217 of 217 people found the following review helpful
After a month and a half of studying with Cracking the GRE with DVD, 2011 Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) and this Kaplan book, I took the GRE today and can say that between the two I was extremely well-prepared. I began with Princeton and reviewed all the material in that book, including the practice tests, and then moved onto Kaplan, subsequently reviewing all the Kaplan material and using the DVD quizzes and tests as well. Here are my thoughts on the positives and negatives of the Kaplan GRE Premiere 2011 book (with CD) compared to the Princeton Review Cracking the GRE 2011 (with DVD) book:
- Reading Comprehension: Kaplan's material on Reading Comprehension is fantastic. Kaplan lays out their strategy for you and then beats it in your head over and over with example after example to get you comfortable with reading and analyzing passages their way. They do this much better than Princeton Review and for some reason they spend an inordinate amount of time and space doing it for Reading Comprehension, but not for other verbal sections. If you hate reading passages, you may hate Kaplan for the amount of times they make you do it, but they will sure as heck make sure you know what to do when you see one on the test.
- Practice questions: Kaplan's book has long sections of practice questions after both verbal and math, and these, in my opinion, are better than what Princeton gives you. Princeton gives you the same thing, but they split them into sections of easy, medium, and hard questions, which is nice and all, but kind of pointless since the real test isn't like that. Kaplan gives you a bunch of questions all at once that vary in difficulty, and I think that's more helpful because it's a little more true to the test format, which will change in difficulty depending on your performance.
- Practice quizzes: Kaplan's website contains six practice quizzes which are generally around 30 questions each, typically around 10-12 math and the rest verbal. They are untimed and are a great way to practice at the computer if you've got a spare 45 minutes to an hour to brush up on your skills. Unfortunately they are only graded on a percentage, but again it's good for practice when you don't have the time or will to do a full test.
- Practice tests: Kaplan's book has one full paper practice test, while the website has one practice test that is just math/verbal (with the appropriate times and numbers of questions), and then three full CAT practice tests that also contain the essays. Additionally, the website has four practice essays. Unlike the Princeton Review tests, Kaplan has done a great job of making their practice tests look just like the real GRE. What you see when you do the Kaplan tests is essentially what you'll get when you take the real test, so it won't be a surprise. These practice tests are graded on the 800/800 scale and in my experience were a little easier than the Princeton tests, but that may be because I had already been studying for quite a while by the time I got to the Kaplan tests.
- Vocab: Kaplan's book has a couple sections in the back which give you similar GRE-style words all put into groups, which is helpful for learning synonyms, and then also goes over the roots of words, which is helpful if that's how you want to learn. Neither of these is my learning preference, but it's good to know they're there. For comparison purposes, Princeton has "The Hit Parade," four lists of 75 vocab words that are defined with practice tests at the end of each lists. There are also two "Beyond the Hit Parade" lists that contain extra words. Not sure why they split them, but fyi, that's what Princeton gives you for vocab if you have a preference. I prefer the Princeton method.
- Remaining verbal sections: Sorry Kaplan, your remaining verbal sections are not very good. They explain what to expect and how to do them, but that's essentially it. Where Kaplan pounds Reading Comprehension into your head, Princeton pounds everything else into your head. Don't expect thorough explanations and tips on the Analogies, Sentence Completion, or Antonym sections.
- Math: For some reason the Kaplan math section assumes you know all the fundamentals already and only tells you how to do each problem type (quantitative comparison, etc.) with very little actual math explanation. They have a section in the back of the book that goes over fundamental math, from fractions and decimals to permutations, but why not just put it all up front? Why assume your readers know it all already and then confuse people who may not know how to do the problems and then make them go to the back of the book to look it all up? Additionally, I found that Princeton did a better job of seriously breaking down the math to its most simplest methods, making it fairly foolproof, whereas Kaplan either overcomplicates or does a horrible insufficient job of explaining.
- In-section quizzes: Kaplan gives 3-4 questions at the end of each section in the book, which is really not enough to make sure the reader understands the concepts. Princeton gives a good 9-10 in general for each section. Furthermore, for whatever reason Kaplan has decided to put the answers immediately after the questions, meaning that you'll have to in many cases cover up the pages to avoid accidentally seeing the answers as you are doing the questions. It was a really bad idea and they should have put them on a separate page. Also, for some reason they only explain certain answers, leaving others with just the correct letter and no reason why.
- Readability: Kaplan is easy enough to follow in general. Princeton is just easier. The language in Princeton is extremely casual and often feels like you're just having a conversation with a friend, it's written so informally. You may prefer the Kaplan level of formality more, but I found that it was easier to follow Princeton.
