As seen in:
Official GRE
Super Power Pack
Kaplan: GRE Premier 2017
6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile
Manhattan Prep
GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides
Princeton Review
4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition
GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide
Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam
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Good

It's hard to beat a series written by the authors of the actual GRE exam. Practice problems are on point: the style and complexity of questions are in line with what you would expect on test day.

On a budget and in a time crunch? This book features 6 practice tests and a comprehensive answer key for each question. You also get mobile access so you can access materials from any device, any time.

Got time and money to go the full-mile? Manhattan Prep digs deep into every topic of the test and provides simple, effective techniques and strategies to help you master each section.

Ideal for those in a time crunch and budget. Princeton Review provides great frameworks for organization and problem solving. Excellent for verbal prep and vocabulary drills.

Fun to read - you will not get bored with the introductions, descriptions, and strategies. Provides insightful tricks and tips to narrow down choices.

Bad

The series do not provide "tricks" and strategies like other test prep companies that are designed to help you with shortcuts and pattern recognition. The answer key descriptions are also not very comprehensive.

Kaplan tends to err on the side of less difficult questions, especially in the quantitative section, compared to the actual exam. You should not rely on this book alone if the quantitative section is not your forte.

The depth and breadth of the questions can be overkill, and beware, there are some typos in the math problems. Manhattan Prep also tends to err on the side of slightly more difficult questions compared to the actual exam.

Similar to Kaplan's, Princeton Review's math questions tend to be on the less difficult side. This book falls behind in both quality and quantity of quantitative questions.

Brand recognition - we are unsure who the actual authors of this series are. Also, this book alone is not comprehensive enough to provide a well-rounded preparation.

Bottom Line

The sheer volume and quality of practice problems and practice exams in this book are hard to beat. If you must choose only one series, this is the one to go with.

Kaplan has a great reputation for developing robust materials, even though the content is not always on par with the actual test questions. The DVD, online access, and additional support materials are bonuses on top of the book itself.

If you want to do a full comprehensive prep, short of paying $1,000 for an actual prep course, and have the self-discipline to get through each and every book, this is your choice. Note: this series is best if you have a minimum of 6+ weeks available.

If you're a math whiz already confident with the quantitative section and you need to seriously brush up on verbal, this book is for you. Princeton review has a reputation for providing solid verbal prep.

This book is intelligently written with question styles and difficulty on par with the actual exam. However, it should be used as a supplement, not as a sole source of study.

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Best GRE Books

Don’t let the GRE be the gatekeeper to your graduate ambitions and success. Most graduate programs and many business schools consider the GRE, and it is important you prepare effectively in this increasingly competitive environment. However, not every preparation guide is created equally – hence, read on to find out what is the best guide for you.

Products we considered

Official GRE
Super Power Pack
Kaplan: GRE Premier 2017
6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile
Manhattan Prep
GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides
Princeton Review
4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition
GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide
Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam

Considerations

Quality and Quantity of Practice Questions

Let’s face it, nobody was born to naturally ace the GRE. There is no shortcut; yes, some may handle pressure and test taking better than others, but really, it comes down to diligence and good old fashioned practice makes perfect. But, not all practice is created equally, and everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses requiring a tailored, personalized approach to studying. So let’s get talking. How extensive and thorough are the practice questions and techniques that the books provide? Do they cover the quantitative and verbal topics comprehensively or do they only give a general review? What is the realism of the practice problems to the actual exam?

Type: For the Crammer or for the Planner?

We’ve all been there. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you get when every single day counts. For those test takers that have limited prep time, say less than 1-2 months, you need to be especially picky about which books you buy and how you prepare. Let us recommend you with the best materials so you don’t waste time with duds.
OR - We get it, you want the real thing. Let’s not waste time practicing with easier questions that will lead to artificially higher practice scores and inevitable disappointment on test day. Likewise, let’s not waste time practicing Calculus and Rocket Science when it will never actually appear on the exam. So how closely do the books emulate the real GRE exam in quality? Is the overall difficulty of the material easier, harder, or on par with the actual GRE? Let’s make sure the practice emulates the real race.

Most Realistic

We get it, you want the real thing. Let’s not waste time practicing with easier questions that will lead to artificially higher practice scores and inevitable disappointment on test day. Likewise, let’s not waste time practicing Calculus and Rocket Science when it will never actually appear on the exam. So how closely do the books emulate the real GRE exam in quality? Is the overall difficulty of the material easier, harder, or on par with the actual GRE? Let’s make sure the practice emulates the real race.

