Which GMAT Prep Books to Buy
Regardless of which material you choose to use from a private test prep company, you absolutely have to buy the GMAT Official Guide. The OG has by far the most accurate practice problems. In fact, every problem in the Official Guide is a retired question from an actual test, so we know that it profiled correctly among test takets.
But Which Version of the OG?
There are currently two relevant versions of the GMAT Official Guide — the 2022 version and the 2023 version. Most of you will need the 2022 version, but the final determination will depend on when you plan to take the test and when you plan to apply to business school.
CHANGES ARE COMING: As you many know, the GMAT will be changing format in the fall of 2023. Among other things, the Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency sections will be eliminated. Also, geometry will no longer apppear on the exam.
These changes may encourage some applicants to wait for the new format to be released, but many schools — including Harvard — will not be accepting scores from the new "GMAT Focus" version of the exam for candidates who apply in the 2023-2024 application cycle. Those applicants must take the CURRENT version of the GMAT, and that means they need to study using the 2022 GMAT Official Guide.
Buy the Bundle or Just the Book?
Buy the bundle!
You can get the three-book 2022 GMAT "Bundle" for about $50 at Amazon. The 2023 version is also sold as a bundle.
Should I Buy Other GMAT Prep Books?
I'm not against it, but buying prep books other than the OG should be a second priority. One of the ugly little secrets about the test-prep industry is that the practice problems that commercial companies write are often low-quality immitations that don't accurately capture the reasoning concepts being tested on the GMAT exam. That's why I use only real GMAT questions when teaching students how to master the test.
The people who write the official exam invest much more time and effort in developing questions that accurately test reasoning skills, and they have more expertise in the subject matter than do the employees of test-prep companies. The differences in practice problems aren't apparent to the novice, but give me any two problems in the GMAT universe and I can tell you which was written by a test-prep company and which was written by the pros who construct the actual exam. The difference is that obvious to those of us with significant experience.