Review of Manhattan 5LB Book of GRE
My Rating of the GRE 5LB Book of GRE
Verbal : 4/10
• Text Completions : 4/10
• Sentence Equivalence : 2/10
• Reading Comprehensions : 6/10
SEE ALSO: Review of the GRE Big Book by ETS
Quantitative : 6/10
• Arithmetic : 6/10
• Number Properties : 6/10
• Geometry : 2/10
• Data Interpretation : 2/10
• Word Problems : 8/10
• Algebra (Equations) : 5/10
• Algebra (Inequalities) : 10/10
• Statistics : 10/10
• Probability : 6/10
Manhattan GRE is an essential source of GRE practice problems for students of any level who are willing to do well on GRE. With 33 chapters and 1800 practice problems, including 200 of toughest problems available, students can build quantitative and verbal skills through targeted practice. Besides comprising some quality practice problems, it’s easy-to-follow explanations and step-by-step applications can help fill out loopholes in your verbal and quant concepts. Such a comprehensive book definitely needs a comprehensive review.
SEE ALSO: Review of GRE Official Guide by ETS
Creating a practice problem that actually mimics an original GRE question is not an easy job. In case of verbal, this job gets even more daunting. The best book available in market is the one whose practice questions can be least distinguishable from the original GRE questions. But any publisher’s job just doesn’t end here. Students want explanations and more importantly applications of the concepts to the practice questions.
Keeping in view these benchmarks for a good GRE book, I think that Manhattan book has done a fair job. You can nurture your skills by practicing questions that are as close to real GRE questions as one can get. There are rooms for improvement in verbal section but the quantitative questions are mostly well chalked out.
SEE ALSO: Is Kaplan GRE Book Good Enough?
Stay away from Text Completions and Sentence Equivalence
The actual GRE text completion and sentence equivalence questions rely more on convoluted sentence structure rather than obscure vocabulary. When I first started working on the text completions and sentence equivalence, I felt like throwing the 5LB book on the wall. There are many instances where you find basic level sentences followed by some toughest words in dictionary which are never going to come on the actual GRE.
The sentence equivalence is even worse – again, you are tested more on arcane vocabulary rather than sentence structure. If you are good at vocabulary, you will ace these exercises but might not be the case on actual GRE where complicated sentence structure might deceive you.
Caution: Manhattan text completions and sentence equivalence questions will give you the false impression that GRE is just about vocabulary, where as it is not. So my advice is not to do these questions from the 5LB book.
Reading Comprehension and Paragraph Arguments
I like the reading passages on the 5LB book – but I don’t like the questions. The quality of the comprehensions is really good and I would suggest that all GRE students must read these passages to improve their reading and the ability to understand difficult passages. There are enough passages to help you improve your reading. Unfortunately most of the questions associated with these passages are not like the ones you will encounter on the GRE. Many questions are related to a specific part of passage and that makes things really easy.
On the other hand the critical reasoning questions are good. They are above the level of the actual GRE and are like the ones you would see on the GMAT test. Do practice these and you will definitely do well on the GRE test reasoning questions.
The Quantitative Section
I think the quantitative portion of the Manhattan 5LB book is a bit over-rated. It no doubt has a lot of questions for practice but are these questions like the actual GRE questions? I will say not on all topics. But before I go into the negatives, here are some of the good things about the 5LB GRE book.
- Every question is associated with detailed explanations and you do not have to worry about finding the right answer if you are unable to solve a question. But these explanations use the Manhattan way of solving questions. So in case you don’t know those methods to solve these questions you will most likely get stuck in deciphering the solutions.
- Topics of Standard deviation, combinatorics and algebraic inequalities are exceptional. They cover the whole range of question types that you may see on the actual GRE exam. Therefore if you do these topics from Manhattan 5LB then rest assured you are definitely in a great position to tackle these 3 topics on the test day. You don’t need to refer any other books for these two topics.
- Arithmetic, number properties are also well covered by Manhattan 5LB but they have a draw back. They are a little too difficult than the actual GRE exam and you will end up covering more than required – but that’s a good thing. It is always better to be over prepared than under prepared for a big exam like the GRE.
- There are a lot of probability questions but they are slightly easier than the actual exam. So you will have to refer to some other books for this topic.
- The questions are not arranged in the order of difficulty nor are they assigned any difficulty level. This is a serious area of concern since a student who is practicing using the 5LB book would not know which level he/she is at and what are the exact improvement areas.
The worst parts on the Manhattan 5LB are geometry and data interpretation. They are unrealistically easy and I would suggest that you should only use these two to consolidate your basic concepts. They are far from the level you will see on the test day. Therefore don’t bank on them to get you a good score on the actual GRE.
Manhattan GRE is a decent resource for practicing quantitative questions but there is a great margin for improvement in verbal section. I think it is the next best practice book available on the market after the ETS official guide for the new revised GRE.