149 of 149 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I am returning to grad school next year after a long hiatus from any kind of formal education (I received my undergraduate degree in 1991) so although I generally have been pretty successful with standardized tests, I was a little nervous about the GRE, in particular about the quantitative analysis portion. I haven't had a math class in over 25 years, since I majored in literature and communications as an undergrad, and was in an honors curriculum which allowed me write papers about math instead of taking a "real" math class.
I took the revised GRE a few weeks ago, so I haven't received my official scores yet, but the range estimates I was given after completing the test were numbers I was happy with (750-800 verbal, 710-800 quantitative). I won't have the official scores until November. These numbers were fairly close to the practice score numbers I got taking the official ETS sample test, and a bit higher than the practice scores I got taking the Kaplan practice tests.
EDITED TO ADD that my final scores on the new scale were 168/170 verbal, 157/170 quantitative, and 5.5/6 on the analytical writing. As I said above, I am not, nor have I ever been, very good at math, so although the quantitative score is only what I'd consider on the high end of average (77th percentile), for me, this score was far beyond my original expectations, so the studying I did paid off enormously.
Here is how I studied:
1. I downloaded and took the free ETS test as a baseline. I also downloaded and studied their free math review materials.
2. Based on step one, I reviewed my options here on Amazon for supplemental study materials, and decided I wanted about two months to study. Any more than that, and I think you run the risk of overcompensating and second-guessing yourself too much.
3. I chose this book as well as CliffsNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests (Cliffs Test Prep Math Review Standardized). I did not feel I needed extra prep materials for the verbal portion.
4. I worked through this book, including the practice test in the book, and all the in-book excercises.
5. I worked through the Cliff's Notes book; due to my ineptitude at math I worked through the entire book but if you are good at math, that would of course be unnecessary.
6. I worked through these much more quickly than I expected, so I also purchased, after about three weeks of study, Barron's New GRE Flash Cards, 2nd Edition and Gruber's Complete GRE Guide 2012. They were both useful although I did spend more time with the Kaplan book and the Cliff's Notes book.
7. I took a practice exam every couple of weeks. This was more to get used to sitting a 4-hour exam than anything else, and that was helpful as an exercise in endurance.
8. I worked through the CD of included practice exercises with the Kaplan book. These were very helpful, although I must caution you to take answers and results with a grain of salt. I felt that they often contained typos, and also that the verbal questions were often ill-conceived or explained strangely. So think of them as "practice" and don't get too worked up if you get answers wrong when you felt they should be right. Based on my verbal score estimate, I feel I am justified in making this statement.
9. The day before the test, I took one final practice test from the online tests available when you purchase this book.
In total, I spent 3-4 hours a day studying for this, for two months, and I work a full-time job so I was more than ready to be done with this exam prep. I do feel it was worthwhile, however. I would estimate that my scores improved from the original time I took a practice test, to the estimated real scores, about 50 points on the verbal section, and at least 200 points on the quantitative section (but as I mentioned, my original quantitative result was pretty dismal, whereas my verbal was quite good in the first place, so I focused my study on quantitative). Remember, the "numbers" will be totally different for my actual scores once I get them since they're changing the score scale, but this should give you a good idea of the improvements I feel that studying helped me make.
I do feel it was helpful to write several practice analytical writing essays, just to get a feel for how much I could realistically expect to write in 30 minutes; however, I don't know my scores there yet since they are hand scored so I don't have an estimate.
If I had it to do over again, I would probably not bother with the Gruber book, but the other three purchases I made were helpful. In short, I strongly recommend taking at least 4 or 5 hours to study by downloading and using the free ETS study materials, then deciding from there a) how much improvement you want to make, and in which particular areas, and b) how much time you are willing to devote to study. I think I'd have easily scored well enough to get into my desired programs with no study at all, but I wanted to see if the test prep would truly help as advertised, and I also wanted to see if I still liked studying as much as I did 20 years ago before I bothered applying and paying tuition for grad school!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Before you read, I want to clarify that I am reviewing the book itself, not the transaction. My transaction experience was great; the book was packaged well and safe and came during scheduled delivery time. It was spotlessly clean and new.
But now for the book content:
To be honest, I felt like this was not the prep book for me. I used this and Barron's, and skimmed Princeton Review's at the bookstore. I took the new GRE near the end of September 2011, and this is based on my prep experience from then.
Kaplan prepares for you for the first section that gauges your level. I felt like the questions were a decent reflection of the first section of the actual test. However, if you are planning to do better, you must be prepared for a more difficult section which may follow, and Barron's prep book was a bigger help for that part.
Kaplan, compared to the other prep books I've seen, has a lot of explanation and less practice questions. The explanation may help in the beginning, but in my personal opinion, after a certain point, it's really about trying more practice problems and exposing yourself to different forms of questions as well as vocabulary. The margins between lines and around words for the Kaplan prep books are large (Dear Kaplan, you could try to save more ink and paper and make your books a little more portable. The thicker the better doesn't apply to books in my opinion), and it did not take me as much time to go through this book, although it's much thicker and heavier than Barron's. It tricked me into thinking I was super-productive. Content-wise, it skims through a lot compared to Barron's which is more specific (Barron's may over-prepare you, perhaps, but if you're like me, I'd rather be over-prepared than under-prepared), to the point where I nearly freaked out while going through Barron's because it seemed like a completely different test I was preparing for.
Also, I felt like even those profuse explanations were poorly explained. I felt like some questions were poorly worded, ambiguous, and I've pointed out some questions to my friends who agreed that they were badly worded. When going through practice tests, my score was fairly consistent for Barron's. For Kaplan, I had a hit-or-miss score, which worried me a lot while preparing.
I may be biased because I had the same experience when I used Barron's, Princeton Review, and Kaplan while preparing for the SATs. Barron's would be hard but it was a great and thorough preparation. Princeton was fair, and Kaplan... well.... I would compare Kaplan to a crash course. If you haven't looked at anything and your test is in a week, sit down and go through Kaplan and it may get you a decent score. However, hopefully, you'll be aspiring for better. My official score isn't out yet, but the range I received, expressed in the old scoring range, was V 710~800 and Q 750~800.