The only GRE Books you will Ever need!

Posted by on April 29, 2017 in GRE Book Reviews | 34 comments

Best GRE Books

Best GRE Books


I understand that there is a plethora of resources, several GRE books and vocabulary lists available for GRE prep and as a result there is a risk of:


  • subpar prep (if one choses the wrong books)
  • too much prep (if ones choses too many books, which is inefficient)


I don’t know the exhaustive list of books available globally but I have came across at least 27 different publishers of GRE prep. You can also check all of them out at amazon.


Not only is this intimidating but it is also extremely confusing. Regardless of your initial level, if you go through these resources thoroughly, you are bound to increase your score many folds.


But that is going to take several year!


So to save you pain and time, I have gone through these books and compiled a list 9 resources which will fully prepare for the GRE exam.


You only need to do these books and exams and NOTHING ELSE to score well on the GRE exam.


Don't waste time on other resources.



8 Quantitative Manhattan Strategy Guides 4th Edition

8 Quantitative Manhattan Strategy Guides 4th Edition


This is an 8 book set, which provides comprehensive and in-depth review of all GRE sections.


6 books pertain to the quantitative section which cover the following math topics:


  1. Algebra
  2. Geometry
  3. Fractions & Decimals
  4. Number properties
  5. Word problems
  6. Quantitative comparisons and Data Analysis


For the verbal section there are two books:


  1. Reading comprehension and Essays
  2. Text completion and Sentence equivalence


These books are ideal for those who want to review all the concepts tested on the GRE, especially the quantitative ones. The verbal ones are not as good and focus a bit too much on vocabulary.


*You can choose to totally skip the verbal guides of Manhattan if you want.


While the 6 books provide good tips for attempting different types of questions, they contain only a limited number of practice questions.


Moreover, the ‘check your skills’ questions are slightly easier as compared to the questions in the actual exam.


*Note: If you are at a beginner level in Math or hate Math or struggle with it or or have not studied Math for a long time, then the basic Math book by Manhattan will be a good starting point. First finish the basic guide and then move to these 6 Manhattan guides.


To have a look: Go here



Manhattan 5 lb. Book 2nd Edition

Manhattan 5 lb. Book 2nd Edition


The 5 lb. book provides 2000+ practice questions to work through along with thorough explanations. The questions are mainly broken down by topic and a greater proportion are from the quantitative section than the verbal section.


The book is intended to be used as a supplement to the 8 guides and therefore does not contain a review of the topics. Hence it cannot be used alone to prepare if you want to revise the test content as well. I will definitely advise all students to practice all quantitative questions from all sections of this book and skip the verbal section altogether.


I wrote a detailed review on Manhattan 5 LB over here.


To have a look: Go here



The Princeton Review, Cracking the GRE, 2017 Edition

The Princeton Review, Cracking the GRE, 2017 Edition


Over years I have realized that for the verbal section, there are no such clear strategies or techniques like those in the quant section. Improvement in the verbal section can only be made by doing lots of practice and of course by knowing some overall, high-level strategies.


This book by Princeton review is definitely good at doing that. General strategies on approaching reading passages (both large and small), text completions and sentence equivalence questions are useful.


The questions on the other hand are easy. Princeton Review also explains and eliminate wrong answer choices. This helps you to understand why certain choices are not right.


So you should definitely learn the strategies from this book but do not use it to practice verbal questions.


A long time back, I wrote a detailed review on Princeton Cracking the GRE over here.


To have a look: Go here



The GRE Big Book by ETS

The GRE Big Book by ETS


Although I do not advise covering the GRE Big book by ETS in your GRE prep, but it has tons of reading passages. The Big Book is very helpful for only doing the reading comprehensions but you should skip everything else.


The passages are hard and tricky and the associated answer choices of questions are very close so as to create confusion - which will definitely help prepare you for the GRE.


I keep saying this again and again, but I can't stress about the importance of practice in case of GRE reading comprehensions.


At bare minimum, one must do 100 passages and the big book provides that much practice. This can be frustrating but it's worth the effort. Time and accuracy are very important in attempting GRE passages – with this much practice you will hit your desired target.


