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GRE Study Books — a Review
Preparing for the GRE Test:
Once you have made up your mind on taking the GRE test, it is time for actual preparation till the test date. There are many ways to start preparing for the test, and even the official website can help you to get started. However, for most students, that is not enough for practice. The other ways, often better, of preparing for the test include books, preparation courses (both online and offline), practice software, or any other kind of study materials which you have access to. Which one is the best and individually sufficient option, is a largely debatable topic. Often students find that none of these materials is sufficient by itself.
Most of the students feel that having a real book is the best way to prepare for any kind of test. Fortunately, there are many useful books available for purchase, most of them from renowned publishers and experienced instructors. Most of the books even come with complementary CDs which provide extra practice resources and software. Having some kind of test preparation software is essential for test preparation, because the computer based version of the test is available in most places and most students around the world can avail it. Some of the books come with limited access to updated online materials, which further enable the students to get even more out of the limited resources available in the books.
How to Choose One That Satisfies Your Need:
Among other study materials, a book is by far the most accessible format available. Also there are many books for you to choose from, though it is not always as easy to choose the right one. Students often intend to buy a book that will successfully satisfy all their needs; but unfortunately, most of the books are good for certain purposes. Unless you keep this in mind, it will be a tough job for you to find the right book for you, and chances are that you will be disappointed to see what you find in the book you buy. Be certain about your needs, where you need to improve, etc. and find the book that satisfies your needs by reading the descriptions and reviews. As mentioned above, you can look for what ‘extra’ resources the book you buy provides: whether it has an accompanying CD with mock tests, or whether the book is supported by online materials that are updated from time to time. There are a few well known publishers who provide quality books, and you can also check the standard of the author(s).
A Quick Checklist:
- A complete guide or an in-depth analysis of a section? (Not only what you need, but also what the book you chose provides)
- Does the book contain enough worked out problems?
- Does it provide explanations for most of the solutions?
- Does it come with mock-tests?
- Is the book supported by relevant resources (CD/DVDs, online practice tests, materials, etc.?
- Have you purchased any book from the same publisher or author (to know best what it can offer, otherwise go with what others have to say about the product)?
- Finally, do you have the time to go through the book before the test date (Certainly, no one can read all the books available; so buy a good book, but if needed at all!)?
A Few Books You Can Consider:
Here we take a look at some books available for the revised GRE test:
New GRE 2011-2012: Strategies, Practice, and Review (Kaplan GRE Exam)
This is a good book to start your test preparation with. As mentioned previously, mostly it is not possible to get everything from one book, but this book is probably one of the few that can satisfy most of the students. It is a fairly well-structured overall guide, containing many useful tips and strategies that might help you in taking the test. The book provides good reviews for the problems presented throughout the book, and it does a great job while explaining those problems. Most students will find the book very easy to read and understand. The book also comes with a CD which contains one additional practice test, except the one you get on the book itself. Moreover, the book contains many question sets for the verbal and quantitative sections. However, this certainly is not enough practice for the GRE test, and you may feel the need to follow some other materials merely for this reason. Overall, this is one book you can buy to get good reviews that will help you in your preparation. Possibly you will never need this option, but the book comes with a money-back guarantee, which certainly reinforces the book’s capabilities.
New GRE Verbal Workbook (Kaplan GRE Verbal Workbook)
The Verbal Reasoning section is by far the most revised section of the latest version of GRE test, as ETS tried to shift focus from out-of-context vocabulary. New GRE Verbal Workbook is another book from Kaplan which is good enough to walk you through the changes in the Verbal Reasoning section of the test, and this also comes with a money-back guarantee (again, you would hardly need that option, considering the quality of the book). Kaplan claims to have revised most of the book to include new contents, practice tests and test taking strategies. Truly, the book contains enough practice tests for you to complete before the actual test, and the quality of the tests is also quite high to satisfy most advanced students. Along with over two hundred practice questions with explanations, you get an overview of the new question types that are included in the revised version of the GRE test. Moreover, you get wordlists according to the meanings of the words, so that it is easier for you to understand and distinguish different words. Students weak in the verbal section, or students who are not native English speakers, will certainly find this book very useful.
Cracking the New GRE with DVD, 2012 Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation)
This is another book that you can use as an overall guide to help in your test preparation. This one is from Princeton Review. Revised for the new version of the test, this book comes with 4 practice tests (including 2 sets that are available online). Though you get detailed explanations for most of the questions, you may often find those explanations to be erroneous. Even if you consider the short time period available before the publication of the book, it is still disappointing to find so many mistakes in a study book optimized for a higher level competitive exam. If it is merely a collection of practice tests that you are after, this book may provide you with that; however, it may not be a good idea to base your study for the GRE test on this book only. This book can be helpful for starters as it contains useful materials for any standard of students.