One of the steps that any prospective business school or graduate school applicant has to take on their way to a degree is to take the GRE. The GRE, otherwise known as the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized, multiple-choice and computer-based test that is used for admission to graduate programs such as the MBA. It’s an exam that measures the student’s basic command of data analysis, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The key to taking and scoring well to this test is for the student to be well prepared. To help our students prepare for this test, we’ve written this review of the best GRE prep books available, as well as a study guide that will help students get the most out of these materials.
Quick Summary of the Best GRE Prep Books
- Best Overall
Official GRE Super Power-Pack (Amazon) – Review
- Best Practice Tests
GRE Prep Plus With Practice Tests (Amazon) – Review
- Best For Test Prep
Manhattan Prep 5 Lb. Book Of GRE Practice Problems (Amazon) – Review
- Best Value
The Official Guide to the GRE General Test (Amazon) – Review
Best Overall: Official GRE Super Power-Pack
Since the GRE requires the test taker to have competency in several disciplines, it can get quite expensive for students to buy each book that they think they might need. Many test-takers end up buying a book on arithmetic, a book on data analysis, and a book on algebra and/or geometry. That can cost the student well over $100. Fortunately, many students can avoid having to spend all of that cash by simply purchasing this book. It’s a book that combines several books under one cover, so the consumer doesn’t have to empty their bank account to get the prep help they need.
Inside of this book, the reader will find official information on the content and the structure of the GRE, features 2 real full-length GRE tests that the reader can use to fine hone their skills and 2 simulated computer-delivered practice tests that give the reader a real-world test-taking experience. And this book also features real answers and questions. In this book, the reader will get information on analytical writing, verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and a whole lot more. Anyone serious about taking the GRE is going to want to pick up this guide so they can achieve the highest score possible.
Best Practice Tests: GRE Prep Plus With Practice Tests
Kaplan is a company that’s been making high-quality prep materials for tests for over 80-years, so we weren’t surprised to find this GRE prep book to be quite good. This company has provided preparation materials for over 90 different standardized tests that include materials for secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools. They have also provided prep material for nurses’ exams, attorney exams, and even doctor exams. And all of this experience clearly shows in the guide. A guide that does a good job of preparing the student for taking the GRE. In our opinion, it’s not as extensive as the test as our number one position, but we do feel that it provides the reader with the information they need to get good results when they take this test.
In this book, the reader will find more than 1,700 detailed questions, with detailed explanations, that include questions never before seen in earlier editions. It also comes with a study plan summary that’s personalized to them after the student takes the online practice test. Also included with this guide are five full-length online tests, chapters on GRE question types, expert guidance, and even efficient strategies. The only problem that we found with this guide was with the quantitative practice material. We felt that this material was too easy and gave the reader a false impression of the difficulty of the real GRE test.
Best For Test Prep: Manhattan Prep 5 Lb. Book Of GRE Practice Problems
Manhattan Prep has been making prep materials for major tests for over 20-years, so we were ready to see what they could offer in this volume entitled the 5 Lb. Book Of GRE Practice Problems. Although we didn’t weigh this book to determine if it was five pounds, it did feel pretty hefty to us. A tome of GRE questions that is ready to help the student achieve the best score possible on their test. Although we did find some of the questions in this book to be a bit harder than what one might find on the actual test, it was otherwise a great book that should serve most students well.
This large book has been created thanks to the help of expert instructors and the 1,800 practice problems are designed to replicate the problems that might be actually found on the test—not only in content but also in form and style as well. Using this book, students can build their verbal skill and their mathematical skill in targeted practice sessions. This book included a cheat sheet of math rules, mixed timed sets, and micro drills that target and develop the individual’s skill. Now there’s no reason for anyone to get a good grade on the Graduate Record Examination, if they’re willing to study the materials at hand.