- Practice essays: Yes, I put the presence of many practice essays as a positive above with the practice tests. However, Kaplan makes you grade your own tests, which I think is fairly pointless. You get practice, which is good, but you're not a professional essay grader, so expecting you to give yourself an accurate essay score based on the extremely vague rubric and perfect examples is asking a bit much. Princeton will grade your essays for $5.99 a pop.
- The CD: Yeah, I have Vista 64-bit and couldn't get it to work. I kept getting errors when I tried running it. Thankfully the website is an extremely useful alternative, but like many others, I couldn't get the CD to work on my computer.
Overall I hesitate to recommend one book over the other. While I feel that Princeton Review does nearly everything better than Kaplan as far as the book material goes, except for Reading Comprehension, Kaplan blows Princeton out of the water with the availability of online practice material. Kaplan seriously goes above and beyond with the amount of practice they'll give you on their website, and they ought to be highly commended for that. Ultimately I think that having both books was really the best course of action, as Princeton will help you learn the material and how to do the questions, and Kaplan will help you to practice it. I also went through the Kaplan GRE Exam Vocabulary in a Box in its entirety, studying the last few unknown words right up to my last few minutes at the stoplight on the way to the testing center. Several of the words did come up on the test, and I think it was very helpful to go through and learn the vocab, even words that didn't come up.
Bottom line: if you are going to get this Kaplan book, I highly recommend you supplement it with the Princeton Review book, which really does a MUCH better job of teaching you the material. If you rely on the Kaplan book on its own you'll be in pretty good shape, but Kaplan doesn't even come close to teaching as well as Princeton. I highly recommend the dual combo, and maybe even that vocab box as well. As I said, with the combination of all three, I did extremely well on the test today. If you really only want to spend money on one, I suggest you go for the Princeton Review book. It'll teach you the material really well and the amount of practice you'll get is adequate. You won't have as much practice material as with Kaplan, but you'll probably be fine. If you can get both, get both.
*Please note that after August 1st, 2011 the GRE test will be changing. These books will probably still be somewhat relevant, but certain questions will be exiting and other new ones will be coming in.
Thanks for reading!
133 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2010
If you are new to the GMAT, Kaplan Premier is a great book to start with - it provides a good intro to the test (explains the mechanics, basic priciples, gets you familar with the test structure, etc), has solid strategies that you can use regardless of your level, and finally, comes with 6 Adaptive tests. Think of it a starter car - you don't want to start with anything expensive before you know what you are looking for actually.
* Solid material with great Math and Verbal strategies as well as some background
* Good structure and layout; helps if you are a visual learner
* 6 Full GMAT Tests (5 are in adaptive CAT format on the CD/online and 1 is in a paper format in the book)
* Online practice with additional exercises and quizzes - 15 online drills
* Much of general info on gmat has been moved into online video format, called Fast Fact Videos; that helps with learning when you have had too much reading for the day
* Great value for the money with 6 Full GMAT tests, practice questions on the CD, and many online Quizzes
* Same as the previous editions of this book - would expect a bit more revision from a new edition.
* Access to the online components expires after 1 year. This is the only reason to buy a new book vs used
* CD is windows only (for Mac you will need to use the online registration and take these tests online)
* Does not have the depth and width a 700+ score requires
* 650 Pages and 4 LBS! - not a travel size book
However, it is hard to score 700+ relying just on this book (simply not enough space to fit it all in); you will need to get some other materials to get you bases covered. My suggestion would be to spend a month going through this book and once you know your weaknesses and area that require extra attention, you can do a deep dive with somespecialized books (there are quite a few of those).
SOME OTHER THOUGHTS:
* What is a good study plan using Kaplan Premier?
My recommendation would be to start with this book, finish it in about a month or so (by this time you will learn all the basics about the test, how it works, what is tested, and general strategies for answering questions). Then, you an figure out what's the best use of your time - you may have reached your target score and can stop or perhaps you are really lacking in Quant or Verbal and need a lot more serious practice.
* Will this book give me 700+ score?
For the majority of applicants, No. It is not deep enough for most people out of college to refresh the math and verbal fundamentals. You will most likely need other books to help you get there.
* How do I get 700 then?
There are several options:
1. Review each section separately using the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook and Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook
2. Thorough/Methodical review of each area - If you have a bit more time, grab the collection of 8 Manhattan Guides. These books are excellent and are actually used in the classroom setting for their classes, so you are defintely get the top books. If you dont need/want the entire collection, see my review for what stand-alone books to get. This plan is likely to get you a higher score with this section but it will also take up more time (about a month more). Decide on the approach based on your starting position, target score, time you have, and willingness to study math and grammar for months without a break.
* Any other books I need to know about?
YES. There is one - The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition. This book is published by the creators of GMAT and contains real GMAT questions. You should also download the Official GMAT Prep software from GMAC's website (it's free).
* What if I have trouble getting through this book? Where can I find help?
