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McGraw-Hill’s Conquering the New GRE Math: Book Review

Not all is bad in the land of McGraw. For those who struggle with many of the concepts in Barron’s, Kaplan’s and Princeton Review, or simply want more practice with math fundamentals that both publishers gloss over, McGraw-Hill’s Conquering the GRE Math is an invaluable resource.

      Update November 2016: Since the writing of this review, McGraw-Hill has released new editions of its Conquering GRE Math prep book. The latest version is the 3rd edition, which you can find here. However, the 3rd edition is not much different from the 1st edition, so we largely stand by this review. Please let us know in the comments if you feel differently!

As a tutor, I see myself recommending this not only to students who haven’t seen math in ages, but, also, to those students who have certain specific concepts they need more practice on. So, if converting 0.125 into a fraction is tantamount to scaling Everest, then the hundreds of practice problems in this book will definitely help.

It is important to note that the questions in this book are not GRE math questions. They are questions that will help you better understand the basics out of which GRE math questions are constructed. Of course, the latter can seem bewildering without a strong grasp of the basics.

If I have to fault the book in one way, the layout is not that user-friendly. On some pages, one problem after another is dumped on the user. So, for someone who is already intimidated by math, the chaos of digits and mathematical notation will seem unnecessarily daunting (this is especially true on the explanations section).

But, as long as you know this going in, and are disciplined to work through this book, McGraw-Hill will help you understand concepts that may have stymied you all your life.

However, do not think that mastery of the concepts here will automatically transfer to the GRE. And, in that sense, the title is misleading: with only The McGraw-Hill Math you’ll be conquering very little of the actual GRE. For, once you’ve finished with McGraw-Hill, you’ll still have to learn the idiosyncrasies of the GRE quantitative landscape. But, with McGraw-Hill’s math, that process will no longer seem impossible.

As a math basics refresher, its grade would be an A-.  


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

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17 Responses to McGraw-Hill’s Conquering the New GRE Math: Book Review

  1. Alice October 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

    Can someone explain the difference between this one and the McGraw-Hill Education Conquering GRE Math, Third Edition (copyright 2017, 2011)? Why would I not buy the newer one?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 16, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

      Hi Alice,

      Great question! We don’t have an official review for the 3rd edition yet–we’re a small team with a lot of projects, and it takes time to write a thorough book review! We will update this blog post as soon as we can 🙂

      This review is based on an earlier edition of the book, but there is usually very little variation between the different editions of test prep books unless there is a major change in the exam itself. As long as the book was published after 2011 (when the GRE underwent a major change), it doesn’t matter which edition you choose. You can go for the newest one, or save some money on an older edition 🙂

  2. Nirmal May 1, 2017 at 2:27 am #

    Hello I am Nirmal
    I am a microbiology student …which book is best for me to learn maths for GRE preparation .
    I am totally Biology background student, math is hard for me ..give me any good book name ..

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 1, 2017 at 3:17 am #

      Hi Nirmal,

      Excellent question! First, I’d recommend checking out Magoosh’s GRE Prep book. We cover all of the need-to-know math concepts and provide practice problems on these topics similar to what you’ll see on test day. In addition to Magoosh, the free math instructional videos from Khan Academy are a great resource to help you solidify your knowledge of the math concepts tested on the GRE. You can find these lesson videos organized by GRE subject on the ETS GRE website 🙂 You’ll also find a link to download the GRE Math Review from ETS, which also goes over these topics.

      I hope this helps!

  3. Mike January 26, 2017 at 1:30 am #

    Hi Chris! Any thoughts on MH’s “500 Questions To Know By Test Day: Math For The GRE Test”?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 26, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Mike,

      I’m afraid that I am not familiar enough with that book to provide a strong recommendation. We try to write reviews for the most popular and prevalent test prep books, but we are a small team and unfortunately we aren’t able to provide reviews for all of the test prep books available! I’m sorry about this! If you want a good source of math questions, I would recommend the Manhattan 5 Lb Book of Practice Questions. We can vouch for the quality of those questions 🙂

