Manhattan GRE 3rd Edition Book Review

For those of you who read my review of Manhattan GRE 2nd edition (MGRE)—indeed who’ve followed my advice by picking up a copy or two or MGRE—you may have been awaiting my review of the latest, 3rd edition guides. Nope, that’s not me setting up to tell you how I’ve decided not to write a review. I am writing a review…only the review is very, very short. So here it is:

The same.

That’s right – that’s the end of my review. The 3rd edition of the MGRE books is, except for a few cleaned up typos and geometry diagrams, exactly the same as the 2nd edition. Oops wait…I totally take that back. The MGMRE 3rd edition is markedly different. Gone is the bland cover of the 2nd edition; each cover comes with a different teacher student duo, apparently in rapture over the wonders of the GRE. I will say this much: at least Manhattan GRE puts real life MGRE instructors on its covers (Kaplan, Princeton Review and the others put stock photos of a person who in all likelihood doesn’t know the difference between GRE and GED).

Okay, I’ll stop being snarky. The thing is I’m a bit disappointed. I was looking forward to an entirely new set of questions. Better yet, I guessed that MGRE had been sending its instructors, throughout the course of the year, to take the Revised GRE. Within the pages of the 3rd edition, we would find refined techniques detailing problems that the GRE had begun to favor: double matrix questions, complex average questions, and four-sentence long jumbo Text Completions.

When Manhattan GRE released its 2nd edition nobody had even taken the Revised GRE. So I’m somewhat dismayed that insights gained from actually taking the test have not, in the least, informed this latest iteration. It’s like Manhattan GRE still have not taken the Revised GRE.

Nowhere is the lack of an update more problematic than on the Text Completion and the Sentence Equivalence guide. In the 2nd edition guide, we had ridiculously obscure words and not so ridiculously tangled syntax. As the Revised GRE is all about the latter, many simply ended up learning obscure vocabulary and were shocked test day when some of the words were so straightforward…and the sentences convoluted and nuanced.  Now with the 3rd edition, we have exactly the same.

After my little rant, you may find it surprising that I still recommend MGRE. Why? Well, many of the strategies are still very helpful. After all, the test hasn’t completely morphed into a totally different beast since last year. The helpful Reading Comprehension tips, especially the Critical Reasoning-style questions, totally blows away anything else out there. The math still provides a solid foundation. And finally, you have access to the six free online tests. The tests simulate the high-pressure environment of the GRE.  Even some of the Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions are somewhat more up to the standards of the GRE (which means more twisted sentences, less obscure vocab). Though, to the best of my knowledge, the questions in the six on-line tests have not changed since last year.

It may also likely be that once all of the 2012 GRE books are released, not a single one will have updated the material. Same content, different covers. (Who knows, Nova may be releasing a 2012 edition that still covers the old GRE). Thus, I can hardly fault Manhattan GRE for not changing anything in its 3rd edition. So for another year, Manhattan GRE is the king of the Revised GRE books.

Grade: A- (strategies)/B- (content/practice questions)


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