Preparing for the GMAT exam is no simple feat, especially considering the fact that the score you obtain in the exam is used as a criteria for admissions by some of the top B-schools in the world. It is a standardized exam which is recognized by universities all across the globe. The exam consists of 4 main divisions – Quantitative Aptitude, Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning. Each of these sections require adequate preparation and efforts so that an individual is able to score well in the same. All of the scores contribute towards your final GMAT score and it is necessary to spend enough time on them. One of the major influencing factors will be the study materials which you utilise for preparing for the exam for each of these sections. With the vast improvement in technology students can gain access to unlimited supply of study materials online. Just as there are plenty of online resources claiming to be the ‘one-stop-shop’ for GMAT prep work, there are many books that promise you 750+ scores. Not all books, unfortunately, are created equally. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right material for your GMAT preparation:
A book suitable for GMAT prep should have extensive notes on the concepts and fundamentals that the GMAT tests you on. A quick flip through the pages before you buy should tell you whether the concepts and examples are dealt with superficially (which is not advisable) or in depth. Ideally, there should be no ‘skimming’ along and the most likely types of questions – whether verbal or quantitative – should be explained clearly and unambiguously. After all, if the whole point is to learn, it doesn’t help if the book just befuddles you further! The content in the study materials you opt for must contain clear explanations of the concepts you will be studying in all the categories. Since there are a lot of materials which are readily accessible over the internet, it will therefore be possible for you to make a comparative study in an easier manner before you finalize on the books you want to opt for learning. Your best bet will be to choose the Official Guide by the GMAC, these books are from the creators of the GMAT exam themselves and hence will contain questions in the same format they are likely to appear in the exam. These books will also have useful strategies for attempting the test as well like – Time management, determining various question types and eliminating wrong answers etc. These are certain to help you boost your overall score in the GMAT exam.
Nature of Questions
As we keep emphasising repeatedly on our blog, it makes no sense to prepare with the wrong set of questions. The GMAT exam is incredibly conservative when it comes to the type of questions that are asked, and a good book is one that sticks to the same standard in the nature of questions it contains: neither too easy nor too hard, and likely to be asked in the GMAT. If you’ve taken the GMAT itself (or any of the official GMAT practice tests), you should be able to recognize the quality of GMAT questions, even including the polish and elegance of the language used to frame them. Compare the questions in the book you’ve picked up with these and be the best judge of whether they live up to the real thing. When you have realistic question patterns with which you can practice you can become well versed with the same when attempting them in the actual exam. You will become aware on what skills you have to develop so that you are able to solve the questions in a faster and more accurate manner. In the event that you practice with the wrong set of questions then you may either develop incorrect strategies to answer questions which would result in losing precious time and points on your overall GMAT score. In addition to the nature of the questions, there should be equal significance provided to the explanation of the answers as well. Since these will eventually guide you on which techniques to adopt so that you are able to easily score well in the exam.
The quantity and quality of practice tests included in the book matters a lot. Some books give you one or two tests and are theory or explanation-heavy; others might offer more practice tests but with terse, useless explanations. While the thumb rule is that ‘more is better,’ tests by themselves may not be helpful if you are still working on the fundamentals. And there is really no correlation between quantity and quality here. More questions does not necessarily mean better or lower quality, and the latter has to be judged on its own. The practice tests should mirror the GMAT as closely as possible. As with the review questions, those asked in the practice test should seem genuine and of a similar complexity as asked in the GMAT. The mock/practice tests play a crucial role in the preparation for the GMAT exam. They help an individual to self evaluate himself/herself and understand their strengths and weaknesses. It also helps to determine how much time to allocate for each section of the exam. Additionally you will become aware of the exam scenario and also on how to handle the adaptive testing technology where the difficulty level of the next section depends on your performance in the previous sections. This is an important aspect of the GMAT and this is the reason why you will not be able to skip any questions in the exam as your response on a question helps the computer to determine the difficulty level of the next question you will be attempting. Since the GMAT is a computer based exam it is necessary for you to be acquainted with the patterns of the same. Therefore it is recommended that you opt for the books which can provide you with the most accurate and a similar exam taking experience to the actual GMAT exam.
On the value-for-money scale, will the book you are thinking of buying move you further up the scale? Good material does not come cheap – after all, you get what you pay for – but that doesn’t mean that an expensive resource must automatically be a good one. Browse through the index or the appendices to get an idea of what the book offers, and try out a couple of questions to see if it will help you in your prep. Perhaps investing in a slightly costlier book once might help you avoid a much costlier retest in the long run. As the saying goes, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish! It is certainly a worthy investment while you obtain the appropriate books for studying rather than opting for a cheaper below standard option which is more likely to hamper your preparation efforts rather than help you on the same. Remember that what you spend for your books will assist you in gaining a good score on the exam resulting in admissions into the universities of your choice.
Once you have completed all the topics of the exam it is important that you have an effective review or revision of all the subjects that you have learnt so far. This is necessary so that you are able to recall all that you have studied and refresh your memory to perform better in the exam. The structure of the content in the books should be easy to understand and presented in a simple manner. It must be able to help you build your knowledge and strengthen your skills as well. Reviewing all the topics of the exam’s syllabus is essential for your preparation so that you are able to hone your skills in a better manner.
The Holy Grail of GMAT prep has always been the Official Guide to the GMAT published by the GMAC. for all the sections of the exam (GMAT® Official Guide 2019, GMAT® Official Guide Verbal Review 2019, and GMAT® Official Guide Quantitative Review 2019) . These contain retired GMAT questions and truly reflect the standard of questions you can expect to see on the test. The only drawback of this collection is that the explanations given are not in-depth and you will need expert help to understand them better.
Some other books apart from the Official Guide for GMAT you could also opt for are :
Books for GMAT Quantitative:
- GMAT Advanced Quant: 250+ Practice Problems & Bonus Online Resources
- GMAT Geometry (Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides)
Books for GMAT Verbal and Grammar:
- 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary
- Books for Essay writing for GMAT
- GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Essay Topics (Test Prep Series)
Books for Reasoning:
- GMAT Critical Reasoning (Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides)
- Modern Approach to Verbal Reasoning (FULLY SOLVED)
If you want to know more about choosing the right books for your prep, feel free to talk to BYJU’S Classes GMAT counselors! We’ll be happy to help. You can call us on 9900004628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org