  4. Dora November 23, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    I am looking at the 6 month study plan on your website for those who aren’t as strong in math ( I tried to comment on that blog but comments were closed so hopefully you will answer my question). In this plan, the McGraw-Hill’s Conquering the New GRE Math is a suggested study source; however, if this textbook’s content doesn’t closely mirror that of the GRE do you think it would confuse me, someone who doesn’t excel in math, as I move on to study materials that do replicate more closely GRE content like Magoosh, ETS, Manhattan GRE? In other words, will there be any contradictions that could confuse me in terms of the way McGraw-Hill presents their material to the way other sources like ETS or Manhattan, for instance, explain/solve their problems? So, should I stick to the bulk of my prep materials such as ETS, Magoosh, Manhattan, and then supplement McGraw- Hill’s if I come across a topic/section I need more practice on? Or on the other hand, would it be more helpful for me if I went through McGraw –Hill’s (as well as Barron’s New Gre and GMAC Official Guide to the GMAT as suggested by the 6 month plan) to practice/ refresh first and then begin to study Magoosh, ETS, Manhattan etc. ? I just wanted to make sure what materials would be the most beneficial before I purchased them and of those materials what I should study first. Also, I have previously taken the GMAT but wasn’t able to reach the score I needed so could I use this book to help practice for math and verbal? Lastly, I am interested in signing up for Magoosh I wasn’t sure if it cost or how long the prep is could you please email me about this in further detail. Thanks! 🙂 

  5. Kat September 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I have access to Magoosh and bought the McGraw-Hill book. I get to do well on 95% of the book but my scores on Magoosh practice questions and quizzes are shameful, not to mention I take 3-6 minutes per question! I used to do well in Algebra and Geometry when I took the classes but with Magoosh I’m starting to think that I can’t get math through my brain again.

    My question is: after going through the McGraw-Hill Math book and before going to Magoosh questions, what book or source would you recommend to learn strategies and learn to crack questions to be able to apply learned concepts?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      Hi Kat,

      McGraw Hill’s book–even though it has some endorsement from ETS (I guess they are the same publisher) is not very good at all. The content is much easier than what you’ll find on the actual test. At Magoosh some of the questions are even harder than the actual test (which accounts for the time it took you).

      For books, I’d definitely recommend Manhattan GRE. Great tips and great practice tests (which you get access to for free if you buy one of their books).

      Hope that helps!

      • Kat September 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

        Yes! Thanks!

      • Califia July 10, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

        I’m confused now–Should I buy the McGraw Hill book or not (for the 90 day math-focused review)? The post says to buy it but Chris’s comment says not to…

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 13, 2016 at 6:24 am #

          Hi Califia,

          Sorry for the confusion! I can see how Chris’s comment seems to contradict our recommendation on the 90-Day Math-Focused Schedule. In his comment, Chris is referring more specifically to GRE review rather than review of fundamental math concepts. We recommend the McGraw-Hill Math book to students who want an in-depth review of math basics. The McGraw-Hill Math book should not be your only source of review for the GRE, because, as Chris mentions, you will not see higher difficulty level questions like ones that you may encounter on the GRE itself. Review using the McGraw-Hill book is incorporated as optional review throughout the 90-Day Math-Focused Schedule. Following the schedule, you would be using the book to study for extra support on fundamental math concepts, which will help build your math foundations as you prepare to take on more challenging math practice questions and concepts.

          So, if you do struggle with math fundamentals and want extra support, in addition to the Magoosh lessons, the McGraw-Hill book is a good option 🙂

          I hope this clears up the confusion, Califia! 😀

  6. Chris May 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Do you think it would be better to practice (along with Magoosh Videos) my math with the Manhattan GRE or Kaplan book?



  7. Chris Lele
    Chris February 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    If you need practice with very basic concepts (simplifying square roots, exponents rules), McGraw is a great place to practice. Though it’s not too user friendly – each page is a flurry of math problems that can be extremely intimidating and off-putting to uninitiated.

    Magoosh Lesson videos of course go over all of these things too. To get enough practice I would recommend pausing the lesson videos, doing the problem, and then watching the explanation. For instance, if Brent (our math guy) is about to show you how to factor sqrt32, after he showed you the principle, pause the video and give it a try.

    Hope that helps!

  8. cricket973 February 28, 2012 at 4:12 am #

    Hi Chris-

    If math is in need of serious help, is the McGraw book better than the Magoosh videos?

    Thank you,

  9. Dyslexia December 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Normally I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice post.

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