While here at Magoosh, I’ve reviewed the all best GRE prep books over the years. Today, I’m happy to announce that I’ve made some updates to our Best GRE Books List! While not all of these books are from this year (some are far from it), the list offers my honest GRE book reviews and recommendations for the best GRE book options on the market. My goal is to keep you from sorting through the nimiety (excess … good GRE word) of bad GRE books out there.
Best GRE Books 2016
It’s 2016 and, to be honest, not a lot has changed in the GRE prep book landscape in the last few years. This is good news for you — you can head to Amazon and buy inexpensive (new or used) versions of many of the books below and know that you’re not sacrificing quality for price.
In this post, I list the best GRE prep books on the market and explain the positives and negatives of each. If you’re just interested in reading about one or two, use the links in the Table of Contents to jump to that section of the post.
Best GRE Prep Books
Without any further ado, I present you with the list of the top 7 best GRE prep books (in order) and three books deserving of an honorable mention (in no particular order).
|1||Magoosh's Free GRE eBooks||Magoosh|
|2||The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 2nd Edition||ETS|
|3||Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions & Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions||ETS|
|4||6 GRE Practice Tests||Barron's|
|5||Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, 10th Edition||ETS|
|6||The Manhattan GRE Series (Books 1-8)||Manhattan|
|7||GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics (Books 1 & 2)||Vibrant Publishers|
|*HM||Cracking the GRE, 2017 Edition||The Princeton Review|
|*HM||New GRE Premier 2011-2012 Book Review||Kaplan|
|*HM||New GRE with 8 Practice Tests||McGraw Hill|
Now that I’ve revealed my top picks, I’ll give you my honest reviews and tell you why each of these 10 books made the list. I’ll give you the pros and cons of each text, and suggest who might want to consider purchasing each book (and who can skip it).
A couple of notes before we continue:
1. Under each review, I’ve included links to Amazon.com and the publisher’s online store for each book listed (so you can do a bit of comparison shopping when the time is right). Please note that the prices listed are subject to change. The particular prices given here are in US dollars and reflect the price of a new edition in September 2016. You can almost always buy a used version at a discount.
2. Some of the books listed here are not the newest editions. Most publishers change very little content from one edition to the other. If I can save you money by recommending an old edition of a great book, then I’m going to do that!
Table of Contents
Best GRE Books | Magoosh GRE Book Reviews
- Magoosh’s Free GRE eBooks
- ETS’s The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 2nd Edition
- ETS’s Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions & Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
- Barron’s 6 GRE Practice Tests
- ETS’s Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, 10th Edition
- The Manhattan GRE Series (MGRE)
- Vibrant’s GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Essay Topics
Honorable Mentions | GRE Book Reviews
- The Princeton Review’s Cracking the GRE, 2016 Edition
- Kaplan’s New GRE Premier 2011-2012
- McGraw Hill’s New GRE with 8 Practice Tests
Time for the good stuff!
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. Along with the rest of Magoosh’s free GRE resources, they are a great way to start your GRE journey, before deciding on which book to purchase. Here they are: Magoosh GRE eBooks
2. ETS’s The 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 Magoosh book review: ETS Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition Book Review
3. ETS’s Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions & Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
Verbal Reasoning Book
Quantitative Reasoning Book
This one’s a twofer. ETS published these two new books in 2014, and boy are we glad they did. The Verbal book contains tons of new questions, written by the makers of the GRE. The strategies are nothing new (you can learn all of those from this blog), but this book is a must-buy, if only for the quality of its practice questions. The Quantitative Reasoning book, on the other hand, contains both helpful practice problems and useful new strategies. A word of warning: these new math problems are really challenging. They’ll definitely require some extra attention, and will help you up your quant game.
4. Barron’s 6 GRE 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.
5. Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, 10th Edition
ETS Site – Couldn’t find it on ETS.org
Amazon – New: $4.49
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).
6. The Manhattan GRE Series (MGRE) – Books One Through Eight
*Pricing depends on how many of the books you opt to purchase.
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
7. Vibrant’s GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics Books
These books from Vibrant Publishing — GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics and GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Essay Topics – Book 2 — are a welcome addition to the GRE literature scene. Not because they’re perfect, but because they contain GRE sample essays … something few books have. They’ll help you craft a decent response to a range of GRE essay topics. Not required reading, but definitely helpful if you want to improve your essay score.
GRE Book Honorable Mention
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.
The Princeton Review, Cracking the GRE, 2017 Edition
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 an older version: Princeton Review: Cracking the New GRE 2012 Book Review
Kaplan New GRE Premier 2011-2012 Book Review
Kaplan Site – This edition no longer sold
Amazon – New: $4.97
The 2014 Kaplan book is no different from the previous two years. Test prep strategies that are very high-level and not that innovative, followed by subpar questions. That is, these questions aren’t like what you’ll see test day in terms of difficulty or style. It’s better to not waste one’s time with this book.
McGraw Hill’s New GRE with 8 Practice Tests
McGraw Hill Site – This edition no longer sold
Amazon – New: $3.99
The GRE Official Guide happens to be published by McGraw Hill. But don’t think this book is in anyway related to the actual GRE. The questions are shoddily constructed.
1) This post was originally published in February 2013 and has annually been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
2) We’ve decided to temporarily close comments for this blog post so that we can focus our time on providing support and service to the paying customers of our Magoosh GRE product – responding to every comment is very time consuming 🙂
Also, between the blog post and the answers to the comments below, we hope that you’ll find an answer to your question, as most questions and answers fall into only a few categories. I promise that we will open the comments back up as soon as we discover better GRE books! 🙂 Thanks for understanding.