Should I Use a Book to Prepare for the GRE?

Written by Talha Omer

February 14, 2014

A good GRE score is an important part of your graduate admission application, so it’s worth burning your blood, sweat and tears to prepare for it. Students in Pakistan use different methods to prepare for the GRE; including books, online video lectures, tutor or some mobile applications. In a recently held survey that I conducted on 397 GRE students in Pakistan, I found that an overwhelming 201 students responded that books are their most preferred method of studying for the GRE. Another 185 stated that they would like to use online video lectures to prepare for the GRE and the remaining used a tutor or mobile app to ace the GRE.

Every methodology brings with it some advantages and disadvantages. The preparation books may just be one of the many options available, but most of the students in Pakistan like to use GRE books in one way or the other to prepare for the exam. Here are some merits and de-merits of using a book for your GRE preparation.

Benefits of using a GRE Book for your Prep

Exhaustive Content

A good GRE preparation book has the ability to take students through all aspects, topics and concepts tested on the GRE. It explores all the nuances and challenges that students are likely to encounter on the actual GRE. Books with sample tests and practice problems can give students an actual flair and taste of the actual exam and it contains practice questions that mimic actual GRE problems and can help students gain confidence. A good preparation book doesn’t let students feel a need for another resource to add-on to this preparation method.

Low Cost

In this age of internet boom, cost of downloading or buying a book is not very high. Proper research and social networking skills can help make this job a lot easier. So essentially if you are an avid book reader and you resort to preparing for the GRE from a book, it will cost you from little to nothing.


You won’t find a more portable and comprehensive preparation method than a good book. Books are easy to borrow from and return to, be it any friend or a library. Students can carry the book anywhere they want and refer to any topic as many times as they want.


You can work on any topic or section in any order you want and at your own pace. If you want to focus on algebra or reading comprehension ‘inference’ questions only, you can do that by skipping other areas. In other words, you can devote more time to skills you want to improve on. You don’t need to depend on anyone and you can do it on your own schedule.

SEE ALSO: Review of GRE Official Guide by ETS

De-merits of Using a Book to Prepare for the GRE

Requires Organization

Anyone who has tried to teach oneself knows that it can be tough to stay organized and disciplined. There are many people who suddenly get a hang of GRE and do a good job in first preparation week, but then lose interest and procrastinate till the final week before GRE. It can be a trying job to teach yourself and without any guidance you can lose motivation.

Exploring a Good Book is Tough

One of the toughest jobs in this preparation method is to search for a suitable book; and to be very honest there is no single book that will prepare you for the GRE exclusively. Every book has its own strengths and weaknesses. Moreover every students has a different aptitude level and finding a book that targets your level of mind can be a very time consuming job. You will need to consult someone who has been through this process and their advice can make life easier for you.

While some students may find a book very satisfying and informative, others would need to explore for other preparation options available in order to make up for the missing content. Some students may require many books, online videos and mock tests to prepare for their GRE effectively.

SEE ALSO: Is Kaplan GRE Book Good Enough?

Repetition of Mistakes

You can develop a tendency to repeat same mistakes over and over again without knowing how to fix them. This can be mentally upsetting and you can lose confidence. Most of the students will need to get their Analytical writing essays checked out by some expert, so preparing GRE through books might not be a self-sufficient method.

A Final word

There can be no ‘best’ or ‘ideal’ method to study for the GRE test. Similarly, there is nothing called the ‘best’ or ‘ideal’ book for test preparation. Every book has its pros and cons; you need to weight those before setting out on your mission to prepare GRE. Good luck!

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  1. Avatar

    Sir,I am planning to appear in GRE at the end of this year….I have lot of time ,so i need your suggestion regarding book…..Sir i am going to concentrate and follow only one book besides ETS preparation book……I heard alot about Magoosh,Manhattan ,Nova(for quantitative only_and also that they are better than kaplan,barron etc…………so advice me which book to follow………….and need some guide about online gre prep tests…..suggest me an online prep site for practice tests only……..Thanx…

    • Talha Omer

      Magoosh doesn’t have a book – they only have online video lectures and questions but they are good and worth the money you spend. Manhattan is also really good – NOVA is not comparable to these two. I would say go with Manhattan. Plus you can also buy manhattan mocks as they are good too.

  2. Avatar

    which books should I follow for GRE.please mention books for both quantity and verbal part. I have almost eight months in hand.

    • Talha Omer

      Hi Kumar, You must use only the official prep material as it is the most authentic one – use the GRE official guides and mock exams along with the GRE big book for your preparation 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Sir. Omer
    i am from Pakistan
    I have to appear in the GRE-loacal by NTS next month
    kindly guide me, how can i get 90+
    guide me the book please
    i have book by Dogars Publishers, from which i prepared GAT last year n got 78 marks with 98 percentile

    kindly suggest me the better one

    waiting for your quick response

    • Talha Omer

      Hi Anam, Unfortunately we do not have any idea about the local GRE/GAT 🙁


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