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ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition Book Review

The 2nd Edition of the ETS Official Guide to the GRE has just been released. Is it a major change over the last book, hinting at how the GRE has morphed into a test very different from the Revised GRE of last year? Not one bit. The book is the exact same, except—and this is a pretty big except—the one free practice test at the back. That means that every exponent, every curve of every graph, every multi-syllabled word is the exact same up until pg. 350, which has a page on the new score conversion. Otherwise, the only significant difference begins where the 1st Edition ends on pg. 432: the second edition now has a Practice Test #2.

Two brand new tests (four total)

By no means you should close that Amazon webpage and move your cursor away from the buy link. Even if you own an edition of the 1st Edition, having access to a free official GRE test is worth the roughly $30 you’ll pay for the book plus shipping and handling. That extra exposure you get to questions, especially questions that are more indicative of questions you’ll see test day (I’ll elaborate on this on a later blog post), is hard to append a price tag to.

You will also get access to two PowerPrep tests (one new, one old) via a practice CD in the back – though you can access these on the ETS website for free (remember no PowerPrep test is Mac compatible). Neither of these tests overlaps with the two tests at the back of the book. That’s right – if you have yet to take an official GRE practice test, there are a total of four fresh tests waiting for you!

Indispensable – but not the perfect solution

Of course if you do not have a copy of the 1st Edition, much of the above is superfluous. Simply said: You need to get yourself a copy of the 2nd Edition Official guide. That is not to say the book is perfect, the single source to help you achieve your best GRE score. While the questions are  the best prep out there—they are written by the test makers themselves–the explanations are somewhat lacking, a fact which isn’t too surprising given that ETS does not make revenue from writing lucid explanations. People tend to buy the book for the questions.

The Math Review section in the book is decent as far as brushing up on basics goes. You’ll also be exposed to the range of concepts you’ll see test day. Most of the other books—Barron’s, Kaplan, and even Manhattan GRE—do not cover concepts such as parabolas or absolute value graphs (not that either of these is very likely to show up test day).

User-friendly, helpful tips/strategies are scant. You simply get fundamentals and then practice questions, which are often beyond the scope of the practice you get from the fundamentals. (Meaning that doing the practice exercises in this book will hardly prepare you for actual GRE questions). Thus, while indispensible, the 2nd Edition guide, like the 1st edition guide, is not an all in one guide. You will want to supplement this book with one that helps break down this test.

 

Prep: A+

Strategies/Explanations: C

 

Update 1/7/2013: We now have free video explanations for all of the practice questions in the second edition of the Official Guide here. Enjoy!

About the Author

Chris Lele has been helping students excel on the GRE, GMAT, and SAT for the last 10 years. He is the Lead Content Developer and Tutor for Magoosh. His favorite food is wasabi-flavored almonds. Follow him on Google+!

35 Responses to ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition Book Review

  1. Zaid Sheikh September 7, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Hi Chris,

    First, thanks alot for this great website.

    My mathematical skills are perfectly fine. Is this book enough for me to practice for the quantitative section?

    P.S. My aim is to score 170 in the quantitative section.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 8, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Zaid,

      I’d recommend that you pick up the latest guide from GRE: The quantitative question guide.

      Hope that helps!

  2. sa April 22, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I want to buy the “ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition” as you recommended it.
    I kinda confused:
    I can find this book @ Amazon for $19.77 but @ ETS official website is $24.50 – but it says expanded version!
    Are these two same? or the one on the ETS website is the more recent one?
    Looking forward for your help and thank you for your time in advance!

    Sarm

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Hi SA,

      It seems that the phrase “expanded edition” refers to the fact that the 2nd edition has more material than the first edition. There is no difference between 2nd editions. So getting it off Amazon may be the way to go :)

  3. Teju March 31, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    Hello Chris, does it make my preparation complete if I supplement this book with the magoosh premium package?? I bought both, the ets official guide to the gre and also magoosh premium pack for gre.

    Many Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele April 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Hi Teju,

      Yes, it makes your preparation complete :).

      That’s part of the reason we created Magoosh: to give students a step-by-step approaching to doing their best on the GRE.

      The ETS, while an excellent bank of questions, doesn’t do the best job in teaching strategies and approaches to the test.

