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GRE Material Checklist

This GRE material checklist is for you if you’re just starting out with your prep– these are the essentials you must have!


The Official Guide and PowerPrep Tests

The Official Guide 2nd edition is a book filled with helpful practice questions written by the publishers themselves. The PowerPrep tests are full-length tests that come in a CD along with a book (there are two PowerPrep tests on the CD). The book also contains two full-length tests at the back of the book.

Nothing can prepare you for the GRE better than practice questions from the creators of the test.



It is easy to get complacent while doing practice problems. So make sure to use a stopwatch or a timer. That said, when you are first starting to prep you need to take it slowly. But once you’ve got the hang of things, it is ready, set, stopwatch!

Magoosh happens to have one built in ;).



This is the only abstract item on the list—but that does not diminish its importance. Doing well on the GRE is very much like doing well in sports. He/she who trains hardest does well.

I might add that there is smart training, and not so smart training. For instance, mindlessly going through a 1,000 practice problems or spending hours each day trying to fathom a math problem (and its explanation) that is far beyond your ability is probably not the smartest way to train for the GRE.


Study Plan

Want to make the best use of your time? Want to make sure you are only prepping with the best materials out there? Want to find the schedule that best adapts to your time constraints? Study plans to fit your schedule (1 week to 6 months!) here.


Test Date

Choosing a test day may sound very obvious; thus it is the one, to many people’s chagrin, that really bites them. Simply put: the testing center is not rolling out the carpet for your big day. The only way you can get in is by securing an appointment via the site. If you do not sign up in time, you will not get the appointment window that works best for you (nobody likes waking up at 6 in the morning for the 8 A.M. test).

Worse yet, there may be no appointments available before your deadline. So make sure you signup as soon as possible.


Any other crucial checklist items you’d recommend for other test-takers? Leave us a comment! 🙂

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.

7 Responses to GRE Material Checklist

  1. Swetha October 1, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Is I agoosh gre useful for first time test takers

  2. Heba October 30, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    Hi how can i find answer explanation of the separate paper test of ets? I found youtube explanations for the practice in ets book and the exam at the end of book but not the paper exam which present in separate file

  3. Heba October 12, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    Hi chris, thnak you for the checklist. Do you guys have an expalntion for the questions appear on the powerprep test here on magoosh?

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette October 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Hi, Heba! 🙂

      Because of the way Powerprep tests are produced, it would be very tough for us associate the questions with individual explanations accurately– what may have been question #14 for you may have been question #2 for someone else.

      However, we do happen to have video explanations for the paper-based PDF test instead, which has a significant amount of overlap with Powerprep questions (and includes the answers to all of the questions at the end!). Because it’s a static document, it’s much easier for students to find the explanations to the questions they’re looking for. We have links to video explanations for both Powerprep II Test 1 (a close match to the 1st edition of the PDF) and Powerprep II Test 2 (a close match to the 2nd edition of the PDF) here:

      Does that help? Let me know! 🙂


  4. Beans October 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Would you say that the ETS paper-based practice test is a good indicator of preparation level? Or is it somewhat inconclusive, since it is not adaptive and weights all correct answers equally? Thanks!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Hi Beans,

      I would say the ETS paper-based test is an excellent indicator. Sure, it doesn’t quite have that section adaptation thing going on, but remember: people who cannot take the computer-based test (there are no testing centers in their area) have to take a paper-based test. Therefore ETS has to make sure that the paper-based test is as similar/standardized as the computer-based test.

      Hope that helps!

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