The 3 Best GRE Prep Books [2021]

The Search for the Best GRE Prep Book

It’s not always easy to find the best GRE prep book you can read to help you with the test. But with our list of recommended GRE prep books, it’ll be a lot less difficult to find the one you need.

It’s a given that if you’re planning to take the GRE, you’ll have to prepare for it. The Graduate Record Examinations isn’t exactly a test you can just wing through.

These days, the best way to prepare is to enroll in an online GRE prep course. But to really prepare for the test, you also need to supplement this with the right GRE prep book—or books.

Why Get a GRE Prep Book?

In this day and age of online learning, it may seem a bit old-fashioned to go with a book.

However, we’re not talking about replacing an online prep course with just a book or even a set of books.

We’re talking about supplementing the online course with GRE prep books.

There are reasons why a book can really help:

  • Reading about something in a book is a very common way to find things out and learn. Most students are very familiar with this method.
  • You also have a compact source of information. A single book can contain the info offered by dozens of course videos combined.
  • With a book, it’s very easy to flip through the pages to find the exact section or page you want to read. It’s harder with videos when you need to find the right section of the video.
  • You can also read at your own pace, unlike with videos that present the info with its own pace. You can read and learn as quickly or as slowly as you want.
  • It’s also simpler to reread a passage if you didn’t understand it fully at first. With videos, it’s often bothersome to have to click back a few seconds of the video to listen to or watch the info again.
  • Books are rather affordable options compared to online prep courses. You can also get part of your money back by reselling the book on eBay once you’re done with it and have passed the test.

Actual Book or eBook?

There’s no doubt that eBooks are extremely popular now. You can check the bestsellers these days and find out that the top bestsellers have all sold a larger number of digital copies than their physical counterparts.

But even now, there are still fans of actual paper books out there.

So, which one should you get? It’s all up to you and your personal preferences, and each type has its own set of advantages.

eBooks

Here are the top reasons why eBooks these days are so popular with everyone:

  • They’re often much cheaper than actual paper books.
  • You can amass thousands of books without needing too much space in your home for a library.
  • These books won’t degrade or get damaged.
  • It’s easy to share with friends.
  • You’re able to change the appearance of the letters, such as the size or the type of font used in the book.
  • With a kindle and other similar eBook reader devices, you’re able to read the book anywhere without having to bring along a bulky object in your bag. If you have 5 GRE prep books, it’s just too much of a bother to bring all the physical copies all the time with you.
  • Some eBook readers are even water-resistant. That means you can read and study while taking a leisurely bath or when you’re lounging in your pool.

Physical Books

Here are the more common reasons why lots of people still insist on actual books with paper and everything:

  • It’s familiar and reassuring. It’s something you’re used to, so you relax with an actual book in your hand. You also learn more, since you’re so relaxed.
  • Flipping through the pages is much easier. With eBooks, it’s often more complicated to find the page where you left off before. Even using electronic bookmarks takes more steps than just using a simple bookmark for a real book.
  • If there’s a power outage, you can still read your book. You have a problem if your eBook reader runs out of power and you don’t have a way to recharge it.

Top 3 Books

Whether you go with eBooks or actual books, here are the titles that you want to consider if you’re looking for the best GRE prep books:

#1.Manhattan Prep 5lb Book of GRE Practice Problems, 3rd Edition

We didn’t actually weigh this to verify the weight claim, but it really is one huge book. It offers both quantity and quality, and you’re going to need both. This is the book you want if you’re into dealing with practice problems to get ready for the real thing.

What’s probably most important here is the brand. Manhattan Prep is one of the most famous names in the entire online prep course industry. Their GRE prep course is one of the best, so you’d expect that these guys can also come up with the best GRE prep book as well.

This is available in both the Kindle edition and paperback. This book is a bestseller in its category, and a closer look easily explains why.

Features

Here are some things you can expect from this book:

Expertly Written

All the practice questions and explanations here were all written by carefully vetted instructors, all of whom did extremely well on their own GRE tests. Most of these experts hold at least 2 degrees, which ought to tell you about the brainpower used to come up with this book.

2,000 Practice Questions

These tackle all the type of questions you may encounter in the real GRE test. That means the questions cover all the categories, such as:

  • Algebra
  • Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
  • Geometry
  • Number Properties
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative Comparisons & Data Interpretation
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Text Completion
  • Sentence Equivalence
  • Essays

These questions are organized into 29 chapters. With 2,000 practice questions, you won’t ever feel that you only have a few questions to practice on. It’ll be a challenge to actually finish all the questions here. Every question also has an explanation that most people find easy enough to understand.

