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 5 Adaptive tests. Think of it a starter camera/computer/car/etc - you don't want to start with anything expensive before you know what you are looking for. On the flip side, this book will last you for 2-4 weeks and most likely will only boost your score by 50-100 points. If you want a greater increase (and have 3 months to study, look below and may want to skip this book).
~~~ THE GOOD: ~~~
* Significant Revision - first major revision since 2008! I can see a big influence from the Manhattan GMAT approach and book structure. It seems this book (now at 1,100 pages) included many of the cliff notes from the MGMAT series. All sections have been revised and significantly beefed up - the book has added 450 pages since last edition!
* Quite a few new questions - very good!
* Some questions are now identified
* Solid material with great Math and Verbal strategies as well as formulas/etc background
* 49 pages covering Integrated Reasoning
* 6 Full GMAT Tests (5 are in adaptive CAT format on the online and 1 is in a paper format in the book)
* Online practice with additional exercises and quizzes - 18 online drills (increased by 3 since the 2011 edition)
* 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, and many online Quizzes
* Good amount of coverage for the INTEGRATED REASONING.
~~~ THE BAD: ~~~
* Errors - I have spotted a few typos and issues with explanations; I suspect there may be quite a few more
* Access to the online components expires after 6 months. This is the only reason to buy a new book vs used
* NO CD/DVD - online content only
* Does not have the depth and width a 700+ score requires
* 1,100 Pages and 6 LBS! - not a travel size book
~~~ OTHER STUDY OPTIONS & BOOKS ~~~
Many applciants, bypass Kaplan Premier completely and head straight for the more specialized books such as the Manhattan GMAT Set of 8 Strategy Guides, Fourth Edition OR Complete GMAT Course Set - 15 Book. These book sets come with 8-15 books that are targetting specific Math and Verbal areas. You have a much better chance getting a 700+ with those book sets (not guaranteed) but they also do require at least 2.5-3 months to cover them. The MGMAT Books come with 6 adaptive online tests. Veritas Prep books come with tests as well BUT only if you purchase from their website (Ugh) Finally, a book you should also now about is the The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 13th Edition (more on that is below)
~~~ 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 Manhattan GMAT Set of 8 Strategy Guides, Fifth Edition OR Complete GMAT Course Set by Veritas - 15 Book. These books are excellent and are actually used in the classroom setting for their classes, so you are definitely 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, 13th 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: Manhattan GMAT Foundations of GMAT Math
2. For Verbal Section: Foundations of GMAT Verbal by Manhattan GMAT
Let me know if you have any questions about the book - I reply to comments!
BB, GMAT 750 (q49, v42)