The Best GRE Prep Books for 2017

There are a lot of “Best GRE Prep Book” lists out there. Most of them aren’t all that great – so we’ve tried to build a better list. We’ve looked at most of the books available today and we’ve written a brief bio for our favorite picks.

Your GRE score is important.  Because you’ll be spending a good amount of time studying it’s critical you get the right advice. Before picking a book, we recommend watching  Anne Curtis, a master trainer for the Princeton Review provide an overview of the GRE and how to make the most of your study time.

For a quick overview, below is our list of the best GRE prep books. For more information, scroll below.

RankBook TitlePagesPractice Tests /QuestionsPrice
1Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides1,9206 Tests$90
2The Official GRE Super Power Pack1,1814 Tests$40
3Cracking the GRE Premium Edition5766 Tests$25
4GRE Premier 20176006 Tests$25
5Barron’s GRE, 21st Edition6242 Tests$12
6Kaplan GRE Complete 20171,7666 Tests$50
75 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems1,0321,800 Ques$15
8GRE Math Prep Course468600 Ques$30
9Essential Words for the GRE432-$10
10CliffsNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests 3rd Edition448-$15
So what makes this a better guide?

Your GRE score is an important factor on your path to graduate school. And if you’re aiming for a top score chances are you’ll be spending a good amount of time studying. But what you study with is important. Follow a weak study routine or practice with the wrong material and your score will suffer.

That’s why it’s important to find the right GRE prep plan. Since you’re looking for the best GRE prep books, chances are you’ve already decided that a prep course isn’t for you. And that’s just fine. We believe that a solid prep book partnered with consistent and dedicated preparation yields to strong scores. So why should you trust our opinion?

Here’s why we believe this guide is better than others found online:

  • We explain what makes each book great, and what each book’s flaws are. Content is king. For our reviews we look through each book’s review material, practice question quality, and testing strategy effectiveness.
  • We evaluate which books are best for training on specific sections of the GRE. Everyone’s different and we all have our own weaknesses. Knowing who each book is designed for makes it easier to match to your own abilities or aspirations.
  • We genuinely want you to succeed.  We’ve taken the GRE and know how stressful it can be. Take comfort in knowing that it can tackled and that there are plenty of avenues to aid in your success (us being one of them!)
Who is this guide for exactly?

This guide is created first and foremost for students that are motivated to work towards getting a high score on the GRE. Working through these books will take time and effort. You’ll have to work through hundreds of practice questions before things begin to stick. Practice makes perfect, remember that.

If you’re willing to put the man hour into studying then buying a prep book will be the easiest step in your GRE preparations. Just understand that if you’re not willing to put time into studying, your choice of book does not matter.

Why and how is this guide divided?

We’ve divided our list of the best GRE books into a few categories as everyone has different needs for their GRE prep. Our categories are broken down into tiers:

  • Best: these are books that everyone should use, regardless of skill level. They offer comprehensive review or have the highest quality practice questions available.
  • Good:  good all around books but not the best – these are solid options to use for supplementary practice.
  • Extra Practice:  supplementary books intended for students who are focused on obtaining an exceptionally high score by mastering difficult GRE questions. In most cases, these should only be used after completing a prep book.
  • Subject Specific: the best books to strengthen your individual verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, or analytical writing section abilities.

The Best GRE Prep Books

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

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive GRE test prep then look no further. The Manhattan Prep GRE Study Guides cover each of the main topics tested on the GRE. They offer a excellent content review. Plenty of practice opportunity. And the taught testing strategies are top tier.

There’s a study guide for each major GRE tested subject, so you can tackle them one by one. The eight books include the following topics: Algebra; Fractions, Decimals, & Percents; Geometry; Number Properties; Quantitative Comparisons and Data Interpretation; Word Problems; Reading Comprehension & Essays; Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence.

Since there’s so much material to cover this set isn’t for the last minute cruncher.  But if you’re willing to dedicate the time to study, this is the best GRE prep set available hands down.

The Official GRE Super Power Pack

The Power Pack is a bundle of prep books written by the official writers of the GRE. You won’t find any extraordinary tips or strategies here. But you’ll gain access to real official GRE questions.

And why are real GRE questions so important for you to practice with? Well, they’re the same questions you’ll see when you take your test. They play by the same rules, complexities, and nuances.

The pack includes:

  • The Official Guide to the GRE
  • Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions
  • Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions

The bundle contains 4 full length practice tests. And has 600 practice questions to work through.

These are a step below Manhattan Prep’s comprehensive package; but they are the most important practice books available today.

Good GRE Prep Books

Cracking the GRE Premium Edition

Cracking the GRE is an all in one solution for the general test taker. The book offers an overview of the exam and features 6 practice tests (2 in the book and another 4 online).

The true value here is the computer adaptive (CAT) practice tests you get access to. The practice tests aren’t on the same level as the official ones. But they do a good job at exposing you to GRE questions.The answer explanations are pretty solid too.

