If you are new to the GMAT, Kaplan Premier is a great book to start with - it provides a good intro to the test (explains the mechanics, basic priciples, gets you familar with the test structure, etc), has solid strategies that you can use regardless of your level, and finally, comes with 6 Adaptive tests. Think of it a starter camera/computer/car/etc - you don't want to start with anything expensive before you know what you are looking for actually. On the flip side, this book will last you for 2-4 weeks and most likely will only boost your score with 50-100 points. If you want a greater increase (and have 3 months to study, look below)
~~~ THE GOOD: ~~~
* Solid material with great Math and Verbal strategies as well as some background
* Good structure and layout; helps if you are a visual learner
* 6 Full GMAT Tests (5 are in adaptive CAT format on the CD/online and 1 is in a paper format in the book)
* Online practice with additional exercises and quizzes - 18 online drills (increased by 3 since the 2011 edition)
* Much of general info on gmat has been moved into online video format, called Fast Fact Videos; that helps with learning when you have had too much reading for the day
* Great value for the money with 6 Full GMAT tests, practice questions on the CD, and many online Quizzes
~~~ THE BAD: ~~~
* Exact copy of the previous editions of this book - would expect a bit more revision from a new edition.
* Access to the online components expires after 1 year. This is the only reason to buy a new book vs used
* IMPORTANT: CD is windows XP/Vista only (for Win 7 or Mac you will need to use the online registration and take these tests online), which is OK since all tests are online anyway
* Does not have the depth and width a 700+ score requires
* 650 Pages and 4 LBS! - not a travel size book
~~~ OTHER STUDY OPTIONS & BOOKS ~~~
Many applciants, bypass Kaplan Premier completely and head straight for the more specialized books such as the Manhattan GMAT Set of 8 Strategy Guides, Fourth Edition OR Complete GMAT Course Set - 15 Book. These book sets come with 8-15 books that are targetting specific Math and Verbal areas. You have a much better chance getting a 700+ with those book sets (not guaranteed) but they also do require at least 2.5-3 months to cover them. The MGMAT Books come with 6 adaptive online tests. Veritas Prep books come with tests as well BUT only if you purchase from their website (Ugh) Finally, a book you should also now about is the The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition (more on that is below)
~~~ SOME OTHER THOUGHTS: ~~~
* What is a good study plan using Kaplan Premier?
My recommendation would be to start with this book, finish it in about a month or so (by this time you will learn all the basics about the test, how it works, what is tested, and general strategies for answering questions). Then, you an figure out what's the best use of your time - you may have reached your target score and can stop or perhaps you are really lacking in Quant or Verbal and need a lot more serious practice.
* Will this book give me 700+ score?
For the majority of applicants, No. It is not deep enough for most people out of college to refresh the math and verbal fundamentals. You will most likely need other books to help you get there.
* How do I get 700 then?
There are several options:
1. Review each section separately using the Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook and Kaplan GMAT Verbal Workbook
2. Thorough/Methodical review of each area - If you have a bit more time, grab the Manhattan GMAT Set of 8 Strategy Guides, Fourth Edition OR Complete GMAT Course Set - 15 Book. These books are excellent and are actually used in the classroom setting for their classes, so you are defintely get the top books. If you dont need/want the entire collection, see my review for what stand-alone books to get. This plan is likely to get you a higher score with this section but it will also take up more time (about a month more). Decide on the approach based on your starting position, target score, time you have, and willingness to study math and grammar for months without a break.
* Any other books I need to know about?
YES. There is one - The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 12th Edition. This book is published by the creators of GMAT and contains real GMAT questions. You should also download the Official GMAT Prep software from GMAC's website (it's free).
* What if I have trouble getting through this book? Where can I find help?
There are several books that can help you get up to speed with quant and grammar:
1. For Quantitative section: Foundations of GMAT Math OR Kaplan GMAT Math Foundations
2. For Verbal Section: Kaplan GMAT Verbal Foundations OR Foundations of GMAT Verbal
~~~ NOTE ABOUT THE CD ~~~
The CD or DVD in the book is not compatible (at least officially) with WIN7 or MAC. However, the material on the CD is not critical (you get a number of videos and one test). You can get the same test online (you actually get 6 of them online). Bottom line - CD is not that valuable and if your PC was bougth in the last 2 years, no reason to stress about you. You are not missing all that much. If you really want it, you should be able to make it work (well enough) with WIN7 in compatiblity mode (i was able to). No comments on MAC though.
Let me know if you have any questions about the book - I reply to comments!
BB, Founder of GMAT Club
GMAT 750 (q49, v42)