GRE Study Guide: 10 Best Prep Books You Must Have

Unless you’re willing to fork over an easy $1,000 for GRE tutoring classes, then self-studying is probably your best choice. Maybe you just don’t have the time to attend these classes. Or maybe you’re just a self-motivated student. Whatever the excuse, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get the same coaching and practice as these expensive classes when all you need is a solid GRE study guide.


What follows is a list of the ten best GRE prep books out there with reviews and links. Each of these books has its own merit; some are highly recommended for readability, some for techniques and some for thoroughness. You can buy one GRE study book or a couple to complement the other; it’s entirely up to you.


GRE study guide


1.       The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test 2nd Edition

Publisher: Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Useful because: It’s from the test-makers themselves. Yes.


Reviewers call this the best GRE study guide. It includes topics and questions from actual tests and includes a full GRE test, which makes it best for practice. Explanations for answers are very detailed and the tips for answering questions are very helpful. Scored sample responses with the rater’s actual comments gives valuable insight on analytical writings. The tone of the guide may come across as dull however.


2.       Kaplan GRE Premier 2014 with 6 Practice Tests

Publisher: Kaplan

Useful because: It’s got strategies, test-taking tips and online test simulator.


This book comes with 1,800+ practice questions with detailed explanations and comes with a digital copy for download into your phone, tablet or computer. There’s also a timed online test simulator which is great for practice. It also has a faculty academic support at Kaplan’s Facebook page.


3.       Barron’s New GRE, 19th Edition

Publisher: Barron

Useful because: It’s got specialized strategy for every type of test question.


This GRE test prep offers screenshots of the computer interface to help you familiarize for test day. There’s a test overview and important chapters on tactics for test-taking. Answers are also provided for sample tests with explanations. But for full-length test practice, this book is lacking as a resource.


4.       GRE Vocab Capacity: Over 1000 Powerful Memory Tricks and Mnemonics to Widen your Lexicon

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Useful because: It’s fun and it actually works.


Who knew that improving your vocabulary could be so much fun? This book will help you remember tough words through a variety of associations, some are silly, most are funny and altogether unconventional. The offbeat way the authors present the words will entertain you and make the definitions “stick”.


5.       McGraw-Hill’s GRE with CD-ROM, 2014 Edition

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Useful because: It’s very thorough.


This book scrutinizes the test and test questions in different ways so strategies, concepts and contents are thoroughly explained. There’s also an entire section dedicated to logic, which is vital in every part of the GRE exam. There’s also an online prep center for GRE practice test. However, the test questions can come across as easy.


6.       Cracking the GRE with 6 Practice Tests & DVD, 2014 Edition

Publisher: Princeton Review

Useful because: It’s very readable.


Witty with a touch of humor, this study book includes GRE practice questions with detailed explanations plus strategies for solving questions. It covers all GRE topics and there are online tests and resources which are helpful. However, if you are looking for a more advanced insight into the GRE, you might want to look elsewhere.


7.       CliffsNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests, 2nd Edition

Publisher: Cliffs Notes

Useful because: It covers everything, from simple to complex mathematical concepts.


This is the best choice for students of every level who want to improve their math skills. It reviews mathematical problems most common to standardized tests, and has diagnostic tests to help the more experienced readers skip to parts suitable to them. This book has a lot of positive reviews although it’s not designed specifically for the revised GRE test.


8.       Manhattan GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides, 2nd Edition

Publisher: Manhattan Prep Publishing

Useful because: It’s very detailed, to the point and fun.


Written in authorial voice, these strategy guides have the most in-depth explanations for all types of questions. It feels like you are getting a walk-through through the entire material which is fun. This book would be a great help to those who want detailed explanations on quantitative comparison questions. There’s also free access to practice exams.


9.       Kaplan GRE 2014 Strategies, Practice, and Review

Publisher: Kaplan

Useful because: It has great analytical writing ideas.


The book contains a lot of tips and strategies for review and test-taking and offers detailed explanations to test questions as well as answers. The analytical writing section explains in depth the argument essay and breaks it down into parts. Very helpful for students having difficulty with analytical writing.


10.   Essential Words for the GRE

Publisher: Barron

Useful because: It’s extremely comprehensive.


Contains a very comprehensive word list with exercises and 10-word unit breakdowns; very helpful in learning and remembering tough words. It also uses words in sentences aptly and word definitions are clear and concise. The book is not tedious, but some students may find it boring.


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