Best GRE Prep Courses – Top Picks for 2020

Looking to wow grad schools with an impressive GRE score? Here are the best GRE prep courses that can help you boost your scores on the GRE test.

If you’re planning to go to graduate school (including law school and business school), it’s very likely that you’ll need to get a good score on the GRE General Test. The score you get in the Graduate Record Examination will help determine whether a graduate school will accept your admission application. It supplements your undergraduate performance along with your recommendation letters.

It’s a well-known fact that having an advanced graduate degree helps with professional advancement and higher salaries. You can gain crucial knowledge in running your own business. But first, you need that good GRE score to help you get your foot in the door.

That’s where the best GRE Prep Courses come in.

How Does a Good GRE Prep Course Help?

You probably prepared extensively for the SATs before you started your undergraduate program. You also need to be ready for the GRE. However, it’s probably best if you don’t try to prepare for the GRE on your own. It would be more efficient if you take advantage of one of the excellent GRE prep courses available.

Granted, such a course can be expensive. But then again, you do get your money’s worth.

  • A GRE prep course can help you to plan a study schedule that works for you. It can motivate you to stick to the plan, which is crucial for those who struggle with this kind of self-discipline.
  • The prep course can provide you with actual test examples and questions, to give you a better idea of what you’re in for.
  • You may also get the help of online tutors who have also done well with the GRE in the past (so they know what they’re talking about).
  • The lessons can cover the precise areas covered by the GRE general test, so you’re able to shore up on your basic skills. You may also be able to identify your particular weaknesses so your custom plans can focus on these areas.
  • Finally, a good GRE prep course actually works. There’s no doubt about this, as this fact has been confirmed by previous students over the years. In fact, many of the best GRE prep courses even offer refund policies if you’re unable to improve your former GRE score.

Do You Need a GRE Prep Course? Factors to Consider

Here are some signs that you may benefit from a course:

  • You’re not satisfied with your GRE score. Even if you haven’t taken the GRE yet, you may be able to take a free GRE practice test. If you’ve taken the test after just preparing for it by yourself, then there’s a good chance you didn’t do a well as you would have liked.
  • You have no idea of what to focus on. The prep course can direct your focus and energy on the topics actually covered by the GRE. More importantly, the prep course can identify the areas in which you’re weak, so you can devote more time to shoring up these weaknesses.
  • You don’t have the discipline to study on your own. This is actually a common problem for students. But a prep course can help. Have to pay for the prep course is good motivation because you don’t want to waste your money. The prep course can prepare a study plan that fits in with your schedule. Tutors may offer encouraging words that can help you stay on target, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed or disheartened.
  • You can afford the prep course. Some of these prep courses can be rather expensive. Even if you can’t afford them now, it may be a good idea to save up for them. They are worthwhile investments. Once you get your advanced degree, you’re more likely to enjoy higher salaries down the road. It doesn’t take long for you to cover the cost of the GRE prep course.

8 Best GRE Prep Courses

The best way to illustrate the hallmark features of a good GRE prep course is to prepare a list of the best examples. Here are some of the best GRE prep courses available today.

1. Magoosh

The Magoosh GRE prep course is best suited for those who wish to study with video lessons at their own pace. It’s great if you’re busy with other aspects of your life since the Magoosh GRE prep course lets you get in some practice and study lessons at any time.

There are 2 plans available, but they only differ in terms of access period length. The 1-Month Premium plan costs $149, and you can get another month’s access to the content materials if you wish. But the 6-Month Premium only costs $179, and this allows for 6 months of access.

You can also try this out for 7 days, with at least 20 questions and lessons. This is a free trial, and you don’t even need a credit card.

Here are some features you get with the plan:

  • Comprehensive coverage of all the subjects found in the GRE: math, verbal, and analytical writing assessment (AWA)
  • Video lessons on every concept that’s tested on the GRE, which number at least 250.
  • 3 practice tests, with at least 1,200 practice questions to use (every question comes with a full explanation in video and text form)
  • Flashcards for vocabulary, quiz modes, customized practice, and a mobile app
  • E-mail support if you’re feeling stuck or confused
  • A score predictor to tell you about your projected GRE score, based on your current prep course performance on the practice tests
  • A guarantee that your score will improve by at least 5 points, compared to your earlier GRE score
  • A study schedule and a convenient checklist to make sure you’re on track
  • The access period can be paused for free, and then you can resume when you’re ready to focus again on your GRE preparation

Best Features

The flexibility of the plan is what many students appreciate here. There are no fixed schedules, though there are study plans you can follow to maximize your time. This takes into account how your schedules can change at any time. You can access the video lessons and take the practice tests whenever you wish, and you can even pause the access period for free.

This is also extremely affordable. Some of the other highly reputable plans cost more than a thousand dollars. These costs are under a couple of hundred dollars. When it comes to full value for money, it’s hard to beat.

