10 Best GRE Prep Book Reviews | All the Help You Need to Ace Your Exam in 2020

Last Updated on

StudyPrepLounge.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Since the Graduate Record Examinations or GRE is a requirement for many grad-school program admissions, you can expect it to be one of the more advanced standardized tests out there. Because of this, there’s also a more pressing need to prepare well for it. Having taken the GRE myself and having tutored many students who got 320+ and got into their dream schools.

So if you’re one of the many who is aiming to get into a good post-grad program, you should start your journey with the best GRE prep book. I recommend many of these books to students (based on what they need help in), but the most comprehensive is definitely my #1 pick.

GRE Prep Book Comparison Table

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

  • Thorough and extensive coverage
  • Will let you focus on one area at a time
  • Considered to be as near to the actual exam as possible

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

  • Friendly price tag
  • Easy to understand and digest
  • Free online support and tutoring

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

  • Loaded with numerous sample questions and problems
  • Provides a different approach in preparing for the GRE
  • Will definitely help you practice answering test questions that are similar to the actual GRE questions

What is the best GRE prep book? We’ll help you find out the answer in this guide.

Top 10 Best GRE Prep Book Reviews

With the amount of detail we poured into the list above, we’re sure that they will be able to help you find the best GRE book for you. However, if you want to cut down your search time and narrow down your options significantly, here are ten solid options that you can also consider.

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

Since the Official GRE Super Power Pack, Second Edition is directly from the ETS, it tends to offer more to those who are looking for the most reliable GRE guide. It’s believed to offer the most accurate information on the exam, guaranteeing that it can help you prepare for the big day thoroughly. This is why it can really be a great choice for those who don’t want to take any risks with their test scores.

Before you balk at the price tag, it should be noted that the GREW Super Power Pack comes with three materials which are the:

  1. Official Guide to the GRE General Test (3rd Edition),
  2. Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions (2nd Edition) (math section)
  3. Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions with Analytical Writing Practice (2nd Edition) (reading section)

These three titles offer a comprehensive and detailed look into the topics and concepts that will come out in the exam. Each title breaks up the extensive coverage of the test so you can focus on a specific topic and area as you prepare for the various reasoning questions. Additionally, there are lots of GRE prep practice questions and even a few practice tests answers in the back. 

This division makes it easier to concentrate your efforts and prepare for the exam with efficiency. This is especially helpful if you tend to get overwhelmed with the things you need to cover. By breaking up its content into more manageable parts, test-takers can have an easier time digesting the information presented to them.

Studying from this book basically guarantees your quantitative reasoning and analytical writing section scores up.

The only downside to the Super Power Pack is that they tend to repeat some points which isn't bad, just a little annoying. There are some items in the two smaller books that were already mentioned in the Official Guide so some folks find that repetitive. However, such concerns might prove to be inconsequential to those who want to be more thorough in their test-preparation efforts.

Things We Liked

  • Thorough and extensive coverage
  • Will let you focus on one area at a time
  • Considered to be as near to the actual exam as possible
  • Made by the same organization that makes the GRE
  • Great practice reasoning questions

Things We Didn't Like

  • A bit pricey but worth the investment

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

Want to save a few bucks without compromising quality? Check out the GRE by ArgoPrep: GRE Book 2018-2019. As grad school applications can get mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting, we understand that you might want to try to cut down some costs when looking for the best GRE study materials that covers every section. This item can be a good pick for such situations because it’s affordable and has great content - it even comes with online practice that others don't have.

There are quite a few things that make this title a good choice for a GRE study book. For starters, this book provides presents points, topics, and concepts in a very easy to digest manner, particularly for analytical writing although it'll still help with the GRE quantitative reasoning section of the test as well.

It’s straight to the point so you don’t have to take in unnecessary information while you prepare for the exam. It can help you make the most of your limited time before the test day.

Its discussions are still very detailed, however, despite its bite-sized presentation of information. This promises a well-rounded approach to preparing for the exam.

Then there’s also its use of other forms of media to help you better. Its online practice system is relatively broad. It comes with 1 practice test and video explanations for the online test questions. So if you’re a visual and auditory learner, you might have an easier time picking things up through this medium. They also have an online support system so you can directly chat with a tutor through their website if you have questions.

You can also count this as a GRE practice book because they come with a lot of practice questions that are nearly identical to the real exam questions. These should help you further build your confidence in answering the actual exam.

