Best GRE books | 2019 – 2020

GRE Official GuideWhile embarking on the arduous journey from GRE exam prep to good universities and colleges, you should make sure that your travel bag contains the best GRE guidebooks that money can buy. They will show you the best routes and give you tips that will help you stay on track. Here’s a list of the top GRE books that you should consider including in your study plan.

But first, from the big list of GRE prep guides available, how do you choose the one most suitable to you? Here’s one way to go about it.

How to select the right GRE book

  1. Take a practice test on the GRE website to determine your strong points and weak points.
  2. Decide what learning style will suit you best: if you are a visual learner, choose a guide that comes with a CD.
  3. See how much time is available to you for preparation. If time is short, go for an e-guide. If you have plenty of time, go for a detailed study guide.
  4. Visit a bookstore and spend some time going through the various guides.
  5. Look for a complete mock test in your guide.
  6. Buy a second or a third guide that focuses on your area or areas of concern, particularly if your first guide was a general prep guide.
  7. After study, take the computer adaptive tests of the ETS.
  8. Some books are better for self-study, and some books are ideal as a follow-up for test-takers who have already attended live prep classes. Take an online course if you cannot attend live classes, as it offers flexibility.


List of the best GRE study guides

As a general rule, check first if there’s a more recent edition of the book and buy that. Here’s the list of the best GRE study guides.

Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides, 4th Edition

What it is: The GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides, 4th Edition, is published by Manhattan Prep, a leader among companies that help students get ready for tests. It is a good idea to start your GRE preparation with this guide that includes six math books and two verbal books. Each of the eight books is dedicated to a topical area of the test—algebra; fractions, decimals and percents; geometry; number properties; word problems; quantitative comparisons and data interpretation; reading comprehension and essays; and text completion and sentence equivalence. At the end of each book, three sets of practice questions are arranged by the level of difficulty—easy, medium, and hard.

Advantages: For candidates with time to prepare and deep dedication to the GRE, this is one of the most comprehensive GRE guides. It is a great book to learn GRE concepts and techniques and apply them to some really good questions. Explanations of concepts and questions are clear. The verbal books give you sound techniques and good reading practice and techniques.

Disadvantages: Because of the vast amount of information in these eight guides, they are not useful for those who hope to do it all in the last minute. The six math guides teach you well but do not contain many difficult questions that prepare you for excellence. In the two verbal guides, the questions on text completions and sentence equivalence depend on hard vocabulary rather than the difficult structures that the GRE demands.

Get it here: Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides, 4th Edition

The Official Guide to the Revised General Test, 2nd Edition

What it is: This “official guide” is really that—it is published by Educational Testing Services (ETS), the makers of the GRE. It is the only official guide available for the test and is called the authoritative guide to the GRE for a good reason. It contains detailed questions and answers and commentaries by the same people who grade the GRE. It therefore provides invaluable insight into the minds of the GRE graders and creators.

The guide has a good reputation because it can really prepare you for the actual test. It consists of four complete real tests (two in the book and two on the CD-ROM that comes with it), several genuine questions, detailed descriptions of the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning content areas, tips for answering each type of question, and an overview of the two types of analytic writing tasks that is part of the test.

Advantages: The content explaining the writing section of the test is particularly good— the instructions are clear and detailed. You will learn the best practices that will help you secure a high score.

Disadvantages: The guide does not supplement content with strategic advice and does not contain as many practice questions and additional resources as some other guides.

Get it here: The Official Guide to the Revised General Test, 2nd Edition


More Official GRE Books from ETS

The Official GRE Super Power Pack

The Official GRE Super Power Pack (including The Official Guide to the GRE and two books with practice questions on verbal and quant sections) may lack sophisticated tips on writing the GRE, but it offers plenty of practice, detailed examples of real answers by test candidates, and expert commentaries by test graders. The power pack, which comes with a CD-ROM, provides four practice tests.

Get it here: Official GRE Super Power Pack

GRE Big Book

This is perhaps the oldest ETS guide and follows the old GRE pattern (the one followed before 2011). How does it help? It helps by giving you additional practice. It has ample verbal and quant sections, but you should not make it the foundation for your preparations.

Here it is: GRE Big Book

Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions

This book has been described as a “must buy” for verbal reasoning questions that are similar to those you can expect to encounter at the actual test.

Get it here: Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions

Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions

The quantitative reasoning guide is packed with helpful strategies, and this makes it an improvement over the old ETS guides. The practice problems are more challenging than in previously published GRE quant questions.

