Books for GMAT
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. Here’s a quick guide to choose the right material for your GMAT preparation:
- Review Material
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!
- 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.
- Practice Tests
The quantity and quality of practice tests included in the book matter 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.
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!
The Holy Grail of GMAT prep has always been the Official Guide to the GMAT published by the GMAC. This contains 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.
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