College was a crazy combination of tough and fun, and you're relieved to emerge as a survivor.
At present, you are finally among this nation's workforce. It's tough and fun, too, but on an entirely different level.
Among other things, you discover that the real world is immensely competitive. More often than not, settling for the ordinary simply won't get you ahead.
Studies show that in general, an individual with a graduate degree earns more than a college degree-holder. Even if you are leaning toward self-employment or entrepreneurship, an MBA also gives you an advantage.
Before you immerse yourself into graduate studies, you first have to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), the most commonly required test for admission to graduate school.
Graduate and business schools use the GRE as a tool to assess your competence for their programs, so intense preparation is imperative.
To help you get ready for the test, we have listed some of the best prep books, and even those that you shouldn't waste your time on.
Let's get started!
GRE Prep Comparison
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# of practice Tests
The Ultimate Prep List
Preparing for graduate or business school can be stressful, and making yourself ready for the GRE is a challenge in itself.
You need a review material that has comprehensive content, competitive practice tests, thorough answer explanations, and even practical tips.
We went over the materials available today and selected the best ones for you.
Although Magoosh is more popular for its online GRE prep courses, this book is one of the best printed materials as well.
There aren't a lot of practice tests but the lessons on all GRE categories are pretty comprehensive.
Don't worry about being overwhelmed because the entire book uses simple English that allows you to easily understand the concepts.
Some resources use flamboyant language that make it appear highly intellectual. But getting impressed should be the least of your concerns. What you need is to comprehend and retain information!
While the practice tests are limited, Magoosh imparts a unique way of approaching problems. It makes you confident that no matter how the questions are structured, you can dig deep into what you know and be able to answer correctly.
You will appreciate that this book has high-quality tips and explanations. After all, those questions are useless if the answers are not thoroughly discussed.
The book also gives practical guides for studying. It acknowledges that you don't just need to stuff everything into your head. When it comes to taking the GRE, there are a lot of factors that come in place, and you have to effectively manage those all at the same time.
If you are non-traditional and you plan to get the book in digital format, you might want to reconsider because its Kindle version is a bit difficult to navigate. The paperback version is more than enough but in the end, it boils down to personal preference.
You can also get the full online GRE prep at 20% off when you purchase the book. It has more practice questions and full-length tests. It even has video explanations - just like having a personal tutor!
Overall, the GRE Prep Book by Magoosh is a useful review material. But if you are trying to get beyond the 80% mark, it is best to use it along with other resources.
- Useful tips and FAQs
- Thorough and concise explanations
- Simple, easy to understand language
- Not a lot of tests
- Kindle version is not user-friendly
If you want a resource material that will best prepare you for the actual GRE exam, this book from ETS is your best bet.
Because ETS or Educational Testing Service is the creator of the GRE, this official prep book pack has the exact practice tests from the past administrations of the GRE.
These are more than simulations - they are the real test questions!
With 2 practice tests in the book and another 2 in the CD-Rom, you will be accustomed to the format of the questions. It gets the mystery and intimidation out of the way, allowing you to focus on answering confidently.
The book provides an in-depth description of the types of questions that you will encounter in the GRE. To maximize this knowledge about the nature of the questions, you are also given tips on how to answer them.
This value extends to the Analytical Writing section in which the book shows sample responses as well as the actual comments of the raters. It gives you an idea about what you need to include and those that aren't necessary in answering essay tests.
It is safe to say that the strength of the Official GRE Super Power Pack lies in the practice tests so it's best not to expect exceptional strategies in the book.
Another weakness includes the Quantitative Reasoning Practice Test. It's not that bad, but you would wish that the answers are explained more thoroughly.
For best results, pair these books with one or two more GRE resources. In the final leg of your preparation, take the practice tests and see what last minute adjustments you need to do.
- Actual GRE tests from past adminsitrations
- Question description and answering tips
- Sample essay responses and comments from actual raters
- Not a lot of practice tests
- Explanations for quantitative test answers are not very thorough
If you are preparing way ahead for the GRE, this set of books is going to be valuable.
It's not just one or two books; not even three. This bundle is composed of 8 books that contain everything you need for your review: subject matter content, practice tests, and key strategies.
There are 6 books covering math and 2 about verbal reasoning and analytical writing.
You also have the option to purchase the books individually. If you want to focus on the quantitative area, you can just buy the ones that cover the specific topics that you need to review.
Whether you buy the entire set or just one book, you will be given access to six section-adaptive tests, just like the actual GRE.
Section-adaptive tests adjusts the difficulty of the questions based on your performance in the previous section. They are beginning to be used more and more because they are said to determine test-takers' aptitude better.
The book further helps you master each section because of its simple and effective techniques, including the crucial aspect of answering under pressure. The sections will get more difficult but you will end up getting higher scores.