Price

Limited in your budget for GRE prep? Looking for a way to get a lot of practice questions with only a few dollars? We take a look at the price for each of our top picks, and help you make the right decision on where to spend your money. Understanding what resources come at each price point helps you hone in on the right products to buy for your particular needs. If you need more verbal practice, then perhaps your dollars should go into verbal focused study resources, or the exact opposite if you are focused on math problems and improving your skills there.

Considerations

Quality and Quantity of Practice Questions

Official GRE Super Power Pack

ETS is the clear winner for quality of practice. The authors of the actual GRE, ETS, provide you with 4 practice exams and over 600 practice questions in this series. ETS provides general tips and directions for each section. This series is great for those who already have a good grasp of their weaknesses, as the answer key is not as thorough as other sources. Several students have advised to save these precious “real life” practice tests and practice questions toward the mid-to-end of the study cycle. Nevertheless, with over 600 questions, this series is bound to well-equip any test taker at any stage of studying.

GRE Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile

With over 2,200 practice questions and 6 practice tests, this is a comprehensive guide that provides mobile and online access so that you can study anywhere, on any device. Definitely not lacking in quantity of practice, and quality is also considered great – with a caveat, great for the beginner. However, similar to Princeton Review, Kaplan’s quantitative prep is not as robust as other series and questions are reported to be a bit easier than the actual GRE. Some students have deemed this series for those in the “beginner” stages of prep, but not for those in the last mile trying to ace the exam.

Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides 

Manhattan is the winner for mastering both quantity and quality of practice. Manhattan has a reputation for providing deep, thorough practice materials coupled with pointed strategy and test taking tips that high scoring students swear by. These books hold up to that reputation - magnifying and honing in on every single aspect of the test (30-50 questions per topic), getting down to the nitty gritty details of every type of question. You get over 1,800 practice problems in this book. If you have time to take a deep dive and prepare from A to Z, this is the guide for you. Note: these series focus heavily on the quantitative section. If you extra practice in Math, purchase the 8-strategy set guide

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition 

The Princeton study materials are reliable and robust. They are designed to give you just the right amount of study materials most need for the exam without the overkill. These books also include several test-taking strategies specifically engineered to give students an edge in terms of timing and strategy on the exam. However, some users believe the quality and quantity of quantitative review in this book is not as thorough as other guides. If you are comfortable with your math skills, and need more focus on verbal, this is the book for you. If you are looking to hone in on quantitative, use Manhattan’s set of 8 strategy books.

GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide: Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam

If you want some strategy and tips, choose the 110 page GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide. Less bulky for travel and less total content. However, the perfect fit for those who need something to review higher level issues, and are not looking for lots of practice problems and items of that nature.

The Official GRE provides a powerful study resource.
Considerations

Type: For the Crammer or for the Planner?

Official GRE Super Power Pack

For the planner. You can trust the authors of the actual GRE, who provides you with 4 practice exams and over 600 practice questions in this series. This power pack is also one of the most frequently used and recommended guides by GRE tutors, who describe this series as a “must have”. Both the quantitative and qualitative prep in this series has been applauded by many high scoring students. This series is great for those who already have a good grasp of their weaknesses, as the answer key is not as thorough as other sources. For the ultimate Planner, I would recommend that you take a diagnostic test with ETS and use the Official Guide book, then switch over to the Manhattan guides to drill down on your weaknesses, then finish off your prep with the ETS Power Pack practice exams.

GRE Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile

For the crammer. Kaplan provides a great introduction and overview of the exam, ideal for the test taker who needs GRE 101 prep in the early stages of studying. The book is written assuming the studier is fresh to the test, and needs an overview in a succinct manner. This guide alone is not recommended for those top scorers, but more for the crammer who needs the basics.

Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides 

For the planner. This series provides a 360 degree guide to the GRE with 6 guides dedicated to the quantitative section, and 2 guides for the qualitative section with access to 6 full length exams online. The math books are broken out by subject (Algebra, Geometry, Fractions, etc) and provide ground-up explanations, assuming you are not a math major. The qualitative guides provide helpful tricks and areas to focus on while test taking (provides the qualitative lens that you should wear during these sections). All in all, this series is the most comprehensive guide out there in the market and cleverly written and organized for the GRE voracious student.