There are questions sets here you can take with a time limit. There are 100 math drills, so you can focus on specific areas for your math preparation.

There’s also a nifty cheat sheet with the most important math rules. If you can remember the cheat sheet info, it’ll really help a lot with your GRE math portion.

Online Access

Even if you didn’t get the Manhattan Prep online course, you can still buy this book. In fact, buying this book lets you access up to 15 lessons from the Interact GRE platform. This is Manhattan prep’s on-demand learning platform.

6 Full Practice Sections

You also get these 6 practice sections so you can really test your skills. That way, you’re able to get a better idea of how you’d do in the real GRE. More importantly, after taking these practice questions then you can discover which areas need more work.

Pros

  • Lots (and lots) of practice questions
  • Easy to follow explanations for questions
  • Math cheat sheet
  • Timed practice sets
  • Full practice sections
  • 15 free online Interact lessons
  • Book and eBook types available

Cons

  • Some find the book unnecessarily long
  • The paperback is bothersome to carry around (because it’s huge!)

#2.Kaplan GRE Complete 2021

Kaplan is another famous brand in the online prep course industry. Of course, they also offer terrific GRE prep books to supplement their online course.

Technically, this isn’t a single book. This is actually a set of 3 books:

  • GRE Prep Plus 2021
  • GRE Math Workbook
  • GRE Verbal Workbook

While this will be bulky if you take all the books with you wherever you go, having 3 separate books is still great if you’re focusing on a specific aspect of the GRE. If you’re concentrating on the math portion for the moment, then you can just take the Math Workbook with you.

Content

This comes with more than 2,500 questions you can use to practice on. These questions cover all the GRE sections, so you can deal with the Verbal, Quantitative (math), and even the Analytical Writing section.

The book also offers numerous examples for each question type you’ll face in the GRE. That way, you won’t be confused when you encounter a type of question.

You also get practice sets for each type of math skill you’ll need for the GRE. That way, you’re ready for any type of math question the GRE can throw at you.

The book also offers effective tips and strategies you can use for the GRE to maximize your test score. There’s even a printed practice set you can take. It will tell you how you’ll do in the real GRE, and also identify your weak areas that you can bolster through further studies.

Knowledgeable Experts

The Kaplan brand has been around for 80 years or so, which makes it a truly iconic brand. They’ve maintained their status in the industry by hiring only the best for their team. The actual authors of these questions and explanations are true experts on the GRE, who have gone through just about every document in existence that’s related to the GRE. They also make sure that the questions are faithful to the type of questions you’ll find in the real GRE.

Online Access

Buying these books as a set also gives you online access to the Kaplan Qbank with more than 1,000 practice questions.

You even get 5 full-length online practice tests, which you can take along the way to monitor your progress and identify your weak spots. The computer-based format used for these practice tests will be similar to how the real GRE works.

Pros

  • Reputable brand
  • 3 workbooks
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • 2,500 questions
  • Online access to practice tests and questions

Cons

  • Only in paperback (no digital versions)

#3.ETS Official GRE® Value Combo eBook

The ETS is actually the organization that’s behind the GRE, so it makes perfect sense to consider the books that this organization is offering. ETS actually offers free GRE study materials, so you may as well get them all.

But ETS is also offering GRE prep materials you’ll have to pay for, and one of these is this set. It gives you these 2 books:

  • Official GRE® Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition
  • Official GRE® Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1, Second Edition

150 Real Questions

You get 150 practice questions for Quantitative Reasoning and another 150 questions for Verbal Reasoning. These questions came from the very same people who actually make the test, so you know that these are the real experts.

Each question comes with the right answer and an explanation for the answer. The coverage is quite comprehensive, with the Math Review covering all the math topics that are likely to come up in the real GRE.

The questions are also arranged by their content and the type of question. But there are mixed practice sets as well.

Tips

Finally, the books even contain tips and strategies you can use. Here you get your facts straight about the scoring, the structure, and the content, from the same people who create the actual test.

You even get an overview of the Analytical Writing section. You’ll get writing strategies, examples of writing tasks, and examples of scored essays.

Pros

  • Everything here is from the actual GRE creators
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Helpful tips

Cons

  • Comparatively fewer questions
  • Only available in eBook form

Conclusion

Again, let us emphasize the fact that you’re better off with an online prep course for the GRE. These books can be helpful, but they’re not as effective as the online prep course.

But these can be truly effective when you want to supplement your online study course. Once you’re done with that course and you have some time left to study, take a look at these books. These can really help make sure that you drill the knowledge in place to increase your GRE score.