There are several books that can help you get up to speed with quant and grammar:
1. For Quantitative section: Foundations of GMAT Math by Manhattan GMAT
2. For Verbal Section: Kaplan GMAT Verbal Foundations (grammar only)
Let me know if you have any questions about the book - I reply to comments! (also see additional book images I uploaded)
BB, Founder of GMAT Club
GMAT 750 (q49, v42)
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
So, i was frustrated with kaplan in the beginning because the CD wasn't working on my windows 7 computer. Don't waste your time calling kaplan's customer service because from what i've read in online forums, they don't know how to deal with it. However, i came across a thread on microsoft's website about the MCI drivers the CD asks for and here's a way to get around it: Install the CD on your computer, remove it from your computer and restart your computer in safe mode ( hit the F8 key while the black screen is on just before the windows logo appears) and just select the safe mode option. I know some people with vista who select the 'safe mode with command prompt' but i discovered that selecting just the "safe mode" option works perfectly. Once your computer is started, insert the CD and click on the icon and viola!, it should work like a charm. I have a HP windows 7 laptop and it worked wonderfully.
The CD has 6 quantitative test and about the same amount of verbal tests. There are 3 CAT exams on the CD. The exams on the CD actually simulate the real exams way better than the diagnositic i took online. Go figure!
The online companion has 5 exams as well as tons of practice quizzes and what nots. I actually have both the kaplan MCAT and kaplan GRE. The GRE premier is good for a year, at least the online thing says it'll expire august, 2011 compared to the MCAT premier that's only good for 6 months. I read other reviews that the exams and quizzes online weren't available but so far, all of them are showing up at the same time.
The book itself isn't as comprehensive as i was hoping for it to be. it really doesn't have much content. I think you should get the princeton review book and read that first. Also, i recommend kaplan flash cards or barrons essential words for the GRE. Barron's has more words in addition to kaplans 500. i like how kaplan gives synonyms at the back of the cards along with the sentences. Barrons doesn't give synonyms but the exercises at the end of each of the 10 word lists helps you to understand the word. Better still, the kaplan flashcards have the pronunciations which i think is a great asset.
All in all, this book is ok but i highly recommend the princeton review or barrons in addition to this as kaplan doesn't have much of a content. I like princeton's strategy so far. i gave it 4 stars cuz it's not complete and also for the frustration that comes with searching for ways to use the CD. I hope this helps.
UPDATE: I have to take my words back because this book has all you need. If you're a little OCD, i suggest Barron's in addition to this because it's very comprehensive and has the 3500 word list. The kaplan book doesn't appear to have content based on my initial glance through it but after going through it, it has everything you need to score 700+ in each section. I did 4/6 of the quantitative tests and 5/6 of the verbal tests and 1 CAT exam on the CD plus online CAT 5. (Please note the first CAT on CD is very hard). I also did 3/6 of the online quizzes. I scored 49% on the diagnostic after perusing the princeton review. Did barron's and that helped a lot but i still wasn't testing well. 1 week with kaplan and my score skyrocketed. I highly recommend this book and Barron's. if your goal is to get around 500, you should be ok with The princeton book. English isn't my first, 2nd or even third language so to break 700+ on verbal is impressive. Also, I suggest testing on the CD to simulate testing conditions. The verbal exams has 38 questions timed at 30minutes. the math has 30 questions timed at 30minutes. I had 13 questions uncompleted the first time i took i took the verbal CAT and barely scraped 50% of the questions i answered. After working through the kaplan book, i went from getting 2/7 right in the reading comprehension section to getting at least 6/7 right and finishing the 38 questions with about 2 or 3 minutes to spare. I never got past question 25 on the quantitative test but considering the real deal had 28 questions to be completed in even more time, i wasn't worried. The writing section is the best. I also did one of the CAT on barron's CD. i didn't get the chancce to do the princeton exams since i stopped using the book.
Also, get the powerprep software from ETS. If you have a 64-bit windows 7 pc, don't bother because it won't work ( I called ETS after having problems installing and the rep told me it won't work). If you have vista, it does work although if it freezes, try running it in safe mode. ETS suggested that and it worked on my other laptop that has a 32-bit windows vista. I only did the first practice test and i didn't find it that helpful because it lacks explanations. however, it's a nice way to see how they test.
Oh, and get to the test center early. it sucks to sit there waiting anxiously. I HIGHLY recommend this book. in fact their reading comprehension advice is better than the one in their MCAT book. This book has helped me immensely and i'm very grateful.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2010
Buyer beware! When you try to use the Kaplan software from their CD you get an error about MCI drivers. Google it. There are no solutions. Windows 7 or Vista and you have a CD that doesn't work.
