Kaplan GMAT Book Review: Is It Right For You?


There are a lot of options out there for GMAT prep. You can purchase online programs, books, apps, flashcards, and more. It can be hard to determine which prep option is the best for you.

In this guide, I’ll give you an in-depth look at one of the best selling GMAT prep books out there: Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017. First, I’ll talk about what makes a good GMAT prep book. Second, I’ll give an overview of the Kaplan GMAT review book, including what’s in the book and how much it costs. Next, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of the Kaplan GMAT book. Then, I’ll help you decide whether or not this book is the right one for you. Finally, I’ll tell you how to get the most out of the Kaplan GMAT book if you choose to purchase it.


What Makes a Good GMAT Prep Book?

As I mentioned before, there are many different types of GMAT review materials out there. You want to make sure that you’re spending your time and money on a useful resource that’ll help you achieve your GMAT goal score. Keep these factors in mind as I’m reviewing Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 and as you’re assessing different types of GMAT prep material.


#1: High-Quality Practice Questions

Good GMAT test books need to have high-quality practice questions, because practice questions are the most important part of your GMAT prep. You’ll use practice questions to test out new skills and to see your strengths and weaknesses regarding GMAT content.

The best quality GMAT prep questions are ones from the real GMAT, which have exactly the style and content that you’ll see on test day. You should use as many real GMAT questions as possible in your prep.

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The next best kind of GMAT prep questions are those that closely emulate the style of content of what you’ll see on the GMAT. When considering a prep book, you should assess the quality of its practice questions to make sure they are accurate representations of what you’ll see on test day.



#2: Full-Length GMAT Practice Tests

Taking a full-length GMAT practice test is one of the most important parts of your GMAT prep, as practice tests can help you determine how you’re progressing towards your GMAT goal score and provide feedback on the content areas you’re struggling with and doing well on.

A good GMAT prep book offers you access to full-length, computerized practice tests so that you can measure your progress in an environment that simulates test day content and conditions.


#3: Effective Ways of Teaching Strategy and Content

Test books need to have comprehensive, clear, and detailed explanations of test-taking strategies and test content. The point of these books is to help you learn, after all!

Good GMAT prep books have clear review sections that help you build your skills in a concise and simple way. They should offer in-depth answer explanations to help further your knowledge.


#4: Online Components

The GMAT is a computer adaptive test. You’ll take the GMAT on a computer, which means that preparing for the GMAT using a computer will help you feel ready for test day.

A good GMAT prep option will have a computerized component that you can use to prepare. You’ll be able to access online content, such as practice questions, video explanations, and full-length tests.




Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 costs around $25 on Amazon and includes access to 1,200+ practice questions, six full-length practice tests (5 CATs, one paper), and a 200 question online question bank, among other features.

Kaplan GMAT Premier assumes that you know nothing about the GMAT, so it starts by breaking down the format and scoring of the GMAT, as well as discussing what it means that the GMAT is a computerized adaptive test.

For the quantitative and verbal sections, the Kaplan GMAT book starts by giving an overview of the section and reviews the types of content seen in it, before discussing the specific question types in each section and offering strategies for solving them. The quant and verbal sections both offer short explanations of different content areas you’ll see tested on the GMAT, such as algebra, for the quant section, or verbs, for the verbal section. In these content review sections, the Kaplan GMAT review book gives a basic explanation of the content and then applies it to the GMAT, specifically, explaining how that content area will appear on the test. The Kaplan GMAT review provides a more generalized overview of the AWA and IR sections, focusing more on strategies for tackling these types of questions, than on developing an understanding of the content.

In general, the questions provided by the Kaplan GMAT review are designed for average scoring test-takers. While Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 advertises that it has 1,200+ practice questions, not all of them are GMAT-style questions. Many of those practice questions are more generic questions that are designed to help you practice different content areas (such as a question that demonstrates Pythagorean theorem or the misuse of a comma). While these practice questions are helpful for learning content, they don’t reach the depth you need to master the more complicated GMAT questions.

The Kaplan GMAT book is a solid option for test-takers who are looking to gain an average number of points (50 – 100) or score between 550 and 700 on the GMAT. Overall, the content reviews, while present, aren’t particularly robust and the test-taking strategies are fairly average. If you’re looking to really boost your score, you’ll either need to purchase a different review book or supplement the Kaplan GMAT review with another test prep book.


Pros of Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

Understanding the pros and cons of a GMAT test prep book can help you decide whether or not this is the test prep book for you. First, let’s look at some of the pros of Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017.


#1: Access to Six Full-Length GMAT Tests

The Kaplan GMAT book offers you access to six full-length practice tests. Five of those tests are computer adaptive, which means that they will help you prepare for the computer adaptive GMAT you’ll take on test day.


