This book isn’t exactly of the new crop of 2013 books, but I was excited to pick up Barron’s Verbal Workbook for the GRE. After all, Barron’s has done a decent job in its New GRE guide. The questions, while not on par with those of the Official Material, at least provided an introduction to new question formats, such as Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence.
Is Barron’s GRE Verbal Workbook good?
The Verbal Workbook does not live up to even my middling expectations. Not even close. Indeed I would not recommend this book even for extra practice, because so many of the questions are ambiguous, poorly worded, and inaccurate. I imagine students becoming frustrated and, worse yet, thinking they just don’t have what it takes to do well on the GRE. Any book that can ruin one self esteem and confidence because of shoddily constructed questions and multiple possible answers should be avoided at all costs.
For instance, questions presuppose knowledge. Did you know the earth has an elliptical orbit, and such eccentricity leads to a nongaseous state? Well, the writer assumes this fact is common knowledge (and that ETS would test the usage of ‘eccentricity’ in this sense).
I could have an entire blog post—and a very long one at that—that list all such questions. If you are new to the GRE, and do not know that the GRE doesn’t presuppose outside knowledge, you might think you ended up missing something. Worse yet, you might become discouraged, thinking that doing well on the GRE requires you to brush up on esoteric topics such as quantum physics. You wouldn’t be alone, though. There are simply insufficient context clues on TC/SE.
The final opinion on the book
I could dissect any number of questions to show how they are lacking and ambiguous. Instead, I’ll just keep it short: avoid this book as a verbal practice book for the GRE.