McGraw-Hill’s GRE, 2013 Edition Book ReviewBeing a GRE tutor in Lahore for a while now I try to get hold of any book for the new revised GRE that comes in the market. Very few, if not any, books for GRE have impressed me. Unfortunately McGraw-Hill is one of those as well. Every time I read a superficial GRE book, I feel frustrated thinking about the harm such books bring to their readers – especially given that students careers are at stake. It is tantamount to an insidious crime if a book is not well written by a top publisher such as Kaplan, Princeton or Barron’s.
The first impression I got after reading McGraw Hill was that it has not been written for the GRE – it seemed as if it was written for a 5th grader. Once I examined it closely I realized that it not only missed out on a lot of things that are tested on the new GRE but it also underestimated the GRE exam and made it look like a cake walk.
As a test I asked my 13-year-old cousin do the reading comprehension questions. And guess what, the questions were so lame and gentle that the 13-year=old was able to do almost half of them. Ofcourse it had some tough passages and questions as well but they were so poorly written that one had to either make inferences to answer them or have external knowledge of the topic.
It would be far better use of time if you stare at your computer all day and do nothing rather than attempt any of the reading passages in this book. Plus don’t be mislead into thinking that this is the GRE level. Honestly it is not even 10% of what the actual GRE is like, therefore stay away from McGraw-Hill’s reading passages.
For sentence completions, this book takes us through the same trauma as it did for the passages and comprehensions. The questions are simply too easy and the structure too straight forward that one does not even need to understand the sentence to answer the question. ETS would cry if it saw what McGraw Hill has made the GRE look like to its readers. Although in a few places they do try to make things look terribly difficult by putting in arcane words – but the ETS does not emphasize on the vocabulary that much as it does convoluted sentence structure.
The same problems that were seen in the verbal portion persist in the quantitative part as well. Again this is not GRE math but its primary school mathematics. Yes the book does look into all the topics that the GRE tests but it completely lacks depth, complexity, and “trickiness”, of the actual GRE.
However for those of you who are really bad and rusty in Math can buy McGraw Hill to learn and revise the basics. As soon as you do that, leave McGraw Hill and get yourself a better book – such as Princeton review, Barron’s or the ETS official guide.
The book has no useful strategies for the GRE exam – Infact the strategies are very lame. For example McGraw Hill wastes several pages on tips explaining how to relieve exam stress etc.
The answer explanations are not convincing either – there are numerous doubts over certain questions. The explanations are also incomplete. They tell you the answer but do not tell you why a certain option is not the correct answer.
Although the book has 6 full sized practice tests but what use are they if they do not reflect what is going to be tested on the GRE. Nevertheless I would recommend doing these at a beginner level because they will actually help you to consolidate your grass root level concepts. Once your foundations are laid strongly with the help of this book you can then move onto difficult questions from other books.
As a starting point for quant this book is good enough. However if you make it the meat of your preparation, then you will be in for a big surprise on the test day. Don’t give up on this book entirely – if you have a non-quant background then do read it through and then move onto the next level by buying better GRE resources that will actually prepare you for the real exam.