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Nova’s GRE Prep Course Book Review

Update: NOVA now does have a test prep book for the New GRE. But we’ve kept this review in place for those using the old NOVA book.

Let me start out by explicitly stating: NOVA’s does not have a test prep book for the New GRE. Its only offering is for the old GRE. Yet many have asked whether they should use the old NOVA book. This is actually not an absurd question, for as I’ll show in this review a few can still get some use out of NOVA’s. But ultimately the NOVA’s GRE prep is of limited utility because it covers a test that no longer exists.


The Good

NOVA provides many questions (hundreds, literally) for practice on math. Some of these questions are on the difficult side, so they make for good practice for those looking to score in the more competitive range. And that’s it: the high math scorers are the only ones who will really benefit from this book.


The Bad

Let’s just focus on the math for a moment. A second ago I said I liked that NOVA because it provides many practice problems for math. While that is true, I am not a big fan of their strategies. Basically, it, meaning NOVA, doesn’t really offer any strategies. It offers problem sets followed by an explanation section.

For those who are adept at math and looking for extra practice, the absence of strategies and approaches shouldn’t really matter. For those looking for a math primer this omission can be downright jarring. Thus, math tyros steer clear of Nova.

Then there is the question of the old format. No numeric entry or multiple answer questions. Again, not a surprise when this book was designed for a test that no longer exists.

Anyhow, that’s the math. The verbal…well, even for the old GRE I wouldn’t have recommended NOVA. The sentence completions (the old school text completions) feel pared down compared to those written by ETS.

The vocab list is a little ridiculous. 4000 words often vaguely and/or poorly defined. A few words are misspelt. Really speaking this alphabetical list of 4000 words lumped together qualifies best as a punishment for those who’ve been condemned to vocab purgatory. To make matters worse many words would only come up in analogy questions, so if you use this list you would essentially be wasting your time.

Anyhow, to learn GRE vocab effectively, you must combine the following:  context learning (reading), randomization (flashcards), creativity (word usage) and word identification (doing questions). Following NOVA’s list would be as un-fun as it would be ineffective.

The Reading Comprehension, while better than the offerings of other publishers, still gets a meh. Anyhow, the questions and passages are based on the old format.


The Ugly

Antonyms and analogies are no longer on the new GRE. For fun, you can go through them as vocab builders. However, you do not have to learn the strategy behind them.

Thus unsuspecting buyers will busy themselves for hours on end doing analogy and antonym questions. They will never see a single text completion or a numeric entry question. They will spend an inordinate amount of time hunched over 4,000 words, many which are poorly defined, and many others that simply wouldn’t come up on the Revised GRE. And that’s just ugly.

Grade: B (Math) / F (Verbal)

This is the tenth in a series of new GRE book reviews.

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.

25 Responses to Nova’s GRE Prep Course Book Review

  1. MelloDredd May 25, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    @chris, You have edited the review and said that NOVA now has a book for revised GRE. I google it and only book i found is 2008 edition. Can you tell me where can i find the revised gre Nova math book. Most importantly do you have any review on the new book?. I badly need one.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 26, 2016 at 7:16 am #

      Hi there 🙂

      You can find Nova’s general prep coursebook and math prep coursebook for the Revised GRE on the company’s website. There is a printed version, as well as an eBook version 🙂 Unfortunately, we don’t currently have a review on the new book but it’s definitely a book we’d like to review in the future. That said, overall, students and instructors seem to be satisfied with the types and difficulty level of the questions provided.

      I hope this helps, at least a little 🙂

  2. Akshay Barve October 28, 2015 at 2:00 am #

    I gave my GRE today, I scored 149 in verbal and 161 in maths.T be honest I expected above 165 in maths unfortunately I was not successful. Could you please suggest me good material that I can go through to help improve my math score. I am planning to give GRE again after a month or so.
    Thanks in Advance !