Things We Liked

  • Friendly price tag
  • Great for analytical writing
  • Free online practice tests and tutoring
  • Practice questions are very similar to the actual exam

Things We Didn't Like

  • Some typographical errors are present

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

Those who want to be very thorough in their exam preparations should check out the 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems (Manhattan Prep 5 lb Series). It might look overwhelming at first glance due to its size and weight but it can certainly assure you that it has all you need to get ready for the GRE.

What makes the Manhatten Prep GRE 5 lb Book a best-selling study guide is the fact that it contains over 1800 sample questions and more than 1000 pages of practice problems and answers explanations. This ups your chances of covering as much ground as you can and present you various possibilities that can help you prepare for the actual exam.

Note, however, that this not a book of practice tests. Some might assume it to be such since it contains a lot of sample questions and problems but that is not the case. While the questions and problems are grouped in a way that is similar to the actual GRE, it’s not formatted the same way as the actual exam. Don’t expect it to help you get acquainted with the GRE structure because of this.

Another important point that you should know about this item is that it doesn’t do a content review. It’s more about targeted practice than brushing up your knowledge on crucial topics and points. However, it contains detailed explanations of how you can answer test questions, so it can still certainly assist in your preps.

Things We Liked

  • Loaded with numerous sample question types
  • Provides a different approach in preparing for the GRE
  • Will definitely help you practice answering test questions that are similar to the actual GRE questions
  • Detailed explanations

Things We Didn't Like

  • Can be a bit overwhelming for some

Editor's Rating:

4.3/5

Another highly recommended GRE book is the GRE Prep by Magoosh. If you’ve read good things about the online Magoosh GRE prep program, this book is said to be its offline version. Ideally, it can help you get ready for the big day wherever you may be.

Like other top-rated GRE study guides, this book contains everything you need to touch up on the various skills that will be grilled in the said exam. It contains an exam overview, test-taking tips, practice exams, and the explanations of the right answers. They all prove to be helpful in refreshing your knowledge on various topics that will most likely come out during the exam.

More importantly, it also contains review points that concisely discuss the topics and points that will likely appear on the exam. This should help you brush up on some topics and learn about some points that you need to further study.

Its presentation of information isn’t like a regular textbook, however. This is why users tend to have mixed opinions about how useful it can really be. A lot of users say that it’s perfect for those who are strapped for time and are just brushing up on their knowledge because of its list-type discussion of points. If you’re after something more intensive, you might need to look elsewhere.

Things We Liked

  • Straight to the point discussion
  • Touted as the offline version of the online Magoosh GRE prep program
  • Great choice for those who are just getting started on their GRE preparations
  • Good price

Things We Didn't Like

  • Typographical errors found here and there

Editor's Rating:

4.2/5

Considered as one of the more basic titles by many, the Test Prep Books’ GRE Prep 2018: Test Prep Book, Study Guide, & Practice Test Questions for the ETS Graduate Record Examination is also a popular pick you should check out. Like the Magoosh GRE Prep book, this one is also said to be a good place to start when preparing for the exams. Its easy-to-use format and concise content will let you get a good glimpse of what you should work on so you can be fully prepared for the exam.

One of the most notable things about this book is its layout. Its large fonts will help you really visualize what you’re studying which can help you retain information better. This also makes it seem a bit less overwhelming as it can be easier to read.

Another strength of this book is its exam-focused approach. It goes over the different types of problems that could come out in the exam so you can be ready to tackle all sorts of challenges. This will help you better prepare for what will be thrown at you in the GRE.

While it might not be as dense as other prep books, it can still be a solid choice if you want to ease your way into preparing for the GRE.

Things We Liked

  • Wouldn’t overwhelm you with its amount of content
  • Easy to read format
  • Discusses different kinds of problems that can come out in the exam

Things We Didn't Like

  • Grammatical and typographical errors are found

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

The ETS Official GRE Value Combo is a twofer that you should check out if you’re looking for a more concentrated approach at preparing for the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections. It contains the Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions and the Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions so you can more closely brush up on the topics the related exam sections cover.

Updated in 2017, these books contain practice questions that are made by the same experts who crafted the actual GRE. This makes this product a must-buy for those who want to be very thorough in their preparations as you can expect the quality of these titles’ contents to be at par with what the actual exam has.

It must also be noted, however, that the math questions contained in the Quantitative Reasoning practice book are very challenging. So if you think you can use more help in that area, this book set might be the perfect pick for you.

Things We Liked

  • Focused on the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections of the exam
  • Made by the same folks who made the GRE
  • Packed with challenging sample questions
  • Considered by many as the best GRE books

Things We Didn't Like

  • Quite pricey

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

Hailed by some as the best GRE test prep book for those on a budget, the Kaplan GRE Premier 2017 is certainly one of the most affordable picks out there. This book will help you thumb through the most crucial points and concepts that you have to keep in mind in preparation for the test. As a result, it’s a nice reference for brushing up on the things that you already know.