      With Magoosh and ETS, you’ll get well over a 1000 practice questions and the skill building videos/exercises to help you do your best test day.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Rashi March 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Hello,
    I recently took one of the practice tests available at the end of the ets official guide, second edition and was wondering how indicative are the scores of the practice test of the actual test.
    Is the practice test easier than the real test or the difficulty level is the same?
    Thanks!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele March 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

      Hi Rashi,

      Good question! Based on the percent of students answering questions correctly, I’m inclined to say that the tests at the back are a little easier than what you’ll see test day, esp. if you get the harder section for each test. So overall the test is great practice, but I’m not sure how accurate the scores are.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Mario November 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I realize this post is over a year old, but I had some questions regarding the PowerPrep II tests:

    I noticed that ETS recently made the software available to Mac users via their website (PowerPrep II version 2.1). Do you by chance know if the tests on this “updated” version are unique? Or are they the same as the 2.0 versions?

    Thanks!

    ~ M.

  6. Maqsood June 27, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    Hi Chris.. I just have a doubt.. Is ETS official guide enough to get a very good score in revised GRE or I should for MGRE also.. Thanx in advance.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 27, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      Maqsood,

      Most people will need more than just the ETS book, esp. those starting from a lower level or who do not speak English as a first language. In these cases, the MGRE series is very helpful.

      Hope that helps!

      • Gayathri October 9, 2013 at 7:11 am #

        Hi Chris,

        I just started with my GRE preparation and giving the test on 16th of December.
        Magoosh premium is of great help with the short duration of two months I have.First of all thank you so much.And I’m just planning the 90 day beginners plan and the materials mentioned there and nothing else.I have around 2 months. So I am planning to combine 2 days into 1 and try to finish the 90 day plan in 45 days. Would that be sufficient?

        And I have downloaded PDF version of the official guide 2nd Edition.It has two practice tests at the end of the PDF. And the online tests are free on the powerprep Software, right? Should i still buy a hardcopy of the 2nd Edition book? Please Clarify.

        Thank you once again.

        • Rachel
          Rachel October 9, 2013 at 11:36 am #

          Hi Gayathri! If you have the complete PDF version of the 2nd ed. Official Guide, you won’t be needing the hard copy as well. :) Best of luck with your studies!

          • Gayathri October 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

            Thank you Rachel :)

  7. Jorge August 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    I guess I’m a bit confused as to what my test options are.

    I have the 1st and 2nd edition of the ETS book but never cracked open either CDs. I did notice that the 1st written test in the 1st ETS book is the same as the 1st test in the 2nd ETS book.

    The way I can break it down in my head is as follows:

    1st ETS book:
    1 unique written test, 1 unique test on CD

    2nd ETS book:
    1 unique written test and 1 repeated written test, 2 unique tests on CD

    POWERPREP Software from website:
    2 unique tests

    Manhattan GRE:
    1 sorta free unique test

    Magoosh:
    Practice tests

    Am I repeating myself in any spots, are the tests on the powerprep CDs the same at any point in this chain? I’m looking to get a ~<700 and i'm in the 710-750 range and i'm continually looking for ways to make sure I stay there.

    Thanks for your clarification.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Jorge,

      Wow, good job on the break down :). One thing I would change is the POWERPREP software:

      One new test/One old test (same as last year’s PowerPrep 2.0)

      Also, Manhattan GRE has SIX free tests. So you get quite a lot there :).

  8. Pemdas@BTG August 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    Hi Chris, one more query -

    I made 0 mistakes in section 5 of Paper-based test (from prior edition, July 2011) and 3 mistakes in section 6. Two mistakes were in graphs: misread data and answered wrong question; one mistake with equation: solved but did not used my solution properly.

    So I believe under time constraints and stress of real exam I would make more mistakes in test like 5-6 in total if I were to take Pbt say. That brings my score down to 164-165 in math (according to ETS published scales and scores in the newer Pbt document). Do you think with this much prep and mistakes rate 3 out of 50 I am ready to tackle math part of GRE finally? I am looking into score of not less than 165, do you think that is manageable, what your experience tells you? Can I do that or sit nonplussed @ watching my quant score down 164-165 at the test end?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Good question, Pemdas. I’d say you are still very capable of getting a perfect score. It seems that your mistakes were a question of fatigue or carelessness, more then they were conceptual errors. Anticipating such mistakes, even within the stressful environment of test day, can help. I think you are ready :).

  9. Pemdas@BTG August 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi Chris, this may seem a bit off-topic but at least relevant to the prep materials to come from ETS. I am writing in regard of ETS paper-based test (the former test edition), the question No 19 in section 6 (Math). The question asks: “How many students are either juniors or males or both?”

