9 Best GRE Prep Books For 2021: Top Picks & Reviews
When you prepare for the GRE, you have to make sure that you are using only the best resources. The world out there is highly competitive, and it is important to be ahead of the game, especially when it comes to the GRE.
Preparation is key—that’s what they always say. That being, you have to be picky with the kind of prep books you invest in. However, with the price tag of most prep books these days, it’s difficult to choose a GRE prep book with the best value for money.
One of the no-frail GRE prep books that I recommend is The Official GRE Super Power Pack by the Educational Test Center or ETS (1). It has the official content, so you would find it worthwhile.
While it is considered the best, some other GRE study books in the market also bear high-quality content at reasonable prices. Find out what they are in this comprehensive review.
1. The Official GRE Super Power Pack
The Official GRE Super Power Pack
As mentioned, the best material to use when preparing for the GRE is the prep book bundle produced by the ETS itself. This power pack includes the following:
- The Official Guide to the GRE, 3rd Edition
- Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition
- Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition
The overall price of this bundle is cheaper when you purchase the books separately. They are in a bundle, so you would expect the books to cover the major sections. Because they are published by the test-maker, you can study the concepts and questions found in the actual GRE.
Of course, the level of difficulty of its practice questions reflects the real one, and that’s a significant consideration.
One advantage of this GRE prep book bundle is the inclusion of 4 full-length real practice exams, authentic GRE questions with corresponding answer explanations, and descriptions of various question types.
When you purchase this bundle, you also have access to GRE PowerPrep Online with an ebook content that is fully accessible to all students, even the ones with disabilities.
Ultimately, this power back has the most authentic content, but I recommend you supplement it with a material with high-focused content on strategies.
2. Manhattan 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems
Most Number of Practice Questions
Manhattan 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems
This book may not be considered as an official GRE prep book, but its comprehensiveness and thoroughness are quite remarkable. It contains over 1,800 practice problems that cover all the GRE concepts found in the actual exam.
Even better, this book was organized accordingly, which makes everything easy to understand. The practice problems are grouped according to practice sets. Each practice problem also mimics the content, style, and form of the actual GRE.
Through the well-crafted practice problems, you will be able to master the fundamental skills needed in verbal and quantitative sections. This book makes it possible through its answer explanations and step-by-step application tasks that help in understanding the concepts better.
Also, because this book comes with access to Manhattan Prep’s interactive on-demand learning platform, you will have more opportunities for mastery through its learning modules online.
Although this Manhattan GRE study book has a great number of practice problems, it doesn’t have full-length practice tests, which is significant in preparing for the GRE. I recommend you pick up other supplement materials with complete practice tests.
3. GRE Prep by Magoosh
GRE Prep by Magoosh
The best GRE preparation usually comes with a hefty price, but let’s admit it, preparing for such a high-stake exam is also possible through best-valued materials, such as the Magoosh GRE prep book.
So far, I can say that this book has the best-summarized guide for the GRE, which makes it the perfect starter book if you are still discovering about GRE. Included here is a well-curated set of practice problems from Magoosh’s online GRE program. The authors of this book also provided brand new test-taking tips and strategies that would be helpful for you to pass the exam.
I won’t say that this is the best GRE study guide in terms of comprehensiveness, but its full-length practice test and over 130 practice problems with corresponding answer explanations make it the best-valued item on our list.
You may also take advantage of the coupon included in the book if you want to enroll in any of Magoosh’s online courses. Indeed, it’s one of the best GRE prep books out there because of its content and price.
There are not enough practice problems and practice tests here so you shouldn’t use it stand-alone. However, I consider it a great GRE book for beginners.
4. Barron’s GRE Flashcards, 3rd Edition
Best Supplement Material
Barron’s GRE Flashcards, 3rd Edition
If you need an additional study or a quick review for the GRE before the test day comes, then I suggest this flashcard set for that purpose. It contains 500 flashcards that help you gain focus on certain areas that you need to master.