You also know that you’re not wasting your money because of the 5-point increase guarantee. It works, which is why it more than 1.5 million students have taken this course already.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ability to adjust and study at your own pace
  • Covers the entire scope of the GRE
  • Ability to pause the access period
  • Flashcards and a mobile app
  • E-mail support 24/7

Cons

  • No option for live 1-on-1 tutoring
  • Only 3 practice tests

Bottom Line: Affordable flexible plan for self-study with a guarantee of GRE improvement

2. The Princeton Review

This is one of the most famous brands when it comes to preparing for any standardized test, including the GRE and GMAT. The plans that the Princeton Review offers are quite expensive, but the good news is that they often offer discount coupons to reduce the prices significantly.

GRE Self-Paced

This costs $499 normally, but when we checked there was a discount that dropped the price to just $399. As the name indicates, your progress depends on your own pace.

Key features include the following:

  • Lots of content materials: at least 61 online drills and interactive lessons, at least 2,570 practice questions (each practice question also comes with a detailed explanation), up to 8 practice tests
  • DrillSmart algorithm, which can help you identify your weaknesses- Pick a topic for the drill, and you get harder or easier drills afterward depending on your performance.
  • Direct help from an instructor, especially for math- This plan offers access to specific sessions on particular dates.
  • Specific data regarding your performance on particular topics and question types- You even have a record of the time you spend on these topics and questions.
  • If you’re not happy with your actual GRE score after taking this course, you’re welcome to repeat the prep course.

GRE Quant 162+

This plan focuses more on the Quant topic, to help you get that 162 score on the GRE Quant. That’s because the average GRE Quant score of accepted students is 162.6, but the average GRE Quant score is only 152. However, it covers both the Quant and verbal areas of the GRE.

This costs $1,499 but can be available for just $1,099. Here’s a quick overview of what you get:

  • A 1-on-1 personalized manager
  • 25 hours of instruction from a GRE expert
  • At least 3,600 GRE exam questions
  • 4½ hours of live online verbal sessions
  • At least 50 hours of verbal self-study
  • Practice tests specific to the verbal topic
  • At least 470 online drills, mainly on the math

GRE Ultimate

This is the comprehensive prep course that you can get online or in person. It costs $1,199 but can be had for only $899.

The features include:

  • At least 470 online drills
  • At least 3,500 practice questions
  • Up to 8 adaptive practice exams with interactive score reports
  • At least 180 hours of instruction and practice, including 24 hours of live instruction about the content and the proper strategies.

Basically, this is the Self-Paced program with live instruction.

GRE Private Tutoring

This gives you a GRE tutor to guide you on your preparation. The Targeted option costs $1,800 with 10 hours of tutoring. The Comprehensive option costs $3,000 and gives you 18 hours of tutoring. That means you’re paying either $167-$180 per hour of tutoring.

These plans offer custom apps, exclusive printed materials, and the option for in-person tutoring.

Pros

  • Plenty of options here- You can go at your own pace, and get live instruction online if you want. A tutor is even available to guide you in person.
  • Plans offer lots of content materials, with up to 8 practice tests
  • DrillSmart algorithm helps guide you to identify your weak spots

Cons

  • The plans can be quite expensive, particularly if you opt for 1-on-1 instruction
  • No mobile app, so you have to make do with the desktop version

Bottom Line: It’s a famous brand that offers plenty of online resources and tools, live instruction, and even tutors in person.

3. Kaplan

This is another respected brand in the test preparation industry, and you’d do well to go with the Kaplan GRE prep course.

Best Features

All their courses include the following features:

  • At least 180 hours of online practice and instruction
  • 7 full-length practice tests
  • Video lessons on the GRE channel, including interactions with teachers and other students
  • At least 5,000 practice questions, with the Qbank algorithm
  • The latest GRE prep books
  • An exclusive test day experience, involving an actual GRE test facility

The Self-Paced plan goes for $449, which offers 6 months of access. A Live Online plan costs $999, with a lecture-style classroom and the ability to chat with teachers. There’s even a Live Online (Small Class) option for $1,199.

Before you pick a plan, you get a free option to consult with the Kaplan GRE expert. You get all your questions answered, so you can pick properly and you know exactly what you’re getting—and what you need.

Pros

  • Plenty of tests and practice questions
  • Tutors are available if you want them
  • Free GRE consultation before you make your choice
  • Adaptive algorithm

Cons

  • Self-Paced option isn’t cheap
  • You’ll pay a lot more for personalized tutoring

Bottom Line: You get a comprehensive set of materials, the option for personalized tutoring, and an actual test day experience that you rarely find in any other GRE prep course.

