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Overview of Recommended GRE Prep Tools

Magoosh GRE Prep

With Magoosh’s new database of lesson videos, you may not need any books beyond ETS’ Revised GRE material. The entire range of concepts covered on the GRE is here, introduced step-by-step via our series of lesson videos. Then, once you’ve worked with the product, you can use ETS materials to get an accurate sense of your score.

There are also the 700+ questions that combine any of these concepts in an unpredictable, often head-scratching, fashion – just like the real GRE. You will always be kept on your toes. And, if the questions become too easy, you can always customize a practice session so you only get more difficult questions. And, if those become too easy…well, then you are definitely ready to ace the GRE.

Nonetheless, more practice allows you to hone your skills even more. Below is a complete list of material – paper-based and online – that will inform my posts over the coming week. I plan to come up with a detailed study guide for each student. So, we have the perfect study plan for you – whether you just found out you have to take the GRE and only have a week to practice, all the way up to the 1-year GRE Perfect Score plan.

The Official Guide and Practice Questions/Practice Tests

It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of thinking that prepping for the Revised GRE entails using only Revised GRE prep material. The truth is, the Revised GRE is similar to many tests out there – like the GMAT, LSAT and SAT.

And, unlike the major publishers, most of who rushed their Revised GRE prep books to market, the Official Guides contain questions only taken from the actual version of their respective tests. The quality control on these questions is unrivaled in the test prep world. While the tests are not exactly the same, there is significant overlap. And, what better way to prep for the big day than by availing yourself of the questions found in these tests?

One important caveat – the books below should not be used for strategies and explanations. They are best used as a vast reservoir of high-quality questions. Always be mindful of how the questions differ, and never lose sight of the idiosyncrasies of the Revised GRE format.

ETS also offers free online resources, such as their PowerPrep Software. If you are a Mac user that can’t use ETS’s Poweprep, or would prefer to take the practice test on paper, you can print out ETS’s practice test PDF (with video explanations here). Take note that the Poweprep software and the paper-based test have overlapping material, so it won’t be of much help to do both, unless you space them out far enough so that you won’t recognize the questions and answers! I recommend using the Powerprep software if you can, since taking the test on a computer is a better simulation of exam day conditions.


The LSAT Reading Comprehension is very similar to what you’ll see on the test. This especially holds true for those looking to score at the highest level. The reason is that the LSAT is a very challenging exam – beyond having to winnow out those for the most competitive law schools in the country – the passage found in the guides tend to be dense and, at times, opaque. The answer choices are also very similar so you will really be able to sharpen your analytical thinking skills by prepping with LSAT questions. Again, they are challenging, so I would mainly recommend them for those who are looking to score in the top 90% on verbal.

The good news is the LSAT has released over fifty previously administered tests (that makes the GRE big book look downright diminutive). However, these tests are not all arranged in one fifty-pound tome (that’s 24 kg, for the folks overseas). The LSAT has released a series of books called Ten Actual, Official LSAT Prep Tests (and a few riffs on that title, including 10 More Actual…). Buy one for less than twenty dollars on Amazon, and you’ll have 750 questions (25% of LSAT material, from a section called the “games section” does not overlap with the GRE).


Half of the math pertains to the GRE. The other half, the Data Sufficiency, is not very relevant. No need to be crestfallen—that’s still over 250 problem-solving questions. Because the math is a little more challenging on the GMAT, the questions should only be reserved for those looking to break 700.

The Official GMAT Guide also offers extensive practice on reading comprehension, namely the critical reasoning questions. Taken together with long reading passages, the critical reasoning questions give you almost 400 practice questions.

Finally, for those looking to score in the high 700’s, download a couple of free computer based GMAT tests, courtesy of


The College Board, which writes the questions for this well-known test, has a book called the Official SAT Guide. Here, you will find ten practice tests. The overlap on the math is pretty significant. If you can work your way through the most difficult problems in each section without much difficulty, you are definitely ready for the 700-plus (SAT math questions are stacked in terms of difficulty). The easy questions are at the beginning of a section, the challenging ones at the end.

For vocabulary, you will have plenty of practice – both the Sentence Completions (the younger, less sophisticated sibling to the GRE Text Completions) and the Reading Comprehension have high-frequency words. Indeed, there isn’t a single vocabulary word in the SAT book that wouldn’t show up on the Revised GRE.

As for reading comprehension, the flavor of the passages is a little different. There is some fiction thrown in there, as well as a lot of personal narratives. It wouldn’t hurt to practice using some of the passages, but it is not essential.

Complete Prep Lifestyle:

Prepping doesn’t end when you close the books above (or the Internet browser).

You should be an avid reader; find yourself doing mental calculations in your head; wow sales staff when you are able to come within pennies of guessing the price of an item with 9% sales tax.

For verbal, reading is the cornerstone. So, you may subscribe to the New Yorker, buy a book from the Best of Series or finally read all those classics you’ve heard about, but never got time to read (Catch-22, anybody?). And, the complete lifestyle requires you to be an insatiable vocab detective, learning words from when you see them in context, and then looking them up on-line and creating flashcards for them.

In a word (well, actually a few words), you’ve become a lean, mean synaptic machine. And, that’s the goal – if you have many months to prep you want to be able. If all of this sounds liketoo much to remember, you are going to graduate school, not Club Med. And, you will need a finely tuned brain in grad school, whether you are analytically poring over case studies in business school or memorizing thousands of pieces of information in nursing school.


Over the next week, I will discuss various study plans informed by the resources above. The most attention will be given to those study guides that are pertinent to most – the 1-month to 3-month range. Stay tuned!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

5 Responses to Overview of Recommended GRE Prep Tools

  1. Madan March 5, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    Can you please suggest some LSAT books other than “10 Actual,Official LSAT Prep Tests” for practicing RC?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Just amazon LSAC Official LSAT tests. There are many, many actual 10 exams. I wouldn’t recommend you start studying a prep book on how to approach the LSAT. You will learn far more than you need to know for the GRE.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Arif September 14, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Magoosh and Berkeley rock!

    Thank you Chris, Margarette, Bhavin & Brent!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 14, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      You are welcome!

  3. Arif September 14, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Soon you will become the world’s best GRE Prep Blog/Resource/Web! Many of my friends are amazed by Video Explanations!! Keep it up! All the Best!

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