When it comes to shortcomings, the Manhattan Prep GRE Set does have a few.
There are more books focused on Quantitative Reasoning but it is rather unfortunate that there are typographical errors in the math problems.
In addition, the tremendous amount of information that you have to take in can be quite overwhelming.
In general, this prep set is most useful for those who are committed to a full, comprehensive review for a period of at least 6 weeks.
- Access to 6 online section-adaptive tests
- In-depth content, practice tests, and strategies
- Strategies on how to attack each section
- Sheer volume can be overwhelming
- Some typographical errors in math problems
When you are already equipped with a firm understanding of the GRE, this book completes your preparation through its practice problems.
You can maximize its potential if you first work on familiarizing yourself with the GRE in general - the overall style of the test, its length, and the types of questions.
And then you can immerse yourself into practice tests.
The book is entirely composed of sample problems - 1,800 to be exact.
Besides the enormous quantity, the practice problems also boast of good quality.
They are grouped per topic so it is easier for you focus. This also makes it easier to go back to a specific topic if you feel the need to work harder on it.
The problems are somehow more difficult than the actual GRE. While it can be advantageous because it stretches you a bit more, you also need to be wary of the potential effect of overconfidence.
Most importantly, the answers are explained thoroughly. Otherwise, all those questions are worthless!
It is also important to note that the practice problems are mostly quantitative in nature, so if you need to hone your verbal skills more, you would need additional review materials.
Purchasing the book also gives you online access to some useful content such as a video introduction to the GRE plus more practice problems.
Needless to say, the book is huge and simply looking at it sitting on your table is enough to intimidate you. This is where your mental toughness will be put to use. You have to see it as a friend rather than something that is out to beat you!
All these things being considered, the 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems is a valuable review material.
- Lots of practice problems
- Detailed answer explanations
- Per topic organization of problems
- Online access to more practice problems
- Huge and intimidating
- Not enough verbal questions
If you are particularly looking for a review material to boost your vocabulary skills, this set of cards is what you need.
It is composed of two volumes, with words grouped according to degree of difficulty.
The first volume is where you will find the essential words, or those that may already be familiar to you.
On the other hand, the second volume contains a more advanced set of words.
Some may argue that even the supposedly advanced words are still rather common and do not pose enough challenge.
While it may be a valid point, there is a substantial equalizer that you have to consider.
At the back of each card, you will find rich information about the word. From definition to usage and synonyms, it can give you the confidence to say that you know the word completely.
This is actually very useful even if you look beyond the GRE. Whether in the corporate world, in business, or in whatever career you may pursue, there is no doubt that extensive vocabulary and excellent communication skills are critical success factors.
Although content is the primary concern for any prep material, a well thought out packaging won't hurt.
We love the metal ring that holds the pre-punched flashcards together. You simply slip the ring through the holes and you can choose which cards to bring at a time.
Organizing loose cards can be challenging so the durable box comes handy. It can definitely help preserve the flashcards and hand them over to a sibling or a friend who eventually decides to take the GRE too.
Overall, Manhattan's GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards are an essential part of any test-taker's preparation.
- 2 volumes of essential and advanced words
- Complete information at the back of all cards
- Pre-punched cards are held together by a ring for convenience
- Includes durable box
- May be too easy for somebody with advanced vocabulary.
This book and its accompanying online content are valuable self-review materials.
Purchase of this book includes access to various online resources.
5 out of the 6 practice tests, for example, are online. That's absolutely fine because you need the practice to take the computer-based GRE, which is more commonly used.
The online practice test alone has over 1,500 questions!
In addition, there are timed practice tests for every section of the GRE.
We all know how critical it is to manage time efficiently when taking the test. You should learn how to allot just the right amount of time to every question while still choosing the best answer or writing a high quality essay.
The answer explanations are also helpful because of the attention to detail.
However, you have to take note that unlike other books, these are not actual GRE tests from previous GRE administrations. Some even criticize the quality of the problems, especially in the quantitative section.
Our advice is to make use of the customizable online Quiz Bank. You can choose up to 500 test questions so you can practice on more difficult problems.
Aside from the content and practice tests, you will also appreciate the study tips. There is an online video lesson on reducing stress and studying strategies that you will find really useful.
The straightforward presentation is commendable. When you've already got your hands full, all you want is clear, simple, and practical advice.
If you want to consult an expert but you are not capable of enrolling in prep classes, this GRE Prep Plus unique online feature will help you.
It allows you to have one-on-one support with a Kaplan academic professional. Kaplan has been in the test prep industry for almost 80 years so a consultation should be a worthwhile exercise.
Self-studying can be tough but the Kaplan GRE Prep Plus is one of the tools that you can depend on.
- Helpful study tips
- Thorough explanations
- Loaded online content
- Quantitative problems are not that challenging
Don't be fooled by its compact nature. These sets of cards have sufficient verbal and math content for your GRE preparation.