4. Manhattan

The Manhattan GRE prep courses are either on-demand or with an instructor. The Instructor-led GRE prep courses come in 4 options, and you can pick one that best suits your needs. These include:

  • GRE for MBA- This costs $1,399 and you’ll have to pick the schedule that fits your available time. For example, the schedule can offer Wednesday classes from 8-11 pm. You get 9 live study sessions, though the main focus is on the math aspect.
  • GRE Complete Course- This costs $1,199 and you can opt for online or in-person classes. The coverage includes both math and verbal content.
  • GRE Just Math Course- If you want to just focus on math, then this course is available for $699. You can go either online or in-person.
  • Foundations of GRE Math- This is a workshop offering 6 hours of instruction for just $199.

Interact On-Demand

Manhattan is best known for its Interact on-demand GRE prep course. You can try it for 7 days for free. Then after that, you can get 1 month of access to the materials for $249. It costs $349 for 3 months of access, and the Premium plan for 6 months costs $399.

The content materials here have been created and taught by GRE experts, who have all scored in the top 1%. The coverage is comprehensive, as you tackle all the subjects in the actual GRE.

  • Interactive video lessons (77 of them) and practice questions
  • Thousands of practice drills and problems
  • 6 full-length GRE practice tests- Each question on these practice tests come with detailed video explanations.

Just keep in mind that you need a desktop PC, a laptop computer, or iPad. The video lessons will adapt depending on your answers.

Pros

  • Thousands of drills and practice problems
  • 6 practice tests
  • Ability to go at your own pace
  • Video lessons will adapt depending on your answers

Cons

  • A single month’s access can be expensive for the Interact
  • Live Online courses are expensive

Bottom Line: You’re able to learn at your own pace with plenty of materials you can use.

5. The Economist

This gives you a trial for 7 days, so that you’re able to check out how effective it is for your learning style. The Economist offers a guarantee that you’ll improve your previous GRE score by at least 5 or 7 points, depending on the plan you go with.

These GRE prep courses come with interactive lessons, along with at least 5,000 practice questions. During a lesson, you can use the “ask a tutor” feature to submit questions if you’re having trouble. You can also schedule a 1-on-1 session with a tutor for help on a specific topic you just can’t understand.

You may also get a subscription to The Economist magazine, which this GRE prep course is associated with. The reputation of the magazine really lends a lot of credibility to this prep course.

When you sign up for the 7-day trial, you get a GRE practice test for free. You can then get between 3 to 5 practice tests, depending on the plan you go for. However, after the initial diagnostic test, you can’t take a practice exam until you complete 50% of the GRE study course.

Pros

  • Plenty of practice tests
  • Thousands of practice questions
  • Get answers via chat, or schedule 1-on-1 sessions with tutors
  • A complete assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll know what areas you’ll need to improve

Cons

  • Details on the various plans aren’t available until you sign up for the 7-day trial

Bottom Line: A reputable brand with plenty of practice questions

6. Target

The Target Test Prep brand has been around for a decade now. In that time, they’ve really established an enviable reputation for effective GRE test preparation. More specifically, they’re renowned for their focus on the GRE math aspect. They offer total GRE math immersion. You can see it for yourself with the 5-day trial for just $1.

The TTP GRE prep courses offer 3 plans, which only differ on how long you can access the content materials.

  • Flexible Prep $99 per month (recurring billing which you can cancel at any time)
  • Dedicated Study $299 for 4 months
  • Maximum Learning $399 for 6 months

Each plan offers the same basic features:

  • At least 600 individual lessons for GRE math
  • At least 3,100 practice questions
  • At least 800 GRE videos in HD
  • The OnTarget Learning Analytics
  • The custom GRE practice engine
  • Live support

Pros

  • Lots of content materials
  • Each plan offers the same features
  • Materials are accessible through most smartphones (and other PCs)

Cons

  • No live tutoring option
  • Just focuses on GRE Quant

Bottom Line: Get this if your main concern is the GRE math aspect only.

7. Prep Scholar

This is all online, with a free trial and a 7-point increase guarantee. The free trial lets you take an adaptive diagnostic exam so you know where you currently stand. Then you get a customized guided study plan. You can access the 150 hours of interactive lessons, which includes tips on how to counter the GRE “traps”. The free trial also offers a skill tracker, and a guide on grad school admission strategy.

The 1-year plan costs only $38, which is amazing. The plan includes everything in the free trial, plus the following:

  • At least 300 hours of mini-lessons
  • At least 1,500 core GRE questions
  • At least 800 advanced GRE questions
  • 2 official practice tests
  • “Cheat sheet” for vocabulary and math, with 300 questions

There’s a “Lifetime” unlimited plan, costs $345 for access with no time limit. This plan even gives personalized scoring for 4 AWA essays.