For a detailed review on the BIG book by GRE please go over here.



Barron’s 1100 Words You Need To Know ‘or’ Magoosh App

Barron’s 1100 Words You Need To Know ‘or’ Magoosh App


Having a good vocabulary can be immensely advantageous in the GRE exam and the best source to prepare for them is the Barron’s 1100 words list. If you get bored studying for Vocabulary from a book you can also get hold of the Magoosh flashcards app.


So either study vocabulary from Barrons 1100 words or the Magoosh app – but not both. These provide you with the words you are most likely to encounter in the exam. By having a command on these would help you in the text completion and sentence equivalence questions.


Magoosh presents words along with sentences. Barron's additionally provides short exercises where you can test the new words learned.


While Magoosh can be used easily by the last minute learners, Barrons demands more time and will be best suited if you start preparing early.


To have a look: Go here


Norman Lewis - Word Power Made Easy

Optional - Norman Lewis - Word Power Made Easy


Learning vocabulary can be demanding as well as frustrating. If you are unable to retain the words you are learning from Barron’s or Magoosh, then you can use this book.


Norman lewis is based on learning words roots (which is easier to retain). This actually makes learning interesting thing to do.


It is not a GRE book specifically, but it contains nearly all of the words in Magoosh/Barrons.


To have a look: Go here



Official ETS guide

Official ETS guide + Official verbal reasoning practice questions + Official quantitative reasoning practice questions


These books by ETS contain real past GRE questions. The questions in the books are a great tool to practice. However, it contains only a limited number of questions.


After you are done with all the aforementioned GRE sources, only then practice from these guides.


The verbal reasoning practice book has a chapter dedicated to the analytical writing section of the GRE. It also contains sample-graded essays as well.


Each official guides has 2-3 full-length paper based practice tests at their end.


However, these books alone are not sufficient to prepare for the GRE. If you want to review the concepts, you will require supplementary material I just discussed. 


Save these practice questions for the end.


For a review on the ETS Material please go here.


To have a look: Go here


Have a look at verbal review: Go here


Have a look at quant review: Go here



2 Power prep ETS GRE Exams

2 Power prep ETS GRE Exams


These are 2-Computer Adaptive full-length GRE tests from the ETS (official makers of the GRE).


Although ETS has not updated them in over 5 years now, still they are the most authentic source of gauging your true performance. These include very old and retired GRE questions, and look & feel just like the real GRE test does.


The quant sections are a bit easy than the actual GRE but the verbal section is highly relevant to the actual GRE test.


Nonetheless it is an extremely useful way of knowing the overall feel of the test, the interface and the structure.


You can also take the power prep exams in the official GRE test centers in some locations around the world.


For a detailed ETS GRE exams review please go here.


To download: Go here



6 Manhattan GRE Full-length Online Tests

6 Manhattan GRE Full-length Online Tests


The online adaptive Manhattan tests are the best GRE exams after the ETS paper and power prep exams.


  • Quantitative is really up to the mark of the actual GRE and is a reliable measure of your performance.
  • Verbal questions on the other hand are slightly below par but they are still the best.


Supplement these 6 tests with GRE Power prep practice exams.


For a thorough review on these 6 exams by Manhattan, please go here.


To have a look: Go here


Conclusion: To sum up,


  1. The 3 ETS guides and the power prep exams are a must for anyone taking the GRE exam.
  2. Manhattan strategy guides are best for studying quantitative topics. Manhattan 5 LB book must be used to supplement your quant practice.
  3. For developing a strong vocabulary you can turn to Barrons or Magoosh but be sure to work on these early in your preparation as cramming vocabulary at the eleventh hour seldom helps.
  4. For overall verbal strategies turn to Princeton- for verbal practice, use the ETS Big book and the verbal official guides.
  5. Top it up with 6 practice tests by Manhattan and the 7th test should be your actual GRE exam.


Good Luck!


  1. Avatar

    from which source we can get these books??