Here’s a summary of its contents based on the number of flashcards for each section:
- 250 verbal section cards with definitions and sentence-completion practice
- 250 math section cards
The front portion of each verbal flashcard is in bold texts for quicker recognition, especially if you are studying on the go. The back portion, on the other hand, shows the definition, antonyms, sample analogy, and sample sentence. Parts of speech and context clues are also provided.
Furthermore, the math section cards are categorized as follows:
- 75 math facts
- 25 math strategies
- 65 multiple-choice questions
- 65 quantitative-comparison questions
- 10 multiple-answer questions
- 10 numeric-entry questions
What’s even great about these flashcards is their corner punch hole feature to accommodate the metal sorting ring that’s included in the package. You can use the sorting ring to arrange the flashcards in any sequence that would be suitable for your learning needs.
There are also practice questions in this flashcard set. Although the practice questions are not official practice questions, the quality is close to that of the actual GRE.
The font size of the texts, however, can be too small if you do not have a regular clear vision. When it comes to durability, this Barron GRE set absolutely does not disappoint. You can carry and flip them with ease even if you are in a rush.
I recommend this flashcard set if you need a quick review before the test day. It also works for you if you have a few weeks to a couple of months to prepare for the GRE. It’s not comprehensive like the Manhattan Prep GRE book and Kaplan GRE book, but it certainly is part of our list of the best GRE study materials you can try.
5. Kaplan GRE Prep Plus 2020
Kaplan GRE Prep Plus 2020
Kaplan usually does a great job when it comes to prep books, and so does when it comes to its GRE prep book. The Kaplan GRE Prep Plus 2020 provides more than practice problems. It has an amazing collection of test-taking strategies, which Kaplan is typically known for. It also has tips for graduate school applications, which adds to its value.
In terms of practice problems, it comes close to Manhattan Prep. This Kaplan book has more than 1,700 practice problems with detailed explanations that help break down the concepts. There are also timed sets for each GRE section to ensure that you get the appropriate familiarity before you take the exam.
Purchasing this GRE study book also comes with access to its computer-based testing format. This allows you to check your performance summaries, so you can track and customize your study plan as needed.
Indeed, the Kaplan GRE book is still among the top GRE test prep books in the market even though its content is not as close to the actual. Thus, I recommend you use it along with an official content material such as the ones produced by the test-makers.
6. Barron’s GRE, 22nd Edition
Best Starter Book
Barron’s GRE, 22nd Edition
This is the improved version of Barron’s GRE book although the alterations are very few. However, I like how it lays out the fundamental concepts you need to master for the GRE making it a strong base for learning.
Moreover, you would appreciate the practice questions provided after each topic, which helps in cementing the concepts to your mind. This GRE book also contains 2 full-length practice exams with matching answer keys. Of course, I appreciate such a feature but it would have been so much better if the additional feature is a set of detailed answer explanations.
The additional online practice tests, however, have question explanations that help make GRE studying easier, especially when you get stuck on particular questions.
Nevertheless, the Barron GRE book deserves to be a part of our top GRE prep books.
It is not a starter guide for the GRE, but definitely a fundamental kind of starter book because of how in-depth it covers the sections of the GRE, especially the verbal section and quantitative section.
7. The Princeton Review’s Cracking the GRE, 2020 Edition
The Princeton Review’s Cracking the GRE, 2020 Edition
It is one of the most recently published GRE books and considered one of the best GRE study materials. This book from the Princeton Review acts like an all-in-one solution for you to raise your score significantly.
It’s also amazing that you can take advantage of its 4 practice tests, which are sufficient enough to make you test-ready. Aside from that, this book contains topic reviews and powerful tactics that will help you topple down certain traps in the GRE test.
Even better, it contains a step-by-step problem-solving guide so you would minimize your errors, thereby, making yourself efficient as you go along the test.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that buying this book gives you access to the Princeton Review’s online premium portal for additional practice problems and study resources.
