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New ETS PowerPrep II, Version 2.0 and New Paper-Based Practice Test Released

Update 9/28/12: 

After a year of no new fresh questions, an entire test paper-based test and a new version of Powerprep II have appeared on the ETS website. For those starving for practice content that is great news. For those who’ve just embarked on their GRE journey, this point may seem trivial. However, in the long run, the new material adds even more questions to the pool – trust me, after months of studying you will have exhausted much of the high quality content out there.

  • The new Paper-based Practice Test PDF is entirely new (there’s a link to the old one, for comparison’s sake, on this page).
  • The new version of Powerprep has two tests. Test #1 is a repeat of Powerprep II, version 1.0, but Test #2 is all new!
  • As was true of the relationship between the old PDF and the old Poweprep test, there is some overlap between Test #2 and the new PDF.
  • Also, keep in mind a new edition of the ETS Official Guide is coming out in August as well– we’ll be doing a book review as soon as it’s released, to let you know just how much of it is new and whether it’s worth buying, especially if already own the first edition!

This batch of questions is also notable because it provides us with the first glimpse of recent ETS questions. Of course that does not mean test day the questions will be similar; nonetheless, there are some subtle differences between the questions from last year, differences I believe to be informative (they will definitely inform future questions that I write for Magoosh).


Text Completions

Good news: The vocab is easier. More good news: the syntax does not seem any more twisted then before. The bad news: in some cases the questions are very subtle and finding keywords or clue words is not as easy. My ability to quickly scan for the answer on the more difficult questions was thwarted and I had to spend time really reading every word, trying to piece together the overall meaning. In this sense, some Text Completions felt a lot like puzzles.


Sentence Equivalence

Not too much difference here… though I did notice that there were more questions in which pairs of synonyms were used. I remember when I took the test – I could just look for the pair of synonyms and there would be the answer. The old on-line test also had fewer synonym pairs. Meaning you can’t just scan the answer choices and look for the pair of synonym words.


Reading Comprehension

In Reading Comprehension the questions and passages seemed business as usual, except for one major thing. The number of Critical Reasoning questions plummeted drastically. One verbal section only had one critical reasoning question. This is down from the three from the old paper-based test. As to whether this reflects the format of the CAT, I’d be curious to know.



The Quant section was pretty straightforward. No real surprises here: know your basics number properties, basic statistics, and how to approach word problems. Perhaps the only real surprise here was the ease of the questions compared to the last paper-based test/Powerprep test as well as much of the prep material out there. For example, just for fun I took a few Manhattan GRE online tests a couple weeks back (yes, I know one could be envious, wow that’s your job!, or simply find my glee a tad dorky). The questions on the Manhattan GRE were more difficult than the questions in this new batch of material. And Magoosh’s questions can be even more difficult.

Part of me is tempted to believe that the GRE quantitative section really isn’t about convoluted math questions and frightening factorials; it is more about testing your ability to work quickly and accurately in a high-pressure situation.

The more wary part of me, however, does not reach the same conclusion. Could the latest paper-based test be a Trojan Horse, one that ETS has wheeled into our walled garden of prep, lulling us into thinking, hey, this isn’t so bad? Probably. Thus, I would still err on the side of studying difficult questions. Even the Text Completions and reading passages will probably be trickier and longer.


Final Thoughts

So while all of this new material makes for great practice, do not be lulled into complacency by thinking that the score you receive after either test is the same you will receive test day.

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36 Responses to New ETS PowerPrep II, Version 2.0 and New Paper-Based Practice Test Released

  1. Anurag August 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    My Exam is on Sep 10, 2012. I have been preparing for it (however, in accordance with the preparatory material released last year) from the last 3-4 months. Have the changes you stated above taken effect in the exam or ETS would be incorporating it from a certain date?

    Please revert asap.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Hi Anurag,

      The test has not changed since Aug. 2011. The only changes are in the practice material: there is more :). So everything above applies to the test you will take on the 10th.

      Hope that helps!

  2. John A August 7, 2012 at 2:22 am #


    Does that mean the new PP2 and old one combined give three practice tests?

    If so, where can we find the old one?


    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

      HI John,

      Actually, the first test from the PP2 is the same one as the old powerprep test. Basically, you are only getting two practice tests.

      • Jonh A August 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

        Ah, thanks. I was thinking that the old PP software had two tets.

  3. Pemdas@BTG July 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Chris, I don’t don’t think that the test will be harder. I only propose an idea that the real GRE test will be testing the same content and difficulty of questions represented in PowerPrep but with different slopes of ETS plotting average test taker’s linear thinking.

    I really consider two things now to be very much relevant to GRE General test:

    1) pure math mind-set is detrimental for this test, as GRE will be testing ability to work with scratch paper and pen to allow for avoiding silly mistakes in quant. This is at least accountable for 40 score deviation (old format). That is test taker normally capable of scoring 790 in math may score 740 too 🙁 We need to avoid SILLY MISTAKES!

