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Manhattan GRE 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, 2nd Edition (Instructional Guide Series) Book Review

Manhattan GRE 5lb book 2nd edition

When I hear that a test prep company has released a new edition of its book, my usual response is, “So whose face is on the cover this year?” Even after half a decade of several glossy new editions—and a revolving door of glossy smiles—the content in test prep books remains unchanged, and my cynicism becomes only more entrenched.

Well, for what might be the first time ever in regards to the release of a new prep book, my cynicism has been turned on its head. Manhattan GRE’s redoubtable 5 lbs. book has become more formidable yet: not only hundreds of new practice problems but the more questionable questions, as it were, have presumably been axed (more on this later).

So if I was somewhat a fan of the original 5 lbs. book, I am even more so this time around, though a lot of that enthusiasm might have more to do with the fact that Manhattan GRE bucked the trend by releasing new material (and not featuring any faces on its cover—new or otherwise).


The verbal section

The more important issue, however, is whether the new material is more representative of what you’ll see on the test? Well, I can’t say it’s a marked improvement over the previous edition, and this especially goes for verbal. I still don’t think that Manhattan GRE has figured out the formula for writing GRE-like verbal questions in the ETS vein.

There are, for instance, a few things that it doesn’t include in the creation of its Text Completions that are likely to make your approach flaccid. You’ll likely miss questions test day that you might otherwise have answered correctly. Thankfully, much of the obscure vocabulary that marred previous questions, especially those found in the MGRE Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence guide, are gone.

Reading Comprehension also contains some flaws. Both the passage (save for a couple of exceptions) just don’t merit the structure of those found on the actual test; the questions and answer choices following each passage are also without the subtlety contained actual test questions. Doing a smattering of verbal practice from this book might not hurt much, but relying solely on this book for verbal would be a big mistake.


The quantitative section

Math is much better, mainly because writing good math questions simply isn’t as difficult as writing good verbal questions. Yet, many of the math questions in here are much better than those found in books by other test prep companies. Still, there are some low-quality questions scattered in the mix, but really: with this plethora of practice material, you can’t help but hone your quantitative skills. I also like how the questions are roughly arranged in terms of difficulty so you can move your way up. On a side note: don’t work your way sequentially through each section, doing all, say 50 questions, for each section. Jump around a little, circling back to sections you learned previously.


Side note

As I noted in the beginning, many questions were removed, specifically in the math section. I didn’t have the time to go through all these questions (I had the 1st edition opened up on my desk too), but I think many of the average questions—questions that felt very straightforward and not like an actual GRE question—were removed. So while the 2nd edition comes in at about a hundred pages fewer than the 1st edition (and I’m guess a few hundred grams shy of 5 lbs.), I don’t think much has been lost.


For solid quant practice this book offers a trove of practice. For verbal, material the results are far more mixed and you’ll definitely not want to make this book your go-to for verbal practice.

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

29 Responses to Manhattan GRE 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, 2nd Edition (Instructional Guide Series) Book Review

  1. Arif Iqbal November 1, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Hey Chris

    I completed the first edition of Mgre 5lb , Is it advisable to complete the second edition as well before taking the test ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 1, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

      Hi Arif,

      If you’ve already completed the 1st edition, this may be sufficient. The best way to gauge whether you are where you want to be would be to take a mock exam. From this, you can see how much more preparation you require and how you can best pivot your studies!

  2. Muzz November 1, 2016 at 8:38 am #

    I have the Online pdf of Manhattan 5lb (1st edition). Do i need to buy the 2nd edition of 5lb, given the fact that i have not yet started studying from the 1st edition?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 1, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      Hi Muzz,

      Please check out Chris’s assessment of the 1st edition here. The 1st edition is still quite good for the Quant section. The 2nd edition has definitely made some improvements, but if you have yet to use your 1st edition, you can feel free to use this resource. If you don’t want the 2nd edition, you can perhaps utilize other material (e.g., ETS, Magoosh, etc.) to complement your studies.

  3. Amit October 31, 2016 at 9:56 am #

    I just gave my GRE today and received a score of 314 (V:155 and Q:159). I studied primarily from Kaplan Premier 2016 and the ETS GRE guide. I was advised by many to give the test again as my quant scores were very low and it was a necessity if I wanted to get in to a good college for my field of choice i.e Computer Science. Browsing through several reviews including this one, I have decided to practice Manhattan 5lb practice book to boost my quant scores. Would be book be sufficient enough alongside the ETS official guide to elevate my score to 165 and above?

  4. rishabh September 15, 2016 at 10:16 pm #


    Is there much difference between manhattan 5lb from 2013 and manhattan 5lb 2nd edition ?

