3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I use Kaplan GMAT prep books to teach a GMAT prep class, so I keep up with Kaplan's changes in editions and differences in versions. I've been comparing the more compact Kaplan's GMAT Strategies, Practice, and Review version with the Kaplan's GMAT Premiere version that we usually use. There are a couple of minor differences and a couple of huge differences.
Much of the text of Kaplan's $23 GMAT Strategies, Practice, and Review (SP&R) is the same as the text of Kaplan's $30 GMAT Premier.
The same in both Premier and SP&R:
Part 1, Chapter 1 about the GMAT and Chapter 2 about the computer-adaptive test (CAT)
Part 2, Chapter 3, a GMAT pretest, and Chapter 4, the pretest answers and explanations
Part 3, Chapters 5-8, about the GMAT verbal section
Part 4, Chapters 9-11, about the GMAT quantitative (math) section and its two question types
Part 5, Chapters 19-20 (Premiere) or 13-14 (SP&R) about analytical writing and integrative reasoning
Part 6, Chapter 21 (Premiere) or 15 (SP&R) about taking the test and Chapter 22 (Premiere) or 16 (SP&R) about getting into business school
These chapters seem to be the same in both books. Spot checks haven't shown me any differences yet in those sections, so I would expect minor changes and corrections at most.
Differences between the two versions of the book are as follows:
*Premiere has a Part 7, 18 pages consisting of two appendices on GMAT scoring, which is not in SP&R.
*Premiere has access to 5 online GMAT practice tests and a number of shorter quizzes, an electronic version of the book for your computer or mobile device, and a DVD with instructional video clips. In contrast, SP&R has online access to one GMAT practice test only, no electronic version of the book, and no DVD.
*The huge differences between SP&R and Premier are in the math review in the quantitative section in Part 3.
In SP&R, the math review in Part 3 covers under 80 pages in Chapter 12, while in Premiere, the math review covers 400 pages in Chapters 12-18.
If you don't care about an in-depth math review, the skimpier math refresher in SP&R might be worth the savings (as of this writing, SP&R is available on Amazon for about half the price of Premiere). But there's a bigger problem:
The newest revision of Kaplan's GMAT Premiere (first seen in the 2013 edition and continued in the 2014 edition) introduced an enhancement that I, as a teacher, appreciate enormously. The Chapter 4 answer explanations (in both versions) for the quantitative part of the pretest identify the question types, which are keyed to Chapters 10 and 11 (both versions). Test takers can go to Chapters 10 and 11 for more work on the questions types which are hard for them. The answer explanations in Chapter 4 also identify the math topic or topics that the question tested, and these topics are linked to Chapters 12-18 (Premiere version only). Those studying for the test can note the answers they missed on the pretest, then go directly to the associated chapters of the math review for explanations and practice on those topics. BUT, only if you have the Premiere version. The SP&R pretest answer explanations have the same references to math topics that the Premiere version has, but SP&R doesn't have the math topics grouped the same way as the Premiere version, doesn't have the more complete explanations and practice of the Premiere version, and doesn't even have all the topics referred to in the pretest answer explanations. So the SP&R pretest answer explanation will tell you what math topics you need to work on, but it will not link you to targeted practice material on those topics. It is aggravating, time-consuming, and sometimes impossible to find out where to study the topics you need to work on in the SP&R book. It gives only one chapter (under 80 pages) of math review where the Premiere has 7 chapters (400 pages). Teaching my students how to identify what they need to work on has been a huge challenge that the new pretest answer links to specific chapters have made much, much more manageable. However, all that is lost in the shorter SP&R version.
If you don't foresee yourself using all the electronic bells and whistles of the Premiere version, and you don't need much help on math, and if you can get the SP&R for significantly less than the Premiere, then SP&R may well be your version. If you will use the online tests and other helps that Premier offers and if the difference in cost between the Premiere and the SP&R isn't prohibitive, you will be happier with the Premier version. I must note one possibly hidden drawback of the Premiere version. When we use the Kaplan GMAT Premiere version as our text, some of my students take one dismayed look at the behemouth size of the thing and immediately request a transfer to a different major. The smaller, lighter Kaplan GMAT Strategies, Practice, & Review is doing its part to prevent the extinction of the entire MBA student species.