The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition: Book Review:

by on November 8th, 2009

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.

Here is Dana’s analysis of the Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition.


The most og12important piece of information that you need to know about the Official Guide (often called the OG on forums) is that it contains real, retired GMAT questions. As such, material released by the GMAC (the creator of the test) is utterly priceless, since replicating the exact structure and “feel” of real GMAT questions is something that test prep companies have yet to accomplish.

The book is not exactly “travel size”, but this should be regarded as a plus, since it stems from the fact that the book features 907 questions and quite generous answer explanations (particularly in verbal). The problems are structured as follows:

  • 48 Quantitative and 52 Verbal in the Diagnostics Test
  • 230 Problem Solving
  • 174 Data Sufficiency
  • 139 Reading Comprehension
  • 124 Critical Reasoning
  • 140 Sentence Correction


  • A great, all-in-one resource for official questions, excellent for training your eye to spot commonly-tested patterns. This is the reason why I believe that it’s worth investing some energy even in lower difficulty questions (unless pressed for time)
  • Detailed explanations in verbal: this is something that I have not seen mentioned often, but I believe is of crucial importance. In all three sections, explanations follow a similar style: an overview of the question and a solid analysis of ALL the answers, not just the correct one. Understanding why your answer is wrong is sometimes even more important than getting it right
  • Questions are arranged in order of difficulty, so if you have little time at hand and feel sufficiently confident about your knowledge, you can just focus on the last questions of each section
  • Good value for your money: at just over 20 dollars on, getting over 900 retired questions is a bargain


  • The OG is not a strategy guide, it’s a “workout list”. Each section contains a review of the subject, but this is not nearly enough to get you through the test, especially if your math skills are a bit rusty. You will need to rely on other resources for this!
  • While verbal explanations are generally high quality, quantitative explanations are not as great. Some test takers (particularly advanced ones) will often find themselves opting for a quicker or easier way to solve the given problems. I will however note that more often than not, the OG explanations do not feature number picking. While this is sometimes a faster way to solve a problem, its use is confusing for some GMAT hopefuls
  • This book is intended to be a guide for the general test taker, so be prepared to see mostly easy and medium difficulty problems. If aiming for a top score, you’ll need to supplement your prep with harder material (such as LSAT sets for critical reasoning). As mentioned before though, do not neglect the easy stuff, since it gets you in the right mindset for the official style of questions. Besides, it’s usually the very easy questions that throw off advanced students!

Bottom Line

Official Guide for Review, 12th Edition is a must have, no matter your level. Even though you will have to spend some extra money on a good strategy book, getting the OG is crucial for your prep. As you go through various GMAT-related material, you will begin to notice the difference between an official question (clear-cut answers, great structure) and an unofficial question (structure is sometimes lacking, answers not as well defined). Because the “feel” of official questions is markedly different from that of test prep developed questions, I recommend saving/carefully reviewing some problems for the very last days before your test.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The 12th edition was released in the sprig of 2009 and contains roughly 300 new questions as compared to the previous, orange-color 11th edition of the OG. As such, if you already have the older version, it is not necessary to spend the extra money on the newer one. If you do have a choice between the two, go for the most recent edition; if not, the 11th is just as good.

If you’re interested in purchasing the Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition, click here.

Read other reviews for the Official Guide series:

Read more book reviews in the Beat The GMAT Book Recommendations section.


  • I wish I had seen this review before my GMAT! I used only the OG for my study and scored a disappointing 460! I will be retaking the test in December. What books do you recommend? Thanks

    • Glad you found my review useful. For more in depth reviews stay tuned! :)
      I could make a few recommendations on books, but this depends on your weak areas. If you could share those with me, I'd be happy to help. You can also send me a private message with details about your strategy and maybe I could provide some feedback.
      Good luck with your test prep!

  • Thanks a lot for taking the time to respond to me. During first prep, I thought I was good in the verbal, as a result, I did not pay it much attention. My greatest weakness is Math. I graduated from high school 19 years ago and from college 12 years ago. I don't seem to remember much of what I did back then. I just bought the following books - MGMAT SC, Powerscore CR, Princeton Math and the OG verbal and quantitative. I plan to retake the test in 6 weeks. Here's a breakdown of my 460 q27, v25


  • Sounds good - I also found the books that you mention to be particularly useful, with one exception. I have never reviewed the Princeton Math book, so I can't honestly give you an informed opinion about it. I did however go through their Crack the GMAT guide and found it to be quite basic. If the Math book is anything like that, it's a pretty decent way to restart your quant prep. The only downside is that the book that I reviewed does not really go deep enough on most topics.
    One book I've recently gone through is the Kaplan Math Workbook. I found the math refresher of this book to be quite well-written, so if you're done with your current material and still feel the need for more practice you could try investing in this one.

    • Hello,

      I am interested to purchase guide for GMAT. Plz suggest me good guide.

  • Thanks again. I will invest in the Kaplan math as you suggested. I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to me.

  • Up until now, the best resource for a math refresher that I've reviewed is the Kaplan Math Workbook. You can check out my review of this book [url=]here[/url]. I'm not 100% satisfied of the way in which it's treated in this book, but it's the best I've seen so far. Since it doesn't have that many DS questions, I recommend the Official Guide for the GMAT Quantitative Review (again, review [url=]here[/url]). This book might just suit your needs perfectly practice-wise, because it has mainly easy and medium questions to help you build your skills.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Danaj,
    I am really poor in maths and have been since my school days, im looking to turn a corner since i really want to do well in my GMAT im not worried about Verbal since i can score in the low 30's quite easily. I have absolutely no clue when it comes to D.S. and am looking at material to help me understand the concept better.. If u would recommend some good study material for me i would greatly appreciate it..

