The 8 Best GRE Prep Books

By Rachel Shapiro Updated March 12, 2021

The GRE is a tough test that covers a wide variety of concepts. To ace the test, you’ll need to study everything from vocabulary to reading comprehension to algebra and geometry. It’s also a good idea to brush up on time-saving strategies.

One way to learn all these concepts and strategies is through GRE prep books. GRE-specific prep books feature practice questions, practice tests, and lessons. Plus, many prep books include access codes for their online courses. Here, you’ll get even more useful practice questions and lessons.

If you’re unsure which GRE prep book is right for you, we’re here to help. We’ve gone through all the major GRE prep books and found the best ones for test-takers. If you’re ready to start preparing for the GRE, read on to learn about the best GRE prep books.

Why Use a GRE Prep Book?

A GRE prep book is a good way to become familiar with questions you’ll find on the GRE. They’re also helpful for learning about Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing concepts. In addition, prep books often provide GRE practice tests that are similar to the real test.

Prep book vs online course

Prep books are a good choice for anyone who prefers studying with physical materials. They’re also good if you like studying while you’re on-the-go. Many prep books offer access codes to their online course. Since the GRE is a computer adaptive test, it’s a good idea to use a mix of prep books and online GRE prep courses when studying.

Most Comprehensive: Kaplan GRE Prep Plus

Kaplan's GRE Complete 2021 book bundle

If you’re looking for a book with tons of prep material, Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus bundle is a good choice. This bundle features three books: a math workbook, a verbal workbook, and a prep plus book with test-taking strategies.

The bundle contains over 2,200 practice questions. It also has lessons on a variety of math and verbal skills. With your purchase of the bundle, you’ll get access to five online tests and a year of access to the online QBank. With so many practice questions and lessons, Kaplan’s book is sure to help you feel ready for test day.

Why we like it

Kaplan’s book has the most practice questions of any book on the market, and they’re similar to what’s on the real test. We like that they provide access to online materials, including practice tests and more practice questions. It’s also great that Kaplan has practice questions for each major verbal and quantitative skill tested on the GRE.

Keep in mind

We felt that the book lacked structure compared to other prep books. Some reviewers also felt that the math section focused too much on formulas. While these are helpful, they wished there was more focus on the specific concepts tested on the GRE.

Related reading: Kaplan GRE review

Best Practice Problems: Manhattan Prep 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems

Manhattan Prep 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems

The “five-pound” label in the title isn’t an exaggeration. This hefty book is filled with over 1,800 practice problems. These problems are grouped together by difficulty level, skill tested, and question type. This makes it easy to find what you’d like to work on and drill the concept. With each practice question, there’s a detailed explanation that goes through how to solve the problem step-by-step.

The book also has a free code to access part of Manhattan Prep’s online course. Here, you’ll get access to lessons on the GRE and thousands more practice questions.

Why we like it

We love how many practice questions this book has. Plus, we like the way the book groups practice questions together. We also like the explanations included with each question.

Keep in mind

There are no Analytical Writing practice essays in this book. Also, we found that the Verbal section focused more on reading comprehension than text/sentence completion. We wished that there were more vocabulary-focused questions.

Related reading: Manhattan Prep GRE review

Best for Test-Taking Strategies: Princeton Review GRE Prep

Princeton Review GRE Prep 2021

Princeton Review’s in-depth guide has both drills and four-length practice tests. Two of the tests are online, and two are in the book. The practice tests include a guide to interpreting your results, which helps you gauge how you did on the test.

Princeton Review’s guide features great test-taking strategies. One of the hardest things about the GRE is the tricky way questions are worded. Princeton Review’s strategies will save you from falling into answer traps.

When you purchase the book, you’ll get an access code that allows you to take two free tests online. You’ll also get $100 off a Princeton Review online course.

Why we like it

We love the questions and practice tests Princeton Review has in their book. They also have test-taking strategies that are sure to save you time on test-day. Plus, they have one of the best verbal guides on the market. Their verbal guide includes common and high-level vocabulary words and sample sentences.

Keep in mind

Some students felt that the practice questions were easier than what’s found on the actual GRE. Some reviewers also wished that there were more practice questions in the book.

Related reading: Princeton Review GRE review

Best Practice Tests: ETS Official GRE Super Power Pack

ETS Official GRE Super Power Pack

If you learn best by doing practice tests, the Official GRE Super Power Pack is a good choice. The pack features three books—one for Verbal practice, one for Quantitative, and an official guide to the GRE general test. This pack was written by ETS, the company that administers the GRE. Because of this, the questions in the book are almost identical to what you’ll find on the GRE.