    • Avatar

      You can buy them online on amazon. Thanks

  2. Avatar

    We have to go through all of these books or just any one of these?

  3. Avatar

    You mean to say all of these? How much time would that reasonably take?

  4. Avatar

    Salam Talha air! I have started Baroon’s 1100 words. And now following Brightlink’s 30 and 60 day verbal plan. Can I skip the vocab part of the 30 and 60 day plan? can Barron’s 1100 be taken as a substitute for the 30 and 60 day verbal plan?

    • Avatar

      AOA Aimal – Thanks for the message. Yes definitely, Barron’s 1100 words can be substituted for the vocabulary in the 30 day and the 60 day Verbal plan.

      • Avatar

        Thank you Sir for your response…

  5. Avatar

    Hello Talha!
    I am starting to prepare for GRE and then I’ll give my test in March.
    Can you guide where should I start from? Like Vocabulary, Quantitative reasoning or Verbal section?

    • Avatar

      Hello Sabah, I ll advise just follow the Manhattan 8 guides for GRE, ETS Official guides and the Manhattan 5LB book. For vocabulary follow the magoosh app.

  6. Avatar

    Salam Sir Talha!
    I want to start for GRE preparation now. Can you please guide me if your 60 day advance plan is sufficient for metro study for GRE. and for quantitative section what material do you recommend me?

    • Avatar

      W.A.S Sadia, Yes it is sufficient to do decently on the GRE. For quant I advice Manhattan books

  7. Avatar

    Salam sir Talha. What would be the best resource for practicing text completion and sentence equivalence? Are only the official guides useful for that?

    • Avatar

      Wasalam, See if you can get hold of magoosh. They have some really good questions on those types

  8. Avatar

    Hello Talha,
    I have in possession, the Barron’s 1100 words book and of course, the magoosh app. You mentioned in your article that it would be wrong to use both of this materials. Can you please explain why?

    Also, would learning the words from the magoosh app be sufficient for the verbal section?

    • Avatar

      Hello Joseph, So basically they have a lot of overlapping words and some of the words which are non-overlapping, those are really not required for prep. So if you consult both sources you will end up learning an extra 500-600 words that are not needed on the GRE test day 🙂 Yes Magoosh app is sufficient!

  9. Avatar

    Asslam o Aliakum,
    Sir is it necessary to follow the editions of these Books.

    • Avatar

      Waalaikum Asalam, No it is no required. You can choose any edition

  10. Avatar

    Hello Talha!
    For vrrbal section which source should be used?

    • Avatar

      Hello Muzna, ETS guides are really the only good source for GRE verbal!

  11. Avatar

    Hi Tallah,

    Thanks for this! It’s really helpful. How many months do you think I should put aside if I am working full time? I won’t be applying to grad school till the fall but am thinking to take the GRE during Spring of this year. Do you think Jan-March of diligent studying (3 evenings a week, half a day over the weekend) with all of these resources is enough time?

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again

    • Avatar

      Hello Tina – 3-4 months is usual with your routine, if you put in 10-12 hours per week

  12. Avatar

    Hi Talha,

    One more question – are these tips/guides your suggestion for native English speakers as well?

    Thank you

    • Avatar

      Hello, Yes definitely. These do apply!

  13. Avatar

    Hi Talha, I am using ETS Big book for GRE reading comprehension practice. Can you please recommend some book for text completion and sentence equivalence practice apart from official guides?

    • Avatar

      Hello – nope there is no other good book out there!

  14. Avatar

    Is the difficulty level of passages that we encounter in ETS Big Book tantamount to those which we will attempt in actual GRE?

  15. Avatar

    Hello Sir,

    I want to know that whether LSAT Past Papers are the better resource for Reading Comprehension or not?
    If yes, where can i find them?

    • Avatar

      Hello Anil, Yes they are an excellent resource. Must use resource. You can find them online or via amazon.

  16. Avatar

    sir, do i have to study all these 8 books for GRE preparation and can i achieve reasonable marks this by self study ?

    • Avatar

      Yes you ll have to do all 8 guides. Yes scoring good with self-study is possible.

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