While some experts have mixed opinions about this book, its comprehensive discussion of the exam makes it worth considering. In addition to this, you’ll also get online access to additional resources to further help you prepare for the test day. All of these are available for a small amount of money so you can really consider it a good deal.

Things We Liked

  • Very affordable
  • Comprehensive discussion of the exam
  • Deemed as a good starter prep book

Things We Didn't Like

  • A newer 2018 version is already available

Editor's Rating:

4.5/5

Offered by one of the most popular review materials creators in the market, we can’t not include the Princeton Review Cracking the GRE Premium Edition with 6 Practice Tests, 2019: The All-in-One Solution for Your Highest Possible Score (Graduate School Test Preparation) in this list. If you found the other titles from this publisher useful, this Princeton Review GRE prep book might also do the trick for you.

Among this book’s top offering is its big-picture strategies. With the GRE’s complexities and nuances that are unlike the other standardized tests, this addition makes it very useful to those who need to work on improving how they process large amounts of information.

Another plus is the 6 practice tests that it contains. So if you think that you need more practice in answering the exam, this might be a good choice for you.

Things We Liked

  • Lots of practice tests included
  • Effective big-picture strategies
  • Provides access to a lot of online content

Things We Didn't Like

  • Sample questions are not the most challenging

Editor's Rating:

4.2/5

Looking into improving your vocabulary? The 500 Advanced Words: GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards (Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guide) can be a nice option for a study tool in this area. These flashcards will help you memorize, understand, and remember 500 new advanced vocabulary words in a jiffy. 

A quick online search will tell you that the vocabulary used and tested in the GRE is very challenging. So if you want to be more confident in acing the exam, it’s best to brush up on and improve your vocab, too. This flashcard set from Manhatten Prep GRE Study Guides would be a great tool to do this and might make studying a bit more enjoyable for you.

Things We Liked

  • Focused on the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE
  • Easy to use
  • Challenging words included

Things We Didn't Like

  • Quality control can be improved

Editor's Rating:

4.2/5

Rounding out our list of the best GRE prep books is the GRE Math Workbook: GRE Math Prep 2018 & 2019 and Practice Tests for the Quantitative Reasoning Section of the GRE Exam. This GRE Math Workbook would be a helpful choice if you need to work more on your math knowledge.

Like the other Test Prep Books title above, this book is more of an overview of the concepts that you should already know about by now. This means that it’s really more of an review book and won’t go into the most detailed discussion of every math concept that you might come across with during the exam. This makes it more of a supplemental material instead of a study material so don’t completely rely on it if you need to study math concepts all over again.

By using it more as a guide, you can definitely learn where you should focus when preparing for the GRE Quantitative Reasoning section. This is why you can still get good use of this book despite its very concise discussion of points.

Things We Liked

  • Straight to the point presentation of points
  • Easy to use and understand
  • Detailed answer explanations

Things We Didn't Like

  • Typographical errors found

Buying Guide: How to Find the Right One For You

With the large coverage and weight of the test, you don’t want to waste your time on the wrong study guide. Not all of the GRE test prep books available today will suit your study style and techniques or even provide the information you need to crush the exam. So if you don’t want to compromise your chances of getting to a good grad-school, it’s best to be careful in choosing the right title to help you prepare for the Graduate Record Examinations or GRE.

How do you choose a reliable GRE prep book that will help you get great test results, then? Here are a few pointers that you can use to make the right call:

Be very particular about its contents.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that good content makes a good GRE testing book. What’s inside the study guide can determine what you’ll brush up on and learn about in preparation for the exam. This makes it crucial for you to be very discerning in making a choice.

What should the best GRE test prep book contain, then? Check them out below:

Good Coverage

If you’ve ever used a few different study guides before, you’ll know that not all of them will have the same information. Some will have wide coverage of the topics that will most likely appear in the test while others will only focus on the key portions to brush you up on the things that you should already know. This is true even for GRE prep books.

So to make sure that you’ll get a good title, you should be very particular about the coverage of the book you’re eyeing. Try to learn what kinds of topics they tackle, how detailed their discussions are, and how much focus they have on the different parts of the exam. These will already tell you a lot about the kind of content you can expect to get from the GRE.

Clear Review

Aside from the actual information contained in the study guide, you should also be very particular about how they are presented in the book. Try to get to know if the information within is easy to digest or if they’re quite overwhelming. This will help you assess whether the book will be an effective study material for you.

