Three best GRE prep books

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Always take your practice tests under timed conditions so you can practice your time-management skills as well as your knowledge of the material.

Ask any student studying for the GRE and chances are good that they'll say that they feel a little overwhelmed. This isn't unusual, but it is avoidable if you have the right study materials. A good GRE prep book can make the whole process much easier and help you to feel more confident walking into test day.

If you're preparing for the GRE, or considering it, here are some things you need to know when choosing a GRE prep book, along with some of our recommendations.

Considerations when choosing GRE prep books 

Contents

The first thing you have to decide is what kind of prep book you're looking for. Some cover the content of the full exam in great detail, while others spend more time quizzing you with practice questions. Some cover each section of the exam equally, while others give more weight to the Quantitative section because more students seem to struggle with this.

Schedule

You also have to consider how much time you have until your test date. There's no point in purchasing a 1,000-page study guide if you have to take the test in two days. You wouldn't have time to go through it all. Make sure that the book you choose lines up with your goals and your schedule.

GRE prep book features

Here are the most important things to look for in your GRE prep book:

Exam overview: The prep book should give you a thorough overview of the exam, scoring methods, and test-day procedures.

Content review: If you want a comprehensive study guide, look for a book that provides an in-depth review of each section of the test.

Full-length practice tests: Most GRE prep books contain practice tests, but the best ones will have computer-adaptive tests to better simulate the conditions of the real exam.

Question bank: The prep book might also have a separate question bank so you can focus on the specific question types that are giving you trouble.

Supplemental resources: Some GRE prep books come with access to online or mobile resources that enable you to switch up how you study.

Tips

Take a practice test before you begin studying. That sets a baseline for yourself so you can see which areas you need to work on.

Study a little bit every day. This keeps you in the habit of studying and on track for test day.

Continue taking practice tests at regular intervals throughout your study program. Refocus your energies based on your results.

Study with a friend. If you have a friend who's also studying for the GRE, consider studying together to help keep each other motivated and on track.

GRE prep books we recommend

Best of the best: Official GRE Super Power Pack, 2nd Edition

Our take: This is a great resource for familiarizing yourself with the exam format and pinpointing your weak areas. It gives you plenty of opportunities to practice what you're learning until you feel confident with the material.

What we like: This book is packed with 600 practice questions that come from real exams, so you can feel confident that they'll provide a comparable challenge to what you'll see on test day. It also includes four full-length practice tests, access to GRE POWERPREP online resources, and an in-depth overview of the exam written by the company that created it.

What we dislike: It claims to be a pack of three books in one, but users report a lot of redundancy between the three texts.

Best bang for your buck: Kaplan Test Prep GRE Prep Plus 2018

Our take: Go with Kaplan's GRE prep book if you're looking for a detailed review of everything you need to know before you take the exam, but there might be better options if you want to focus on a specific section.

What we like: Contains two full-length practice tests and a comprehensive discussion of the exam unrivaled by any of its competitors. In addition, you'll also get access to online study resources, mobile tools, and test-taking strategies to help you learn the best approaches for each question type.

What we dislike: Kaplan does an excellent job of covering the basics, but some say that even its most difficult questions are easier than the real exam, especially in the Quantitative section.

Choice 3: Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides

Our take: This is the way to go if you're determined to get the highest possible score on the GRE that you can.

What we like: This set of eight books covers the sections of the GRE in extensive detail and comes with access to six full-length practice tests through an online account. It focuses heavily on the Quantitative section of the exam, so it's a good choice if you struggle with math.

What we dislike: Some students have said that the practice questions were more difficult than the regular exam, and some of them contain typos, which can make it difficult to determine which is the right answer.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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