Pros

  • Affordable 1-year plan
  • Also reasonably priced “lifetime” plan
  • Plenty of practice questions
  • Online lessons can be accessed at any time

Cons

  • No 1-on-1 tutoring

Bottom Line: Extremely affordable with an option for essay scoring

8. Exampal

This also offers a free trial for 7 days with no credit card requirement. After that, you have 3 plans to choose from.

The Express plan ($239) offers 6 weeks of access to the content material, with 2 essay reviews and 4 practice tests. You also get 975 “credits”.

The Premium plan ($349) offers 6 months of access, and you get a 6-point improvement guarantee. You get 4 essay reviews and an hour of consultation regarding the graduate school of your choice. You also get 1,035 credits.

With the Genius plan ($599), the guarantee is for 7 points. You get 6 essay reviews, plus 3 live 1-on-1 tutoring sessions and 2 expert assessments, plus 3,060 credits.

Exampal offers a credits system so you can spend these credits on extra features. The plans also offer:

  • 1,500 questions with 22 practice sections
  • 22 interactive videos for skills and logic
  • 24 interactive video lessons

Pros

  • Covers all the sections
  • Offers official practice tests
  • Custom way to get additional features
  • Comes with 1-on-1 tutoring
  • Also offers essay reviews

Cons

  • Credits system can be convoluted
  • Just 1,500 practice questions

Bottom Line: A comprehensive GRE prep course

Comparison: Magoosh vs. The Princeton Review

The Magoosh GRE prep course is extremely affordable, while it offers “just enough” content materials to offer a comprehensive study plan. It offers a great value for your money, as it operates on the principle that you don’t need excessive practice questions.

With Magoosh, the video lessons and video explanations for the practice questions are super-clear so that you don’t need a private tutor.

With the GRE prep offered by The Princeton Review, it’s also about getting more. You get more video lessons, and definitely more practice tests and practice questions. You pay more for the self-paced plan because you get more of the content material.

You can even go for 1-on-1 tutoring, which is not available with the Magoosh plan. Just be ready to pay a lot more if you need this type of tutoring.

Basically, go with Magoosh if you have a limited budget and no need for a tutor. If you do need a tutor, go with The Princeton Review if you can afford it.

What Makes A Good GRE Prep Course?

All these benefits do beg the question: what makes for a good GRE prep course? More specifically, which prep courses are good for you? To determine that, you need to focus on certain aspects of the course.

Cost

This will be a crucial factor, since you certainly can’t opt for a GRE prep course you can’t afford. Prices will also vary depending on the content materials and the number of tutoring sessions you get from carefully chosen tutors. You’ll also pay for brand reputation.

History

The most reputable GRE prep courses are those with plenty of history behind them. The brands you need to consider must have many years of proven track experience. A Johnny-come-lately brand may be cheaper, but they don’t have any real evidence of the effectiveness of their courses.

Content Materials

These include the practice questions you can take, along with explanation videos for the answers. You may study video lessons, along with books and other materials. Your study aids can include flash cards along with full-fledged GRE practice exams. You may also have options including the study plans.

It’s best if you can go online at any time, proceeding with your studies on your own pace. Some GRE prep courses may even offer apps so you can practice and study at any time with your smartphone.

Guidance

You need help with your GRE prep course, even if you mostly do things on your own. At the very least, you need quick and reliable email support so you can get the answers you need when you’re confused or you have a question.

Some study plans offer tutoring sessions, which can be in person or online. Factor in the number of tutoring hours you can get, along with the quality of the GRE tutors. These tutors must have the right credentials. They may have advanced degrees or they did well on the GRE themselves. It’s also better if they have a few years of actual GRE tutoring under their belt.

The plan should be able to recognize your weaknesses, so that you’re able to fix the gaps in your knowledge. Some plans offer essay feedback, but this is quite uncommon (and probably expensive).

Coverage and Access Time

Some prep courses may focus on specific areas of the GRE. This is good if you feel that you only need to focus on a certain GRE area. This way, you don’t pay for tutoring on areas that you feel you don’t really need.

You also should factor in the access time. Cheaper plans may let you access the study materials for just a month. More expensive plans may offer 6 months or even a year of access.

Trials and Refunds

It’s better if you can try out a prep course plan for a few days, so that you get a better idea of the prep course you’re getting. This trial ought to be free, or cost very little.

Some prep courses also offer a certain level of improvements for your GRE score. They may offer a refund policy if you’re unable to raise your GRE score by a certain amount flowing the completion of a GRE prep course. This way, you don’t waste your money if you don’t do better.

Conclusion

The key to getting your money’s worth when it comes to the best GRE prep courses is to know what you need and what you want. You should have a good idea of what you prefer, whether you need an online tutor or you can go about it on your own. You also need to know your budget.

The fact is that even the most expensive options here are good investments, since with the help of these courses you can really do well on the GRE. A good GRE score can lead to a good graduate school. That then leads to higher chances of success in the corporate ladder. But it all starts with the best GRE prep courses!