Kaplan's customer service email is below:
Thank you for contacting Kaplan's Books and Software division. I am sorry to inform you that the CD that comes with the book is not compatible with Windows Vista. Unfortunately, we don't have any Windows Vista compatible CD-ROM. We suggest utilizing any available windows based operating system such as 98, 2000, XP. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Best of luck with your studies!
Kaplan Book Support
Email removed for privacy
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2010
Advanced warning to would be purchasers - the included CD only runs on Windows XP - it will not run on Windows 7 unless you have Windows 7 Professional or higher and download the XP mode for Windows 7. The book is still useful - but you may not be able to access all the features you expect.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
The CD does work on Windows 7, but you must be a tech person to understand how to make it work. When first running the CD, I kept getting the error message "You do not have MCI drivers installed, install them..." After searching for over an hour, I have found a solution that has worked for me. Go to Control Panel, then go to System & Security, from there, click on System. On the left hand panel, click on "Device Manager". Click on "Sound" or "Multimedia". Then, disable all sound devices (i.e. double click and hit the "disable" button. DO NOT uninstall!!! This will allow you to run the program. Remember to enable the sound devices again or your computer will not have sound.:-) Hope this helps!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2010
As a Gmat coach here in Rio de Janeiro, I have to purchase a great variety of materials to help Brazilian candidates whose native language is not English. Kaplan premier is above par; nonetheless, the only suggestion I can offer is that if you are looking for different CAT test, these tets have not changed in the last 6 years; unfortunatly, Kaplan should try and provide different tests at different degrees of difficulties.
Sometimes, clients see a new version 2012, for example - but the tests are all the same as the previous one
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2010
It is not acceptable for a product dated 2011 to only work on XP which is 10 years old. What is more unacceptable is the non response from Kaplan. I will not buy another Kaplan product.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I studied tests and measurements in graduate school, so I am interested in Kaplan's program. Preparation for the Graduate Record Examination can be a tedious and discouraging process. I do not believe that the GRE is the best tool for decisions on which applicants should be selected for graduate school. However, since so many schools use the GRE, it is unavoidable.
Kaplan says that, as a standardized test, the GRE should:
1. The test must be reliable - test taker should get the same score each time they take the test (unless they are coached).
2. The test must test the same concepts of each version of the test.
3. The test must produce a "bell curve" when the scores are plotted. In the measurement world, the questions must discriminate by measuring the range of talent among the population it evaluates.
The GRE has a reputation for meeting all three of the "standards" so universities continue to utilize GRE results.
Having said that, the GRE meets requirements of the universities admissions committees, the question becomes, is the Kaplan program effective in helping clients improve their GRE scores. Clearly it is effective.
What I like:
* Brand-new practice quizzes provided every month
* Diagnostic quiz to target areas for score improvement
* 5 full-length practice tests plus hundreds of additional practice questions
* Answers fully explained in detail
* Essential tactics for the computer-adaptive test (CAT) format. This is vital since comfort with format means higher scores.
What I do not like:
* Kaplan claims they have the latest in technology, but it does not work well with Widows 7. I happen to have an earlier version of Windows on my old computer, but many people lack that tool.
I recommend the Kaplan GRE 2011 Premier with CD-ROM. It is the best GRE preparation program I have seen.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The text in the book is a good guide and I'd give it 4 stars; however, I think it's very important that people get used to the process of test-taking online, but with the material (CD and online) only rate 2 stars. There are a fair amount of compatibility issues that are not addressed. Kaplan really should be providing better service than that and make certain their software works seamlessly with multiple operating systems.
* CD not essential because the same material is listed online.
* Pretty comprehensive test, with decent study guides.
* Gives some helpful guidance for test methodology when you aren't sure of the answer.
* Good simulation of the actual test.
* About a 1/2 dozen quantitative and verbal tests, so lots of good practice.
* Limited OS for install (from the Kaplan FAQ): Windows® 98SE, NT 4.0 SP6, 2000, ME or XP; Macintosh® OS 8.6, OS9, OS X.
* While I did not have an issue with install, there seem to be a fair number of users
* Software is occasionally unstable. About 3/4 of the way through a test, it will freeze and I get an error message that it's stopped responding. I lose my work.
* Online material is in Flash. I had a few problems with getting the Flash to work consistently.
* Expires in less than a year (8/2011). If I purchased the book, why can't I keep using the on-line guide?
Just as an FYI, if you are one of the users having difficulty getting the software to work:
Directions from Kaplan's site for making it work with Vista or Win7
1. Right click on the icon and click on properties.
2. Click on compatibility
3. Check the box "Run this program in compatibility mode for"
4. Select windows XP and click on apply and ok
But it looks like some people still had issues and needed to download a file. Another solution is to download and install Windows Virtual PC, running in Windows XP mode. That allows users to run programs that were designed for Windows XP. However, I think there may be some hardware requirements (but if you're running Win 7, you should meet specs).