Study Plan Creation Tips

Aside from helping you brush up on the things that will be asked on the exam, the best GRE prep book should also help you create a solid study plan. This will help you cover all your bases when preparing for the exam.

Informative Exam Overview

You’ll need to know what you’re up against if you’re going to stand a chance in cracking the GRE. Having a good idea of what the exam is like, from its format and structure to its contents would help you prepare better for it.

Realistic Sample Questions and  GRE Practice Tests

Learning about the possible questions would also help you prepare better for the GRE. This is why you should also look for a prep book that contains realistic sample questions and GRE practice tests. They’ll help you determine whether you’re fully ready to take on the exam and even give you confidence in test-taking.

Comprehensive Answer Explanations

On top of the test questions that you can use to grill yourself with, a good prep book also has good sections on answer explanations. This means that they won’t just provide the answers of the sample questions in the guide to help you check your own answers but they should also have good explanations. These will help you better understand the concepts and help you get ready for the exam.

Useful Test-taking Tips

Last but not least, you should also look for something with good tips on how to take on the GRE. The tricks and strategies they share can help you answer questions and retain information more effectively among other things.

Weigh in your preparation schedule.

Your exam preparation schedule can also help you find the best GRE study guide for you. If you have enough time to pore over an expansive prep book, go for it. If you don’t, look for something that’s more concise and condensed. This way, you can still be sure that you’ll get to cover as much ground as you can no matter how much time you have on your hands.

Read reviews.

It can be hard to tell what’s inside the GRE preparation books before you purchase one. So if you really want to know whether you’ll get a good title, you should learn about what other people are saying about the ones you’re eyeing. Reading reviews can tell you a lot about a title’s contents, so you should make sure to do some research in this area.

Remember, however, that product reviews can be very subjective so it’s best to take these feedbacks with some grain of salt. Make sure to contextualize and weigh the merits of each review as it’s very likely that you’ll get a mixed bag for every title. Don’t just take the words of random people on the internet because they might not be worth much to you. Do some additional research instead to make sure that the title you’re interested in offers the content you need to help you ace the GRE.

Supplement with official ETS GRE books and prep materials.

Aside from the best books for GRE, you might also want to take advantage of the supplemental study material provided by ETS (Educational Testing Service) themselves. Since these items are directly from the testing organization that hosts the GRE, they can really come in handy in your preparation. You can download some of these materials for free by the Educational Testing Service, but there are also some that are only available for purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take the GRE without studying?

You can take the GRE without studying but unless you naturally do well on standardized tests such as the test, you likely won't get a good score. Competitive scores start at about 310 and many people who take it without studying get about 290 which is in the bottom 20 percent.

How long should I study for the GRE?

You should study for the GRE for about 2 months if you want to do your best. This gives you enough time to study all the material and give yourself enough time to properly remember the material. Additionally, you'll be able to take a lot of practice tests and know what to study for the actual GRE exam.

How can I prepare for GRE in 15 days?

You'll want to take a practice GRE to see how you score and then work on the areas you don't do as well in.  15 days days is not a lot of time so you'll have to cram a lot of studying in the areas you are weak in and take a practice test every day to continuously improve your test-taking abilities, work on areas you need improvement, and get used to the test.

Is one month enough to study for GRE?

One month is enough to study for the GRE and get a good score. While you ideally want to do about 2 months, if you consistently study 6-8 hours 6 days a week you can score well if you take advantage of test prep books by learning the concepts and taking practice GRE exams.

Is Kaplan GRE prep worth it?

Kaplan GRE prep is a pretty good book and can help you score well. It's not our favorite on the list of available GRE prep books, but it does the job well.

Is the GRE difficult?

The GRE is not that difficult among standardized tests. It's similar to the SAT, but a little harder. However, it's easier than other grad school tests such as the MCAT and LSAT.

Is Magoosh harder than the GRE?

Magoosh is not harder than the GRE. In fact, it is intentionally about the same level of difficulty to prepare you for the real GRE test.

Is Magoosh enough for GRE?

Magoosh can be enough for GRE, but if you want to score really well you will use other books for additional practice and concept explanation.

What is a bad GRE score?

A bad GRE depends on the score you get, but anything below a 280 is considered bottom 10 percent. The average is about 300-305 so anything below that is technically a "bad GRE" score. Of course, the average also varies per year.

Conclusion

Without a doubt there are a lot of great options that you can succeed with. However, I still think the official GRE Super Power Pack is the best by far and would recommend it to almost everybody who wants a full, comprehensive prep book with great GRE practice problems and test-taking strategies.