- Series: Graduate School Test Preparation
- Paperback: 768 pages
- Publisher: Princeton Review; 2017 ed. edition (May 24, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1101919655
- ISBN-13: 978-1101919651
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.8 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cracking the GMAT Premium Edition with 6 Computer-Adaptive Practice Tests, 2017 (Graduate School Test Preparation) 2017 ed. Edition
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The experts at The Princeton Review have been helping students, parents, and educators achieve the best results at every stage of the education process since 1981. The Princeton Review has helped millions succeed on standardized tests, and provides expert advice and instruction to help parents, teachers, students, and schools navigate the complexities of school admission. In addition to classroom courses in over 40 states and 20 countries, The Princeton Review also offers online and school-based courses, one-to-one and small-group tutoring as well as online services in both admission counseling and academic homework help.
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As I expected when I ordered it, this book is just OK; I would recommend it for basic strategies and low/average GMAT scorers only. Unfortunately, the shiny gold writing on the cover is the most impressive thing about it. Any attempt to write an "all in one" guide to a test as complex as the GMAT is destined to be at least a partial failure, and this new 2017 edition is proof positive that simpler does not always mean better.
There is some good news: I can confirm that I was able to register with Princeton Review and access the online content, which includes 6 practice CATs. However, there are thousands of official GMAT questions,1,500 of which are free via the GMAT Prep software, so I don't see the need for any GMAT student to practice on non-authentic questions. The Official GMAT guides are lacking in strategy, however, and this is where other books such as this one will come into play. Unfortunately, much of this book is filled with basic facts and formulas, rather than GMAT strategies, which is why I can more strongly recommend the books from the Manhattan GMAT Series, as well as the PowerScore Critical Reading Bible and Critical Reasoning Bible.
Basically, Princeton Review (full disclosure: my former employer) and Kaplan are the Burger King and McDonald's of the test-prep world. You might leave feeling full of knowledge, but it's mostly empty calories.
Any GMAT self-studier can tell you that there is no one book that can prepare you for the GMAT. Yes, you should start with the Official Guides, because you should stick to official questions whenever possible, but for those of us who are self-studying, no one book is enough.
Why are the 2017 Official Guides the very best place to start your GMAT preparation, other than the free GMATPrep software? Because the questions in these books are super-realistic. They are just like the questions on the real GMAT, because the book is written by the test-maker and uses actual, retired GMAT questions. Don't waste your time and money practicing on questions made by any other companies--these are merely inferior imitations of the real thing. If you must use other materials for test strategy, then that's fine, and in most cases necessary, but try your best to stick to official questions whenever possible.
Pro tip: You can take each of the 6 GMAT Prep CATs more than once, because the GMAT is an adaptive test (it adjusts the difficulty level of later questions based on your previous responses). There are about 4 to 16 times as many questions in the GMAC's question pool as there are in any given test, which means that every test you take will be different. Tests 1 and 2 draw from a (gigantic!) pool of about 1,500 questions, and tests 3, 4, 5, and 6 draw from a more modest pool of about 400 questions each. To re-take your GMAT Prep tests, click "reset" in the lower-left hand corner of the GMAT Prep software window, but make sure to take screenshots of your previous test sessions beforehand--frequent screenshots are a good idea anyway because the software is prone to crashing and losing your data. For your screenshots, use either the "Print Screen" (Windows Key + PrtScn) button on a PC or (Shift + Command + 3) on a Mac.
For those of you who are just getting started, here is the overall structure of the GMAT:
1) Analysis of an Argument Essay (AWA or Analytical Writing Assessment): 30 minutes, 1 question.
2) Integrated Reasoning (Multi-Source Reasoning, Table Analysis, Graphics Interpretation, Two Part Analysis): 30 minutes, 12 questions. Please note: unlike the Verbal and Quantitative sections, the IR section is not adaptive.
3) Optional 8-minute break
4) Quantitative Section (Problem Solving, Data Sufficiency): 75 minutes, 37 questions (2 minutes per question)
5) Optional 8-minute break
6) Verbal Section (Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction): 75 minutes, 41 questions (1.8 minutes per question)
Keep in mind that on the GMAT you cannot go back or skip any questions, and that the first 12-15 questions of the Verbal and Quantitative sections have the most impact on your score due to the adaptive scoring algorithm. A correct answer will yield a slightly harder question in most cases, and vice versa, and the GMAT will gradually determine your score as you go. The largest adjustments are made at the beginning of the test, which is why the first 1/3 of questions are so essential. Also, approximately 10 to 25% of the questions on the actual GMAT are experimental—you don’t know which ones they are, and they don’t count toward your score.
Here are my most essential GMAT Resources, ranked from most important to least:
1) Free GMATPrep Software - 2 diagnostic CATs (Exams 1 and 2: 180 questions total) and 90 practice questions out of 1,500 possible questions
2) GMAT 2016 Official Guide Bundle - 1 diagnostic test and over 1,500 practice questions and answer explanations GMAT 2016 Official Guide Bundle - about $45
3) GMATPrep Exam Pack 1 - 2 diagnostic CATs (Exams 3 and 4: 180 questions total) out of 400 possible questions - GMATPrep Exam Pack 1 [Online Code] $50
4) GMAT Prep Exam Pack 2 (New Release with 2 New Tests -- not yet available on Amazon) - 2 more diagnostic CATs (Exams 5 and 6: 180 questions total) out of 400 possible questions - $50
Please note: you can save $10 by buying #3 and #4 together as an Exam Pack Bundle from the GMAT website for $90.