    2) the first scored verbal section sends the range/interval signal to the ETS program about our language abilities and the next verbal section may not be quite adjusted to the first section. That is if we have good accuracy rate in the 1st section of verbal the next section can still be doable and/or not very hard. The tricks will be embedded in context use of very simple words in the second section of verbal.

    Also, IOM (i only managed abbrev.) PowerPrep’s score (in the very last version) so far has been observed to be lower that the actual score of test takers with the same difficulty of questions and the identical accuracy rate. I would mark -2 for math and -3 for verbal in PowerPrep as matched against real GRE score.

    If some one passes PowerPrep 2.0 versions test #2 with decent scores in 90 percentiles his success will be almost assured in exam. Of course one needs to rest/sleep well the last night b4 exam.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 30, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Hi Pemdas,

      I think for somebody who is receiving a difficult second section for both math and verbal will have questions that are more difficult than those on the recent test. Of note, if you look at the percentile (the number of students who answered questions correctly), you will see that there were fewer questions in which fewer than 30% of test takers answered that question correctly.

      It seems this all accords with your observation that students are doing poorer on the actual exam than on the PowerPrep exam.

      Anyhow, keep up the good the work :).

  4. jonah July 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I was just wondering… if it does turn out that the paper-based quantitive section is much easier than the real GRE, why would the ETS release a math section that is not representative of the true difficulty level of the test? What would be their incentive in doing this?

    To me it seems at best deceptive, at worst bordering on simply unethical.

    I know it’s impossible to know exactly what they’re thinking, but is this common practice for them historically?

    Thanks a lot for all your work, really appreciate it!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 30, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Jonah,

      The difficulty issue of this test is not that straightforward. First off, it is definitely not much easier. There are simply fewer very difficult questions.

      Now if you are a student who is scoring between 130 – 145 and you receive the easiest of the adapted sections, then the questions you will see test day will probably be easier than the questions on the PowerPrep exam.

      On the other hand if you are a high scorer and move on to the most difficult of the sections then you will see questions that are more difficult than those on the PowerPrep test.

      So I wouldn’t say ‘unethical’. Perhaps ETS had to offer a test with questions more representative of the majority of scorers.

      Hope that helps!

      • jonah July 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

        Thanks Chris! That makes a lot of sense.

  5. Erica July 25, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Thank you so much for this. I was thinking I had 2 new Powerprep tests to look at. I didn’t realize one of them was from the old Powerprep II, which I had already taken. Do you know if all the questions from the paper-based test is entirely new, too?

    Also, since the test from Powerprep will give us the best estimate of our actual GRE score, I’m trying to save it for when I’ve had enough practice. When do you recommend we take it with enough time allowance to work on improvements? For example, half-way through our prep time? 2 weeks before the test? 1 week before the test?

    Thank you!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 26, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Hi Erica,

      Good questions :). First off, there is only one new paper-based test in the new Official guides. As for spacing out the test, one test a week before the actual test is the way to go. You might also want to take a paper-based test a couple of weeks before the actual test.

  6. David July 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    I have questions about the sample essays and reader commentary for PPIIv2.0.

    The software brings up a webpage that says “This POWERPREP® II software includes sample essay responses and corresponding reader commentary for the writing tasks in each of the two practice tests. After completing the practice tests, you can use the scored essay responses and reader commentary to evaluate your essays.”

    At first I couldn’t find any, but after poking around a while I found these

    C:\Program Files\ETS\POWERPREP II\docs\analytical-writing\issue-response.html
    C:\Program Files\ETS\POWERPREP II\docs\analytical-writing\argument-response.html

    but they didn’t seem to relate to the essays I did, for test 1.

    Are there samples and commentary for the test 1 essays? I guess there should be, since the quote above says “in each of the two practice tests.”

    Are the issue-response.html and argument-response.html above for test 2 or some other ETS test (in which case I want to avoid them until after I’ve taken the relevant ETS test).

    Thanks for any information!


    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Hi David,

      I have not heard this question yet, and will have to investigate further. I do think it weird that the essays would not correspond to your essay. I’ll have to get back to you on this one as I will have to try PowerPrep out myself :).

  7. Yash July 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    Hello Chris,

    My GRE exam will be on 27th July. Only 3 days Left. I hardly score 300(160 Quant , 140 verbal)

    Chris is there any chance that Powerprep , Kaplan , Barrons Test questions appear on test day.

    I heard that each month some of the questions are same. Is it possible that do it get any list of questions asked in the month of july..

    Please update asap.. I am waiting for your reply..


    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi Yash,

      It may be possible that an ETS question pops up, though I highly doubt. You will definitely (and I mean 100%) not see a Kaplan/Barron’s test question on the actual GRE.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Sammy July 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    Recently an unusually high number of dolphins
    have been found dead of infectious diseases, and
    most of these had abnormally high tissue
    concentrations of certain compounds that, even in
    low concentrations, reduce dolphins’ resistance to
    infection. The only source of these compounds in the
    dolphins’ environment is boat paint. Therefore, since
    dolphins rid their bodies of the compounds rapidly
    once exposure ceases, their mortality rate should
    decline rapidly if such boat paints are banned.