    • Dani Lichliter
      Dani Lichliter October 29, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Hi Akshay,
      Thanks for writing in! We have lots of study schedules to help you get on track. Here’s a one-month GRE study schedule. I hope it’s helpful!
      Best of luck!

  3. Sanket Saxen August 18, 2015 at 4:05 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I recently appeared in GRE and score 157 in Quant. The issue with me is that I lack in speed because of less time bound practices leading to silly mistakes under time pressure. I understand most of the quant concepts and short tricks also.The reason I have figured out for my low performance is that I take time in analysing question and preparing easily solvable equations out of it.

    I am planning to retake GRE in 2 months. I want to practice as many good quality questions (equivalent to GRE standard) as I can.

    Do you believe that if I practice a lot I will overcome the drawback of time taken in analysing the question?

    Would you recommend Manhattan 5lb to practice quant to improve my score from 157?

    I am targeting 170 so is there any other book that you believe is better than M5lb that I should use instead to reach my target?


  4. Nikhil October 21, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve practiced for the GRE Quant Section from Manhattan’s 5lb. Book of Problems and Magoosh. Just a few days ago I started practicing from Nova’s Math Bible. Although I find the questions quite difficult, I somehow feel that these questions are not that representative of the actual GRE questions (having already taken the GRE once). Do you feel the same? And is there any other book that you’d suggest for extra quant practice?

    Thank you

  5. shreyas August 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    hey chris,

    Just to make sure, this book is not applicable for the New gre format. The math questions seem different to those on practice tests.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 22, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      Yes, this book lacks the latest format of the new questions. It might be decent practice anyhow, but I’d recommend Manhattan’s 5 lb. book over this one any day.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  6. barbie June 6, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    where can i get a good practice in doing numeric type questions and word problems….
    can u plz suggest any sites….

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Magoosh offers about 500 math questions to practice from. Plenty of word problems. We even offer lesson videos to help you understand the fundamentals. You can learn more here:

      Hope that helps 🙂

  7. barbie June 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm #


    i am gng to take gre dis month…i practiced nova math book for problem solving and quantitative comprasions ..Is it good to take gre after practcng with nova quant book, and
    i used barrons for verbal and code coax for rc passages….will this be usefu for taking gre exam….

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      I think your sources should be fine (but remember Nova has not updated for the Revised GRE).

      As for code coax, I think that is illegal – not for you to use, but for the person to upload the content. The content though comes from official guides so it should be good :).

  8. tapu May 29, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    I’m gng to take gre in da nxt month….i am strugling with math section…can u plz tell which is the best book for preparing gre math


    • Chris Lele
      Chris May 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Hi Tapu,

      The Manhattan GRE and Magoosh combo (MGRE is book-based; Magoosh computer-bsaed) is definitely the best way to go for quant.

      Hope that helps!

      • tapu June 1, 2012 at 10:20 am #

        Thnk u chris..

        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

          You are welcome :).

  9. Carly March 8, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks for the quick response Chris. =)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      You’re welcome 🙂

  10. Carly March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Talk about perfect timing! I just found Nova’s Gre Math Prep book online today. I was looking for additional math practice problems to supplement the lessons and questions on Magoosh. Is there a book you do recommend?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

      Hi Carly,

      I do recommend NOVA – if you already have learned the fundamentals elsewhere and just want a question bank. If that’s not you… I would recommend the MGRE series. You get 6 free on-line tests on top of the books.

      If you want to go pure on-line, then Magoosh is the way to go. We have 472 questions, ranging from pretty easy to more difficult than those found on the actual test. You also get a review of all the fundamentals/helpful tips.

      Good luck with your prepping, and hope the above helped :).

  11. Eyad March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    thanks i was waiting for this review

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Great! I’m happy it was helpful 🙂

      • Prathamesh June 23, 2012 at 12:23 am #

        m plannig to take GRE november.
        m worried about the verbal sectn..
        can u suggest some good books for the new GRE?

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