#2: Lots of Online Content

Similarly, the Kaplan GMAT book gives you access to a lot of online content. You’ll be able to create online banks and access video lessons and other demonstrations in online platforms.

Online content is great because it prepares you for the computerized nature of the GMAT. Online content is also highly portable, since you can access it easily from any web-enabled device.


#3: Hefty Integrated Reasoning Section

The Kaplan GMAT review has one of the most in-depth looks at the integrated reasoning section available. Clocking in at 49 pages, the Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 breaks down the integrated reasoning section and offers reasonable strategies for how to solve IR questions.

As the IR section becomes more important to schools, learning about how to solve these questions is more and more important as well.

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#4: Affordable Price

The Kaplan GMAT book is only $25, which makes it affordable for test-takers who are wary of the high prices of Manhattan Prep or Veritas Prep guides.




Cons of Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017

While the Kaplan GMAT book is a solid test prep guide, it does have a number of flaws. Consider these cons before you purchase the guide.


#1: Doesn’t Go Deep Enough to Get You to a 700+ Score

While the Kaplan GMAT review does a comprehensive overview of the content you’ll see on the GMAT, it doesn’t go into great depth. You can consider the content in the Kaplan GMAT Review a refresher of what you might’ve learned during high school or college. The Kaplan GMAT Review gives you a brief explanation of complicated verbal and quant concepts and only presents easy to medium difficulty GMAT-style questions. This review will help you achieve a solid 600+ score, but if you’re looking to get a score of 700+, you’ll likely need access to harder questions and more in-depth content review and strategies.


#2: Typos and Errors

There are a number of typos and errors in explanations littered throughout the Kaplan GMAT book. These errors can be distracting and confusing, particularly if they are part of an answer explanation.


#3: Access to Online Content Expires

One of the biggest pros of the Kaplan GMAT book is its online content. However, access to that online content expires after six months. If you’re buying a used book, you want to consider when the book was purchased, because you may not still have access to the online content. Similarly, if you’re purchasing a new book, but planning to study over a period of time longer than six months ,you’ll need to re-purchase your online content halfway through.


How Can I Get The Most Out of Kaplan GMAT Premier?

Planning to purchase the Kaplan GMAT review book? Here’s how you can make the most of your purchase.


#1: Use Kaplan GMAT in Conjunction With GMAT Official Guides

If you decide to purchase the Kaplan GMAT review book, I would highly recommend also purchasing the GMAT Official Guides, which have access to real, retired GMAT questions in the form of online question banks and practice tests.

Supplementing your Kaplan GMAT review book with the GMAT Official Guides will cut of one of the biggest cons of the Kaplan GMAT review: lack of access to difficult, GMAT-style practice questions.




#2: Supplement With Official Practice Tests

Similarly, you should use the official GMAT CATs in order to practice real, retired GMAT questions when you take your full-length practice tests. As I mentioned previously, using real, retired GMAT questions is one of the best ways you can prepare for the GMAT. You can get access to two free official GMAT CATs simply by downloading GMATPrep software. You can also get access to up to six official CATs by purchasing the GMAT Official Guides.


#3: Supplement With In-Depth Guides

If you’re looking to really boost your score, you can consider purchasing content-specific guides that’ll help you achieve a higher score. For instance, if you want to do well on advanced quant concepts, consider purchasing Total GMAT Math by Jeff Sackmann, which will help you master those advanced quant concepts that the Kaplan GMAT book simply doesn’t cover.


Should I Buy Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017?

Kaplan GMAT Premier 2017 provides a solid review for test-takers who are looking to develop a broad understanding of content on the GMAT. The Kaplan GMAT review book provides a large-scale overview of the topics seen on the GMAT, without really drilling into a lot of depth about the content and question types you’ll encounter.

If you’re looking to make an average score improvement of between 50-100 points and to achieve a goal score of somewhere between 600 and 700 points, Kaplan GMAT Premier is a solid test book for you. It covers many of the content areas seen on the GMAT, and offers a good number of GMAT-style practice questions.

However, if you’re looking to really boost your score (e.g., make an improvement of 100+ points or score above 700), you’ll likely need to supplement the Kaplan GMAT review book with other test prep resources that go into more depth about the content and strategies you’ll need to master.

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What’s Next?

Considering purchasing the Manhattan GMAT Prep series? In our in-depth look at Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Review, we assess the guides for their accuracy, strengths, and weaknesses. Make sure you read this guide before you decide to purchase the books!

Looking for a GMAT Prep book, but not entirely sure which one to buy? We’ve got the guide for you! Our guide to the best GMAT prep books breaks down the best GMAT prep books money can buy for a number of different categories, including best overall book, best verbal review, best quant review, and more.

Online prep more your style? In our guide to online GMAT prep, we list the best question banks, apps, flashcards, video tutorials, and more that you can use to take your GMAT prep onto the Internet.

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