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Best GRE Books 2017 – 2018 | GRE Book Reviews

Here at Magoosh, I’ve reviewed all the 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 (that’s excess…a good GRE word) of bad GRE books out there.

Happy Studying!

Best GRE Books 2017 – 2018

It’s 2018 and there have been some changes on the GRE prep front, mainly from ETS (the test-maker). Now, in addition to two free, computer-based GRE practice tests you can take, called PowerPrep, the test-maker offers two additional, brand-new GRE practice tests called PowerPrep PLUS. Realistic test-taking practice is vital, and these can be great new tools to help you prep for a top score—I’ll talk a little more about how in the review below.

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 further ado, I present you with the list of the top 9 best GRE prep books/materials (in order) and three books deserving of an honorable mention (in no particular order).

RankTitlePublisherPrice
1Magoosh GRE BookMagoosh$9.99 (Kindle)
$14.99 (Paperback)
2Magoosh's Free GRE eBooksMagooshFREE!
3The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 3rd EditionETS$20.66 (Kindle)
$21.75 (Paperback)
4Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions & Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice QuestionsETSBundled:
$21.49 (Kindle)
$24.47 (Paperback)
5PowerPrep and PowerPrep PLUSETSFREE (PowerPrep);
$39.99 per test (PowerPrep PLUS)
6Barron’s 6 GRE Practice TestsBarron's$10.99 (Kindle)
$11.72 (Paperback)
7Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, 10th EditionETS$5.49 (Used)
8The Manhattan GRE Series (Books 1-8)Manhattan$77.08 (all 8 books)
9GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics (Books 1 & 2)Vibrant Publishers$7.99 (Kindle)
$9.95 per book (Paperback)
*HMCracking the GRE, 2018 EditionThe Princeton Review$19.99 (Kindle)
$25.82 (Paperback)
*HMNew GRE Premier 2011-2012 Book ReviewKaplan$27.99 (Kindle)
$12.63 (Used)
*HMNew GRE with 8 Practice TestsMcGraw Hill$7.50 (Used)

Now that I’ve revealed my top picks, I’ll give you my honest reviews and tell you why each of these 9 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 most reviews, clicking on each book cover will take you to Amazon.com, which generally has the lowest prices. 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 (unless otherwise noted) in January 2018. 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!

Time for the good stuff!

1. Magoosh GRE Book

Magoosh GRE Book-best GRE books-magoosh

It’s everything you love about Magoosh’s GRE product, in paperback form! For the first time ever, you can now order your very own Magoosh GRE prep book on Amazon. Our GRE students and experts have collaborated to produce the most cohesive GRE guide of all time. Between the covers, this 468-page book packs more than a hundred practice questions accompanied by comprehensive explanations—all pulled directly from our renowned online GRE prep product. Not only is the book loaded with tons of useful information, but each question and answer has been triple checked by industry experts to maximize students’ learning. If you’re in the market for a GRE book, we hope you’ll take a look at GRE Prep by Magoosh!

2. Free GRE eBooks

Magoosh Free GRE eBooks-best GRE books-magoosh

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
 

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3. ETS’s The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 3rd Edition

ETS Official Guide-best GRE books-magoosh

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 the other books 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 four GRE practice tests, 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 3rd Edition Book Review

4. ETS’s Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions & Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions

gre book reviews magoosh
This one’s a twofer. ETS published these two new books in 2014, and boy are we glad they did (they’ve been updated for 2017). 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.

5. PowerPrep and PowerPrep PLUS

PowerPrep-best GRE books-magoosh

ETS Site:

  • PowerPrep 1: Free
  • PowerPrep 2: Free
  • PowerPrep PLUS 1: $39.99
  • PowerPrep PLUS 2: $39.99

By this point, you’ve probably noticed that ETS has a lot of products to help you prepare for the GRE. And they’re all excellent.

This is great news if you have a lot of time and money to spend before the test! Of course, if you don’t, it starts to get a little confusing (and to make it more confusing, ETS has repurposed some old tests! For all the info on this, check out Magoosh’s PowerPrep article).

Let’s clarify a couple things. First, there are two PowerPreps: the free version (just “PowerPrep”) and the paid versions (“PowerPrep PLUS,” two tests that cost $39.99 each).

No matter what, it’s a good idea to take at least one, and preferably both, of the free PowerPrep tests before your official exam. You’ll get to work with the computer format, and you’ll see questions straight from the test-makers.

If you have time, the PowerPrep PLUS tests do provide great practice—the explanations are a little brief, though it can be good practice to work out the processes on your own—but at a price. If you buy both of these exams, you’re basically paying half of what it costs to take the official GRE.

At the end of the day, it can be tricky to find great GRE practice tests, so if you’re preparing over a long period of time, buying at least one PowerPrep PLUS test is a good idea. But if you have a month or less before test day? You probably don’t need to make the investment.

6. Barron’s 6 GRE Practice Tests

Barrons GRE Practice Tests-best GRE books-magoosh

This book is not perfect, even in its second edition. But in terms of sheer content, it is better than the Barron’s general GRE guide. Check out our review of the book here. Everything I wrote about the first edition is still true in the second; in short, this book is solid enough if you use it as a question bank, but the pacing of the tests is so off that you shouldn’t use it for its intended purpose (that is, as six practice tests).

7. Practicing to Take the GRE General Test, 10th Edition

Practicing to Take the GRE General Test-best GRE books-magoosh

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 classic 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).

7. The Manhattan GRE Series (MGRE) – Books One Through Eight

Manhattan GRE Prep-best GRE books-magoosh
*Pricing depends on how many of the books you opt to purchase.

This 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

8. Vibrant’s GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics Books

best gre books magoosh

gre books magoosh
These books from Vibrant Publishing—GRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to Real Essay Topics, Books 1 and 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 (that’s if you can ignore the formatting issues that occasionally occur here…again, these books are not perfect).

However, because ETS provides the Issue and Argument topic pools in advance, Vibrant has filled in a market gap by providing a breakdown of each prompt and then a sample essay. Each book has both Issue and Argument essays, so it’s probably not worth buying both. (If you think you’ll be able to memorize the 120 essays in these books, a) think again and b) your time will be far better spent thinking about how to approach the essays more generally.)

Not required reading, but definitely helpful if you want to improve your essay score.
 

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GRE Book Honorable Mentions

The Princeton Review, Cracking the GRE, 2018 Edition

Princeton Review Cracking the GRE-best GRE books-magoosh
This book is generally substandard, and if after reading my review (see below), you are surprised I’m pairing it with this top 9 list, then I owe a quick explanation: the inclusion of The Princeton Review book speaks to the generally low quality of GRE prep books out there.

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 GRE Premier 2017 Book Review

Kaplan GRE Premier-best GRE books-magoosh
The 2017 Kaplan book has the same problems the book has had since 2011. Test prep strategies that are unnecessarily complex 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. Don’t waste your time with this book—it manages to be both too complex and too simple at the same time. That’s no easy feat, but it does mean you should steer clear.

McGraw Hill’s New GRE with 8 Practice Tests

McGraw Hill New GRE Book-best GRE books-magoosh

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.
 

Editor’s Notes:

1) This article belongs to a series of posts designed to help you start your GRE prep. To see the other posts, download the GRE Prep App for iPhone or Android.

2) This post was originally published in February 2013 and has been annually updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Magoosh students score 12 points better than average on the GRE. Click here to  learn more!

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