    Which of the following, if true, most strengthens
    the argument?
    A The levels of the compounds typically used in
    boat paints today are lower than they were in
    boat paints manufactured a decade ago.

    B In high concentrations, the compounds are
    toxic to many types of marine animals.

    C The compounds break down into harmless
    substances after a few months of exposure to
    water or air.

    D High tissue levels of the compounds have
    recently been found in some marine animals,
    but there is no record of any of those animals
    dying in unusually large numbers recently.

    E The compounds do not leach out of the boat
    paint if the paint is applied exactly in
    accordance with the manufacturer’s directions.

    Not sure why the answer is C, can you please explain why?
    Thanks in advance

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      Hi Sammy,

      I’m recording the explanations for all these questions. Should be up very soon!

    • jonah July 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      Hey Sammy,

      In my opinion the answer is C because the passage says that “dolphins rid their bodies of the compounds rapidly once exposure ceases”. The key words here are “once exposure ceases” because if, as choice C tells us, “the compounds break down into harmless substances after a few months of exposure to water or air”, then the dolphins will be able to rid their bodies of the compounds. If the compounds didn’t break down into harmless substances then the dolphins may never be able to rid themselves of the chemicals.

      Hope that helps!

  9. Olivia July 22, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    I’m keenly waiting for your video explanation on PowerPrep II Test 2. I have done both Test 1 (the old test) and Test 2. While I scored almost perfectly in Test 1, I did quite poorly in Test 2, especially on the verbal sections.

    In the new test, many verbal questions look clueless for me, even when I looked back at the question again after finishing the timed practice.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      The explanation is coming soon!

  10. Pemdas@BTG July 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    One + re latest ETS pbt is Trojan Horse

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      So you agree too, Pemdas that the real GRE will be more difficult than the new PowerPrep test?

  11. Rohan July 21, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    Hi Chris. I read in some post that you took the GRE revised General Test sometime ago. To my curiosity, will you please let me know your score (aggregate + split) on the test??

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      Hi Rohan,

      Yes I took the test when it first came out. I was more going through the test to look at the content then to answer all of the questions. I still scored in the top percentiles even though I finished the test with half the time left :).

  12. sayeed July 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    There is nothing that (1)…. scientists more than having an old problem in their field solved by someone from outside. If you doubt this (2)….. , just think about the (3) …..reaction of paleontologists to the hypothesis of Luis Alvarez—a physicist—and Walter Alvarez—a geologist—that the extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by the impact of a large meteor on the surface of the planet. (source: ETS new practice booklet, 1st verbal part, Q no. 7 question).

    Ans: 1. nettles. 2. observation. 3. contemptuous ………….cant understand the third one……….Chris, would you please provide explanation for answer part 3?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Sammy July 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      nettles is to irritate, vex; contemptuous is an adjective that means to feel contempt( a strong version of dislike) toward.
      If someone irritates you, you tend to dislike them strongly.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Hi Sayeed,

      For the third question we want an adjective to show that paleontologists are ‘nettled’ or irritated. Only contemptuous makes sense, because it means expressing dislike and scorn, e.g. “How dare these amateurs are able to solve a problem that we, with all our expertise, have been unable to solve.”

      Hope that helps 🙂

  13. Gaia July 19, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to evaluate the new paper-based test. Will you also be reviewing the new computer-based exam? Would love to see what you think especially in comparison to the revised GRE exam you took when it was first released.

    Also, I was on the ETS website and realized that they’ve changed the retake policy too. It’s every 30 days instead of 60 days. Thought this might be useful information for your readers.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      Hi Gaia,

      The paper-based test is actually on-line. I know that is totally confusing :). Basically, ETS presented a paper-based test in PDF format.

      The book based tests may actually be erstwhile computer-based tests. Regardless, I will soon be providing explanations for all of them on youtube :).

      • Gaia July 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

        Thanks for using “erstwhile” in context. I was trying to figure out how I would use it. 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris July 23, 2012 at 10:34 am #

          You are welcome!

  14. Rohan July 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Hi Chris. Thanks for such a meticulous review of the newly launched version of Powerprep II. Now in fact we have two brand new tests and that too from the makers of GRE. And while reading your post, I was happy to find that the math section is a little easier. Keep up the good work!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Hi Rohan,

      Well, the math section being easier is a mixed blessing in that students may go into the test overconfident. I think when the new guide comes out next month we will have a better sense of the difficult type of problems we can encounter test day.

  15. Sammy July 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Most spacecraft are still at little risk of collision
    with space debris during their operational
    lifetimes, but given the numbers of new satellites
    launched each year, the orbital environment in the
    future is likely to be less __________

    C. Protected
    E. Benign

    The answer key has it as E, I don’t see how it isn’t B. Protected as an adjective could also mean secure, doesn’t secure fit best in the blank?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Hi Sammy,

      Nobody was doing the protecting in the first place. The orbital environment was uncluttered and thus safe. Soon it will become cluttered and thus less safe/benign.

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