Kaplan 800 builds off of the basic concepts covered in the Kaplan GMAT book, providing ample practice questions and helpful strategies to contend with some of the more difficult.
However, the book is by no means perfect: many of the questions aren’t even close to the 800-level. Sentence Correction questions contain answer choices that can be too easily omitted. Reading Comprehension passages, while tricky, are followed by questions that are too straightforward to be worthy of the GMAT. The math section is simply too meager, especially the Data Sufficiency section, which seems tacked on as an afterthought. To get an 800 math surely requires more than the 140 scant pages provided here.
Nevertheless, Kaplan 800 provides many practice questions, each followed with clear explanations, to warrant a place in your GMAT arsenal. But if you really are aiming for the 800, don’t think this book alone is going to get you there.
Whereas the GMAT Kaplan book left out many question types and strategies pertaining to Critical Reasoning, the Kaplan 800 book redresses that omission. Paradox, Numbers and Statistics, and some of the more difficult question types are here.
I like how Kaplan provides a few questions after each example, followed by clear explanations. Indeed, one never feels they are short-changed on questions in this section. The question are also moderately tough, though it would be a stretch to call them 800-level questions.
Going through this entire section would be a good idea before tackling the more difficult Critical Reasoning questions in the Original Guide.
This section is probably the weakest of Kaplan’s verbal sections. The questions definitely lack the sophistication and complexity of the official questions. It is easy to home in on the correct answer choice, instead of wading about a sea of words, the way one does when confronted by some of the Sentence Correction monsters in the Official Guide.
That is not to say the questions here are totally without merit. Far from it: you get plenty of practice on the common grammatical traps. The explanations are generally clear. But do not think that what you learn here is enough to help you master all the complex grammar found on the GMAT. Nonetheless, going through the lessons and questions will be a good warm-up for the actual questions.
Kaplan has done an excellent job of culling dense, abstruse passages. I especially like its section on science passages. Many students feel at a total loss when confronted with supernovae, the ecology of freshwater lake, or four competing theories on dinosaur extinction. Kaplan has four such passages to keep you busy.
While the passages are up to snuff, the questions are very much simplified and belie the whole aim of this book: to provide practice material for those looking to get 700+. Again, only the official questions can create this level of difficulty.
Without a doubt there are some good practice questions here. But you are simply going to need more practice questions, and more difficult ones at that, if you are going to hone your quantitative chops. Really speaking, Kaplan could have offered far more practice questions, and covered more tricky questions.
“Oddball Word Problems”, for instance, is a great category. Indeed there are many oddball GMAT math problems that defy easy categorization. But the few questions in this section just aren’t enough to provide someone with the foundation the handle the many oddballs that will be coming his/her way test day.
If Problem Solving was meager, have a look at Data Sufficiency (perhaps the section could have been titled Data Insufficiency). Sure Data Sufficiency questions take up less room then do Problem Solving questions. But 35 pages Kaplan? And only 18 questions!
I really feel the student has been short-changed in this regard, especially because Data Sufficiency prevents many from even breaking 650. Were Kaplan really to have provided a Data Sufficiency section worthy of the title of the book then I would have expected at least 60 or 70 questions.
Yet that may not be the most glaring oversight: the scant questions are more or less dumped on the reader. Instead of the helpful categories such as “Common Traps”, “Ratios/Percents vs. Totals”, we get nothing. I can’t help but think that Kaplan 800 was allocated 360-pages, and Data Sufficiency and the reader were the victims.
- Generally well-written practice questions followed by clear explanations.
- Helpful strategies interspersed throughout (including the prototypical 800-test taker’s insights into the exam.
- Most sections are well-organized: concept/lesson followed by relevant practice questions and explanations to these questions.
- Doesn’t live up to its name: Should be called Kaplan 650.
- The Data Sufficiency is severely lacking.
- The Math section in general could have used some more work.
Thank you for your great blog.
I finished reading your review and you basically say that if we’re aiming at a 700+ score we should get further training, where should we look for that? Because you keep repeating that this book is only a good warm-up for the actual questions, but where are the ACTUAL questions? 🙂 And which book gives good explanations (for the math section in particular)?
Thanks for the kudos :).
As for more difficult practice material, esp. in the math section, Manhattan GMAT is the way to go. They have eight books that cover the fundamentals of the GMAT. You only need to buy one and that will give you access to 6 free online tests. For yet more practice, MGMAT also has an Advanced Quant book.
Hope that helps!
Thanks a lot for your quick answer! It helps for sure! I’ve bought the books for the math section, I’ll let you know! 🙂
Hi Chris! Thank you for this review!! I must say you guys are doing an amazing job guiding us.
I wanted to ask you about NOVA GMAT essential Trilogy Prep Books? :
1) GMAT Prep course Book 2) GMAT MATH prep course and 3) DATA SUFFICIENCY Prep Course
Please let me know you view-review.
Thank You for Your Guidance.
Thanks for the kudos!
For Nova GMAT, I’d definitely recommend the quant review, both general and DATA Sufficiency. For the verbal, I’d rely more on other sources.
Hope that helps!
Thank You Chris… !! 🙂