The package contains a total of 500 cards.
There are 250 verbal cards, and the contents are remarkable.
The front features the word in bold letters for quick recognition. You will also find its part of speech and a context clue.
The back part contains the definition, its antonyms, a sample sentence, and a sample analogy.
More than a word's definition, knowing when and how to use it are far more important. All these information are useful in completely understanding a certain word.
On the other hand, the math cards are further divided into the following: 75 math facts, 25 math strategies, 65 multiple-choice questions, and 65 quantitative-comparison questions, 10 multiple-answer questions, and 10 numeric-entry questions.
That's some pretty comprehensive content as well!
Another advantage of Barron's math cards is the quality of the practice questions. Although not from the makers of the GRE, they are highly representative of the actual exam questions.
However, you should note that if you need more practice tests, these cards would need to be complemented by other resource materials.
In addition, some people find the text font a bit too small. You may want to confirm if the size is fine with you, especially if your vision isn't that clear.
When it comes to the physical condition of the cards, Barron's does not disappoint.
The cards are noticeably durable. Anyone can tell that they aren't made from flimsy material.
You can also carry them around effortlessly. Pick some cards, hold them together using the ring, and flip them through so you can review even if you are on the go.
The cards come in a sturdy box for easy organization and storage.
Overall, Barron's Flash Cards are helpful materials for your GRE review.
- Comprehensive vocabulary information
- Math questions are representative of those in the actual exam
- Convenient packaging
- Durable cards
- Font is too small
- Minimal practice material.
GRE Books to Avoid
There are so many prep books on the market, and they are all vying for your attention.
To make matters even more confusing, there are numerous false reviews about them. With all the things going on at the same time as your GRE preparation, you need prep materials that will undoubtedly help you get your desired score.
Heads up: here are two books that aren't worth your time and effort.
GRE Prep 2017 (Argo Brothers)
Here is the most glaring reason why buying this book is a bad idea: it has numerous serious errors!
One or two typographical mistakes may escape the scrutiny of a book's editors. But the number of grammatical and mathematical errors in this book is simply unforgivable!
In addition, the practice tests are way easier than the actual GRE problems. Relying on these is a definite recipe for failure.
The questions are inferior but the answer key is an even bigger joke. The answer explanations are either incomplete or totally wrong.
Don't flirt with disaster. Avoid this book at all costs!
Cracking the GRE Chemistry Subject Test (Princeton Review)
If you are looking for a prep book specifically focused on Chemistry, this one by Princeton Review is not recommended.
Same with the previous book, this one has an insane number of errors!
Furthermore, the answer explanations are also useless. Instead of explaining the solution, they merely restate the correct answer.
This is a major flaw because if there is any subject that needs the most detailed answer explanation, it could most probably be Chemistry.
If only the correct answer is available, the review material is next to useless.
Do yourself a favor and grab a different GRE Chemistry prep book.
You may be standing at a crossroad, seriously contemplating whether or not you would pursue post-graduate studies. Or maybe going to business school is a definite but long-term goal and knowing more about the GRE is like taking baby steps to get there.
Either way, we are answering some of the questions to help settle anything that may be unclear at this point.
Which graduate and business schools accept GRE scores?
One of the top reasons to take the GRE is the number of institutions that accept its scores, both within the United States and overseas. Wherever in the world your target institution may be, chances are it uses the GRE as an evaluation tool.
Check out this list of institutions that use GRE scores in assessing candidates for their graduate programs.
How much will it cost to take the GRE?
If you are in the United States, any U.S. Territory, or Puerto Rico, it will cost $160. Applicants from all other locations will have to shell out $190.
If you meet certain eligibility requirements, the ETS has a Fee Reduction Program that you can avail of. It will require you to pay only half of the full test fee.
Contact a financial aid office to know if you are qualified for this program.
What is the structure of the GRE?
The GRE is offerred in paper- and computer-based exams.
The computerized version is more commonly used by test takers.
You can take the computer-based exams anytime throughout the year while the paper-based exams are only offered thrice a year. In addition, the paper-based version is only offered in locations where the computerized version is not available.
Aside from convenience, another advantage of taking the computer-based exam is getting your verbal and quantitative test scores at the testing site. On the other hand, results of the paper-based exam takes as much as six weeks to be released.
How often can I retake the test?
You are allowed to take the GRE once every 21 days but it should not be more than 5 times within a 12-month period.
But before you go carefree thinking that you have multiple chances, you have to be aware that there is a strategy when it comes to repeating the GRE.
Taking the test several times is not always a good idea because some schools may average your scores. If the result of your first take is forgettable, it will still have a significant bearing even if you are able to redeem yourself the next time.
Research about your target school's policy and plan your course of action accordingly.