The following book review was written by Dana Jinaru. Dana is currently a finance student in Europe and also serves as a moderator for Beat The GMAT. On May 13, 2009 she scored a 770 on the GMAT.
The new Foundations of GMAT Verbal book is meant to get you ready to tackle the other, more well-known guides by Manhattan GMAT, namely their series of 3 verbal guides. In case you’re just starting to prep for the test, you should know that these 3 verbal guides are some of the most popular GMAT books available. The Sentence Correction guide is exceptionally popular among test takers for its top notch coverage of this question type. Many believe that the three main books do a very good job of presenting the theory and strategy tested on the GMAT, but there’s a catch: these three guides assume that you already know some of the basics.
While it is reasonable to believe that a native speaker has no trouble in telling a verb from a noun, this might not be the case for a non native speaker (I myself am one so I can definitely sympathize). I’ve often seen non native test takes ask for recommendations regarding a basic grammar book and my answer has almost always been the same: check out some of the big brand names that publish grammar books, such as Oxford or Longman. Of course, there are a couple of issues with using such books. First, that thick grammar books is awesome, but you might not have the time to go through it, nor will you need to know absolutely everything that’s explained in it. Second, these grammar books teach British English, which is ever so slightly different than American English, particularly when it comes to idioms.
Luckily though, this book is most likely what you need if you’re struggling with the basics of grammar, so it’s most definitely one of the books I’d recommend to a non native speaker. In fact, the guide contains an appendix addressed to the Indian test taker, so you definitely get the feeling that its target audience is the non native speaker. This was something I was expecting from the very beginning, but I was also very pleasantly surprised by the Critical Reasoning part of this book. The Patterns & Flaws chapter should be included in their main CR guide, since to me it presents some of the best tips for CR out there.
- Delivers on the promise to cover the basics of GMAT verbal. I enjoyed the writing style of this book, which seems a bit more personal and accessible than the rest of the Manhattan GMAT guides. This definitely helps, especially if you’re not proficient in English.
- About 250 well-explained drills (165 of these are related to Sentence Correction) that help you apply the theory you’ve just reviewed.
- The author goes to great lengths to present a detailed approach to solving some questions. Diagramming is neatly explained in this book and I have no doubts that students will understand this technique (although personally I’m not a huge fan of it). Again, all explanations are really thorough
- Some of the chapters devoted to Critical Reasoning are really good, which makes me believe that this book might be useful even for those who already know more than the basics
- My biggest complaint about this book actually has to do with formatting rather than content. Most of the SC drills and their answers are ON THE SAME PAGE, which makes it really really hard to solve them without taking a peek (and thus “ruining the drill” for yourself). Unfortunately, this is true for most of the drills for CR and RC as well, but it’s the most annoying when dealing with SC. I would seriously consider changing this formatting in a future edition!
- There are very few GMAT-style questions in this book. If you’re looking for extra GMAT practice, this is not the book you’re looking for.
- The reason why I’m not awarding this book five stars is that there’s some overlap with the set of 3 verbal guides. This is especially obvious for the idioms list, which is pretty much an abridged version of the list in the SC guide, but also applies to some parts of the chapters on CR and RC (diagramming)
The Foundations of GMAT Verbal supplement is the book for you if you’re just starting out with the GMAT and have quite a bit of time to go through materials. This book is not meant to cover the entire GMAT verbal section (such as the PowerScore Verbal Bible), so you’ll most definitely need to use other resources as well. If you’re a non native speaker or if it’s been years since your last grammar lesson, then this guide is definitely worth checking out.
If you’re interested in purchasing the Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Verbal, click here.
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