The ETS, also known as the maker of the GRE, released its newest ETS GRE book–the 2nd edition–back in 2012. That’s five long years since we’ve last seen any changes to the official guide. Surely, the 3rd edition that recently hit Amazon “bookshelves” would offer a trove of new questions, giving us deeper insight into the test?

Alas, the answer is a definitive ‘no’. There is not one new question and indeed very little different from the ancient 2^{nd} Edition guide. I shouldn’t grumble too much since ETS did offer both new verbal and math guides a few years back, but still…

For some of you this point–whether the 3^{rd} Edition is different from the 2nd edition–is moot. You’re new to GRE prep so it doesn’t really matter whether there are “new” questions; they’re all new to you. Also, I don’t want you to come away with the wrong idea. So let me just come out and say it: the GRE Official (2^{nd} or 3^{rd} edition) is the single most important resource. How well you do test day will likely be reflected by how well you use this book. Yep. It’s that important.

## ETS Official Guide to the GRE: New vs. Old

But the two books aren’t exactly the same. While there are no new questions, the editors decided to beef up the math review section. Specifically, there is a more robust strategy section that most new to the GRE or who struggle with math will surely find helpful. **Otherwise, there are no significant differences between the 2 ^{nd}Edition and the 3^{rd}Edition.**

Well, there is one other difference, almost a quirk, and it has nothing to do with what’s in the book. For whatever reason, the 3^{rd} Edition is only available (at least for now) on Amazon. So if you go to the gre.org site, you’ll only see the 2^{nd} Edition for sale. Therefore, if you’re dying for that extra math strategy section (which I’ll talk about in more detail below), you’ll want to head over to Amazon.

## What’s inside the latest edition?

Again, for many new to GRE prep, you just want to know what’s inside this book and how it can help you.

You will also get access to two PowerPrep tests (one new, one old) via a practice CD in the back – though you can access these on the ETS website for free. Neither of these tests overlaps with the two tests at the back of the book. That’s right – if you have yet to take an official GRE practice test, there are a total of four fresh tests waiting for you!

## The ETS Official Guide is Indispensable

…but it’s not the perfect solution.

Sure, the questions are the best prep out there—they are written by the test makers themselves. But the explanations are somewhat lacking, a fact which isn’t too surprising given that ETS does not make revenue from writing lucid explanations. People tend to buy the book for the practice questions.

The Math Review section in the book gives you a thorough review of concepts you’re likely to see on the GRE. Most of the other books — Barron’s, Kaplan, and even Manhattan GRE — do not cover concepts such as parabolas or absolute value graphs (not that either of these is very likely to show up test day).

User-friendly, helpful tips and strategies are not as abundant in other books–that’s why the new math strategies in the 3^{rd} Edition give a high-level overview how to approach questions and how to improve your learning.

One complaint I have is that the practice questions for reviewing fundamentals in this book, don’t prepare you that well for the real GRE. Which is fine if you are new to the test. But even then, I’ve seen students spend far too much time trying to complete the practice questions in the math review section only to miss out on precious time prepping on actual GRE questions (oftentimes these questions are more about “tricks” than about the raw fundamentals.)

To reiterate: the 3^{rd} Edition ETS Official Guide, like the 2^{nd} Edition guide, is not an all-in-one guide. You will want to supplement this book with one that helps break down this test. And this especially goes for the math section.

*The Official Guide to the GRE General Test* Grade

**Prep:** A+

You should really buy it.

**Strategies/Explanations:** C+

But don’t worry! That’s what Magoosh GRE Prep is for! Plus, we now have free video explanations for all of the practice questions in the second edition of the Official Guide here. Enjoy!

*Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.*

“Taking a test once, figuring out your score, and then hoping that your brain will avoid the same kinds of mistakes on the test is wishful thinking” – Just to re-iterate this: This is true even for those who have taken real GRE once. It is pretty easy to fall back. But, GRE is not (NOT) about extraordinary talent. It is about endurance and that requires patience and lots (LOTS) of efforts in the weak areas.

