GMAT Preparation

 

Scoring big on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is usually among the first steps to getting into a top business school. There are almost as many ways to prepare for the GMAT as there are test-takers. Some take a couple of practice tests and ease their way into a 700-plus score with no trouble at all, while others struggle to reach their goal.

 

A Note on GMAT Study Guides

We strongly advise all prospective MBA applicants to first pick up the free official guide from GMAC (Graduate Management Admissions Council). There is a difference between the official questions you will be asked on the exam and the practice questions contained in all other study guides.

Secondly, we recommend an “unofficial” guide since there is indeed a way to study for this test and materially improve your score. The better unofficial guides contain many time-proven test-taking strategies as well as excellent explanations for the correct answers to the practice problems. You will greatly increase your chances of receiving a higher test score if you are armed with GMAT test-taking strategies and actual questions from previous exams.

The GMAT is a Computer Adaptive Test

Since the GMAT test is computer adaptive, we believe you should practice the test in its computer adaptive test format. We  encourage you to download the Powerprep software free from GMAC as soon as possible. It is a great compliment to the Official Guide for the GMAT Review described below. Bear in mind that, even with several hundred questions, this free software represents only a small subset of questions due to the many different types of GMAT questions as well as the many different tiers of difficulty for each of the question types.

 

Study Guide Reviews

 

The Official Guide for GMAT Review (13th Ed)

Official GMAT book

Strengths

1. 907 real GMAT questions retired from past tests (158 new questions in this edition). The total has not changed
2. Practice questions are organized by level of difficulty
3. Practice questions follow actual GMAT test patterns (it’s great to have one’s ear trained, esp. in verbal)
4. Contains a 100-question diagnostic test
5. Overview of the Integrated Reasoning section (50 questions)

 Weaknesses 

1. Does not include any test-taking strategies
2. Though it has a few short review sections for each area, they are weak and very unfriendly
3. Questions are predominantly low to medium in difficulty which is often not representative of questions one encounters on the test

 

Kaplan New GMAT Premier 2013 with 5 Online Practice Tests (Kaplan Gmat Premier Live)

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Strengths 

1. Significant Revision – first major revision since 2008! I can see a big influence from the Manhattan GMAT approach and book structure. It seems this book (now at 1,100 pages) included many of the cliff notes from the MGMAT series. All sections have been revised and significantly beefed up – the book has added 450 pages since last edition!
2. Quite a few new questions – very good!
3. Some questions are now identified
4. Solid material with great Math and Verbal strategies as well as formulas/etc background
5. 49 pages covering Integrated Reasoning
6. 6 Full GMAT Tests (5 are in adaptive CAT format on the online and 1 is in a paper format in the book)
7. Online practice with additional exercises and quizzes – 18 online drills (increased by 3 since the 2011 edition)
8.  Much of general info on gmat has been moved into online video format, called Fast Fact Videos; that helps with learning when you have had too much reading for the day
9. Great value for the money with 6 Full GMAT tests, practice questions, and many online Quizzes
10.  Good amount of coverage for the INTEGRATED REASONING.

Weaknesses
1. Errors – I have spotted a few typos and issues with explanations; I suspect there may be quite a few more
2. Access to the online components expires after 6 months. This is the only reason to buy a new book vs used
3. NO CD/DVD – online content only
4. Does not have the depth and width a 700+ score requires
5. 1,100 Pages and 6 LBS! – not a travel size book

 

Cracking the GMAT with 4 Practice Tests & DVD, 2014 Edition

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Strengths 

1. Diagnostic exam sections to assess where you stand
2. DVD featuring video tutorials and advice from leading course instructors
3. Drills for every section, from data sufficiency to reading comprehension
4.  Step-by-step instruction on the Integrated Reasoning question types

Weaknesses

1. Too many errors
2. Not enough difficulty to adequately prepare
3. Only 180 practice questions
4.  More focused on test taking strategies than content

 

McGraw-Hill’s GMAT with CD-ROM, 2014 Edition

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Strengths 

1. 10 full length practice tests
2. Online coaching
3. Free test taking strategies

Weaknesses

1. Problems very different than official guide
2. Many questions repeated in different practice tests
3. Very limited in terms of questions