Kaplan GMAT Advanced 2009-2010 Edition: Book Review:
Here is Dana’s analysis of the Kaplan GMAT Advanced book.
Kaplan GMAT Advanced 2009-2010 Edition is one of the few GMAT books on the market specifically designed to appeal to the high scorer. The previous edition of the book was called Kaplan 800. There are no significant differences between the two editions. At times it seems Kaplan just replaced “800” with “Advanced” in the tips boxes and in the section forewords (example: at the very beginning of the book, Kaplan claims you can get an “Advanced on the GMAT!” I think this originally read “800 on the GMAT!”), so buying the newest edition is not really worth it if you already have an older one.
The extent to which the problems presented by the Kaplan book are advanced is… debatable. This is because there is no clear cut way of assigning such a subjective characteristic to scores: does “advanced” mean over 600 (66th percentile)? Or does it mean over 760 (99th percentile)? If you consider a test taker with a 700 (90th percentile) an advanced one, than this book does not deliver, particularly in the quantitative portion. Questions you’ll find in Kaplan Advanced:
- 42 Critical Reasoning
- 31 Reading Comprehension
- 112 Sentence Correction
- 98 Problem Solving
- 37 Data Sufficiency
[Editors Note: Just to clarify, the Kaplan GMAT Advanced book is published by Kaplan Publishing and features content that is different from what you should expect to see in Kaplan GMAT and GMAT Advanced courses.]
- Generous math word problems section, with 56 Problem Solving and 18 Data Sufficiency questions. On my test day, math word problems required the most effort for me, so I would advise any GMAT hopeful to allot proper attention to these kinds of problems
- Kaplan Advanced lives up to the reputation of the Live Online program and provides a substantial list of practice problems – no less than 320, which means you’ll get a pretty decent amount of practice material for a good price
- The strategy in this book is scattered, in my opinion. There are no condensed reviews at the beginning of each chapter and tips sort of just “pop up” in answer explanations. There’s no clear structure to learning, just practice. This book could have been a good quick reference for some tough strategy, but unfortunately this is not the case
- Although marketed as an advanced guide, the book does not live up to my personal perception of intensive prep. This is particularly obvious if you evaluate the overall quantitative portion of the book, since topics such as permutations, combinations, probabilities, and statistics are not covered sufficiently. These math topics are the ones that scare even well-prepared students, so I would have expected Kaplan to devote entire chapters to them
- As is the case with Kaplan Live Online, I didn’t think the practice questions mimicked the actual GMAT very well. I thought this was particularly the case for Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. The quality of the questions does not match that of the Official Guide for GMAT Review series.
- The book is not balanced, since there are huge differences in the numbers of problems. Also, since Data Sufficiency is a type of problem unique to the GMAT, it should have been covered more thoroughly – only 37 questions is too little as compared to the 98 questions in the Problem Solving section
Kaplan GMAT Advanced gets only one star out of five mainly because I think it lacks structure. If you ask me what matters most in preparing for the GMAT, concepts or practice, and I’ll tell you that it’s concepts. The fact that the book is almost 100% concerned with practice without proper (advanced) content review means that there will be no solid conceptual framework for drills. Additionally, the questions themselves do not meet my standards of advanced prep. However, if you’re looking for a resource of math word problems and sentence correction questions, this book is definitely worth a look.
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