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Book Review: Manhattan GRE Sentence Equivalence and Text Completions Guide, 4th Edition

I’ve long groused about MGRE’s Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Guide. Some words are far too obscure to show up on the current GRE, and many of the practice sentences are far too difficult to help those just starting out. In this recent edition MGRE has edited some sentences and removed a few difficult words (yay, no more myrmidons!). I commend them, given that every other GRE test prep book will remain unchanged — typos and all — until the polar ice caps completely melt, or the GRE changes.

Yet, in this edition MGRE does not go as far as they should. There still are obscure words — lucubrate (which is sprinkled throughout the book) and obtundity come to mind. Also tough vocabulary (though not necessarily obscure words) seems to attend every question as though the only thing the GRE tests is difficult vocabulary and not one’s ability to pick up on the general context of a sentence or paragraph, and pick amongst relatively easy words.

Most significantly, MGRE doesn’t replace questions with improved ones–questions that better reflect ETS Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence. Instead, MGRE gives us the same questions, albeit with more GRE-like language and less debatable distractors. (I spotted only one question that had been completely changed). Finally, the difficulty level of the questions and the problem sets is still far too difficult for even those at an intermediate level. The helpful strategies MGRE tries to instill would have been much better served by questions that are toned down in language and tough vocab. Likewise, an easy and medium problem set with questions that are actually easy and medium– so students can build up their skills — would have greatly improved this book.

That said, the sentences in this book will be good practice for those who are already high verbal scorers and want to improve their vocabulary, while tackling tough sentences. And for any who want to get a better feel of some of the academic language on the test, they could do far worse than trying to wrap their heads around the twisted syntax and orotund style found in many of the practice questions.

I should mention that there are some excellent questions in the mix, ones which are reflective of the GRE and will prepare you for the nuance found on the actual test. But there are also many so-so questions, a few of which are plagued by a surfeit of overly difficult words, instead of relatively familiar words in which the test-taker must pick up on a subtle distinction in meaning.

So if you are looking for a step-by-step process to become more adept at Text Completions and Sentence Completions with questions (and answer choices!) that are indicative of the real test, MGRE is not the best place to go. If you are already strong at verbal and want some extra practice–and won’t freak out over some of ridiculously difficult words–than you’ll get some mileage out of the MGRE book.

 

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+!

8 Responses to Book Review: Manhattan GRE Sentence Equivalence and Text Completions Guide, 4th Edition

  1. Pranav July 21, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I’m planning to buy one of Manhattan’s books so that I can access the tests. However the 4th edition is not available in my country and will take 10 days to reach. The 3rd edition is available right away. Can you tell the difference between the 3rd and 4th edition with respect to the tests? I cannot wait for the book as I have my gre in one month. Thanks in advance.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 21, 2014 at 11:29 am #

      Hi Pranav,

      The tests–meaning the 6 online tests–are exactly the same. So it doesn’t really matter which book you order.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Andrew Winthrop June 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Chris,

    I recently purchased this book and find it just ok. What TC/SE book would you recommend?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Hi Andrew,

      There really isn’t too much out there in terms of decent TC/SE prep. Barron’s might be somewhat helpful. You definitely want to get your hands on the ETS book. It has official questions on it. So even if it is short on strategy, you’ll get great practice.

      Hope that helps :)

  3. Pracheta Sahoo June 23, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Hii Chris,
    Is this book comes with 6 online practice tests? I mean if I purchase only this book,should I get the access to 6 online practice tests?

    please reply

    regards,
    Pracheta

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 24, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      Yes, Pracheta–buy just one book (including this one) and you’ll get access to the MGRE tests.

      Hope that helps :)

  4. Julio Miranda June 20, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Hi Chris

    Is there any significant change between the MGRE 3rd Ed and 4th Ed? Please get back to me.

    Thank you.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 20, 2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hi Julio,

      There are some changes mostly in TC/SE book. While the changes are for the better, they are not all that significant. If you have a choice, def. get the 4th edition. But if you have a 3rd edition lying around, that should be fine, too :)


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