Sep 16, 2011

Review of Kaplan New GRE 2011-2012 Premier with CD ROM

The Kaplan New GRE 2011-2012 Premier with CD-ROM is another resource you can consider using during preparation for the new GRE. Kaplan is a name well established in the GRE prep scene and is one of the top five GRE preparation books that are in popular use today. First off, lets start with reviewing the pluses about this book,

First off, it should be said that the Kaplan book is not good at everything it tries to do. But there are some things that it does quite well so it should be judged on those merits. Also, once you read the good things about the book, you can check out what isn't so good in this book so that you can make a better decision whether to invest in it or not.

  • Lots of Practice: It is important to identify weaknesses before you start preparation. The paper based practise tests included in the book do a good job of identifying your weaknesses in the run up to the GRE.

  • Lots of Tips: Kaplan provides strategies on how to tackle the exam in general as well as example problems that clarify each concept in the quantitative section.

  • Lots of study tips and advice on taking the test.

  • More Practice Tests with an Online Component:  Real time practise is vital to doing well on the GRE. Kaplan provides buyers of its prep book with a registration no that gives you access to 5 tests online and the paper based test too. Once you have brushed up your math skills and become familiar with the types of problems that may be asked, you can go ahead and try one or two practise tests online using their code. You will then be able to know for yourself how good you are at this and prepare accordingly from then on.

  • Helpful CD-ROM: The Kaplan GRE book provides you with a companion CD that gives you access to ten practise tests for verbal and quantitative each and practise material for trying out analytical writing five times.

  • Answers to all questions are given in the Kaplan book.

  • Good Online Component: The online system available to those who buy the book has got good reviews from those who have used it. However, some users say that there is the need for more full-length tests rather than sections that test only one section of the GRE. ie: Verbal/ quantitative.

In a nutshell the Kaplan GRE 2011-2012 prep book includes:
Now that you know the positives of getting this book, take a look at the negatives before you decide if you really want to get it.

Why you should NOT buy the Kaplan GRE book:

  • Not Very Suited for Learning Math Basics from: The section that reviews the Math section (quantitative) is mediocre at best. Those who are poor in their math fundamentals would do well to get the Princeton Review book for GRE (My Review of Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE 2012) which has much better material to study from for the Math and verbal section too. The Kaplan is better for practice questions than teaching you the fundamentals. Other great books that teach you the fundamentals of the Math section are the CliffNotes Math Review which has extensive coverage on all the type of math questions that would be asked on the GRE.

  • Less Examples: Only one example per concept in the math reference section.

  • In the Practice Tests Verbal & Quantitative sections have to be Attempted Separately: The practise tests are not full length like the real GRE. Instead, there are 5 sections on the verbal and quantitative section which you can attempt individually but not back-to-back like you would have to do on the exam day. However, this isn't a huge problem since the main thing is that you need to have ample practise questions and the Kaplan gives you more than enough of that.

  • There seems to be a few errors in the quantitative section so you need to watch out for those.

On the whole, the Kaplan GRE 2011-2012 book with CD-ROM is a good buy for its range of practice questions that do a great job of familiarizing the test-taker with a lot of questions to try out. But if you have a weak math background then you should take a look at the reviews I have posted for the GRE Barrons 2012 book which has a much more comprehensive math review section as well as a whole lot of useful tips for the verbal section. Another great book for brushing up your math from the basics is the CliffNotes Math Review which does a great job too. Check out the review for the CliffNotes Math Review book.

Jul 4, 2011

New GRE: Changes in the GRE 2011 and What they mean for Test-takers

The only thing permanent in life is change. There's no reason to be intimidated or fear the unknown when it comes to the new GRE 2011 pattern. Instead of giving in to fear, stay cool. Once you go through this post you will come to realize that this new GRE 2011 pattern being adopted can be a blessing in disguise to you. How? This is because the revised GRE is only restructured in a way to help students perform better. In this post, rather than offering you a copy-paste job of what the ETS site says, I will focus on what the changes actually mean for you the test-taker. 

  • Multi Stage Test Design: This new way of testing will enable you to answer only those questions you are confident about and come back later to attempt the harder questions or those you aren't too sure about. Thus it gives the test taker more chances to score better. That said however, it is always better to answer as many questions as possible correctly to get the highest score. To do this, you need to know the key concepts of every topic that is likely to be touched upon in the GRE. Only then can you be confident that an unknown concept would not be tested. For this reason it is better a good deal of time revising high school math concepts if you are hazy. Those who aren't too comfortable with complex worded passages should prepare well in advance for the verbal section. 

  • New GRE Scoring Scale: The 9 points increments will be compressed into 1 point increments. This means that your result will be mapped between 130 and170 instead of the conventional 200-800 scale. Don’t let these figures confuse you as it is in no way going to affect your chances of getting the answers right in the test. ETS is  only using a smaller scale to represent your score.

  • No more analogy and antonyms!! This will come as a relief to those of you who dread the ultra long hours of memorizing that would otherwise be needed to complete these arduous tasks. That means no more flash cards to memorize the extensive 3500 words list from the Barron’s. However, this does not mean that things are going to be easy for the test taker. It is still strongly advisable to be proficient in knowing all the connotations of as many important words as possible. The importance of reading comprehension has increased and there is a sentence equivalence section wherein you must be extra careful about choosing the best suited pair of words that convey the same meaning when replaced in the respective sentences. Preparation can be aided with the use of books that focus on the verbal section of the GRE better. 
  • May I help you? Don't worry, I'm not offering to help you cheat. This is just the online calculator you will have with you while answering the maths section. This may be devised by ETS because more often, due to pressure, students are prone to arriving at the wrong answers in an examination even if they had devised the right method to solve the problem. With the new pattern you are at lesser risk of arriving at the wrong answers. Here again the student is benefited because of the new system. 

Thus you can now see that the new GRE isn't some monster waiting to swallow you up, but has been designed to more accurately test students thinking skills as naturally as possible. To perform well in the GRE, first understand the test methodology adopted and then practice more in the areas where you notice you are weak. You can do this by getting the best GRE study guides like the "Cracking the New GRE 2012" by Princeton Review and Kaplan's New GRE 2011-2012 Premier Book with CD-ROM

Here is the review of Cracking the New GRE 2012 by Princeton Review and the Review of Kaplan's New GRE 2011-2012 Premier Book with CD-ROM.

Summing up, the new GRE's verbal section demands quite a bit of reading and understanding of nuances and the quantitative section now focuses more on logic and data interpretation than mere number crunching at high speeds.