  • Thanks a ton ill get these books and start working..


  • Hi,
    I am planning to take the exam in June 2010.I am starting of with the GMAT Official Guide 12th edition as you have told.I am not very strong in math and has been 4 yrs since i finished college.
    Could you please suggest, if I am starting it the right way,or should I refer to any other books before studying the OG

    Thank You.

  • The OG does not have a strategy section, so if you're rusty on math, go for a book that addresses this first. I've written a three-month strategy guide here:

    You could also take a look at the Manhattan GMAT series of 5 books covering the quantitative portion, they're quite good as well.

    Hope it goes smoothly!

    • Thanks a lot for you time.I will check this out and start working on them.

  • @Dhoora Ram Beniwal: It depends on what you need. Check out some of our strategy guides, in the GMAT Strategy tab of Articles. If you need specific help, you need to post your weaknesses so I can offer more targeted advice.

    • Thanks. Since I havn't specific problem but part of essay writing is important for me. I want to purchase guide which will be all in one and also meaningful for GMAT prap.

  • A good general strategy guide would be the Kaplan Live Online program. You should also purchase the OG for practice, since it has the best problems around. If you need more help in a given section (i.e. Sentence Correction), there are specialized books for that. Good luck!

    • Hi DanaJ,

      Could you please guide me by suggesting if Kaplan GMAT 2010-2011 Edition Premier would be helpful for refreshing both math and verbal skills.


  • The Kaplan book is a good general guide, but it's very "general". Since you have a lot of time on hand, you should try other resources, such as the Kaplan Workbook for Math or the Manhattan GMAT series of 5 for quant. For verbal, use the PowerScore CR Bible and the MGMAT SC guide. You can check out more reviews of books here:

  • Thank You so much for the suggestions.

  • Hi Dana,

    I think you have done a fantastic job of reveiwing the GMAT books in-depth. I tried studying with the Offical GMAT guide 11th edition and scored a measly 400! I wish I had read your advice earlier. Now, I am going to follow your advice and use the Official Guide but I need help in both fundamentals and in-depth work for both verbal and math. I was told that the Manhattan set of 8 books along with the Official Guide would be a good combination for me to score above 750. What is your advice?

  • I'm guessing that the combination you mention will indeed have a positive impact on your score, maybe even over 150 points - but I'm not 100% it will get you to 750. This is a huge increase in score and you will need to spend a lot of time and effort on getting there. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that it will be tough. Given your score, you might also be interested in buying the two OG companions (they're also reviewed in the Books section), but not the second edition. You should probably consider getting the first edition of the supplements, because the most recent edition of MGMAT guides references the OG 12 and supplements 1.
    So: two-three months of practice, all the MGMAT guides, all the three OGs and browsing this forum might just get you where you want!

    Good luck and keep us posted!

  • Hi DanaJ,

    How it wil cost me if I purchase GMAT official guide, Special book for verbal section and esssay writing. What is procudure or link to puchase these guide. How much time will it take in delivery to specific site in INDIA.

  • Hey there,

    I think it will be around $50 dollars on I'm not sure how long it will take to have it delivered to you, though... It depends on the company's policies and such.

  • I already have 11th Edition of OG. Do I still need to buy 12th edition? Is there a substantial difference between the two editions.

  • Hi Dana,

    I would like to know which book difficult Quant Qs ,i.e., 700 + range.


  • Hey Nitin,

    You'll find 300 new practice problems in the new OG - actually, 300 that have been replaced. You do not necessarily need to get the OG 12, unless you've completely run out of official material and think it's worth paying the extra $30 for 300 practice items.

    I can't recommend a particular book that focuses on 700+ quant questions. The Kaplan Math Workbook does feature quite a few, but I've also heard people say that the quant in the MGMAT tests is supposedly pretty tough. You might want to consider investing in one of the 8 guides from Manhattan GMAT - each comes with a code that enables you to access their CATs.

  • Hi Dana

    Can You help me out in strategy for SC exclusively.i am devoting a month time only for it.
    so far went through some materials but still lacking some basics ,
    please help me out with some materials and books to perfect it.


  • Hey vegi,

    The best book for SC is the Manhattan GMAT SC guide - you can check out my review for it in the books section of the Resources tab. Other than that, be sure to invest in the OGs (the big one and the verbal one).

    If grammar is causing you nightmares in general and not just for the GMAT, you might also take a look at a few books such as those edited by Longman or Oxford, books that specifically target English grammar. Also, don't forget to read stuff in your spare time - it helps you see the rules in action!

    • Thanks Dana

      I just read the review and just want to ask how to start i.e with Manhattan SC guide first ,finish it off and then go for OG? .
      With regard to grammer i am fine with the basics but iam finding it tough with rules in action i.e expections in rules.I just finished Sumit notes on verbal downloaded here,i was comfortable all the way until i found few notes and tough questions. just thought only practice will help me out ,need your suggestion


  • I think you should go for the book and the OG at the same time - it's how the MGMAT SC guide is structured. It's not a bad idea at all, since it means you get to practice with official stuff to nail down the concepts.

    If you don't have time for a proper review of the guide, go for the OG only. However, it's best to go through a strategy guide as well!

