GMAT preparation books are publications that help students better prepare for taking the GMAT exam.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardized examination which schools use to determine how potential students would likely perform when studying a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program. Schools offering MBA programs use the GMAT scores as a benchmark when considering which students to admit.

The exam takes place on a single day over a 3 ½ hour period. Some respected authorities produce preparation guides in this field. These written guides help prospective MBA students better prepare for sitting the pre-entrance examination to improve their eventual score and the likelihood of being accepted into a prestigious MBA school.

GMAT is sometimes also referred to GMAT CAT. The CAT acronym refers to Computer Adaptive Test. The GMAT test is four sections with two of them being computer-adaptive. The verbal and quantitative sections are the ones that relate to the CAT section. The nature of these particular tests is that they adjust the ability level of the questions based on previous answers.

For the most part, the GMAT examination is now conducted entirely by computer, apart from some isolated locations outside North America.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is the administrator of the GMAT exams. The GMAC organization determines what skills that the current GMAT should measure to confirm best which students suit an MBA program. The test questions, testing, and test reports are created and managed by a third party appointed by the GMAC.

Gaining admission to an MBA program does not always require a GMAT score. Only about two-thirds of the available graduate business schools need it, however, to obtain access to some of the better business schools around the country, a GMAT needs to be considered mandatory.

GMAT exams aim to test cognitive skills based on verbal reasoning, analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and integrated reasoning, which uses parts of all three previous disciplines.

The exam, which the GMAT prep books aim to prepare students for, breaks down as follows:

  1. A 30-minutes single writing task is given to test analytical writing.
  2. A 30-minute integration reasoning assessment involving 12 multiple-choice questions, several of which come in multiple parts for added complexity.
  3. A 75-minute quantitative assessment includes 37 multi-choice questions.
  4. Lastly, the 75-minute verbal assessment includes 41 multiple-choice questions.

For each exam section, a score is arrived at, and a percentile rank given. The combined total score includes both quantitative and verbal results in a single score. There is no complete pass or fail mark with the GMAT test, only individual scores per section, and a total score at the end.

GMAT scoring is important to business schools who rely on it, but many also look at the undergraduate GPA score. It is up to the individual school to determine what weight is given to the GMAT score and the GPA score, to rate each applicant successfully against other candidates to their MBA program to create a level playing field.

Other aspects under consideration by schools include relevant work experience, recommendation letters, application essays, assessment following a personal interview, etc.

What’s Included with The Best GMAT Prep Book

GMAT prep books cover the thinking and methodology that should be adopted ahead of an actual MBA program. Bridging the gap between the current thinking of the potential applicant and the reality of what GMAT tests is the first hurdle.

Each book will lay out the basics of the four GMAT exam sections, how they break down, and what the major differences are. Particular emphasis gets placed on how the separate papers come together with the integrated exam that uses aspects of the quantitative and verbal questions together.

Books will include online access and interactive tests that are accessible online. Several practice tests, to cover each of the four sections, is included with a book package which is more like a comprehensive multimedia package now. A DVD is often included with the book to provide further information and media without the need for large internet downloads. Sometimes, mobile access or a mobile app is available to learn on the go.

What to Know Before Making a Purchase

Each publisher approaches GMAT from a different perspective. Some books are focused mainly on the technical side of things. Other ones look more closely at the foundational methodologies employed instead of looking at specifics.

The number of tests and access to online media is not consistent across the different publications available. It may indeed be the case that students would be best to study more than one book to arm themselves with the best-combined knowledge before taking the GMAT test.

Any book that fails to provide tests is not worth purchasing.

Other Considerations

The initial goal of any GMAT preparation book is to give new potential students a clear idea of what business schools are seeking from their applicants. Rather than going into a GMAT exam test completely unprepared and especially for students who have been out of the academic setting for some time, a preparation book is intended to lead the student through what is expected of them.

Depending on the GMAT book in question, review materials often initially focus on what to expect during each of the four papers in the examination. Concepts, ways to think about and respond to test questions is a strong area of focus.

In many cases, the test questions in the GMAT prep books are harder than the test turns out to be. It is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives prospective students the confidence to go into the test feeling well prepared rather than under prepared. However, students should avoid the tendency to complete the GMAT examination feeling overconfident because of their advanced preparation.

Best Brands

Kaplan has been offering study guides for professional qualifications for over 75 years. It’s hard to go wrong with their study guides.

The Manhattan Prep books focus on the deep dish information, rather than only touching the surface of the subject matter. This publication style won’t suit all students.

What Consumers Say

Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:

Test questions: The GMAT tests included in several of the study books for GMAT prep are not previous test questions at all. They are designed to be similar to the kinds of test questions that GMAT poses, but are not the same. The reality of this may surprise some students.

Difficulty levels: Depending on the book, the test questions may not match the typical level of difficulty experienced when taking the actual GMAT test.