ETS’s Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test Book Review

Free video explanations for every practice problem in the Official Guide here.

There is no prep like the ETS guide. Simply put, these questions are written by the very company that will write the questions you’ll see on test day. And those questions, as well as the ones in this book, are written according to exacting standards. There is a sophistication, complexity and “trickiness” to the questions that is saliently absent from the content of the books I reviewed last week.

However, ETS is not the first place you would necessarily want to start prepping. The main reason is, ETS does not provide the best strategies for approaching the questions on the Revised GRE. Nor does ETS really intend to help students, especially those who are scoring at the lower levels. Really, they have no motivation to – they are simply providing practice problems.

Also, ETS does not provide the best explanations, a fact that may be surprising, given the high quality of their content. But remember, they do not really have incentive to provide you with the most lucid explanations, so that you will do better on test day. ETS has already written the questions, and they know people will pay for them. So, the explanations are average (in this regard, Kaplan does a far better job. However, Kaplan’s questions are iffy and suspect, so this point is basically moot).

Improve your GRE score with Magoosh.

So, if you have picked up your strategies from The Princeton Review book (a good book for strategies) and/or Magoosh (a great place for in-depth strategies…with plenty of practice problems), and have done some practice problems, then you can start with the ETS materials.

The Official Guide to the Revised GRE also offers the PowerPrep software, which provides you with an actual GRE test, along with a score range after you’ve finished. This is the single best prep for the exam. Why? Because the computer interface—down to the very last pixel—is exactly what you’ll encounter on  test day (unless you are taking the paper-based version). And, if you haven’t taken a test on a computer, the experience can be very different from those found in books.

The bottom-line: if you are serious about scoring in a competitive range on the Revised GRE, then picking up a copy of the Official Guide, along with CD, is critical.


Prep: A+

Strategies/Explanations: C


Update: to address our dissatisfaction with the explanations given in this book, we’ve recorded our own set of video explanations for every question. Enjoy!


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


P.S. Ready to improve your GRE score? Get started today.

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