  5. Marrt September 8, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    How do you guys feel about the diagnostic test at the beginning of the book? It felt very very easy to me relative to what I thought might be on the test. Also, how would you suggest going through the problems with a month left of studying to go and about 3 points from my Quant goal?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

      Hi Marrt,

      We’ve heard that the diagnostic test in the beginning of the book seems ‘too easy’, even though in general Manhattan math questions tend to be harder than what you will see on the test. Perhaps this is because it is meant to be a diagnostic test, not necessarily a mock exam (which means that it is something that you before studying to identify strengths and weaknesses instead of while you are studying to gauge your progress.) I recommend that you take one of the ETS Powerprep Tests. This is made by the people who make the GRE, so it will give you the most authentic practice test experience and the best score prediction.

      As for what you can do in the next month for maximum score increase, I recommend that you take some time to study math basics and make sure that you can immediately recall the most important math rules, relationships, properties and formulas. This could mean the difference between a correct and incorrect answer in some cases! I also recommend that you take the time to really study the questions you get wrong to understand why you got them wrong and what you can do in the future to avoid making the same mistake. This will help you with your accuracy for the most difficult questions.

  6. Woo August 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Thank you for the thorough review on MGRE. I was just wondering about quality of practice sections of MGRE because I went through them and found some answers I couldn’t agree with. It’ll be grateful if you comment on the practice sections (both verbal and quant). Thanks!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 31, 2016 at 8:21 am #

      Hi Woo,

      In general, the math questions from Manhattan are very high quality. Some of the hard questions will be harder than what you will likely see on the actual test, but they are great practice! You can find a more in-depth review of the verbal section here, but in our review we discuss how the text completions and sentence equivalence questions rely on obscure vocabulary more than vocab in context, and the reading comprehension questions were hit-and-miss–some were great, others not so much. Hope this helps!

      • Woo September 1, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

        Thanks for your kind response! Just one more thing. Are the review of the verbal section you linked and your comments applied to the practice test sets at the back of MGRE?
        Many thanks always 🙂

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 5, 2016 at 11:27 am #

          Hi Woo,

          That link is not directly about test sets external to the 5lb book, but we tend to have a pretty stable opinion of the type of materials Manhattan is putting out, so if you take our advice and perhaps read a couple of independent students’ reviews to balance the thought, you should land on a pretty accurate portrait of the materials. 🙂

  7. Mohamed Ali June 21, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I am already halfway through the 1st edition. Is it worth it buying the 2nd edition?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Mohamed,

      Honestly, I would not. At this point, you have already progressed through a lot of what you have and it is not 100% new materials between editions. You should continue working with what you’ve got. 😀

  8. Pooja May 29, 2016 at 4:39 am #

    I plan to take my GRE August, 2016.
    I just started studying for my GRE. I am trying to gather all the required material prior to starting my preparation.

    As far as I can gather from all the posts on the Magoosh website, the 5 lb Manhattan book will suffice for Quant. For Verbal, multiple sources are required. I’d like to know what exactly I could use from the Magoosh material to add to my quant and verbal GRE preparation. Please provide your assistance with the same.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 19, 2016 at 9:51 am #

      Hi Pooja 🙂

      To fully take advantage of Magoosh as a resource, I’d recommend signing up for one of our plans, which will give you access to all of our lesson videos and more than 1100 practice problems 🙂

      I’d also recommend checking out our eBooks (in particular our Ultimate Guide to the GRE and our Math Formula eBook) and vocabulary and math flashcard sets 🙂 These are excellent resources to familiarize yourself with the contents of the exam as well as to improve your vocabulary and sharpen both your verbal and quant skills 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  9. Nikhil April 13, 2016 at 2:20 am #

    Hi Chris,

    That’s a very good insight you gave there on the books mentioned. I have a months time to prep and would like to improve on my current GRE score ( Q: 156 V:144) . Here are a few questions i have for you:

    1. I was considering Manhattan 5lb. to prep to improve my GRE score. Do you suggest this book would better improve my score if my was aim is to score 320+? If not which other book would you individually suggest for quant and Verbal ( I have already finished preparing from ETS guide)

    2. Regarding the mock tests, which would you suggest for me to consider based on it’s difficulty and relatively the same to the original GRE test?