Best Value: The Official Guide to the GRE General Test
This book comes from the Educational Testing Service, otherwise known as ETS. ETS is a nonprofit that’s been dedicated to perfecting some of the best educational preparation and measurement materials available. This company has developed, administered and score more than fifty million tests annually in more than 180 countries and nine thousand worldwide locations. So it should go without saying that we were excited to see the kind of preparatory material they created for studying for the GRE. And for the most part, we were impressed. Sure, we didn’t feel that it was as comprehensive as other guides that have made their way onto this list, but we thought it was more than adequate to help most people achieve a good score.
One of the things that we liked about this prep guide was that it wasn’t expensive like some of the other tests out there. It was reasonably priced and did a decent job of providing materials that students could use for study. Inside this book is a section on preparing for this test, general test-taking strategies on taking computer-delivered tests, test-taking strategies for taking paper-deliver tests, and a brief overview of the GRE scoring system. This book also had a section on analytical writing measure, analyzing argument and issue tasks, verbal reasoning question types, and score level descriptions.
This book also has two practice tests so the test taker can further refine their skill. All of this comes together in an easy-to-read volume that shouldn’t be too difficult for most people to use for studying. As we said, it’s not the most comprehensive volume, but it will get the job done in the end.
A Guide To Studying For The GRE
We hope that the above GRE prep books are ones that our readers are going to use to great effect. Each one of them is designed to help the reader study so they can get the highest score possible. Of course, they’re only effective if they’re used properly. If they’re not properly studied, then the student can hope to get as high of a score as if they had studied. And it’s also important that the student not only dedicates the time to study but also that they study correctly. Now that we’ve said that, we want to leave all of our readers with some of the proper study techniques that they will need to get the most out of them.
First Step: Gather All Of Your Study Materials
The first step to getting satisfactory results with the GRE is to choose the right study guides. For our readers’ convenience, we’ve listed some of the study guides that we feel are the best, but the student should ultimately use their best judgment as to what materials are going to be best for them. They should also make sure that they have plenty of notebooks, pencils and/or pens that they can use for taking practice tests.
Second Step: Determine The Baseline Score
The next thing the student is probably going to want to do is to determine their baseline score. To get their baseline, they are going to have to take a full-length practice test taken under the same circumstances as they would face when they take the test for real. That means a timed test with only the materials the student can have with them at the actual test. This will ensure that their baseline score is as accurate as possible.
Third Step: Determine The GRE Target score
Okay, at this point in the process, the student has gathered all of their study materials together and have determined their baseline score. Now, they should take the time to look into the graduate programs that are of interest to them. Since each graduate program has different GRE requirements, the student should take the time to evaluate the programs they are interested in and what scores they will need to achieve to be accepted by them. Some students might want to, at this point, weed out some of the programs that they don’t feel they have a shot at getting accepted by, but that’s probably a select few. Most students are going to want to take a few moments to consider how to get their skills up to the level needed that they get the GRE score needed.
Fourth Step: Make A Plan & Practice
Now that the student knows what areas they need to improve to raise their GRE to a respectable level for the program their considering, it’s time for them to outline a plan that will get them there. For most of our readers, this will be outlined by one of the prep books they purchase, but it might also mean a plan derived from an online program or prep course. Once the student has the plan in hand, they then need to put that plan into practice. This means spending 2-3 hours per day studying for the test so that they’re well prepared when it comes time to take the test.
Some Additional Study Tips
Those are the four basic steps that any student can use to raise their GRE score. If the following steps are implemented, then the student has a great chance of achieving great results than someone who doesn’t put them into practice. However, the above steps aren’t the only ones the student needs to consider. They also need to take a few moments to consider the following study tips. The following tips will help ensure that the student is well prepared come test day.
Be Sure To Start Studying 3-6 Months Before The Start Of The Test
The student should keep in mind that the GRE isn’t a test that they will want to try to cram for. If they try to start studying only 1 to 2-weeks before the test, then they’re not going to get satisfactory results. In our experience, the student should start studying at least 3-months before taking the test, although we do have to say that 6-months would be even better.
Rest Before The Test & Eat A Healthy Breakfast
The student should also make sure that they get at least 8-hours of sleep the night before, and have a nutritious protein-packed breakfast the day of the test. That will ensure the test taker is alert for the test at hand.