What is suggested is true. I have been taking Magoosh explanations and reading materials and considering the Official guide only when I need to assess my actual understanding. I believe these two are enough. But, if these two are not read, from what I know, hoping for a great score is another wishful thinking.

Hello!

This may be a redundant question, but ETS provides an online Math and Verbal review. Are these reviews the same as what is in the book, ETS Official Guide to GRE (3rd edition)? I was skimming the online Math review and it looks pretty similar…

Thanks for any info!

Hi Camille,

Yes! The information provided in the ETS Math Review and Verbal Review is basically the same as what you will find in the Official Guide 🙂

There is a practice exercise in the arithmetic review section that I am unsure of how “they” got a specific answer to. The equation is: (20 divided by 5)^2 – (-2+6)^3 and the answer in the book says my answer to the equation should be 1,024. I keep getting -48 as my answer, even on a calculator. Am I really not getting it, or is there a possibility their answer is an error? Please help! It is on page 232.

Hi Langley,

I looked up this question and it seems like you made a small notation error here 🙂 The question is actually (20/5)^2 * (–2+ 6)^3 (a multiplication sign instead of subtraction). If we simplify using PEMDAS, we get (4^2)*(4^3), which is 16*64=1024. It’s easy to make little mistakes like this, which is why it’s so important to work methodically and check for details! You can read more about this here: https://magoosh.com/gre/2014/avoiding-silly-mistakes-on-the-gre/ 🙂

The question on the book is written with the notation error include, it makes you subtract the parentheses not multiply them.

You are an absolute angel for posting this. It was driving me INSANE. I can finally move on, knowing it was an error in the book. 👍🏻

Langley did not make a notation error. The Official Guide 3rd edition has an extra “-” minus sign in Exercise 1: (g) pg 232. I looked at the 2nd edition and this minus sign does not appear. Perhaps you should edit the Magoosh 6 month guide to highlight that the answer key is wrong in the 3rd edition.

Hi Brandon,

You’re right. As others have noted here, too, there is a notation error in that edition of the book. It makes it impossible to solve!

I downloaded the two free ETS practice test PDFs online https://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2016/11/GRE_practicebook_2017.pdf AND http://www.prepscholar.com/gre/blog/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2016/09/GRE_practicebook_2010.pdf

I understand there are two free POWERPREP tests online in addition to these PDFs (above).

I am also planning on purchasing the ETS General Test: 3rd Edition, and the POWERPREP PLUS 1 & 2.

Do all of these materials include different practice tests? (PDF, PowerPrep free, Powerprep PLUS, and ETS 3rd edition book)?

Also, are there any other materials that I should buy that include different practice exams than these?

Hi Clare!

All of these practice tests should be different. 🙂 So, it looks like you have a lot of great practice material here!

For more recommendations, check out our GRE Book Reviews. We highly recommend the Manhattan series books and practice tests as well. 🙂

sir …can you help me with RC .i am unable to answer them correctly.i loose confidence while answering RC questions.plz help me sir

Hi Sangamnath!

The best way to improve your Reading Comprehension skills is to read as much as possible. I’d recommend reading for

at least 1 hour each dayif possible. Reading will improve all aspects of your verbal reasoning. Overall, you need to improve your accuracy before you worry about your speed. This means you need to read to improve your reading comprehension, and you need to thoroughly review your mistakes to improve your accuracy. When your accuracy on verbal has improved, then begin timing yourself.And here are some suggested GRE-level reading materials:

Reading Vocabulary in Context: Where Should I Start?

Vocabulary in Context: The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly, and the New Yorker

GRE Vocabulary Books: Recommended Fiction and Non-Fiction

GRE Article of the Month

Arts & Letters Daily: Essays & Opinions

Hope this helps!