  • Hi Dana

    Well, I've now completed every sample question in the 12th Edition of the Official GMAT Review. Each day, I worked on a batch of questions until I had attempted every single one. After doing about 20-25 questions (esp. in SC/CR), I'd check my answers and circle the ones I answered incorrectly. At the end of a given section - say, SC - I'd spend time looking at the explanations associated with the questions I had answered incorrectly.

    Of these explanations, some seemed clearer than others. For instance, I'd read one explanation and think "Ahhh, yes", while other explanations would still have me shrugging, still wondering how the correct answer was definitively superior to the one I selected.

    I'm sorry for being so long-winded. If you're still reading/awake, do you know if there is an "official" email (or snail) address where I can request further clarification on specified explanations provided in the 12th Edition of the Official GMAT Review? Do you think someone would actually respond with feedback? I want to feel like I understand *why* each of my incorrect answers were incorrect. I'm thinking that the only way to get further clarification on some of those explanations is to register for an instructional course, such as Manhattan GMAT, but I hesitate to spend that money.

    What do you think?

    Daniel Toma

  • Well, I don't know of any emails of the type you ask. However, what you're describing is precisely what this forum is for! Posting questions and getting good, debated answers to them! I strongly advise you to look up phrases - I'm pretty sure you'll find more than one thread discussing the question you're having trouble with. In case you can't find what you're looking for, then post the question and wait a day or two, since you'll most likely get answers from our members or experts.

    Also, while this might not be the case, I have the feeling that you've gone through the OG without a proper concepts review. Which books have you used for strategy and tips? Some are better than others! And there is definitely no point in trying to "extract" them from the OG through practice (although practice is most definitely essential), since there won't be any clear structure to your study method...

    Please let me know! If you need additional help related to your study plan or habits, you can either PM me or start a thread in the strategy section and send me a message about it. My BTG id is "DanaJ".

  • Oh and I don't go to sleep this early - the parties in Portugal start at around 1 a.m. :)

  • [b]testing[/b]

  • Dana, thank you very much for your response. Admittedly, I worked on these practice questions after having read only pages 354-357, 483-485, 651-657 in the OG. These are merely the 'instructions' for the RC, CR, and SC sections, respectively. There are 'Test-Taking Strategies' for each section, but I suspect this is not what you had in mind. Above and beyond this, I did not consult with any books for strategies and tips. I certainly understand your point about not extracting strategies/tips through practice, since I'd merely reinforce my own unstructured methods. Can you recommend any supplemental guides for concepts review and/or strategies/tips?


  • Yes - that's definitely not what I had in mind. Those instructions or test taking strategies are not at all sufficient to get you through the test. You will need different books for that!

    Good books for verbal:
    - PowerScore CR Bbile for CR and RC
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide for SC
    - Kaplan Verbal Workbook for some good tips on RC

    • I had a feeling you were going to say that, because those few pages at the beginning of each section aren't all that informative. I was looking at your detailed reviews of the verbal books, so I'm going to get the PowerScore CR Bible and the Manhattan GMAT SC guide. Any opinion on the Manhattan GMAT guide for CR and RC?

  • I am planning to take the exam in 2010.I am starting with cracking the GMAT. I love to have the basics b/c I almost forget everything .It has been 4 yrs since i finished college.
    Could you please suggest any book and material .
    thank u

  • The Princeton book is indeed a bit basic... in the sense that IMHO they focus too much on certain "techniques" such as process of elimination and too little on actual concept build-up. You can check out a full review of this book in the other Book Recommendations tab.

    For quant, you can either go for the Kaplan Math Workbook or the Manhattan GMAT series of 5 guides - these guides are supposedly some of the most complete in the prep industry.

    For verbal, use the PowerScore CR Bible, the Manhattan GMAT SC guide and the Kaplan Verbal Workbook. Between them, these three books cover the verbal part pretty well.

    All the best!

  • @Daniel: I don't really know anything about them. There's a plan for me to review them sometime, but it's going to take a while before I get the books. As I've said though, trust the CR Bible: it's truly the best book for GMAT that I've read. After finishing it, I was literally filled with respect for the GMAT and the way it's put together.

  • Dana, thanks so much for your input. Of all the verbal topics, I'm weakest on CR, so this will definitely help me focus.

  • Hi Dana

    Thanks a lot for your above comments, they have been of an amazing guide so I though to post some of my queries, would be highly obliged if you could provide your valuable guidance to me...

    Im really very week in math, its been more than 6 years I had any level of interaction with mathematics. Due to some wrong guidance I started of my preparation with KAPLAN and as you are aware it has some tough question I got screwed up badly and was not able to solve any of the math questions and my confidence was shattered.

    After doing a lot of research I have developed the following plans, being a GMAT expert I would really appreciate if you could advice which one is the best for me... I’m sure I will be able to score fair in Verbal but Math is like a night mare for me...

    Plan A: I use both the Kaplan workbooks (Math and verbal) along with the 3 Official guides.

    Plan B: I use the The Manhattan GMAT Complete Prep Set along with the 3 official guides.

    Plan C: I start my preparation with the Kaplan workbooks and then move to the Princeton review...

    I know this might sound crazy but frankly I don't wanna go in for Kaplan GMAT 2010 Premier Live Online it will shatter my confidence.

    I would really request you to provide your guidance to me as im totally lost.

