Studying for the GRE test is brutal. How are you planning to get the best score possible?
One of the least expensive (but most effective) ways of studying for the GRE is to use GRE prep books, but there are dozens of options to choose from. Which books should you choose?
Let’s examine the top three choices to determine which one is the best GRE prep book of 2019.
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Why Do You Need a Great GRE Prep Book?
The GRE is a long and difficult test.
The GRE test takes about 4 hours to complete. You will need to review hundreds of vocabulary words to get ready for the verbal section. The math in the quantitative section is not especially high level, but the questions can be tricky and it is easy to get bogged down and not answer all of the questions.
The advantage of studying from GRE review materials, like a GRE book or an online study program like Magoosh, is that you will only study information that can improve your GRE score.
A good GRE prep book will include:
- Specific strategies for each type of GRE question
- Example and practice questions covering every GRE scenario
- Full length practice GRE tests
- A large vocabulary list for the verbal section
- Practice analytical writing essay prompts with a breakdown of sample essays that would earn a perfect score
Are these necessary study tools available in a single GRE prep book?
There are dozens of good GRE prep books available. Some of them have are great for studying vocab. Some are excellent for preparing for the analytical writing essays.
Out of the many books available, three GRE prep book sets are clearly the best of the best.
Here is a breakdown of the top three contenders for the title of “Best GRE Book” for 2019.
Kaplan’s GRE Complete 2019: The Ultimate in Comprehensive Self-Study for GRE
There are several different good Kaplan GRE books. This bundle includes Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus, Kaplan GRE Verbal Workbook, and Kaplan GRE Math Workbook. It also includes access to online practice tests, some video lessons on specific GRE questions and strategies, and a Facebook group where you can ask questions.
When this article was written, the price for the bundle was $55. You can check out current pricing on Amazon.
Manhattan Prep GRE Set of 8 Strategy Guides
Out of the many Manhattan GRE books, this bundle is the most detailed and in-depth. Each strategy guide focuses on one part of the GRE test. The eight books are:
- The Algebra GRE Strategy Guide
- The Fractions, Decimals, & Percents GRE Strategy Guide
- The Geometry GRE Strategy Guide
- The Number Properties GRE Strategy Guide
- The Word Problems GRE Strategy Guide
- The Quantitative Comparisons & Data Interpretation GRE Strategy Guide
- The Reading Comprehension & Essays GRE Strategy Guide
- The Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence GRE Strategy Guide
Your strategy for each problem type on the GRE will have a huge impact on how well you do on the test. You will not find a better GRE prep book for learning these strategies than these 8 Manhattan GRE books.
The book bundle is typical $95, but you can find the current pricing on Amazon.
Barron’s GRE with Online Tests
This book is the best Barron’s GRE book available for general review. They also offer flashcards, a book of just practice tests, essential word lists, and workbooks.
Barron’s GRE book is not as thorough as Kaplan or Manhattan Prep. If you have a short window of time to study, then the shorter length might be an advantage. Otherwise, the other two books are a better option.
At the time of this writing, this book was available for $18 on Amazon, but you can check current pricing here.
Where Can You Find a Deal on the Best GRE Prep Books?
Although these GRE prep books are not very expensive ($18-55), you can still save some money by thinking outside the box.
You Could Buy a Used GRE Prep Book
Used copies of Barron’s, Manhattan Prep, and Kaplan GRE books are available on Amazon and other booksellers online. The used copies are typically more than 50% off the list price for the book.
The main problem with buying used copies of GRE review books is that the book will likely by marked up by the previous owner. The practice tests and practice questions will be answered already, which makes those tool useless you you.
You will also not be able to use the online component of the books, since the codes have been used already.
You could still use the book to learn good strategies and find practice questions elsewhere.
You Can Get a GRE Review Book at the Public Library
Most public libraries have copies of the books mentioned in this article as well as most of the other GRE study books on the market.
The library would allow you to read several GRE prep books for free, which would save you a good bit of money if you are planning on reading more than one.
The library books will have the same problem as used copies of the books. The pages will be marked up and you will not be able to use the online resources and online tests that come with the books.
Alternatives to Studying for the GRE with a Book
There are several good alternatives to using GRE books, depending on the time you have available and your budget.
Sign Up for a Live GRE Prep Course
Most major GRE prep brands have converted all of their courses to be online instead of in-person, but you can still get the live classroom experience if you want it.
The advantage of attending an in-person course is being able to interact with the students and teachers on a more personal level. If your learning style benefits from that kind of experience, then it might be a good option for you.
The live course option for GRE review is very expensive, especially compared to privately studying with books or an online course. Most of them are more than $1000.
Purchase an Online GRE Review Course
There are a lot of online prep options on the market. Most of them have thousands of review questions, hundreds of videos, and a guided study schedule to make sure you are ready on time.
Several of them also offer money back guarantees if you don’t improve your GRE score.
If you are interested in the online course option, then check out are articles discussing the strengths and weaknesses of several options.
Studying for the GRE using review books is a cheap and effective option.
We went through the differences between the top three GRE books on the market to see which book made the cut as the best GRE book of the year.
Our choice for the best GRE prep book in 2019 is:
The book includes a ton of practice questions, practice tests, online resources, and strategies for doing well on each type of GRE question.
If you decide to use a GRE book for review, then Kaplan would be a good choice.