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition 

For the crammer. The Princeton study materials provide reliable, effective guidance on the verbal and qualitative sections, and the difficulty of these sections is on par with the actual exam. The qualitative prep is comprehensive and effective, and the writing tips are clever and helpful. Also, the vocabulary “hit parade” captures the most commonly used GRE words – a great asset to this guide. The analytical writing section is also superior to other guides. All in all, Princeton Review knows what they are talking about particularly for the qualitative sections. Similar to Kaplan, this guide is geared toward those on a time crunch who need a more basic preparation.

GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide: Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam

For the crammer. This 110 page guide is definitely geared for those in a hurry who want a to-the-point, no frills approach to the GRE. However, because there is only 1 practice test provided, students should not rely solely on this guide as it may be too succinct for many.

The Official GRE Super Power Pack provides you with 4 practice exams and over 600 practice questions.
Ben
Expert Consultant
Ben
MBA admissions consultant

Ben is an MBA admissions consultant with one of the country’s premium MBA admissions companies. His writing and advice on MBA admissions, test taking, and the overall graduate school perspective has appeared on CNN, Business Insider, GMAC.com, MBA.com, TopMBA.com, and many other publications.

Considerations

Most Realistic

Official GRE Super Power Pack

There is no competition here – ETS is the only series that will match the difficulty of the exam to the tee. The GRE team knows exactly what they are talking about as they are the test-makers themselves. The content you work on in these practice questions and tests may well show up with different words or numbers on the actual test.

GRE Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile

GRE Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests by Kaplan is a bit easier, especially in the quantitative sections. If the qualitative is your focus area then it may work fine, or it could be a final resource prior to testing to boost your confidence.

Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides

The 5-lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems by Manhattan Prep is on par and a tad bit more difficult in some of the quantitative sections. The guide is a key resource if you need harder quantitative questions, and tap into the large quantity of total content.

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition 

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 ed. by Princeton Review is a bit easier, especially in the quantitative sections. If you want a confidence boost then perhaps get started here first. However, if you are really aiming for an amazing score this resource might not be enough.

GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide: Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam

GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide by the GRE Test Prep Team is on par, but also a bit “off” from ETS style. The challenge here is if you use this resource alone you may be in for some surprises on test day. Combining it with another resource may be a prudent option for many people.

The Official GRE guide brings perspectives that only the test-makers themselves can offer the user.
Considerations

Price

Official GRE Super Power Pack

At $38 for 3 comprehensive books from the author of the GRE, this is a steal. Given that you get questions from the actual test makers for a very reasonable price, this is a must have for anyone who is taking the GRE.

GRE Premier 2016 with 6 Practice Tests: Book + Online + DVD + Mobile

$39 for 2,200 practice questions and 6 practice exams? This is the best deal per practice question that you can get. For those looking for generalized prep, this package provides very good value when you consider the cost per question.

Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides 

$90 for is quite expensive at first glance, but considering what you are getting it is actually a reasonable price. For those who need extra practice in math, this is the best guide out there - it includes exhaustive quantitative prep and its explanations, tips, and organization are on point and more comprehensive than any other guide out there.

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition 

$15 is a deal considering you are getting 4 practice tests. This guide is great for those just getting started on test prep, but it is not sufficient for those ambitious students who are looking for a 95-percentile score. However, it can be a good entry point if budget is a major constraint.

GRE Prep 2016 Study Guide: Test Prep Book for the GRE Exam

At $16 for 1 practice test and only 110 pages, this is not the best deal. This is a great supplement to any of the other books above, but considering you likely will need prep materials to go with it, you may want reconsider getting it in the in the first place.

Kaplan's resources for the price are hard to beat.

Best of the Best

This series is a must for any test taker who wants realistic preparation. Goldilocks would choose this series as it is not too long, not too short, but just right in terms of quality and quality of content - providing you with the proper attention needed for each section.

Best of the Best
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Goldilocks would choose this series - it is not too long, not too short, but just right in terms of quality and quality.

Best Bang for Your Buck

Kaplan is the Best Bang for Your Buck as it provides a plethora of practice material for under $25, while not cutting you short in terms of detailed explanations and test taking strategies for all sections. If you're looking for a general guide with ample drills, questions, and practice tests all in one affordable book - this is the one for you.

Best Bang For Your Buck
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