    Many thanks

  • Hmm... I don't really know what to say here: I have looked over some of the MGMAT guides for quant, but not all of them. That's why you don't see them in the Book Reviews section... However, I've heard many say that they are one of the most complete resources out there.

    Kaplan Math Workbook is a pretty decent starter as well. I thought it had a nice mix of problems, good for "beginners" as well.

    Princeton is indeed a rather basic guide, but its focus on process of elimination and picking numbers make me a bit skeptical as to whether this book will actually help you with the concepts.

    So: I think I'd probably eliminate plan C and go for either A or B depending on your time. The Kaplan book does a good job of covering the stuff and it's more condensed than the 5 guides. On the other hand, these guides are supposedly the most complete...

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your reviews. V helpful.

      For Math Strategy, I picked up Nova's Math workbook that is structured with each math topic seperately. Then, each chapter is followed by abt 15-20 qs per section.

      What is your opinion (or others you've spoken to) about the Nova Math book? How would you compare it to the Kaplan Math workbook that you've rated as a good book for reviewing math concepts?


  • I'm sorry, but I haven't had the chance to look over the book you mention.

  • Hi Dana,

    Thx for your quick reply.

    As one goes through the stages of the gmat prep for a high score (730+), is it safe to say that one goes through 3 stages of gmat prep. (1) basics (2) concepts & foundation (3) practice.

    to map it to study material, for verbal for the 2nd stage, I see that you recommend Manhattan for SC and Powerscore for CR. If one has the time to do both these in detail, would you still recommend to go through the Kaplan Verbal book which you have also recommended well?


  • Fact is, I haven't personally reviewed anything particularly good for RC except for the Kaplan Verbal Workbook. Of course, the CR bible does offer some tips for this section, but that's not its main focus.

    RC is an issue especially for non native speakers, in my experience. The Kaplan Book addresses this and also features quite generous amounts of practice.

    In the end it's up to you whether you choose to buy it or not: if RC is not an issue or if you want to try the Manhattan RC guide (which I have not reviewed yet), then I guess you shouldn't.

  • Hi


    Thanks a lot for your valuable advice

    After going through various post and threads I have developed 2 plans for my study material, I would really appreciate if you could provide your advice on the same:

    Plan A:

    Math- I will start with Kaplan Math Foundation, moving forward to Kaplan math workbook and then the MANHATTAN GMAT book

    Verbal- Will Start with Kaplan Verbal Foundation, moving on to Kaplan verbal workbook and then the MANHATTAN GMAT books.

    Will use All OG's for practice and Kaplan GMAT Live Online 2010 for general strategies (won’t use this for practice as I have a major phobia for this book)

    Plan B:

    Math- I will start with Kaplan Math Foundation, moving forward the MANHATTAN GMAT books ( Will Skip the Kaplan Workbook)

    Verbal- Will Start with Kaplan Verbal Foundation, moving to the MANHATTAN GMAT books ( Will Skip the Kaplan Workbook)

    Will use All OG's for practice and Kaplan GMAT Live Online 2010 for general strategies (wont use this for practice as I have a major phobia for this book)

    The only difference between Plan A and Plan B is that I won’t use the Workbooks in plan B

    One more thing which one is better Kaplan Workbook or Foundations of GMAT Math by MGMAT

    Please advice me keeping in consideration that im really poor in math and have some good amount of time to spend for my preparation.

    Many thanks

  • To answer the easiest question: I do not know if you should use the Kaplan Workbook or the Foundations of GMAT, because I have not had the chance to review the latter!

    Regarding the more "serious" question of whether to use the Kaplan Workbooks: I think it is more than enough to use the rest of the stuff you mention without using these workbooks. While they are indeed useful, you will most definitely cover everything through the rest of the books.

  • Hi DanaJ

    Do GMAT negative mark for not answering a question or for a wrong answer? for example in negative marking if you answer correct for a question and next one question is incorrect you get zero.

  • It's not about negative marking: your score is adjusted to your performance over the course of the test. If you get a question right, then the next question wil be slightly more difficult. If you get a question wrong, then the next one will be less challenging. However, note that your score does not go down that much with only one wrong answer. They sort of reward you more than they penalize you for an incorrect answer.

  • I don't know if there are any threads containing this but I'm sure that there will be some who'd benefit from this.
    Below please find the link to the 307 questions that are new with the OG12. So that those of you who are already into or finished with OG11 won't be going through both references to check whether the Q is new or not, in case you don't have a memory powerful to remember everything. Or to people who are thrilled to solve more material that would be an excellent guide.
    The material is from Manhattan GMAT. 5 pdf files in a .zip archive.

  • Thanks DJ

  • Hi, Dana.
    My preparation plan spans 3 months an I would like to know if it is advisable to use this book as my only practice material for the GMAT.

    Would you recommend I use more than this one book? If yes, which other one(s)?

  • This book is really good for practice, but you will need other resources for strategies and concepts. You can use some of the materials pointed out in the Book Recommendations section, such as the PowerScore CR Bible or some of the guides released by Manhattan GMAT (the Number Properties and Word Problems guides are particularly useful).

