and the book by GMAC offers hundreds of them.


    Ben  | MBA admissions consultant
    Practice tests

    Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition

    The Princeton Review GMAT materials provide access to 6 practice tests online. The tests are computer-adaptive, meaning that the questions become more or less difficult depending on how you answer the previous question. Students report this feature to be a significant factor in assimilating real test conditions, given that it mirrors the actual GMAT exam. Several students found the computer adaptability to be a bit precarious - going from easy to difficult quite rapidly - but for the majority of users, this was not an issue. The books also offer 180 practice "bin" questions, which students find to be helpful in helping them hone in on specific areas of weakness.

    Practice tests

    Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

    Kaplan's exam prep materials offer 6 practice tests - one in the book and five online. Similar to the Princeton Review tests, the digital exams are computer-adaptive. Students find the progression of difficulty of the Kaplan exams to be very reasonable and a lot more reliable than the Princeton Review tests - a definite bonus for those test-takers wishing to approximate real test-taking conditions as much as possible. A handful of students pointed out a few small typos within the practice test explanations, but they were not anything more than a minor distraction.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Students find the progression of difficulty of the Kaplan exams to be very reasonable and a lot more reliable than the Princeton Review tests.

    Most Realistic

    Most realistic

    Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set

    The Manhattan Prep questions tend to be significantly harder than those of the real GMAT exams. Students often find these questions valuable in helping them master some of the more difficult topics of the exam. However, some students also find the difficulty of the Manhattan Prep questions to be draining to their confidence and self-esteem - several quantitative exercises have been reported to take even the strongest test-takers more than 5 minutes to solve.

    Most realistic

    GMAC GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle

    As one would expect, the questions in the GMAC books are the closest in proximity to those of the real exam. Because these questions previously appeared in officially administered GMAT exams, they mirror the format, style, and difficulty of the test as much as possible. Students have reported that the questions in the GMAC books are actually slightly easier than the ones on the online GMAC exams. This is most likely because the digital questions come from more recently administered exams. Nonetheless, both sets of questions match the difficulty level of the real GMAT exam and are the best preparation tool that a student can have.

    Most realistic

    Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition

    Students find the Princeton Review questions to be easier than the real GMAT questions. While they can be a positive confidence-booster for some test-takers who are struggling with the material, they can mask some knowledge gaps that will become liabilities on the real exam. Few students find the Princeton Review preparation questions to be indicative of the actual exam, so if you are looking to take an authentic exam that will mirror the real thing, try a different test preparation provider such as as the GMAC.

    Most realistic

    Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

    Like Manhattan Prep, the Kaplan questions are much more difficult than the real GMAT exam questions. They are designed to make students think critically using some of the most strenuous GMAT concepts, especially in the quantitative section. Many students find that once they are able to get comfortable with the Kaplan questions, they are able to breeze through the practice questions from the GMAC and the Princeton Review without any problems.

    Because the questions on the GMAC Official Guide previously appeared in officially administered GMAT exams, they mirror the format, style, and difficulty of the test as much as possible.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Price

    Price

    Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

    Retailing for $[1618656651], the Kaplan Premier is an extremely good deal. For this price, you get access to the best review materials available for the GMAT, as well as to 6 practice tests that come close to mimicking the real exam. While the questions don't mirror the exam as closely as the GMAC ones, they are a very close second.

    Price

    Princeton Review Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition

    The Princeton books are on sale for $22. While this isn't a huge investment, they don't provide much value beyond what the GMAC or Kaplan materials offer. The review materials are a bit disorganized and tend to cover material that won't show up on the actual exam. We would only recommend purchasing this book if you have exhausted the GMAC and Kaplan practice exams and are looking for an extra set of fresh questions.

    Price

    GMAC GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle

    At its low price, this purchase is a no-brainer. We strongly recommend every future GMAT test-taker to invest in this book. These are the only review materials that feature questions from previous, officially-administered GMAT exams. We can't underscore enough how important it is to have experience with official GMAT questions before taking the real exam.

    Price

    Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set

    At $[1941234100], the Manhattan Complete Strategy Guide is a real investment. It is only really worth the cost if you are looking for an extensive supply of review materials for the verbal, quantitative, and writing sections of the exam. These materials cover the concepts in knitty gritty detail, and if this is what you're looking for, the Manhattan Strategy Guide is a good pick.

    EXPERT TIP

    The GMAC books are the only review materials that feature questions from previous, officially-administered GMAT exams.


    Ben  | MBA admissions consultant
    Manhattan Prep Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set

    BEST OF THE BEST

    While the GMAC book offers test material that most closely mimics the real exam, the Manhatan Prep Strategy Guid Set is an extremely valuable supplement. Manhattan Prep's review materials are actually more detailed and exhaustive than those of the Official Guide and will prepare you for every relevant verbal, quantitative, and writing concept on the exam. Although the questions aren't from previously administered GMAT exams, they are far more realistic and challenging than those of Princeton Review and do a good job of putting test-takers on the spot. Other than the books from the GMAC, this is by far the most helpful set of GMAT materials available.

    Manhattan Prep's review materials are actually more detailed and exhaustive than those of the Official Guide.

    Staff
    BestReviews
    GMAC GMAT 2017 Official Guide Bundle

    BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

    This is the hands-down best investment you can make in terms of preparing for the GMAT. There is absolutely no substitute to practicing with real, previously administered GMAT questions, and this book offers hundreds of them - both in a review and a practice test format. Because there are so many nuances to writing a test question, it is very difficult for third party test prep companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review to mimic the real exam - with the GMAC questions you can rest assured that you are training yourself on questions similar to what will actually show up on test day. If you want to do well on the GMAT, purchase this book!
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