Kaplan GMAT Advanced 2009-2010 Edition: Book Review:

by on December 9th, 2009

Kaplan GMAT AdvancedThe following book review was written by Dana Jinaru.  Dana is currently a finance student in Europe and also serves as a moderator for Beat The GMAT.  On May 13, 2009 she scored a 770 on the GMAT.

Here is Dana’s analysis of the Kaplan GMAT Advanced book.

Overview

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.]

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

Bottom Line

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.

If you’re interested in purchasing the Kaplan GMAT Advanced book, click here.

Read more book reviews in the Beat The GMAT Book Recommendations section.

23 comments

  • Thanks for taking the time to review Kaplan GMAT Advanced. Having spoken with our Publishing team, I know they appreciate Dana’s thoughts on our retail book and are carefully reviewing the issues raised. Development for the next edition, due out in the first quarter of next year, is underway and will certainly take her comments into consideration. As a company, Kaplan takes such feedback seriously – it helps us continually improve our offerings to students.

    As a Kaplan GMAT instructor, I can assure you that we have excellent options for advanced students. Our GMAT Advanced course is the only score-qualified course available anywhere – it requires a Diagnostic or previous GMAT score of 600+. As you can imagine, this requirement allows us to move the Advanced class at an appropriate pace and to focus on the most difficult questions. A significant portion our course is devoted to advanced math topics such as permutations, combinations, probabilities, and statistics, in addition to data sufficiency, advanced reading comp and other challenging questions.

    Realistic practice questions are a critical part of preparing for the GMAT, and providing such questions at all difficulty levels, in our retail books and in our comprehensive prep programs, is a strength of ours. It’s commonly known that even the Official Guide – which, along with the GMATPrep and GMAT Focus software, is the only published source of retired GMAT questions – contains few of the most difficult questions. The Kaplan GMAT Advanced retail book fills this gap.

    We survey our students regularly, so our programs are – and will continue to be – strongly influenced by generations of student feedback on what’s most effective. Ultimately, our pedagogy relies on three foundational areas: content review, teaching of test-taking strategies, and realistic practice. Whether students review using a book, a classroom course, a Live Online course or some other method, the key is that they prep with a proven plan.

  • c'mon! 1 star?

  • Sorry Johny, but out of the four Kaplan books that I reviewed, I was least pleased with this one. The others were actually quite good! As I've said, it was particularly the lack of structure to learning and the unbalanced content that influenced this decision.

  • agreed, Dana.
    Couple of more points to note:
    The book doesn't cover AWA at all.
    & it's basically new cover but old book of GMAT 800.
    More info on forum itself & my blog: http://pranav.amrute.me/gmat/800-gmat-by-kaplan-is-now-kaplan-advanced/

    I dont know why they changed it's name from 'GMAT 800'...

  • I just bought a 2008 version of this book from Amazon. The first chapter has 6 painfully obvious errors and the 2nd problem in chapter 2 is wrong as well. The actual answer is not listed and the solution has an error in multiplication. This book is crap! Granted, I have not reviewed anything beyond question 2 in Ch 2 since I've lost confidence in the text after running across 7 errors already.

  • Hi Dana, What do you think of the Manahattan books?

  • They're pretty good - I've actually reviewed them, but they're not published yet. The best are the Number Properties, Word Problems and Sentence Correction guides.

  • Thanks for the insight Dana ... thank you so much ....

    Would you mention come use full books that I can refer to .... or even sources that i can refer to ..... i just have one year and have to crack GMAT ....

    Some tips and tricks that you followed

    Thanks Sam

  • thank you Dana =)

  • DJH - I came across the problem in chapter 2 and was pretty frustrated after spending 30 minutes trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. Finally I just gave up and checked the answer and solution, the problem didn't match.

  • Oops - sorry to hear about that... You should post the problem in the forums and I'm sure you'll get a response.

  • Can you please list the questions with the incorrect answers? I'd like to know ahead of time so I don't become frustrated trying to find correct answers that don't exist. Thank you!

  • Unfortunately I don't have the book here with me right now. However, if you have any doubts about a certain question, either post it in the forums or send me a PM and you'll surely get a reply!

  • I bought this book as part of my GMAT prep. While it did contribute to an improved score, I didn't find the questions to be significantly advanced. The questions that came up on my actual GMAT test were much harder than anything in this book, only the sentence correction came mildly close to being the same difficulty. Naturally I thought I had screwed up my test, but ended up with a decent score so the book must have helped in some ways. The strategies are useful, but I wish they put in some more challenging questions that mirrored those on the GMAT. A few questions were also repeated from other Kaplan books.

  • I think you should figure out what you need first. My advice is to check out a few study guides we've put together here: https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/how-to-get-a-700-on-the-gmat. You can find tons of information in the article entitled A 3-Month GMAT Prep Plan.

  • Hello

    For a GMAT first timer, what book do you recomend I buy?

  • @tcarter100: I understand your frustration. However, please moderate your comments. You are welcome to write a review about the Kaplan course here: reviews.beatthegmat.com and you'll get a $10 amazon.com gift certificate if your review is verified. However, please remember to moderate your inputs.

  • Hi, i need some of the recent question on GMAT

  • Using or distributing official questions except those that are already on the market is really dangerous. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you do that!

  • I wonder if anybody can post a list of the most difficult questions from each section. After reading the review, I would like to get some practice with this book, but I would hardly have the time for so many questions, which are not clearly structured.

    I would appreciate if somebody can help me with that. I am sure such a list would be useful to many test takers.

    Emil

    • Hi dana,Could u pls tell me which book is better to start preparing.I want to write in May 2012.What type of preperation Ineed to do?

  • Hey there,
    I think that you should start with a more general guide, like the Kaplan Premier book. This book is not the best to start your prep with, since it contains mostly practice and you probably need some theory too.

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