  • I'm a new aspirant for GMAT.I have read your article"one month GMAT preparation" which is highly informative.Thus I'm going to buy OG & KAPLAN books.But I've no book list.Please send a booklist to my mail address help me

  • I don't really understand what you mean by booklist... Here are a few other useful materials:
    - Manhattan GMAT set of 8 guides
    - PowerScore CR Bible

  • Hi Dana,

    I have a quick question for you. I have taken the GMAT once (and several practice tests beforehand), and did not receive the score I wanted to achieve. I think I know what my problem is but I am unsure of how to fix it appropriately. During my practice tests, if I am not timed I score significantly higher scores on both the quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT. I need to find a way to refine my skills in order to enter the actual GMAT with the ability to answer questions quickly and accurately. I know this is a rather abstract question, but I hear you're quite the advisor. Thanks in advance for your response!

    Please feel free to send me your response via e-mail instead of this thread... whatever works best for you.

  • I think one of our experts once said that given enough time, anyone would score an 800 on the GMAT. Unfortunately, this is not the case and we must all face the same time constraint of 75 minutes per section.
    OK so your issue is as follows: you can score well, but only if you're not timed. One of the very first things to do when something like this is to start timing yourself right away! At first, you should give yourself more time (i.e. 3 mins and 30 secs for a quant question instead of the normal 2 mins), but gradually set the clock earlier to get to the normal time limit per question.
    The second thing you might want to do is to consider alternate methods of attacking a question. It might not be the case that you're poor in timing, it might just be that you're not familiar with the most efficient method of solving a given question. Take a step back and reevaluate your materials and your study habits. Here are a few pointers:
    - when solving a problem, make notes so the process of thought gets nailed into your head really well (or flashcards or whatever you use)
    - don't just go around taking CATs (i.e. GMAT simulations) because they are a collection of questions from very different topics. Working just one or two questions per topic at a time (as you would when taking a mock test) does not help you properly understand the subtleties of a certain concept. Practice theoretical bits at a time (i.e. permutations and combinations, right triangles, quadratic equations - these are all "slices of theory") by reviewing the strategy in your books and then doing at least 10-15 exercises on the topic you've reviewed
    - try to avoid number picking or other strategies that might backfire (use it only if you're 100% sure that you're using the right set of numbers!). If you have to test too many options, then there's certainly a faster and more elegant way around it
    - memorize a few rules (i.e. even*even or even*odd = even; the surface of an equilateral triangle is sqrt(3)*(l^2)/4) and the squares up to 15

  • Thank you very much for your response Dana!

  • I am getting ready to take the online GMAT prep ($89) that is being offered through the University here. I am a disabled vet that just graduated with my BSBA in Finance: Banking and a minor in Economics this past weekend. Due to having 4 children and a wife, my finances must be used judiciously towards purchasing the books that will give me the most return on investment.

    I found somewhere that is selling the Manhattan Set of 8 books, all three OGs, MG Test Simulation Book, the Official Guide Companion, and the Foundations on GMAT Math STrategy all for under $165.

    I'm wondering if that would be the best investment I could make in your opinion DanaJ?

    Some background. I have taken the LSATs with no studying, to establish a baseline and I did fairly well I thought at 148, which I think will help me in the CR. I have had two semesters of Calculus, but the last one was back in 2007. Math has come easily to me, and the numbers float around in my head and I can visualize many things. So I'm thinking I may just need a brush up/reminder on the math section, but I don't want to be overconfident.

    Do you think that the above listed books are worth that money, or would there be a better recommendation you would make for that price range? I know that the OC Review is a must have.

    Thanks for any help.

  • Of the books you mention, the Manhattan GMAT guides and the three OGs are really worth the money. I can't really comment on the other resources you mention. However, based on their selling price on, I think it's really worth it.
    Be careful on what you get for that university course, though... Some of them are not really high quality.
    Congrats for your graduation, especially since I'm sure it wasn't easy for you! Good luck with the test and application process!

  • Hey Dana,

    I am planning to take the GMAT test in September. My target score is 680 + . Do you think that the three OGs would be enough to get that score ?

    Many thanks,

  • The three OGs will not be enough since they only contain practice and not a decent theoretical review. If you want to hit a good score, then you'll also need some books with concepts and strategy.

  • Thanks Dana for your reply. What collection of books do you suggest I should get in addition to the three OGs ?

  • I think it depends on your time... If you have three months or so, then go for the Manhattan GMAT Number Properties, Word Translations, Sentence Correction and the PowerScore CR Bible.
    If you have around a month or so, then you might want to opt for the Kaplan Math Workbook, which is a lot more condensed than other quant resources.
    Also, do pick your books depending on your weaknesses: if you're weak in math, you could buy the whole Manhattan collection. If you're doing poorly in verbal, then the Manhattan SC guide and the CR Bible are probably the best for you.

  • Thanks a lot Dana, you have been very helpful.
    All the best

  • Hi DanaJ:

    I do not know how you cope up with flood of mails.

    I am at 680 score. How can I further improve my score?
    Please suggest some books for SC, CR.
    For practice, should I go through old edition books?

    When to expect new OG 13th edition?



  • To answer your last question, I think it's safe to say OG 13 won't be out too soon. They released the 12th edition a year ago and OG 11 was released in 2005, so I think it's going to be at least another couple of years.
    Old edition books are largely good, but before you go for them, try the OG supplements (the green and blue books).
    For SC and CR you could try the following (unless you already have them):
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - PowerScore CR Bible

  • hi dj,
    i'm planning to take the test sometime around october, i would like to know if the GMAT og would suffice or do i need more study material? i want to know if the og covers both the quant and verbal section or it's just a general review? i happen to have 2003 kaplan review book of a friend, it that of any use?

