The 5 Best GRE Prep Books [2019 Edition]

The 5 Best GRE Prep Books [2019 Edition]

While embarking on the GRE journey, a good GRE book is your one true companion to enter the famed gates of world class universities and colleges. GRE prep is time consuming and thus wasting your time on an unworthy book won’t serve your needs. In your quest to search for the perfect GRE study material, you would come across many worthless prep books that line up library aisles. Let us help you zero in on the best GRE Prep book for 2019 and beyond!

How to Select the Right GRE Book

Choosing the right GRE prep book depends on numerous aspects such as which graduate program you are aiming for, your current verbal and analytical skill set, past and future goal scores etc. Then there are factors such as authors, quality of material, question sets, verbal and analytical expertise and practice tests availability. So, let’s get down to the business and let us help you select the right book.

The 5 best books to ace the GRE exam

1. Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides

Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides

Manhattan prep GRE strategy guides provides a comprehensive overview of all the topics that can be seen at the GRE. The series of 8 books making up the package is designed to give students substantial learning experience by helping them develop the knowledge, skills and strategic thinking they need to perform well during the test. Manhattan’s preparatory books aim to provide the foundations and rudimentary fundamentals behind questions. This ensures a good understanding of the test because you have test strategies that are directly related to the content of the test. Each book contains detailed instructions on a specific part of the exam, so you can combine the exact instructions you need based on your strengths and weaknesses. The package provides access to six full, computer-adaptive field tests that accurately simulate the conditions of the day of the test.

The complete book series contains the following book sets: Algebra; Fractions, Decimals & Percents; Geometry; Number Properties; Word Problems; The Quantitative Comparisons and Data Interpretation guide; The Reading Comprehension; Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence. There is the option to get the whole set or buy a single one out of the complete bundle. If you have a month or two to prepare the test, this bundle will be a superb tool to use to help raise your score.

Pros:

  • Set of 8 books cover all the topics of GRE
  • 6 online test included
  • Very effective in raising GRE score
  • Materials are of excellent quality

Cons:

  • Price is higher than other GRE prep books

2. ETS’ Official GRE Super Power Pack

ETS’ Official GRE

Practice tests are the most important aspect of the GRE exam preparation. The book bundle contains full-length practice tests feature questions that are prepared by the ETS official exam team – so they are worth their weight in gold. And it doesn’t get any better than the ETS’ Official GRE Super Power Pack to test your skills before sitting for the real thing. It features all the three prep books from GRE i.e. the Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Questions, Official Guide to the GRE, and the Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Questions. You save significant amount of money when you purchase this bundle.

Pros:

  • 600 real practice questionswith detailed answer explanations
  • 4 real GRE tests with 2 simulated computer-based test
  • Comes direct from GRE makers so credibility factor is high.
  • Two tests are available online while the other two can be accessed from Kindle.
  • Question difficulty level mimics the GRE pattern.
  • Questions are adaptive in nature to stimulate real-world test experience.
  • Free practice test in the CD-ROM.

Cons:

  • Focuses more on practice questions and full-length tests.
  • Some problem explanations can be overwhelming due to confusing details.
  • Prefer paperback version since Kindle version may have formatting errors.

3. Manhattan Prep’s 5 Lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems

Manhattan Prep’s 5 Lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems

When it comes to the heaviest GRE book, Manhattan Prep’s 5 Lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems wins hands down! Close to being a perfect GRE resource, this book is ideal for students of all prep levels. The practice questions increase in difficulty levels, so you can target your skill range and test your weaknesses. Math and verbal practice questions along with words and idioms make it a one-stop solution for your prep. Each practice question is followed by detailed explanation as well as analysis. Furthermore, there are a range of online resources that come bundled with this book including a huge GRE practice question bank, online GRE introduction and archive of difficult GRE questions.

Pros:

  • Best seller GRE prep book for many years.
  • Covers most practice question types with equal weightage to all sections.
  • AWA topics are included at the end of the book.
  • Quant question explanations are well detailed along with tips.
  • Advanced quant section is even tougher compared to actual GRE.
  • more than 1,800 realistic practice questions
  • Good addition to Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides

Cons:

  • Limited vocabulary practice questions with fewer flashcards.
  • Focuses more on reading comprehensive passages and less on text/sentence completion.

4. Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus 2020

Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus

If you want to have it all, this is the book to go for. Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus 2020 provides you a complete rundown of the GRE exam, beginning with an exhaustive explanation of every section, a 500 question quiz bank, detailed chapters, and full length mock tests. There are one mock test in the book and another two online that help in understanding the ETS way of exam. Overall, GRE Prep Plus features more than 2,200 practice questions with full explanations that test a student’s appropriate GRE skill at various difficulty levels.

Pros:

  • New book in the market with updated test taking strategies.
  • It includes access to online tests that feature full length tests also.
  • Multiple ways to learn and apply the GRE test taking strategies.
  • Questions are categorized as per difficulty range.
  • 500 question quiz bank, 2,200 practice questions with full explanations

Cons:

  • It focuses more on formulas and less on concepts.
  • Math section can seem lacking to some students.

5. Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE

Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE

A good grip on the vocabulary section is essential to crush the GRE exam. Apart from learning the difficult vocabulary, you have to apply it in an analytical and sophisticated context in the exam. Thus, you not only need to learn the meanings of various words, you must also know its application realm. Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE helps you accomplish just that! It helps build vocabulary along with the relevant implementation of the words.

The book focuses on building the basic vocabulary strength and then moves up in difficulty levels. The introduction features the 800 most common vocabulary words for the GRE along with their definitions. A pre-test further helps you improve familiarity with the GRE vocabulary standards. The sample sentences, practice quizzes and flashcards are also there. It also features pre-written practice exercises that further test the vocab quotient of the students.

Pros:

  • Wonderful collection of high frequency GRE words
  • GRE vocab flashcards help memorize the high frequency words with ease.
  • Extremely useful for eleventh hour preparation.
  • Extensive vocabulary with more than 20000 words.

Cons:

  • Cards do not feature a phonemic spelling.

What Should You Look for in a GRE book?

  • Practice Tests – Practice tests are the oxygen that every GRE book has to feed its reader. They are the final call on how the preparation went by evaluating the progress of the student. Buy a book that features at least two practice tests along with more online practice test option. The more opportunities there are to stimulate the exam, the higher the chances of success.

  • Layout – The way a book presents content matters a lot in the preparation. The right GRE book breaks down every section into sub-sections to help grab the concepts easily. From analytical to verbal and quant section, all the areas must be given due attention.

  • Test-Taking Strategies – Besides the practice questions and study concepts, a book should also help the reader create a study plan. A GRE book that provides test taking strategies increases the chances of success.

  • Quality and Quantity of Questions – The number of question on offer and the quality of questions have a lot of impact on the student’s preparation. It is important that the difficulty level of the questions matches the real exam patter along with adaptive scoring. Generally, choose books that offer around 2000 practice questions.

  • Pricing – How much should you pay for a GRE book? It depends on a whole lot of factors such as question bank size, online practice tests, whether CD is included or not etc. Typically, expect to pay around $50 to $70 for books that are popular among students.

  • Realistic GRE-Like Questions – Books that have real-like GRE practice questions should be preferred. Since it is an adaptive exam, you will have to know the real pattern of the exam along with the difficulty level. A book that helps you develop these skills is an ideal purchase.

  • Comprehensive Answer Explanations – Even the biggest question bank is worthless if there are no explanations to questions. A book that has detailed answer explanations to each question type along with tips/tricks to solve them should be preferred. This helps you grab the underlying concept and develop skills that hone your practice strategies.

  • Test-Taking Strategies – Actionable advice on GRE can mean a lot to the student. Beginners have to develop a test taking strategy that suits their study pattern and behavior. A book that offers multiple test taking strategy with section-specific focus is a good purchase.

  • Personal Factors – Individual aspects like time available for prep, study patterns, location, financial constraints etc should also be a part of the book purchase research. Calculate the exact time available for your preparation. Detailed study guides are ideal for longer durations while video courses are good for short preparation plans.

Conclusion

Not every GRE book is created equal. Besides these ultimate books, there are many others that focus on various other preparation strategies of GRE. For example, there are books dedicated to flashcards or practice tests which can be used by students at specific preparation stages. Furthermore, there are online courses that are paperless and deliver all their content only through digital channels.

These 5 books are time tested and relied upon by students for many years. We aim to help you select a book that not only covers individual sections but also delivers a holistic experience of GRE preparation where you not only learn but also grow. All these books deliver this and much more. The market for GRE books is huge! So, take your pick wisely and buy a book that helps you ace this exam.

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