    Thanks in Advance.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

      I can get this one, Chris. :O)

      1. Manhattan 5lb is good, but as Chris mentioned, it’s still not the greatest in Verbal (although better than earlier materials from Manhattan). Since your Verbal score is a little bit lower than your Math score, you’ll definitely want something more GRE-like/authentic for Verbal. If you can find a nice used copy of ETS’s out-of-print GRE Big Book, the RC practice in the book is still fairly true to the test today, and the SC is useful, if a bit outdated. Consider ETS’s Verbal-focused official guidebook as well (different from the regular OG).So in short, I recommend secondary official ETS materials for Verbal, and separately, Manhattan for math.

      2. It’s really hard to find a mock test of the GRE that’s anything like the real thing. So first and foremost, I recommend looking for other ETS practice tests/questions you haven’t done yet. Look through the online catalog of all their practice materials, and try ETS materials other than the OG (PowerPrep if you haven’t used it yet, is a great next step.) If you’ve gone through all things ETS, I suggest signing up for Magoosh GRE next— we research our practice materials and mock tests very carefully, and they’re about as close to the real thing as any non-ETS material can be.

  10. Asim October 16, 2015 at 1:24 am #


    I’m just about to get done with the MTN books and wanted to know how exactly to go about doing this COLLOSAL book. I’m going to go over the official guide and then finally head towards the 5lb book.

    I can take out two weeks max for it, but should I? Doing every problem, like you stated, isn’t the best way of going about it. I have am planning on doing the 2 ETS question volumes and want to do a single week run through of the Magoosh questions. Trouble is I feel if iI start doing EVERYTHING fromthe 5lb book (which will take more than 2 weeks) I won’t get time for the latter sources.

    How do you think i should incorporate the 5lb book into my study plan?


  11. Sej October 9, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I have done all magoosh flashcards at least gone through once.Started Barron’s wordlists.But I feel Barron’s is a never ending story.Can u suggest me some wordlist which is not as exhaustive as barrons.for Quant I am doing it from 5 lb book.I completed the ets book once.What else do u suggest and recommended.I really like your reviews and suggestion which are really person specific.can you also suggest me how should I prepare for Awa.

  12. Singh August 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm #


    I have realised that I really struggle with paragraph argument questions and I have used up my supply of Magoosh and ETS questions. And I haven’t really made substantial improvement. I tried to work my way through the Critical Reasoning questions from GMAT 13th OG but found the questions pretty tough 🙁 It would be a relief to know that GRE Paragraph Arguments questions easier than the GMAT critical reasoning ones.

    Is using Manhattan 5-lb for paragraph arguments question is a good idea? Or should I stick to the GMAT? Please reply. Thanks 🙂

  13. Maureen July 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    I have the first edition, what is your assessment of the verbal section for the first edition?

  14. Tanushree July 20, 2015 at 6:06 am #

    I would like to know if I should practice TC and SE from the 5lb book. If not, then which book must I use? I have practiced the questions from the official GRE guide and also from the official guide of just verbal reasoning practice questions.

  15. Sai June 28, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

    Hello Chris,
    I’m a fourth year engineering student. I just finished solving each and every question in the 6 set MGRE book for quant. However, I found out that most of my friends are solving the 5 lb manhattan book only. Apparently, all of them went to a coaching institute and I didn’t, so I bought and solved questions from 6 set MGRE book instead of the 5 lb one since the latter doesn’t have explanations for each topic like the 6 set MGRE books. I didn’t have much of a problem in understanding and solving all these books since I’m an engineering student.

    However, I’m now wondering if I should also solve the 5 lb one for quant. I wish to get the best marks in quant, but I also have other things to do for improving my resume. So will solving the 5 lb book for quant be worth the time? Or more specifically, will I actually find certain type of questions that are not covered in the 6 set MGRE books already? Thanks.

  16. Alexander June 22, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Tnx Chris.

    First question, if I already have first edition should I buy this one for studying or first one is sufficient ?

    Second question, since you have criticized this book for Verbal, what should l use for verbal beside ETS package and Magoosh, which is best book ( or best books in mix ) for verbal out there according to you ?

    And, I would just like to add that Barron’s GRE, 21st Edition, Cracking the GRE Premium Edition with 6 Practice Tests, 2016 and Kaplan GRE® Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile are out there as well, I would appreciate your incisive review.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

      Hi Alexander,

      Good questions 🙂

      So the first edition for MGRE should be fine.

      For Verbal, there just isn’t much out there book-wise. I guess Barron’s wouldn’t hurt, but it’s really not much like the real test. As for the others, PReview is much easier and Kaplan is a poor imitation of the real deal. For RC, I’d recommend using official LSAT and GMAT passages and, if you can get your hands on it, passages from the old GRE.

      As for all the 2016 version of the books you’d name, they are no different from the 2015, 2014…and 2011 version of those books (save for the cover).

      Hope that helps!

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