Test prep books for the GRE?
September 21, 2006 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Books for GRE prep? Which ones did you use to prepare for the exam?

I'm planning on taking the GRE before the major changes go into effect. I'm really shooting for the stars in terms of my score, and I'm willing to dedicate a lot of time and effort to my studies.

I know that the GRE has been covered here in the past, but what I am looking for is specifically what book/s did you use to prepare? Which brand (Kaplan, Princeton Review, etc.) did you find to be the most helpful? Did one big book cover your studies, or did you supplement it with a book specifically for math or for vocabulary? And practice quizzes: did you take them out of a book, or is there software that you used? Any suggestions will be appreciated!
posted by apple scruff to Education (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend The Princeton Review's book. I suggest that you get one book for the entire test, because the test-taking tips cover the big picture, too. If you want extra practice in a particular area, there are two ways to go: either get the SAME brand of book so the language is familiar, or get a DIFFERENT brand of book so the approach is different. Depends on why you need the extra practice.

You should take all your practice tests in as close to testing conditions as possible. Timing is part of test prep, so is stamina for the length of the test, and so is learning the computer interface. The Princeton Review books come with a practice CD, and so should any book for the GRE, since the test is on the computer.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2006

I think that Kaplan's math techniques are awesome.
posted by k8t at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2006

wife swore by the kaplan. she bought about 8 books for prep; said kaplan was by far best.
posted by u2604ab at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2006

Whatever you use, make sure you have software that simulates the actual test. The computer testing has a very different feeling than previous paper tests, and you'll want to prepare not just for the content but also the structure of the GRE. I'm sure I wouldn't have done nearly as well had I not taken a few practice test to get used to it.
posted by fidelity at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2006

I used Kaplan as well, mainly for the vocabulary lists, refreshers on Geometry, and the practice tests. Worked well for me, but I've always done fairly well at standardized testing.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2006

I loved my Kaplan CD-Rom practice tests. I just took them over and over for a week. Did awesome on the test, which was just like the practice, and grad schools called me at home two days after I sent out my scores. Apparently, it mattered....
posted by aimless at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2006

I liked the Kaplan books, particularly the lists of commonly asked vocabulary words. At least half of the ones on their list were on my test. I also liked the POWERPREP software that you can either download from ETS or check out from your library. (Actually, I hated it as software, but it does provide you with an accurate test simulation.) Here's what I wrote in an earlier thread.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2006

Kaplan is expensive, but its legit. I'm taking an lsat prep course though...
posted by j-urb at 7:17 PM on September 21, 2006

I used the big Kaplan book, the Barron's "prepare in one week1!one" book, and a small Princeton review book.

The Barrons and the Kaplan were the most useful to me, my primary deficiency was math. I got my math score from dismal to acceptable and my verbal score was 98th percentile (though i've always gotten 98-99th in verbal on any given test).

The two books outlined different techniques that were both useful on the test. I concur with everyone who says to take lots of practice tests from the discs. You might consider firing up a file-sharing client and getting the CD from every publisher, because in my experience, the practice tests from each publisher had different levels of difficulty and different methods of evaluation.

good luck.
posted by fake at 9:58 PM on September 21, 2006

Oh yeah, don't forget to sign up for every "word of the day" list in existence. They're worth it, absolutely.
posted by fake at 9:58 PM on September 21, 2006

I liked the free ETS preparation material. It helped me a lot, and I did well.
posted by jb at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2006

By the way, I get the impression that the GRE just isn't as competitive as the LSAT or SAT. People don't study as much, and it's not as hard to have a high percentile. I studied for a week or two on the free prepatory material only, and was in a high percentile for verbal and the old analytic. If you are going into something which needs a good quantitative score, you will want to have done some high school level maths more recently than I had (5 years earlier), but that should only matter if you you are in a quatitative discipline, and then obviously you would have been using your maths skills.

Do the practice tests, and see how your score. You may do better than you expect. Good luck!

I never did a subject test - you should ask about that specifically.
posted by jb at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2006

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