I looked at a copy of a Kaplan LSAT prep book titled Kaplan LSAT 2010 Edition: Strategies, Practice, and Review.
It consists of generic advice and 3 Kaplan-written, not LSAC-written, practice tests and explanations (despite the fact that the book’s table of contents claims that these are “Real LSAT Practice Tests and Explanations”).
I spent a few hours flipping through it, and I found a couple of problems with the book that seem particularly egregious.
This article will cover them. You’ll be able to follow along with the review even if you don’t have a copy of the book.
On page 33:
Point at Issue questions are referred to as “a relatively new question type.”
Considering the fact that these questions were included as far back as PrepTest 1 (the June 1991 LSAT), I assume at least one of the following possibilities:
-Kaplan has repeatedly updated some version of this book for the past several decades without changing that sentence
-Kaplan forgot about the older PrepTests
-Kaplan doesn’t know what it’s talking about and includes random statements in its prep books for kicks
-Kaplan’s really old and considers the June 1991 LSAT to be “relatively new”
You have plenty of opportunities to practice Point At Issue questions. They’ve appeared on the LSAT since PrepTest 1.
On page 34:
Kaplan introduces a question that’s never appeared on the LSAT by claiming that it will now demonstrate a “genuine Logical Reasoning” question.
One’s likely to assume from the use of the word “genuine” that what follows is an LSAC-written LSAT question. Otherwise, what’s the point of including the word “genuine”?
To say that the question actually is in front of you? That its presence is not an illusion?
Same goes for the claim in the Table of Contents that the book contains “Real LSAT Practice Tests and Explanations.”
Seems to me that those statements are intended to be misleading, or that the person writing them just enjoys being redundant.
Anyway, the question on page 34 is about overweight men and a product called SlimDown. You can see it on page 6 of this PDF.
I searched Google Books with a phrase from answer choice C of this question and found 19 search results from a variety of Kaplan LSAT, GMAT and GRE prep books. It was even in a Civil Service Exam prep book.
Seems like Kaplan also considers it to be a “genuine GMAT question,” a “genuine GRE question,” and a “genuine Civil Service Exam question,” despite the fact that it almost certainly never appeared on any of these actual exams.
Now, you might think this is fine if that question type (a Necessary Assumption question) shows up on all of these exams. However, I hope that, at the very least, Kaplan would provide unique analysis of the question for each exam considering that each exam has its own idiosyncrasies.
No such luck.
I searched a phrase from Kaplan’s analysis of this question (the phrase also happens to describe the book itself) as a few other phrases from the Kaplan analysis. It seems to me that Kaplan included an identical analysis of this question in its books for the GMAT, GRE, and the Civil Service Exams.
Sure, all of these exams require you to analyze arguments. However, you’d think that a book with a $30 cover price would consist only of content that’s uniquely tailored to the exam for which you’re studying.
No such luck.
Two Logic Games from the early portion of the book are also included, word for word, in the practice tests at the end of the book.
Page 92 (learning portion of book) and page 198 (1st practice test of book) contain the same Logic Game about a cheese salesperson.
Page 95 (learning portion of book) and page 379 (3rd practice test of book) contain the same Logic Game about community college instructors.
There might be a good chunk of time between someone’s completion of the learning portion of the book and the practice test portion of the book.
It’s possible (dare I say, likely) that the test-taker might not realize he or she has seen these Logic Games before when completing them for the second time.
Doing Logic Games untimed and learning their ins and outs before doing them in a timed practice test setting could give you a misleading boost in your practice test score.
A false sense of security is a dangerous thing. It can lead you to study less and ultimately score lower on Test Day than expected.
For more on why it’s bad to be exposed to questions before taking them as part of timed practice exams, please see Princeton Review LSAT Logic Games Workout – Exposed.
Given how generic Kaplan’s Reading Comprehension advice is, it should come as no surprise to you that it gives identical advice for other standardized exams. I searched a few phrases from the Kaplan LSAT 2010 book and found that identical sentences about Reading Comp appear in a variety of GRE and GMAT books as well. (Similar to the practice question in the Logical Reasoning section I mentioned above.)
On page 113:
A phrase describing the essential parts of what is implied to be the typical LSAT passage appears in over a dozen LSAT and GRE prep books.
A phrase describing a hypothetical LSAT Reading Comp passage appears in over 10 different Kaplan prep books for the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE.
Now, I don’t want to overstate my case here. Most Reading Comprehension advice is bound to be somewhat generic.
However, these exams each have different organizations creating them. As such, their passages are bound to have significant differences. Advice tailored to these differences wouldn’t be so generic that one could simply copy-paste entire sections of one book into a prep book for a totally different exam. Instead, Kaplan should create Reading Comp advice tailored more specifically to each exam.
If you clicked on the links in the Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension section of my review, you were able to see all the books containing each phrase. Now, you probably noticed certain trends. Aside from the fact that many GRE and GMAT books contained these phrases, there’s the issue that many older LSAT books contained these phrases.
Two of these books appeared quite often:
Kaplan LSAT 2006, Premier Program
Perhaps Kaplan makes few substantive changes to this book, if any, from year-to-year.
If they do, it’s not much of a surprise. This is a common tactic of textbook publishers: release a new edition each year to decrease sales of used copies, despite the fact that hardly anything substantive has changed in the new edition.
If you’re considering the purchase of this Kaplan LSAT prep book (and I don’t know why you would), you might as well save some money and purchase one of those two older editions instead. (Copies of each are selling for a penny plus shipping.)
However, I give this book and its previous editions a big thumbs down. They’re just not worth your time.
List of Kaplan non-LSAT prep books that, according to Google Books, contained at least one phrase also appearing in Kaplan LSAT 2010 Edition: Strategies, Practice, and Review:
Kaplan LNAT: National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT is the UK’s version of the LSAT)
Kaplan GRE Exam 2010: Strategies, Practice, and Review
Kaplan GRE Exam 2010 Premier Live Online
Kaplan GRE Exam 2003 with CD-ROM
Kaplan GRE 1999-2000 with CD-ROM
Kaplan GMAT 2010: Strategies, Practice, and Review
Kaplan GMAT 2010 Premier Live Online
Kaplan GMAT Direct: Streamlined Review and Strategic Practice
Kaplan GMAT 2006, Premier Program
Kaplan GMAT all-in-one test prep plus business school admissions
Kaplan Graduate management admission tests
List of Kaplan LSAT prep books that, according to Google Books, contained at least one phrase also appearing in Kaplan LSAT 2010 Edition: Strategies, Practice, and Review:
Kaplan LSAT 2006, Premier Program
Kaplan LSAT 2000-2001 with CD-ROM
Neither of these lists should be considered exhaustive. Perhaps other Kaplan test prep books contain the phrases I chose from the Kaplan LSAT 2010 book, but those books simply haven’t been scanned by Google.