  • The OG is just a collection of practice problems (for both verbal and quant) and doesn't have adequate strategy or theory reviews. You will need something else besides that.
    An edition from 2003 might be a bit old, but I really can't say for sure... anyway, the Kaplan book is not really enough as far as strategy goes, unless you're already at a level that's close to your target score.

    • so would you suggest any books? there is too much information on the net, which is very confusing. do i join the prep classes or do i self prepare at home? how do i go about it? i'm looking to score 650 +, could you please help d, thank you somuch

  • What path you choose depends on your current level. You should take a diagnostic test from and see what your score is - if it's more than 200 points below your target, consider enrolling in a course. If not, then self prep might work for you.
    Here is a list of good books:
    - Official Guide 12th edition and the two verbal + quant supplements
    - Manhattan GMAT series of books
    - PowerScore Critical Reasoning Bible

  • Hi Dana

    I am seeking some advise regarding GMAT prep material. Recently, I decided to prepare for GMAT...gave my free GMATprep test and scored a 650...did this without any preparation whatsoever...Still the Maths review in GMATPrep was helpful, which i studied for my next test (Princeton review)...and got a 700...I think the maths was too easy in this though.

    Anyways, I know that I am abysmal when it comes to sentence my comment structure would have made all to apparent by now! I am good with RC and CR...but would like some basic strategic guidance for these...In maths, I am comfortable with most of topics but do get stuck in DS at times...Again, I am not sure if i should go for a generic guide or more in-depth one...Anywhich ways I do require some brushing up...and practice...

    As you can see, my requirement analysis skill is not very astute...Well, could you help me out...Oh yeah and I am working in Melbourne, so classroom coaching would be out of the question. I am aiming (or hoping...not without a romantic touch, i say!) for 750.

    Thanks in anticipation.

  • Hmm... Well, since you're already at a pretty good level, investing in a general guide does not make too much sense. You see, these general guides are meant to help you lightly brush up on all topics, while in your specific case you need something hardcore to take you from an already comfortable level to the top.
    I say identify a few weak spots and buy some books accordingly:
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide for SC
    - PowerScore CR Bible for CR and RC
    - Manhattan GMAT Number Properties and Word Translations for some hard quant
    Also don't forget to practice using the Official Guide. It's a really important book as you could tell from reading my review above.

  • thanks Dana...I have actually gone the whole hog...8 MGMAT strategy books and OG...bloody FedEx charged me 112 bux.
    Anyways, no pain no gain. Well, at least the hard part is done...just gotta read all eight of them now, give up my after-work vodka, and practice some couple of thousand questions...and dat should be it...hmmm!

    While I ruminate about this...thanks again for the reply...and most probably, I might be seeking your valued advise again in future.


  • Hi Dana,
    How difficult are the problems in actual GMAT compared to those in GMAT TestPrep software? I took the first full length test in that software after some revision of verbal section (and none for quant). I got 48 in math and 38 in verbal; 710 overall. Also, when the problems in math do get tougher, is there any area which is targeted more than others? e.g. geometry or P&C?


  • I'd say they're similar in difficulty. My experience with GMATprep is pretty accurate: took the final mock test three days before the big day and scored a 760, compared to my official 770.
    Some people say that GMATprep is easier than the real deal but as far as I'm concerned, that's not true. There are some pretty tricky questions in that software, but most people don't realize it, since they tend to attribute a lot of their mistakes to "being in a hurry" or "not paying attention".

    • Thanks Dana!

  • Hi everyone,

    I was wondering which OG12 companion would you recommend ?

    Gmatfix or MGMAT?

    Thanks a lot for your advice!

  • I have not yet reviewed either, so I can't make an informed recommendation. However, MGMAT is more reputed in the GMAT world - they're better known for their products, but I guess this is no guarantee that their guide is better.

  • Hi Dana,

    You say that the Official Guide contains questions of easy and medium level difficulty. But this is supposed to be a repository of retired GMAT questions. So are the tough ones deliberately skipped?

    If so, can you suggest material containing tougher questions(not concepts, there are MGMAT guides for that) for practice(750+ range)


  • Hi Dana,

    How much is the score expected if one does all the questions from OG 11 or OG 12?. I am aiming a score between 650-700. I have OG 11 and OG 12 and i have one month time for my exam.

  • Well it's a good idea to use other resources that cover the theoretical part, because the OGs are not enough on that side. I'll also say that it depends on your starting score: if you start out at 400, then getting to 650-700 in a month's time with just the OGs is not going to be possible. However, if you start out at 580, then it might be doable.

  • hi Dana,
    I think Gmat doesn't directly test vocubulary. Do i need to study the harder vocabulary words? where can i find? I found gmat vocabulary list basic skill' , I wonder if this is good material.
    English is my second language and i am having a hard time to cover the whole things. can u suggest a good materials.

  • @meke: no, it does not test vocabulary in the sense that the GRE does. However, you do need a good knowledge of English for several reasons:
    - some answer choices are rephrases from the text and you need to know how to spot them
    - good English means you can read faster and save time
    - some words will be slightly more difficult to understand than others
    It's hard for me to recommend anything apart from making an effort to read in English every day. Your vocabulary won't get better if you just start learning lists of words - well, it might, but it's the "unnatural" way. You need to see the language in action to really get good at it!

  • Hi Sai,
    You can check out the 60-day study guide here:

    It's got a detailed to-do list every day, with everything you need: books, practice, theory. Good luck!

