Well 2013 is here and it’s time to assess your best book options for GRE study materials. While admittedly not all of these books are from this year (some are far from it), the list offers the best books on the market to keep you from sorting through the nimiety of bad GRE books.
1. Free GRE eBooks
Okay, they are not really books since unless you print them, you can’t physically hold them and flip through the pages (though an iPad can add a high degree of verisimilitude to the experience). Tangible or not, the eBooks are free and they provide a wealth of helpful strategies. They’re a great way to start your GRE journey, before deciding on which book to purchase. Here they are: Magoosh GRE eBooks
2. ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 2nd edition
This is the holy grail of prep. If you can only buy one book, this is it. The tone of the voice may not be as friendly as almost any other book on the market. But if you can bear the dry content, you are getting by far the best practice since ETS writes the questions for the test.
Throw in two GRE computer-based tests, which are in a CD that accompanies the book, and the best GRE book on the market gets even better. Here’s the full review: ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition Book Review
3. Barron’s Six Practice Tests
This book is not perfect. But in terms of sheer content, it is better than the Barron’s general GRE guide. Check out the review here.
4. Practicing to Take the GRE, 10th edition
Sure, this is a version of the old GRE, and the old, old GRE at that (the tests were taken from 1991, a year some of you had yet to enter the world). Yes, the math is much easier. Still, these are questions created by the writers of test, so the traps are classical GRE. I wouldn’t use this as a foundation for my GRE test prep, but check out the review to see if it’s a good fit for your studies: Practicing to Take the GRE, 10th Edition Book Review
The Reading Comprehension passages are still tough and make for good practice. And while they’ve cut the Antonym and Analogy sections, the antonym questions still make for good practice (the analogies contain many ridiculous words, such as names of tools and sewing implements).
5. The Manhattan GRE Series (MGRE) – Books One through Eight
Ths series contains eight (mostly excellent) books written by those with years of tutoring experience. This fact really shines through in the authorial voice this series uses. You feel as though there is a highly intelligent, but fun, laid back tutor walking you through the material.
The six free online tests you get by simply buying any one of the eight books makes MGRE a no-brainer if you want expert guidance and great practice. I’ve got a full review here: Manhattan GRE Series
(Somewhat) Honorable mention:
The Princeton Review, Cracking the New GRE
This book is generally substandard, and if after reading my review (see below), you are surprised I’m pairing it with this top five list, then I owe a quick explanation: the inclusion of the The Princeton Review book speaks to the generally low quality of GRE prep books out there. Nonetheless, I still somewhat like this book for its helpful big-picture strategies. These strategies are mostly absent from the Official Guide (though I share similar strategies in the eBook and on the blog).
That said, two major caveats: Do not use this book if you are looking for a high score. The strategies are very generic; they apply to most standardized tests, and they won’t help you understand the nuances or advanced concepts in the GRE. Secondly, do not do the questions, unless you are scoring way below 50% and are just starting off on the GRE. From this book glean some helpful strategies that you can use on actual test questions. Otherwise, this book is not of much use.
Since this book remains almost exactly the same from year to year, here’s the review of last year’s version: Princeton Review: Cracking the New GRE 2012 Book Review
So what books are you buying in preparation for the GRE? Let us know below.