New GRE 2011-2012 Premier with CD-ROM Paperback – Apr 26 2011
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
I am currently using this book so I must warn you that I do not have the complete, thorough review I will surely be giving this.
I bought this book to study for the revised GRE that begins in August 2011. So far I've read almost all of the Verbal and the Quantitative Reasoning sections, done some of the practice sets on the CD-ROM, taken a full-length test online and used other resources available online. When I first got the book, I did the paper-based practice test included in the book, so I was able to identify my strengths (verbal section) and weaknesses (math/quantitative section and analytical section) of the GRE test.
Right now, I'm very satisfied with the purchase. I've found the "Kaplan strategies" helpful and as I complete more practice sets, I get less wrong answers. This book also gives you lots of study tips for before taking the test and advice on actually taking the test.
In addition to the textbook, you get an online registration number which allows you to access 5 additional full-length practice tests (in addition to the full-length paper-based practice test) and the CD-ROM companion. The CD companion has 10 practice sets for each of the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections as well as 5 analytical essay prompts. After you finish a practice set (either on the book or the CD), you get an explanation for all the answers to clarify doubts. The explanations Kaplan gives are detailed, well-written, unlike the ones I've seen in the examples provided in the ETS website which don't always clarify the answers for me. With your Kaplan online companion account, in addition to the 5 practice tests, I've been able to get a couple more full-length practice tests for free, as well as access to free events and a GRE Live Online session.
When using the CD-ROM, you get a representation of the actual test you're going to take (the book also has screenshots of them). When completing the practice sets, you can review the ones you've taken or retake them as many times you want. You do have to adjust the view in order to read the exercises but so far that hasn't been too much of a hassle even with my small screen (I have a netbook).
One aspect that I'd like to point out is that it does NOT provide you with an in-depth review of the math concepts. There IS a math reference section at the end of the book with the 100 most important math concepts that you need to know for the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE. However, it only gives you an explanation and example per each math concept. So if you're rusty in math and need more than one example like me, then you should get another resource. This is something I was expecting since this is a book mostly on how to TAKE the test, not a vocabulary review nor a math course.
To compensate for this, I bought CliffsNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests (Cliffs Test Prep Math Review Standardized), which has great reviews and so far it's been a fantastic refresher. It's stuff that you *should* know and not that difficult at all but the last time you took math/algebra/geometry was in high school or in your first year of college (which for me was almost 4 years ago) so this is an excellent way to review all those concepts. The great thing about this book is that, even though it's aimed at "Standardized Tests" in general, it covers most of the topics that you will get in the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE. Just crosscheck with the Math Review PDF provided in the ETS/GRE website so that you study what you need.
The mobile version of the book, as mentioned inside the book, will not be available until September, or so it said on the online website. I do have a Kaplan Vocab app which I downloaded (FREE) that has a 501 words list which I've been using occasionally.
As I go through the book, I'll provide more insight into how studying with this Kaplan book is helping me, how I did on the test and other resources or books I've been using to complement my studying. I'm taking the test on August 20th, 2011 so by then I hope to have a far more complete review of this book and be much more helpful than I have been so far.
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.