Get it here: Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions

Other popular GRE Preparation books


Kaplan’s GRE Premier 2016

What it is: A comprehensive new package that is a treasure chest of instructions for tests and over 2,200 practice questions. Six full-length practice tests (five online, one in the book), a digital iPad download, a DVD, a mobile application, online access to a good question bank, and six online practice tests are also included. Another useful feature is a 500-question online QuizBank, in which customized quizzes can be taken and reviewed. Kaplan also provides academic support from instructors on their Facebook page. The sweetener? A guarantee that if you use their resources and strategies, you will score higher on the GRE General Test or receive a full refund.

Advantages: The reading passages and the questions are good.

Disadvantages: The strategies given in this book could have been sharpened a little more.

Get it here: Kaplan’s GRE Premier 2015


Kaplan GRE Complete 2016 (Books, DVD, Online)

The GRE Complete 2016 has been prepared as an exhaustive test-prep guide. It includes Kaplan’s three best prep books—GRE Premier, GRE Math Workbook, and GRE Verbal Workbook. These books contain a wealth of practice questions and explanations. Online access to a customizable GRE Quiz Bank is also offered along with Complete 2016.

Get it here: Kaplan GRE Complete 2016

Cracking the GRE Premium Edition 2016 with 6 Practice Tests (Princeton Review)

What it is: Princeton Review is a renowned education company that brings out excellent GRE products. Their strength appears to lie in preparing students for the verbal and writing sections of the test. Cracking the GRE Premium Edition 2016 includes access to online video classes and two GRE practice tests with complete answers. Four additional online tests and study guides for downloading are also available. The guide gives candidates an insight into the test, provides them strategy lessons, and equips them with tips for each section of the test.

Advantages: The book’s explanation of the verbal section is the big plus. It is also well written and comprehensible.

Disadvantages: The math section explanations are inadequate.

Get it here: Cracking the GRE Premium Edition 2016

Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition

Cracking the GRE offers a concise overview of the GRE with general strategy lessons. The book’s explanation of the verbal section is excellent, though the math section could have been better. The individualised tips for each of the test’s sections are quite helpful.

Get it here: Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition

Barron’s GRE 2015 Edition

What it is: This revised edition is a comprehensive guide with strategies sharpened for each section of the GRE—verbal, analytical, and quantitative. A diagnostic test and two models tests with well-explained solutions are available. Buyers get free access to Barron’s Online GRE Course, which includes video tutorials, quizzes, a practice question bank, and an iPad study app.

Advantages: Barron’s guides have always been targeted at the advanced test-takers, and students with a sound initial knowledge can conquer the tougher questions that may accost them on test day. Those who are dedicated and set apart good time for preparation will certainly benefit for their products.

Disadvantages: Beginners may find this guide difficult to read.

Get it here: Barron’s GRE 2015 Edition

More GRE Prep Books


Essential Words for the GRE

If bettering your verbal score is one of your priorities, Barron’s Essential Words should be a part of your kit. Essential Words gives useful tips on learning the roots and prefixes of words as a means of deciphering word meaning. You will find a pretest that helps you identify your problem areas. The book has concise word definitions.

Get it here: Essential Words for the GRE

Gruber’s Complete GRE Guide 2015

What it is: This guide has been prepared by Dr. Gary Gruber, a well-known expert in analyzing and identifying test-taking techniques, has an excellent reputation in standardized testing. His Complete GRE Guide 2015 covers all the GRE sections, but the quantitative section is where the guide does its best work—there is a wide variety of math questions including fractions, algebra, geometry, and rate and area.

Advantages: The Complete GRE Guide offers a detailed discussion of the quantitative section and includes excellent practice problems.

Disadvantages: The verbal section is Gruber’s weakest link. The reading passages may well have been taken from a poorly produced newspaper. The layout is poor.

Get it here: Gruber’s Complete GRE Guide 2015

Nova’s GRE Prep Course Book

What it is: Nova Press is a test prep centre that offers GRE study material through books, ebooks, the Internet, computer software, and phone app. Nova’s GRE Prep Course Book is focused almost entirely on the math section of the GRE, and it does an excellent job at demystifying the section’s elements. Not only does the guide categorises the questions by type (fractions, geometry, graphs, etc.), but it also classifies sample problems according to difficulty levels (easy, medium, hard, and very hard), which enables the student to make progress confidently.

Advantages: Certainly, the approach to the math section is the major advantage.

Disadvantages: The verbal section looks a bit outdated. Furthermore, the guide lacks in strategy tips, overall.

Get it here: Nova’s GRE Prep Course Book


GRE for Dummies, Premier, with CD

What it is: The popular “For Dummies” series is a range of instructional books that uses simple, engaging language to crack various topics wide open. True to form, GRE for Dummies is written in an easy, conversational style. The book provides a good review of the test components and includes a CD with five practice tests and 500 vocabulary flash cards.

Advantages: Its style and some of its substance, including the review of test components.

Disadvantages: The difficulty level of some of the practice questions could be higher.

Get it here: GRE for Dummies

Learn more about the GRE:
GRE preparation guide