Review of GRE Official Guide by ETS

Posted by on January 4, 2013 in GRE, GRE Book Reviews | 19 comments

The most recent GRE official guide was released by ETS in the middle of 2012. Although it is the exact copy of the previous version but now it has 2 practice tests. The old edition had just one. This extra exposure is worth the $35 price tag. I say this because the GRE test makers design all the questions in this guide – hence it is the closest you can get to the actual GRE questions before your exam.

If you are buying the paper back version of the official guide you will get a practice CD which has 2 adaptive tests. These tests are different from the ones on the official guide which means you get to practice 4 new official GRE practice tests. For those of you who buy the online version do not need to worry about the CD since you can download the free power prep software from the ETS site. This contains the same tests as those in the CD.

Nothing great except for the practice tests

I would outrightly say that apart from the practice tests this book is not great. It makes sense as well since ETS does not make revenue from writing books, solutions or explanations. You must buy this book for its practice questions though but not for your basic GRE preparation. Once you complete your prep you can then practice questions and tests from the official guide.

The Quant section

This consists of two portions: review of basic concepts and a few questions for practice alongwith example questions with explanations. As far as brushing up the basics are concerned, it lacks the depth of understanding required by most GRE test takers.

Good thing is that some advanced concepts such as parabola’s, standard deviation, percentiles and quartiles are discussed. Such concepts have not been a part of any major GRE book in the market. Therefore the official guide ensures that you have covered everything that is likely to be tested on the GRE.

Doing just these practice questions will not prepare you for the GRE. Moreover the explanations are superficial and most of the times the author assumes too many things for a beginners liking. This book must only be used as a supplement for your GRE preparation.

The Verbal section

Again it has the same layout and pattern as I discussed for the math section above. I feel that there are not many practice questions on the verbal section of the official guide – doing well on verbal requires one to learn a lot of new words and go through a plethora of reading comprehensions. But the range and quantity of questions is scarce.

Good thing is that you get a fair enough idea of the level of difficulty for the comprehensions and some important vocabulary that you may see on the test day. A lot of times GRE students do comprehensions from various sources that are not the level of the GRE. Going through this guide will ensure you read and do the right type of questions by filtering your sources.

Bottom Line

For me this is an excellent resource for practicing what you have learned while preparing for the GRE. But do not use it as the only source for you preparation – this book should be done 10-12 days before your test. The quality of questions and practice tests is extremely good and it will prepare you for the GRE exam in a simple and traditional manner.


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    salaaamz. i did my m.phil in history from QAU Islamabad in 2013. i also did my master in history from UOP with distintion. i want to get th FB scholarship for my Ph.D… plz guide me wht shud i do and how much schors in GAT is required for apply…thankssss. JAZAKALLAH.

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    Hi. I am currently doing my undergraduation in civil engineering from NUST islamabad. I shall be graduating in the year 2014. I had many questions regarding GRE, first i wanted to ask when it is good time to give GRE exam? I want to get into either harvard or mit but i don’t kniw how to prepare to that level ao that i may be able to get in. I an very worried for my future studies thats why i needed help. Please reply soon.

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    Can you please name the Books for GRE prep?

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    Talha, can you please tell me where to buy the ETS books – both the Big Book and the Official Prep? Are they available anywhere in Pakistan? Because if I order from Amazon it will take a long time. Your article says we can buy them online. Where from?

    Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Avatar

      You will have to order them on amazon πŸ™‚

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    According to the reviews made by you, Mr. Talha Omar, GRE official guide by ETS is the best available book yet in market. So instead of consulting all other guides, this one is best. Except that book, is there any other material available in the market or book which we can consult for our best GRE scoress.

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    While applying for FB scholarship in PhD, is research proposal also part of the application package ?

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      Well not at the time of applying for FB but later on if you get selected then they will definitely ask for one πŸ™‚

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    Hi, i’ve read your reviews on all famous books and as per my understanding, no book is suitable for GRE prep – including barrons, princeton, kaplan, 5lb. Which book one should pick for preparation especially for hard quant questions and verbal preparation?

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      Hi Arslan, For hard questions on quant ETS guide and 5LB are the only sources. For verbal you should do ETS guide and Kaplan. These will help you do well inshAllah

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    Aoa. Is there any pdf version of this book?
    If there is any kindly send me a link. Thankyou.

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    Where can I buy these official GRE books in Pakistan? I have been looking around and no book stores seems to have them in stock.

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      I think you can find them in Urdu Bazar Lahore πŸ™‚

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    sir i did my inter with 69% now i m interested to study abroad for my graduation can you guide me how will i plzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Avatar

      Well not aware of any funding opportunities for undergrad

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