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Buying guide for Best GMAT prep books

Ready to take the next step in your career by earning an MBA? One of the first things you’ll need to tackle is the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). This computer-adaptive exam is a necessary application component for most graduate business schools.

The GMAT measures your analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning abilities. GMAT prep books can help you study and prepare for this three-and-a-half-hour test. The best GMAT prep books have extensive review materials, multiple practice tests, and closely simulate the real exam. But with so many test prep books available, how do you find the right one for you?

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Over 200,000 candidates take the GMAT exam each year to gain admission to a graduate business program.

Reasons to take the GMAT

The GMAT is valued by business schools

Your GMAT score is highly weighted in your application to a graduate business school.

The GMAT is designed by the Graduate Management Admission Council, a non-profit collection of business schools, to examine the specific skills necessary for success in a graduate management program.

The GMAT assesses your readiness for business management

The different components of the GMAT test the skills you will need in a business school classroom.

A good GMAT score helps your application stand out

The GMAT is a way to demonstrate a set of skills that may not be apparent in the other elements of your business school application.

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Did you know?
Nine out of 10 MBA admissions are made using a GMAT score.

Format of the GMAT exam

The GMAT exam has four sections: analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

Verbal reasoning

The verbal reasoning section measures your reading comprehension, aptitude at evaluating arguments, and ability to edit text to conform to written English standards.

Integrated reasoning

Your ability to evaluate information in multiple formats and from multiple sources is measured in this section.

In a world where business is increasingly driven by data, your skill at integrated reasoning is an important assessment.

Quantitative reasoning

This section measures your quantitative reasoning skills, or how well you analyze data to draw conclusions.

Don’t let the math in the quantitative section throw you off; it’s no more difficult than what you learned in high school.

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Make sure you adequately pace your time when taking the GMAT. Leaving questions unanswered at the end can lower your score significantly.

Analytical writing assessment

This section of the exam, often referred to as the AWA, measures your critical thinking and how well you communicate your ideas.

In this section, you’ll be asked to analyze the reasoning behind an argument with a written critique.

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Did you know?
Test-takers are given 30 minutes for the analytical writing assessment, 30 minutes for integrated reasoning, 75 minutes for quantitative, and 75 minutes for verbal.

Tips on studying for the GMAT

Select test order

You will be given three options for the order in which the sections will appear on the test. Maybe you want to get the more difficult sections done first, or maybe you’d rather build up by first tackling the sections that are easier for you. Here are the three options:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, Verbal

  • Verbal, Quantitative, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

  • Quantitative, Verbal, Integrated Reasoning, Analytical Writing Assessment

Create a study schedule

You need significant time to prepare for the GMAT exam. Many potential MBA students take two to three months to prepare.

To study more efficiently, it helps to create a study schedule.

Take practice tests

Practice tests ensure you will be prepared and confident come test time.

Remember this is a test that lasts three and a half hours. To accurately practice, you’ll need to complete a practice test in the same amount of time.

Take the exam early

You’ll want to take the GMAT exam early in your undergraduate years.

It’s best to take it in your sophomore or junior year of college, rather than waiting until after you graduate. This way you’ll have plenty of time to retake the exam if you’re unhappy with your score, and also the math concepts will be fresher in your mind.

Your GMAT score remains active for five years, so you’ll still have a window post-undergrad for applying to business schools.

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The GMAT evolves year to year. If you choose to repeat it, the test you take will be different each time. Because of this, you need to stay updated with your study guides.


Q. How is the GMAT exam scored?

A. Your points from the quantitative and verbal sections are added together, leading to a score of 200 to 800 in 10-point increments. The analytical writing assessment and integrated reasoning sections are scored separately, from 0 to 6 and 1 to 8, respectively.

Q. Where and when can I take the GMAT exam?

A. The test can be taken any day of the year, save certain holidays, and is available globally at designated facilities.

Q. What do I need to bring to my GMAT exam?

A. You must bring a government-issued ID, the list of graduate programs you would like to receive your score, and your appointment confirmation letter or email.

Q. What items are not allowed in the testing center?

A. You are not allowed to bring the following into the testing center: calculators, cell phones, notes, watches, cameras, music devices, books, dictionaries, writing utensils, or measuring devices. A calculator will be provided to you for the integrated reasoning section only. You are also not allowed to check your cell phone during breaks.

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