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Most students seem to be confused as to where to go to get materials for GRE
preparation. This is not as a result of lack of preparation materials,
however. Rather, there are too many options to choose from which
baffles the students. This is, perhaps, because they are worried about
the quality of the materials which would help them to build their
future. There are free materials, and obviously, there are paid ones
too. Unfortunately, that does not help you decide which ones are
better. The official GRE website provides a number of high quality test
which are free, nevertheless, are some of the best materials available
to help you in your test preparation. Let’s consider what options you
have to get materials to start your GRE preparation with.
You have quite a few options for gathering GRE preparation materials. As the first step, what can be better than collecting what the official GRE website has to offer? Starting from sample questions, you can get useful study materials, test preparation software, and even the official study book for the test (the last one is not free, however). You can have a look at the sample questions on the test's website to get an idea of what to expect in the test. There you will also find the PowerPrep software, undoubtedly the most useful resource for preparing for the computer-based test, from the test makers themselves. The site also provides a number of downloadable preparation materials (as Word and PDF files) that each student should go through (links provided below).
For most students, having a real book is the best way to prepare for any test. Keeping that in mind, ETS provides The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, which is available for purchase from most leading stores. Considering that it is the only official study book available, it is one of the books most students intend to have. It is not the best book available, though. Fortunately, there are many other books available from renowned publishers and experienced instructors. Maybe, books give you the perfect reading experience, but while preparing for a test, merely going through books is not enough. That is why most of the books come with complementary CDs which provide extra practice resources and even test taking software that emulate real test experience. As the computer based version of the test is available in most places, students often intend to have some experience of the actual test through test preparation software.
However, even the combination of test preparation books and software sometimes falls short of the need of many students, primarily because of the lack of feedback available. Students are unable to go beyond what is provided, and often their personal needs are not satisfied as the problems that each individual student faces remain unanswered. Some of the books come with access to updated online materials, which further enable the students to get even more out of the limited resources available in the books. Online support helps them to get expert answers to their personal problems and questions.
Some publishers of GRE books offer flash cards as additional study materials, along with the study books. Flash cards can be purchased separately, too, from most leading publishers of GRE materials. These are very useful in helping you to build your vocabulary. Flash cards also come with mathematical equations printed on them, which you can use to develop your knowledge in the quantitative section of the test. While you are revising before the test, flash cards can help you in measuring your preparation level. There is a special type of flash card to serve this purpose: such flash cards have a question printed on one side of the card, with the answer being on the opposite side. You can use these to check how well-prepared you are, and in case you fail to remember an answer, you can flip it to be reminded of the answer. If you have already bought a book which did not come with flash cards, or if the cost of additional flash cards seems too high to you, you still need not fret! The best thing about these cards is that you can make your own cards! Creating your own flash cards makes the cards even more useful. Naturally, the ones you buy come with many such cards that you may never need, but you do have to pay for those. Likewise, you may not find ones you need, however lengthy the list might be. If you create those yourself, you get flash cards only for the topics you need, neither more nor less. However, if you want the flash cards only for revision purpose, the more the merrier; literally!
Nevertheless, most of the students prefer to have access to an actual test preparation course, be it online or in-classroom. The possibility of getting to know the teachers and having interactive sessions attracts most students towards such courses. A number of online courses are available which can be accessed from anywhere; alternatively, you can also find a nearby coaching center to prepare for the GRE test. Online courses enable you to access such courses that you cannot attend by physically being in the classroom (e.g. courses provided by renowned institutions abroad). You get plenty of study aids once you join a decent course, but the most helpful feature of actual test preparation courses, perhaps, is the mock tests that they offer. You can take a number of mock tests (depending on the course you choose, of course!), which are scored properly to give you an idea of where you stand. Taking such tests is particularly helpful for the Analytical Writing section, because in this section you cannot judge yourself by any means. Most of the GRE books publishers hold such courses, both online and offline, which you can take admission in. There are other organizations and individual instructors too, but it can be easier for you to choose one of the courses from well known test aid providers: if you have bought books or other materials from these publishers, you can try to judge the courses by the standard of those materials (not bound to work always, however).
Finally, you need to keep in mind how much preparation you need, or what kinds of preparation materials you might need depends entirely on your knowledge, skills and preparation level. Thus, do not feel that you must have access to all the materials available to get a high score in the test. For many students, a good book with complementary prep materials is enough to complete preparation for the test. However, this may not be the case for all of the students. Now that you have an idea of the available study aids, choose the materials you might need to complete your preparation.
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