For Math, Gruber’s goes through the basics. It provides practice problems and voilà you are ready for the GRE. Or are you?
Gruber’s Math is lacking on four levels:
Layout: This is probably one of the last user-friendly GRE prep guides from the standpoint of layout. The math section especially feels like an information dump. I imagine must students despairing as they try to make their ways through the dense, busy pages.
Accuracy of Questions: The math questions do not really reflect the questions written by ETS. Sure you get practice on basic concepts, but the subtlety, aka trickiness, of the problems is absent.
Advanced Questions: Gruber’s isn’t the way to go especially if you are looking to get a competitive score. Most of the questions are at the medium to easy-medium level. Not too much to challenge.
Efficacy of Approaches: There are quick approaches to solving problems. Gruber, however, sticks to the old plodding methods. Really helpful strategies such as ball-parking and plugging in are not mentioned.
The Verbal section of Gruber’s is sorely lacking. At times some of the reading passages feel as though I’m sitting for a state test for high school sophomores. Other times, reading passages feel like an easy SAT.
Things don’t get much better with Text Completions. Even if you take a cursory look at the ETS book will realize that Text Completions can be as long as four-sentences. Gruber’s only provides one-sentence text completions. Oh yeah, these questions are also very easy, so if you want to prep for the GRE – whether for text completions or reading comprehension – do not use this book, unless you want to be in for a nasty surprise.
That Gruber’s content is sorely lacking is perhaps a reflection of how Gruber hasn’t really adjusted to the New GRE. Even the vocabulary approach is a relic from the old test – memorize a massive 3,400-word list with words that would only show up in the analogy section (shambles – a slaughterhouse….really, Gruber’s?).
Learning vocabulary in context is totally passed over for the potentially dangerous strategy of word grouping (or word lumping) and the simply not that helpful word root list. In the former case, you will associate words that have important nuances – nuances that will be tested on the GRE.
Gruber’s is a dumbed-down GRE, one that feels like a mix between the old GRE and an easy SAT. It fails to provide helpful math or verbal strategies, nor the level of practice questions you need to prepare you for test day. The verbal especially hews to the old GRE approach – big lists, subpar definitions, roots lists, and overly general vocab grouping. Best avoided.
This is the ninth in a series of new GRE book reviews.
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