    Should not the answer be and not as the question calls on inclusion of “both” i.e. Males&Juniors at the end and to discount them as uniset of two sets (Males, Juniors) would not be correct eventually? I can’t get the back-up behind the answer choice given in ETS hand-book :(

    • Pemdas@BTG August 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      ETS answer is C, mine is D

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

      Pemdas,

      I interpret this question as: How many are juniors (males plus females) and how many are males (not double counting those males who are also juniors). Is that similar to your interpretation? If not, which part do your interpret differently?

      • Pemdas@BTG August 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

        I also don’t double count males who are also juniors for condition: how many students are either juniors or males. But then it also asks: or both – so have to include males who juniors back?

        confused with this one ;(

        • jonah August 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

          Hey Pemdas,

          According to the info provided we have:

          Juniors = 182 males + 88 females

          Males = 860

          However, out of these 860 total males, 182 of them are also juniors. We don’t want to count the junior males twice, so we could only count the female juniors and we’ll just count the 182 junior males as part of the 860 total males. (We could also just add everything up and subtract 182 at the end and get the same answer.)

          So we get:

          Total number of either juniors, males or both = 88 + 860 = 948, answer choice C.

          Hope that helps!

  10. John August 4, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Hey! I am quite confused about the amount of real GRE tests out there. So, there are 2 pdfs (paper version), 2 available online on the ets webpage, and finally 2 more tests in paper version in this “Official Guide for GRE”. Are these tests the same with the pdfs or different? So, can someone access in total 6 different genuine GRE tests??

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      The pdfs and those available on-line are the same. The PowerPrep tests are also the same as the pdfs. In total this gives us two so far.

      The other two are found in the Official Guide. The tests in the Official Guide do not overlap with any of the above. Thus, the two Official Guide test gives us a total of ’4.’

      Hope that helps!

  11. David August 3, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I take it then that if one gets the second edition, there is no reason to get the first edition? Is this right? No extra questions, etc., in the first edition that aren’t in second?

    • james August 4, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      @ David, yeah there are extra treasures to be had by buying the 1st edition.

      • james August 4, 2012 at 8:09 am #

        no extra treasures***

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 6, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      Exactly :). No reason to get the first edition. The second edition is the first edition plus more.

      • David August 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

        Thanks, Chris.

        Just got my ETS v2 book today. I see there are also problem sets (chapters 4 and 6). Are these problems independent of the four tests?

        I would hope so, but don’t really trust it. I finally did my first ETS test a couple weeks ago (test #1 on PP2v2), and was surprised to find that I recognized one of the reading passages, even though I hadn’t installed PP until then. I don’t know where I had seen it, but I’m trying to prevent this from happening again, so that my practice test score won’t be biased by having previously seen the problems.

        Thanks,
        David

        • Chris Lele
          Chris August 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

          Hi David,

          Test #1 PP2V2 is the same test as PP2V1. Only Test #2 is unique. This probably explains why the passage looked familiar. The good news is that you have two practice tests at the end of the book, which will help you get a sense of your score :).

  12. Mohammed August 3, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    First of all thanks for your great and helpful site.

    I was in hurry to buy the second edition and when I get it I was really unhappy where I had the first edition already, I thought it would have more new questions then this. Anyhow my exam will be on 28th of this month and I am really confuse about the verbal part. My grad school here in Saudi Arabia is asking for 143 V, 156 Q , 4 AWA. I know it seems low for most of US schools but the Verbal part is killing me. Any suggestions in the verbal part especially because my math skills are just fine due to my engineering degree.

    • lawal August 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      @Mohammed…i totally acquiesce with you the verbal is really arduous especially the 3 blank TC’s which are highly involved and byzantine. I actually think ETS delibrately
      make the sentences abstruse. The SE’s and 1 and 2 blanks TC’s are pretty much
      lucid enough. My exam is on the 30th and am still trying get a full grip of the verbal.

      As chris has always said “break the sentence” i.e paraphrase and pick out the clue words/ phrase and match up with answer choices. Am still working on this strategy..I hope it eventually pays up on test day.

      • Chris Lele
        Chris August 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

        Thanks for sharing :).

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi Mohammed,

      The Verbal section is very difficult. I’d recommend going through our two ebooks to pick up helpful tips and approaches to this section. Let me know if that helps!

      http://magoosh.com/gre/gre-ebook/
      http://magoosh.com/gre/2012/gre-vocabulary-ebook/


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