Another notable feature of this book is the practice tests that also grade your analytical writing section. I find that very relevant since not all GRE books offer such a feature.
This Manhattan Prep GRE book is an incredible resource, not to mention that it has a well-thought-of format. However, you would certainly look for other GRE study books whose practice questions are similarly difficult to the actual GRE practice questions.
8. The Official Guide to the GRE by ETS, 2nd Edition
Best Live Online
The Official Guide to the GRE by ETS, 2nd Edition
This book is the previous version of one of the books included in the power pack. Regardless, it still has powerful content because it is created by ETS.
In this book, you will know what to expect on the test day, including some pieces of information about how your test is scored. Of course, that’s an added advantage since it’s a book published by the test creator.
Also, having this book gives you confidence because the content is reliable and accurate enough. You will be answering authentic GRE practice questions to prepare you for the exam.
Finally, the book is affordable, making it the perfect supplement material for your other GRE books that are more comprehensive and recent.
Despite being an old version, I have still included it on our list because the quality of the content is still considered top-notch. For its low price, I highly recommend it as among the best GRE books for beginners.
9. Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides
Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides
This is the second set of top GRE prep books that I highly recommend if you are looking for an all-in prep without supplement materials. Of course, it is very pricey, which I would expect from any prep book set.
This Manhattan Prep set, unlike the ETS power pack, has 8 books. The 6 books cover the math-content areas, such as algebra, geometry, fractions, percents, and decimals. The kind of questions you will encounter in these books will help you become adept at data interpretation and quantitative comparison.
The other 2 books, on the other hand, are dedicated to the verbal and analytical writing sections. These books also cover sentence equivalence, text completion, and essay writing. This prep book set allows you to prep with the utmost coverage.
There are also 3 sets of practice questions that you can find at the end of each book. Each set is categorized based on the level of difficulty – easy, medium, and hard.
I especially like how in-depth the explanations are in the quantitative books, although most of its practice questions are considered easy when compared to the actual quantitative questions. The verbal section books also provide you an edge in terms of learning sound techniques and improving reading comprehension.
I highly recommend this set if you are looking for complete coverage of the GRE sections subject to the fact that you have ample time to prepare for the GRE. Otherwise, it would be a lot of waste to invest in this set if you don’t have the time to dive deeper into each book.
Criteria to Consider in Choosing the Best GRE Prep Book
- The comprehensiveness of coverage – Not all GRE books are created equal and none of what we listed on this list is a perfect one. Each has a downside, but you should go for the best GRE study guide that provides practice materials and study resources.
Does the book have enough practice questions? Does it have full-length practice tests? Does it teach test-taking strategies? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself when checking on a particular GRE book
- Quality of practice materials – I always appreciate a GRE prep book with many practice problems, especially if the quality of its practice materials is close to the actual GRE.Does it help you prepare for the real thing?
Does the level of difficulty simulate that of the test-day GRE?
- Inclusion of test-taking strategies – A prep book for the GRE can be comprehensive, but it would also be so much better if it also has test-taking tips and strategies. Of course, you are not studying only about the concepts but also about methods on how to handle various GRE questions.
- Other features – I would consider a GRE prep book that has an added value for what I am paying for. This means additional features that would give me an advantage to others. These additional features would give me an added convenience as I prep for the GRE.
- Affordable price – Not all expensive GRE prep books are worth the price if there are more affordable choices that can provide equal experience. On the other hand, I also suggest that you look into book sets because most of the time, the set price is cheaper compared to separate purchases.
This comprehensive roundup review on the best GRE study books leads us to our top-rated selection which is The Official GRE Super Power Pack. This set does not have sufficient resources for test-taking strategies, but because it contains ample materials and it reflects the real GRE, then it deserves to be on that spot.
Our next choices are the Kaplan GRE Prep Plus 2020 and Manhattan Prep 5lb. GRE Book of Practice Problems because both of them showcase high-quality materials with well-curated GRE content. Plus, their prices are reasonable enough although not as cheap as the price of Magoosh GRE Book.