  • Hi dana,

    i just started preparing for the gmat and i want to give my gmat by feb 2011. can you please suggest me where to start my preparation and the books to follow.

    Thanks in advance

  • A cliched question for you Dana. Do the initial questions really matter more in the GMAT? Is it worth spending more time on them? The Princeton and Powerscore schools of thought categorically answer 'yes' to this question, whereas Manhattan denies it blatantly(with good explanation,I must say).

    Can we have your thioughts on this?


  • I tend to favor the MGMAT view on questions, i.e. that they are all worth about the same. If you do super well in the beginning but then start messing up a lot, your score will surely go down. Also, if you spend too much time on the first questions and leave some unanswered in the end, it will severely impact your score.

  • Hey Dana, if the last question of a section is not 'confirmed', only 'Next' is selected after choosing an answer, does it count? With a minute or so on the clock, it becomes difficult to concentrate on the last question in case time runs out, so this information may be useful.


  • I am inclined to say yes, but I don't know for sure. Sorry!

  • Hi Dana,
    Looks like you have helped many people which is great. Now, I am kind of stuck here, i want to start preparing for the GMAT; i have the Gmat 12th edition book, well just got it. But i dont know if I should get any other books or just stick to this one. I am pretty good with math but i need to freshen-up, well in all sections. As you can see i kind of confused and need HELP!!!.. can you please guide me through where do i need to start, and with which books.. any response is appreciated..


  • The OG is really only good for practice, so you'll need more than that to get a good score. Here are some study guides to help: and
    You'll find book recommendations in there too. I would say it really depends on where you stand, which is why it's always advisable to take a diagnostic CAT from to determine where your weaknesses are.

  • Thank you!

  • Dear DJ,
    I am very impressed with all your advice for fellow GMAT takers. I am also on the same boat. I am planning on taking the GMAT exam in September 2011. I work 3 days per week, hence I will have 4 days for studying. I recently ordered the Kaplan GMAT 2011: Premier, Kaplan Math Workbook, Kaplan Verbal Workbook and the OG 12th edition. I also have th GMAT Prep software.
    I did not had any practice as yet - as I am now making preparation.

    My true weakness lies in maths specifically.

    Can you please advice me whether those books are enough or did I invest in the right selection. If not, which are the most suitable for someone with low maths experience and native english speaker?

  • Hmm... I can't say for sure if those books will be enough to cover your quant weakness. For me, they certainly where enough for the quant part, but that may not be applicable to you. Do a diagnostic test and see how well you score: if your quant score is below 35, then you may want to consider investing in other resources as well. I usually recommend the Manhattan GMAT set of 5 quant guides for a pretty complete coverage of the subject. Good luck!

  • Hi Dana,

    I did GMAT and got poor scores of 490 and 530. I haven't done a lot of math or english in college.

    Could you please suggest the best prep books around to study?

  • Have you tried the Manhattan GMAT series of 8 guides? It's a pretty complete set of books on quant and verbal. You should use this set with the OGs and this should pretty much cover everything you need!

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks a lot for the swift reply. Appreciate the help a lot.

      A quick question. I heard that both Manhattan GMAT Guide (8books) and Veritas Guides (15books) are good. Which one is better?

      I was going through the reviews for both books on Amazon and I was puzzled at some of the reviews. Please note the following.

      As a set (all books) Manhattan GMAT has favorable reviews as compared to Veritas Prep. When comparing book to book Veritas has better reviews. Any reason?

      I was planning to enrol for Knewton Online classes as well? Are they good and is it worthwhile enrolling?

      Thanks again for you time.


  • Hmm... You're asking some very tough questions :)
    First off, let it be known that I do not endorse the idea that you should buy both a full course (like the one from Knewton) and a full set of guides (maybe only a few titles to hone in on your weak spots, but not the whole set), UNLESS you are terribly rusty in everything. You can check out some Knewton (and other) reviews here:
    Second, the two sets of guides are both really good, but have slightly different strengths. While both cover the GMAT in depth, it is my opinion that the Veritas books are better in the amount of practice they offer, while the MGMAT books are better in the theoretical presentation of things. Whichever one you choose though, you can't really go wrong... But I guess it depends on your personal preferences for study.
    I'm guessing that the better review for MGMAT as a set comes from the fact that it seems more condensed than the Veritas set and it has been on the market for longer. Also, the MGMAT set grants you access to their very famous online tests, which is a plus. However, you can't really know for sure which is better than which, since not many people buy both sets. I happen to have both and overall, for your average GMAT student, I feel like MGMAT covers stuff a little bit better, but only if you also use the OGs for practice. I do believe that Veritas Prep's Data Sufficiency and Reading Comp books are really worthwhile if you're having trouble in this area AND this set is more of a all-in-one solution.

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks a lot for reply and it was very helpful. Had some time do read the book reviews and you are absolutely right. Thanks again and I have made the order.

      thanks again for taking the time provide me a comprehensive answer.

  • Hi A. Houssain,
    Sorry but your original post was deleted when we had our downtime on Thursday. I think you should take a look at the 60-day study guide: It's a neat breakdown of everything you need to do. If you don't feel like signing up for it, you should consider taking a diagnostic test from and figuring out what is your weakness. Based on whether it's quant or verbal, I can make a few specific recommendations. Here's my list of favorites:
    - Manhattan GMAT 5 quant guides
    - PowerScore CR Bible
    - Manhattan GMAT SC guide
    - Veritas Prep RC book
    - Official guides
    You might or might not need all these books depending on whether you're good or bad in certain areas, but you can't really tell without a diagnostic test!