5) GMATPrep Question Pack 1 - 404 questions with answer explanations and ability to sort questions by type and difficulty - $30 GMATPrep Question Pack 1 [Online Code]
6) The Official Guide for GMAT® Review 2016 Mobile App The Official Guide for GMAT® Review 2016 -$5 for 50 questions and $30 upgrade for an additional 800 questions
7) GMAT Focus Quizzes - 24 questions per quiz (math only) - $30 per quiz and 4 total GMAT Focus Online Quantitative Diagnostic Tool: Single Use [Online Code]
8) IR Prep Tool - 48 Integrated Reasoning Questions GMAT IR Prep Tool [Online Code] - $20
9) GMAT Write - 4 Auto-Graded Essays for $30
10) GMAT Enhanced Score Report - Technically this is not a practice tool, but it provides an in-depth look at your score, including overall rankings, rankings by question type, time management information and a summary of your strengths and weaknesses, which can be helpful if you plan to take the test more than once. - $25
1) GMAT Club Forum - Free explanations to nearly every official GMAT question, as well as questions written by other companies (I do not recommend practicing on non-official questions).
2) GMAT Quantum - Free video explanations to nearly every official GMAT quantitative question.
3) Manhattan Prep GMAT Series: $144 for the entire series Complete GMAT Strategy Guide Set (Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides) or about $16 for one book which gives you access to 6 online CATs GMAT Sentence Correction (Manhattan Prep GMAT Strategy Guides).
4) LSAT Preptests for Extra Critical Reasoning and Critical Reading Practice: $20 for 10 tests 10 More, Actual Official LSAT PrepTests: (PrepTests 19 through 28) (Lsat Series)
5) Magoosh Free Online Materials
6) Powerprep Critical Reasoning Bible: $21 The PowerScore GMAT Critical Reasoning Bible
7) Powerprep Reading Comprehension Bible: $35 The PowerScore GMAT Reading Comprehension Bible
Finally, you can google "GMAT Action Plan - McElroy Tutoring" to read my personal, frequently updated recommendations for GMAT Prep.
Please feel free to leave comments and/or ask questions below--I enjoy analyzing the intricacies of this challenging test, and will always try to respond in a timely fashion.
I did not end up using Princeton Review for my GMAT Prep. I spent about a month on this book (on and off) and having seen no improvement, switched to Kaplan guides instead and was able to score 750 with those. I felt the book was OK; it explained how the GMAT works and logic behind the test, etc but after that it started to fall apart. I had a few issues with the strategies and expectations this book set - it gave an impression that GMAT was pretty easy and it was a guessing game rather than a test of skill and knowledge (it is definitely not a game).
~~~ POSITIVES: ~~~
- Has a good math review section covering even topics such as Statistics and Probability
- 6 GMAT tests are included (access online).
- Practice questions in the book are structured by difficulty (convenient)
- Variety of practice questions and bins but verbal ones are a bit "skewed"
~~~ NEGATIVES: ~~~
- Approaches GMAT from high level strategies such as POE, getting into the mind of test writer, backsolving, and others, which are all great strategies but they really belong at the very end of the book, not upfront. Basics such as blocking and tackling need to go first; otherwise it works in a controled practice environment but fails on the test. What it does, it makes you feel comfortable wiht the book but then on the test, the questions don't fit the patterns and it does not help at all (probably hurts more than helps). The key to getting a high score on the GMAT is in the basics. You must know math and grammar to get the answres right. Strategies are important, but they are a finishing touch, not the core.
- Lack of basics coverage for Verbal (very little review of questions, grammar)
- Reading Comprehension strategy needs to be reconsidered. Every other provider such as Kaplan, Manhattan GMAT, Manhattan Review, PowerScore, Veritas, and others suggest to read the passage in its entirety. Which I strongly agree with. Princeton continues to insist on briefly reading the passage and then jumping into the question - the result is the same as above - jumping into hot water unprepared and fumbling through questions. By changing my reading strategy I was able to go from 30% success rate to about 60-70. Literally within 2 days.
~~~ Bottom Line: ~~~
I felt this book emphasized tricks and tips more than a solid knowledge of Math, Grammar, and Logic, which is Ok if you are looking for a 600 but not enough to get past that.
~~~ OTHER THOUGHTS: ~~~
* How do I get 700 then?
There are several options:
1. Review each section separately using other books such as the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook and Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook or digg even deeper with 8 Manhattan GMAT Guides or 15 Veritas Prep Guides
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 (Called GMAT Prep) - they offer 2 tests for free. These are great to get a feel for the official GMAT interface, official questions, and also the official score (make sure you don't click past that at the end; if you do, you can't recover it and it will remain a mystery). I would suggest taking one at the very beginning of your prep. Many feel that it's a waste of one practice test but in reality it is not. You can take these multiple times and after a few months, your level will be much higher than when you started (hopefully), and the questions you will encounter on the re-take will be froma differen difficulty level, thus not overlaping and thus not wasting anything :)
* 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) or Manhattan GMAT Verbal Foundations
* What if I need harder questions? Where can i get 700+ level questions?
There are a few books that offer that: Manhattan GMAT Advanced Math is one and Total GMAT Math is another. For verbal there is not a whole lot. I would also recommend Kaplan GMAT 800 as a decent question collection or Princeton Review 1012 questions (it is a question collection only)
Let me know if you have any questions about the book - I reply to comments!
BB, Founder of GMAT Club
GMAT 750 (q49, v42)
The Cracking the GMAT guide spends more time talking about the GMAT and the different strategies you should use and the different types of questions (including really arcane stuff like "data sufficiency") than the official GMAT Guide does.
Honestly if you're serious about getting your MBA you should probably just by both, especially if the GMAT exam is 6 months or more away. If the GMAT exam is 3 months away then two books is probably overkill but if you've got time then seriously, just go nuts. It's a tough exam.
The online material is great in order to practice but keep in mind it lasts only for 1 year starting from the time you register the book in the Princenton web page.