Besides the CAT tests you get access to the Princeton Review online portal.  A repository of video tutorials, study plans, and excerpts. Some of it can be useful, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.

All in all, the book is well put together. We recommend it as a budget friendly choice for the average test taker.

GRE Premier 2017

Kaplan’s GRE Premier 2017 is a popular budget friendly choice for GRE practice. There are six full length practice tests included. 5 computer adaptive tests online and 1 found in the book. We recommend using the one in the book as a diagnostic test.

Kaplan wrote these practice questions. So they aren’t authentic, like those in the Official GRE Guides. But you get over 2,200 of them. Giving plenty of practice opportunity.

The Kaplan prep system is unique. It includes not only the book but several online components. There are 20 online quizzes. And over two hours of video tutorials explaining critical subject concepts. All accessible on any mobile device with an internet connection.

The GRE Premier isn’t a content review prep book like the Manhattan Prep Strategy Guides. But it’s an affordable prep book. And one that guarantees you’ll score higher on the GRE – or you’ll receive a full refund.

Barron’s GRE, 21st Edition

Barron’s GRE 21st Edition offering is another excellent budget friendly prep book. It features individualized content coverage and testing strategies for each section of the GRE.

There’s a diagnostic test and two full length practice tests included. The answer explanations are excellent as they’re very detailed. Barron also includes access to an online GRE course. The online repository features video tutorials,content review, quizzes, and more practice questions.

Unique to Barron is their incredible vocabulary review. The book contains a GRE master word list with definitions and example sentences. With adequate review, you’re testing vocabulary will improve.

Baron crafted a fantastic starter’s book here. It’s an incredible value for the money. Partner it with some extra practice questions and you’ll be quite prepared.

Kaplan GRE Complete 2017

Kaplan now offers a complete GRE test prep bundle. It includes Kaplan’s three GRE prep books:

  • GRE Premier
  • GRE Math Workbook
  • GRE Verbal Workbook

Together the package comprises of thousands of practice questions and explanations. You also gain access to Kaplan’s online repository of GRE Quiz questions, which gives you another 1,000 questions to work through.

The questions are average though. You get more of them at the expense of quality. But for around $50, getting access to over 2,500 questions and 6 full length practice tests is hard to beat.

Best Extra Practice GRE Prep Books

5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, 2nd Edition

If you’re looking for a book full of practice problems, look no further.

Manhattan Prep’s 5lb. book of GRE practice problems has over 1,800 practice problems for you to work on. There are explanations and step by step applications for all the questions to ensure you understand the tested concepts.

It should be noted that this is not a book of practice tests, nor does this book teach you how to tackle the GRE. It’s a book developed for practice, and just practice. We don’t recommend it to be the only GRE prep book you use. But as a supplement to your main study material this is a fantastic bargain and well worth picking up.

Best Subject Specific GRE Prep Books

GRE Math Prep Course

If you’re having trouble with the math section on the GRE, Nova’s GRE Math Prep Course is the book to use.

Each type of math question has its own review section. Topics like Fractions, Geometry, Graphs, etc. The approach is to gradually build your skills up step by step. Slow and steady wins the race here.

The math part of the GRE is an interesting section. There are no comprehensive tricks or strategies to the questions. You have about a minute to detect the tested concept of a question. Then you must manipulate the concept to give you an answer. But to manipulate a concept you have to be familiar with it and its process.

That’s what Nova’s Math Prep Course does. It reviews every time of concept tested and ensures you understand it. Once you do, test yourself with practice tests to reinforce the material.

As such, this is the best GRE math prep book available today.

Essential Words for the GRE, 4th Edition

Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE is excellent to use for improving your verbal score. The included diagnostic pretest helps gauge the strength of your current vocabulary.  Then there’s an 800 word list of the most frequent occurring words on the GRE for you to master.

The books designed around gradual progression. There’s extensive review on sentence completion. And plenty of instructions on learning word roots and prefixes. The material is two pronged. Learn it or understand how to decipher it. Each section then has a post test to help you measure your progress.

Again, Barron set the book up so you’re able to work your way on up. As an example the 800 word list is split into 10 word bite. So you can tackle the units at your own pace. This organized structure makes this the best GRE verbal book available today.

CliffsNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests 3rd Edition

Remember using CliffNotes in high school to better understand Shakespeare? Well we were just as surprised to discover that CliffNotes offers test prep books too. And guess what? Their math review book is amazing. Really. If you’re the type of person who thinks their bad at math, pick this up. You’ll learn a good deal of math.

CliffsNotes Math Review has dedicated sections to every type of math problem you can encounter on the GRE and more. The explanations are easily understandable and the book structure is very well thought out.  You’re able to take a diagnostic test which enables you to identify your weaker areas. Study smarter by knowing what to dedicate your time towards.

This isn’t our favorite math review book for the GRE since it is not dedicated to just the GRE. It’s a math review for standardized tests. But if you plan on taking multiple tests in your future this may be a good choice.