  • Dear Dana, 
    Thank you very much for your valuable comments. I have GMAT OG 12 th  PDF version. (without CD) does it make sense to bue new book just for CD.  Does CD contain adaptive tests, different from Paper test? if yes, could you recoomend how can i get the CD?  


  • The OG 12th does not come with a CD. You can download official practice tests from here:

  • Dear Dana , 
    Thanks a lot for your prompt reply.

  • I have done Free Test-Preparation Software for several times, could you please recommend other free adaptive tests?  

  • All the free CATs are listed on the right in the top widget!

  • Thanks a lot :)

  • Hi DanaJ,
    I am taking the GMAT for the first time in Novemeber 2011, and was wondering if it would be better to get the complete set of Official Guides consisting of Official Guide for GMAT Review (12th Ed), the Official Guide for GMAT Verbal Review and the Official Guide for GMAT Quantitative Review, or would it be better to get just the Official Guide (12th Ed) and the Kaplan Math & Verbal workbooks?
    What are your views on this? Appreciate your help. Thank you!

  • Iam planning to start GMAT prep from August 2011,but was confused which books to buy.Can you tell me the difference between OG 10 & OG 12 and whether it is worth buying both.Also if these 2 OGs are bought,should I also go with OG-Quant & Verbal for extra practice or will it be too much of an overlap?
    Kindly guide me on this..

  • The OG 10 is just an older version of the OG 12. The OG 10 includes half of the questions in the quant and verbal OGs, so buying all four is not worth it. I think a combination of OG 12 + quant&verbal OGs should be good!

    • But I have heard the difficulty level in OG-Quant/Verbal is not good,hence I was probably going to go for OG10+OG12,What is your take on it?Please help.

  • The difficulty level of the OG supplements is not that high, but again, if you buy the OG 10 that book contains a lot of the older questions that also appear in the OG supplements. I wouldn't buy the OG10 + OG 12, there's too much of an overlap between questions.

    • Dana,

      I took the GMAT last year and scored a 590. My practice tests ranged from 580-640. On the actual test, i messed up my timong and was left woth 15 quant qs in the last 15 minutes. That ofcourse hurt mu score really badly. I am retaking the test in 1 month. I have started reviewing the notes i made last year after studying the MGMAT guides (i read all of them). I was not able to finish all og qs last year but i did do most of them. My plan now is to read all my notes and do all the OG qs again.  I am also planning to use the og verbal and math workbooks. My problem areas are data sufficiency, CR and RC. Donyou think that sounds like a good plan? I need a 680+. Please advice as to how i should proceed. 

  • AA, I think you need to go beyond practice. You can review your notes, but make sure you occasionally reference the books themselves on techniques. I also get a sense that the issue here is more about timing than anything else, in which case I recommend the following article:
    This is part 2, so read part 1 too!

  • Hi all, I think the new GMAT official guide GMAT Review 13th Edition is now available in Indian reprints check out it has several new features along with a CD and the new IR section which is to be integrated in the test from July 2012.

  • Hello DanaJ.,

    I have signed up for the 60day study guide that you provided in the previous comments posted. It explains that we need to have the OG 12th edition and the Kaplan 2011 GMAT premier with CD. I was able to get the OG 12th review but the Kaplan 2011 premier is no longer in stock at barnes and nobles, so I bought the 2012 (which doesn't come with a CD). That being said, knowing that it is a more recent edition, does the study guide comply with this new edition? Also, I bought the Manhattan GMAT- Foundation of GMAT math & the GMAT Verbal Review 2nd Edition. In total four books., is this sufficient to study for GMAT?

    Thank you for your time!

  • Don't worry about it - the Kaplan books have been the same for years. You might only see a slight change in page numbers (i.e. by one or two pages), but that's pretty much it. Any edition is fine. I know now that most of the content from the CD has been moved online.
    The books you list should be enough to get you to a 650-700, depending on your current level. If you'd like more advanced stuff, check out the Manhattan books (the regular 8 guide set).

  • Thank you DanaJ! very helpful.. I think that score should be sufficient. :)

  • Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I'll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!|

  • Hi Dana, I just started to study for the GMAT a week ago. I'm not doing too well. I have downloaded the GMAT Prep questions as my only source. I realize that I need more study material. However, I do not have a lot of time. I take the test on December 28th, 2013. I have about three months. I haven't been in school in almost 20 years. I know I need some refreshers on foundation principles on verbal and math. For example, I don't remember learning Logical Predications with idioms and gerunds. Also, I need to review Algebra and Geometry. Please help give some tips on study books to buy that will help me get a high score of 750. I need this score to get in a particular PHD program. I am competing on a global level and I went to small colleges for undergraduate and graduate. Thank you so much for all your help. Tina Carter

  • Hi Tina, i have to say you've correctly identified that you need more help. I think in you have a bit of time - three months should be enough. I believe if you bought the complete Manhattan GMAT set and the Official Guide, you should have enough to take you to a decent score. I can't say you'll get a 750 - it's really tough to evaluate. My opinion would be that if you take a practice test (maybe one in the GMAT Prep software) and your score is below 600, then it might prove difficult for you to get to 750 on your own and might need a course/tutoring. I do believe it's possible to go from say 550 to 700 on your own, but as you can imagine that last stretch from 700 to 750 is a bit more difficult to go through without help.

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