How Accurate is the GRE Power-Prep 2 Software?
In the past, on many occasions I have said that there are no better and realistic full-length GRE practice exam than the 2 Computer Adaptive full-length GRE tests offered by the ETS in their Power Prep software. I also said that the only draw back of these exams is that there are no explanations given with any of the tests, which mean that you will have to think hard through a problem in case you are stumped. The good thing about the Power prep GRE tests is that they use retired GRE questions, and look & feel just like the real GRE test does. This is a great benefit especially if you are taking the GRE for the first time.
Lately I have been a little skeptical especially regarding the quantitative sections of the power prep software. In the past 3 months, exactly 109 of my students took the two mock exams from the power prep software and then took their GRE tests. On the verbal section, nearly two-third (almost 70 students) of these scored within 2 points on their actual GRE versus the power prep mocks – so we can safely say that the difficulty level and the scores of the power prep verbal sections accurately reflects the level of the actual GRE. After talking to most of these 109 students post exam, nearly all of them said that the verbal level was the same as that of the power prep – the difficulty level of the questions, length of the reading passages and the composition of the test were almost the same.
On the contrary the quantitative section is something that has become very inconsistent to that of the power prep exams. Over 75% of these 109 students showed extreme variations in their actual scores versus their power prep scores. The variations for these 75% students ranged from within 3 points to up to 6 points on the actual exam. Students said that they saw much harder questions on the actual test; lots of statistics, harsh sequences and hard data interpretation questions were prevalent in the actual exams and almost absent in the power prep tests. So lately I would say that the power prep math sections are not a true indicator – neither the score nor the level of the questions.
So my recommendation is that for the quantitative section, do take the Manhattan GRE tests as they are of a more realistic difficulty level than the power prep exams. Also try to mimic the test conditions during these mocks as much as you can – even breaks, no food, the pencil and the scratch paper. If you do that for the power prep and the Manhattan mocks, there is no reason to feel intimidated.