I am a non-native speaker but have used this book to get 96th percentile on Verbal!
~~~~ SUMMARY ~~~~
Though not as detailed as some of the dedicated RC, CR, SC books, it provides great balance of useful strategies/instruction and time required to cover them. Good number of practice questions and also a grammar/style usage guide at the end.
~~~~~ STRENGTHS ~~~~~
- No tricks, just straightforward strategies to every section (3-4 steps). Easy to remember and simple to use
- Was just the right length for me (covered it in 3 weeks)
- Good number of exercise questions; both 220 GMAT-like (220) and exercises in the chapters; the questions are on the harder side
- Style/Usage guide and list of idioms (you must know all of these)
- Sets the right expectations (GMAT-style reading is very different from casual reading). You must forget what you know and re-learn reading to succeed
- The CR approach to answer the question before reading answer choices works like a charm
- The RC section is what really shines in this book
~~~~~ WEAKNESSES ~~~~~
- I felt the SC section was a little weak (5 pages plus a grammar section in the back). If you are a non-native speaker, you should definitely plan on getting a dedicated grammar book. Kaplan's Verbal Foundations is not bad
- One of the question sets/banks overlaps with the online exercises in the Kaplan Premier book
- The CR questions are slightly different from the official "flavor", which is typical for third-party questions. Keep this in mind and make sure you train your ear on the Official Guide or GMAT Prep before the test
~~~~~ BOTTOM LINE: Great book for those who don't have months to prep for the verbal section but there are better dedicated SC and CR resources. Manhattan GMAT (a wholly owned subsidiary of Kaplan has great SC and CR books).
~~~~~ GMAT CLUB'S TIPS ~~~~~
Here is a list of both tips and mistakes I have seen people make through my years at GMAT Club:
- Whenever you practice, do so in a timed environment (give yourself an average of 2 mins). If you don't, you are really wasting your time and setting unrealistic expectations
- Follow the strategies to the "T". If you are not getting a good score, it is probably because you are not following the strategies exactly and cutting corners. It is very important to read the CR passages twice, and to read the RC completely
- Leverage your strengths and perfect the timing. Strike a balance between the question types. Reading was the hardest for me and I peaked at about 2.5 mins per RC question. (I noticed that if I spent only 2 mins on average, my success rate went down from 90% to about 60-70%) That was not good enough but instead of trying to break through that wall, I worked on answering SC questions in 1 min average and CR's in 1.5 mins average. That gave me enough time to approach RC properly
- Have a problem with keeping attention through the long or intense GMAT passages - try to be passionate about the passage. Imagine that it is the most interesting/revolting/provocative/unbelieavable stories. Care about it!
- Optional suggestion (which I think is very helpful by the way) - read quality fiction books in your spare time. Our minds are not prepared to read the GMAT-level passages (length or intensity or timing wise). You need to train your mind to be open to these and to know how to deal with them. I would recommend getting some quality fiction books (google "GMAT Fiction") - it will help not only with RC but also with SC as your grammar ear will be much more trained. This is how I managed to crack SC's in 1 minute or less.
- If you are a non-native speaker, make sure your English is OK before you start on the verbal section. Knowing strategies is valuable only when you understand what you reading. I know this sounds obvious but so many people ignore this
- On the test, draw a grid and use it to eliminate answer choices. By the time you reach the verbal section, you are 3 hours into the test and your mind will not be able to hold anything. A grid (which you can draw during a break or as you are reading the instructions) will help eliminate/track answer choices on hard questions
- You don't need to take dozens of practice tests. Don't use practice tests to learn material; instead, know it ahead of time and use practice tests to hone your strategies and timing. It should be enough to take 5-10 tests total.
P.S. I am not a tutor nor do I provide any GMAT services.
I am a founder of GMAT Club, a free community for MBA applicants - contributing to each other's learning since 2002.
Good Luck on your GMAT and let me know if any questions - I Reply to Comments!
BB, Founder of GMAT Club
750 (q49, v42)