GMAT Reading Materials


Everyone preparing for the GMAT will need some kind of published material - sample GMAT questions, math review, etc. Some tutors produce handouts for students, and several publishers produce GMAT books. The quality is haphazard - some GMAT materials are excellent, some appalling. If you have an excellent personal tutor, and he or she provides texts and sample questions to supplement your classes, these materials might be better than anything available on the market - especially since they will complement your lessons. If you are buying a book from a Test Prep publisher, there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Many unofficial GMAT books make a big deal about learning 'tricks' to 'beat the test'. That sells books, but learning a few tricks won't get you a top score. The people preparing the GMAT know which strategies are described in popular books; GMAT questions, especially at the more difficult level of the test, are usually immune to these tricks;
  • A lot of GMAT material is adequate to get someone to an average level, but not beyond. There aren't many books around that offer strategies and sample questions similar to what you'll find at the more difficult levels of the test.

One book that is essentially mandatory is the Official Guide, which contains hundreds of real GMAT questions. If you want practice questions just like those on the test, this is the best source (along with the freely downloadable sample GMATs from, the PowerPrep package, and the retired paper tests). We would not recommend looking at a general high school math primer to get ready for the test - it's far better to get a book specifically about the GMAT test. Otherwise you risk missing topics that are important, or learning methods that are inappropriate for the GMAT.


  • Cheap, and maybe convenient;
  • If you're taking a class, a good book will certainly be a useful supplement


  • Learning from books is a skill, one we develop in school and sometimes lose in the real world. Some people can learn a lot from books, some can't - and it's especially difficult to learn if the book isn't any good
  • You can't ask questions if you don't understand something
  • The book might not be appropriate for your level
  • A bad book will probably do more harm than help
  • Potentially time consuming


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