GMAT Verbal Books and Resources

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Several times a week, happy customers of Total GMAT Math and my other GMAT Math-related resources write to me wondering if I've done the same for GMAT Verbal.

I haven't yet. Unfortunately, those products are several months away. In the meantime, I'll share with you the verbal materials that I recommend.

The Official Guide to GMAT Review

First and foremost, of course, are The Official Guide and the Verbal Supplement. These are the only published resources that offer you verbal questions written by the testmakers themselves.

This is even more important for verbal than for math. Anybody can write a question that drills your algebra or geometry skills, but constructing a test item that mirrors the format of, say, Critical Reasoning, is much more difficult. There are small but important differences in tone between Official Guide material and Kaplan/Princeton/Manhattan GMAT items that can make a big difference in how you perform on test day.

Unfortunately, there's only so many practice questions in The Official Guide. Worse yet, there are no strategies or drills in the OG.

Many of my students find that my tips (here are the relevant links for Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Sentence Correction), plus the OG, are sufficient. But if you end up retaking the test and need another month's worth of practice material, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Other GMAT Verbal Books

My first recommendation is the Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook. I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5. The test-like practice items are about as close as you're going to get from a test-prep provider, and the strategies are at least as good as you'll find from other sources. You can probably tell that I'm not wildly enthusiastic about this book, but then again, I'm not that enthusiastic about any GMAT verbal books on the market.

Many people are very excited about the Manhattan GMAT Sentence Correction book. That's closer to the direction that my materials will go in, but not as far as I'd like it to be. If you need a lot of work on grammar skills, this is a reasonable place to start, but don't expect it to train you for the wide variety of SC questions you'll see on the test. Too many of my students have found that it helps them with the rules, but doesn't help them apply the rules to actual test items.

Ultimately, I'm disappointed that, with all this competition in the market and all the years these companies have had to perfect their products, there aren't better options. Even before they meet with me, many of my students have discovered that, for every good Verbal tip they get from a test-prep company, they have to ignore two or three others.

That means that, before you start piling up books, milk The Official Guide for all its worth. The explanations don't offer you shortcuts, but they do clue you in to the test-maker's thinking. And after all, truly mastering the seven hundred or more Verbal questions in the two Official Guide books should keep you busy for a very, very long time.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

Total GMAT Math

The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Quant section. It's "far and away the best study material available," including over 300 realistic practice questions and more than 500 exercises!
Click to read more.