Cracking the New GRE with DVD, 2012 Edition Paperback – Apr 26 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
This text omits several key concepts in the quantitative section (i.e. the geometry & 3D geometry sections are limited). I had to use a supplementary text book to fill in the gaps. More seriously, this text is riddled with errors in the majority of its quantitative answer keys. These errors include: numerical errors in practice questions (i.e. diagrams are mislabelled), numerical errors in practice question answer choices, errors in the summary answer key (i.e. answer key will state A is correct when B is really correct), numerical/logical errors in answer explanations (i.e. written explanations are incongruent with information/diagrams given in practice questions). I verified all suspected errors with my mathematics professors. To be clear, I'm talking about 3-5 answer errors per 15 practice questions.
To a lesser degree, there are errors in the verbal section too. These mainly appear as errors in the summary answer key. However, the written explanations are more accurate.
The analytical writing section also had a lot of good information, though it was a bit over-complicated in my opinion.
On a positive note, I really liked the way this text presented concepts - both quantitative and verbal.Read more ›
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone preparing to write the GRE.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Essentially, it is impossible to find a single book that can fully prepare you for the GRE, but I find that Princeton Review's New GRE prep book has been the most helpful. Here's why:
1.) Above all, Princeton is the most readable. It is written in a very conversational style which makes it easy to read quickly and still understand. This helps emotionally to calm nerves and boost confidence. By comparison, Kaplan is very dry and slow. I worked through Princeton and Kaplan simultaneously, doing math in one and verbal in the other and then switching, and I always found my Princeton sessions to be much more pleasant and rewarding.
2.) Princeton explains processes much more clearly than Kaplan, and Princeton has more structured ways of teaching. The book stresses learning methods rather than memorizing examples. It identifies the different question types and plays out step-by-step processes better than Kaplan does, in my opinion.
3.) Princeton has high usability. The organization is set-up clearly and concisely, so that information may be easily found and understood. The paragraphs are short (and therefore not domineering), and boxes on the side highlight major points of the text in bulleted or list format. The only gripe I have with the organization is that the answers are found in the back and not directly following the section, but this also prevents cheating.
4.) When comparing verbal and math sections, I found Princeton much more helpful with the verbal, reading, and essay aspects. I felt both books did a sufficient job on the math sections but that Princeton did a far-superior job with its verbal and essays sections. This is perhaps because of the warmer, informal style in which it is written that makes confusing, oft-debatable analytical or critical thinking questions much more understandable. Overall, the reader can just see Princeton's logic better.
5.) Although this would not seem like a big deal, Princeton is physically more appealing. It is lighter than Kaplan and requires less effort to keep the book open on its own. It also has a serif font, which humans read better than sans-serif (which Kaplan uses).
Despite its upsides, it does have some downsides. Therefore, I cannot give the book a five-star review. Here are the cons:
1.) Various typos are found in the book, but some are also found in Kaplan. If you ever question an answer, it is wise to go online and look up any revisions that people have posted.
2.) Kaplan has more practice problems than Princeton. Princeton has short practice sets of approximately 5-10 questions after every several pages, but no cumulative sets aside from the 2 full-length practice tests. By comparison, Kaplan has two cumulative math sets of 60 questions each at the end of the math section. But again, it is more important to understand how to do a problem than to just memorize a ton of practice sets, but practice is always a good thing. Princeton has separate practice books which I did not waste my money on.
I did not purchase the disc with the Princeton Review book, as many commented that it was worthless. I have found the Kaplan disc to be frustrating to navigate, and it does nothing different than what Powerprep II software can give you for free on the ETS website.
I recommend Princeton Review above all, but I also recommend consulting many different books, including reading philosophical or scientific literature in preparation for the essays. My suggestions: works by Bertrand Russell, Stephen Jay Gould, E.O. Wilson, David Hume, and Carl Sagan. Flashcards are also good for vocabulary, but it is always more helpful (and frugal) to make the flashcards yourself.
However, when it comes to the BOOKS, I can't recommend The Princeton Review highly enough... Its methods and explanations are quicker, simpler, and significantly more helpful than Kaplan's. Note: I did read The Princeton Review first, which I'm sure colored my opinion. However, after studying the PR publication, I felt that Kaplan's instructions and advice were not only unhelpful, they actually made the test more complicated than it needed to be. Kaplan's book has more practice drills/tests, but P.R. has more than enough of these, and it uses its pages more effectively (in my opinion), explaining methods/instructions that make the test feel simple and doable.
So if you're considering one or the other, this would be my choice hands down; it does the job thoroughly and effectively, and (bonus) it's less expensive.
I took the GRE yesterday and scored a verbal score of 750-800 (scores were estimated using the old scale; I'll get my actual new-scale score in a couple weeks). My Quantitative score isn't required for my grad program, so I didn't bother studying for it, and my score reflected it - a 450. I'm not a math person. :)
Other reviewers have noted proofreading/answer mistakes... These errors do come up in the book, but none of them is crucial; the reader can easily spot them. (For instance, an answer in the guide might say the answer was "E", but then go on to explain why answer "C" is correct, as other reviewers have observed.) These proofreading foibles are few, and are being corrected. In fact, I sent The Princeton Review an email with a handful of things I'd noticed, similar to those noted by another reviewer. They responded quickly, saying they had compiled corrections for their next revision, and that they would check to see if the errors I'd found were already on their list. If not, they would add them... And they thanked me for taking the time to get in touch. (I should note here that, to my total surprise, The Princeton Review is great about customer service. When I emailed, I got quick/friendly responses, and when I called a couple times about my online account, the reps were friendly & helpful. This goes a long way for me.)
Kaplan's book contains similar proofreading foibles that are undergoing edits, but neither book contains ghastly or unnoticeable errors, so there's no need to be frightened. :) If you're looking for a book that has no proofreading errors, neither book will suit you; however, if you're looking for the best methods, instructions, and approaches for scoring well, I recommend the Princeton Review.
However, I was really disappointed with some major flaws in the answers to the questions posed by the book. As other reviewers mentioned, there are multiple cases where the answers are listed as one choice, but the explanation (and your own work) indicate that another choice is correct.
The online quizzes that come with purchase of the book actually have even more mistakes and problems. In reviewing incorrect answers, I found myself frequently realizing my answers were correct. In one example, a math problem worked out both answers as equal, indicating answer choice C. The explanation confirmed that both were equal, but my selection was counted as incorrect because Princeton Review had listed D as the correct answer. With this many mistakes (at least three or four for each of the practice tests I've taken), I'm sometimes wondering whether I'm making mistakes on other problems and they are counted right.
As I mentioned, I think the review and the explanations are first-class, but prospective test-takers should be wary of using this practice book as a predictor for GRE scores because of the mistakes the practice tests are riddled with.
Answers for the practice tests and some of the practice sections are also missing (e.g., one answer is repeated for two questions, so the second question remains unanswered) or do not match up with the original numbers/text in the prompt.
I recently looked at the GRE new test-prep materials (they also have a full-length practice test online for free) and have found that the quant sections in both the info booklet and the practice test cover more material than the Princeton guide - e.g., the functions and probability questions I got were way beyond the advanced practice sections in the guide. I don't expect that they'll be covering everything but then I also expect them to warn me that I might be surprised by some questions that were not covered in their materials.
Overall, a huge disappointment. Combining the free online Princeton practice test (identical to Practice test I in the book), the much more difficult GRE free PowerprepII, and the GRE info booklet, has given me a lot more information and practice for the test than the Princeton guide, which costs $20 in the bookstore.