Review of GRE Official Guide by ETS
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.
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.