When it comes to studying for the GRE test, you have four basic options: While we’re obviously a little biased, there are definite pros and cons to each option.
Let’s take a look at each of these options:
If you’re a self-starter with lots of energy and motivation, working with GRE books can be a good option. They’re inexpensive, and you can follow them at your own pace.
On the other hand, without having taken the test or studied it, it can be hard to determine which books will actually equip you for test day (Chris shares some thoughts on this over it the Best GRE Books post).
Also, just following a book straight through may not be the best option for you if you have particular weaknesses you need to address, as almost everyone does, and need special guidance.
With all of that said, Magoosh has an eBook you can get for free here, and an affordable paperback GRE Prep book that you can buy on Amazon. Both are excellent!
GRE classes can be a good option if you need motivation, if you have a compressed timeframe, or if you want to have an expert explain the test to you in person.
On the other hand, they can be expensive, may not fit your schedule or be easily accessible from your location, and you’ll need to do some research to find reputable classes.
An excellent option for those who need extra motivation, want personalized study plans and support, and/or are looking to address particular problem areas. Tutors will normally be more expensive than classes because you’re paying for one-on-one time.
The biggest issue here is finding someone qualified—not just because he or she scored well on the GRE, but also because of strong tutoring skills (and these are different than teaching skills needed for a large group).
Online GRE Test Prep
Online test prep, in a lot of ways, offers the best of all worlds. Lots of materials—often more than any one book could ever provide—practice on computers (after all, the GRE a computer-based test); and some level of personalization.
Online GRE test prep lets you go at your own pace, but provides a clearer, and often more tailored, path forward than books do. Good online GRE prep will also be transparent, letting you know what you can expect from the program and have the data (and testimonials) to back their claims up.
At the end of the day, you’ll need to evaluate what works best for you based on what you need to improve (Verbal? Math?), how long it’s been since you dealt with GRE-type materials, and how familiar you already are with the best practices for the GRE.
GRE Exam Preparation Resource
The ETS GRE website offers plenty of free and paid GRE preparation material.
There are also independent test prep companies that provide GRE prep help. Books and courses offered by Barrons, Kaplan, GREedge, Magoosh and other companies provide an overview of the concepts covered in the GRE syllabus, plenty of practice questions, sample GRE exams (i.e. mock practice tests) too.
Check out this detailed GRE Preparation Guide.
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