The pack also contains four full practice tests. Two of the tests are administered online through ETS’ website, and two are on paper. Along with the practice tests, you’ll get 600 practice questions with detailed answers.

Why we like it

We love all the practice tests, and we like that there are so many practice questions with detailed explanations. We also like that they provide sample essays.

Keep in mind

One thing that we felt was missing was test-taking strategies. Unlike many other prep books, ETS doesn’t provide many tips to save time on test-day. Some of the answer explanations are also a bit long and confusing. We also found the dry tone of the book hard to get into.

Best for Verbal and Analytical Writing: GRE Reading Comprehension & Essays (Manhattan Prep GRE Strategy Guides)

GRE Reading Comprehension & Essays

This Manhattan Prep book is perfect for anyone who’s wants to brush up on their Verbal and Analytical Writing skills. The book begins with an in-depth guide to the GRE’s reading comprehension section. It includes sample passages and discusses the typical questions you’ll find with these passages. Then, the book dives into the Analytical Writing section. It offers helpful practice prompts to test out your essay skills.

In addition to all of this reading comprehension and writing practice, you’ll also get a year of access to Manhattan Prep’s online course. Here, you’ll be able to try Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing practice questions.

Why we like it

We love the in-depth discussion of the GRE’s reading comprehension section. We like how many Verbal practice questions are offered. We also like that the book has both Analytical Writing lessons and sample prompts.

Keep in mind

While this book has tons of useful information about reading comprehension and essay writing, it isn’t comprehensive. If you also want to work on your vocabulary and math skills, this probably isn’t the book for you.

Best for Vocabulary: Barron’s Essential Words for the GRE

GRE Essential Words (Barron's Test Prep)

Barron’s Essential Words is great for any test-taker who feels that vocabulary is their weakness. The book includes 800 graduate-level words that are commonly found on the GRE.

The book begins with a pre-test that shows you where you’re at with your vocabulary knowledge. As you read through the book, you’ll do exercises, try practice quizzes, and read through sample sentences. The book also has a section on root words. Plus, it has a suggested study plan leading up to test day. At the end of the book, you’ll do a post-test to see how your vocabulary knowledge has grown.

Why we like it

We love the way this book teaches vocabulary words by getting down to their roots. We also like that the book provides so many practice exercises. The pre-test and post-test are also useful for gauging where you need to focus your studying.

Keep in mind

This book only covers vocabulary. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive book, this might not be right for you. Some students also felt that there should have been more synonyms included with the words.

Best for Quantitative Review: Princeton Review’s Math Workout for the GRE

Princeton Review's Math Workout for the GRE

Princeton Review’s Math Workout for the GRE is good for anyone who wants to hone their math skills. The book starts by laying out what you’ll find in the GRE’s Quantitative section. They also include strategies for approaching the GRE’s math questions.

After you read through this section, you can try some practice questions. The book has over 275 questions that cover a wide range of Quantitative skills. At the end of the book, there’s a glossary of common math terms. They also have sample sections where you’ll see how the Quantitative section is laid out in the real test.

Why we like it

We like that this book has both practice questions and strategies for the test. We also love the lessons and sample sections Princeton Review included.

Keep in mind

Princeton Review’s math workbook has fewer questions than many other prep books. Some reviewers also wished that Princeton Review included more detailed solutions for how to solve the problems.

Best Value: GRE Prep by Magoosh

GRE Prep by Magoosh

GRE Prep by Magoosh is one of the most inexpensive books on the market. Even though their price is low, their content is top-notch.

The book is written in a conversational way that makes reading it a breeze. It features helpful lessons on the different Verbal and Quant concepts you’ll find on the GRE. They provide lots of test-taking strategies along with over 130 questions. With these practice questions, Magoosh offers different stats. This includes how many students got the question wrong and the difficulty rating of the question. They also have a study plan you can customize with your test date.

Why we like it

We like all the lessons Magoosh has and how readable their book is. Their full-length practice test mimics the feel of the real GRE. Plus, we love the stats they have with their questions. We also like that they provided Analytical Writing essay samples.

Keep in mind

Magoosh’s book has the lowest number of practice questions of the prep books listed. While Kaplan’s book provides over 2,000 questions, Magoosh’s only has around 130. Also, not all the practice questions have detailed explanations. Magoosh also doesn’t offer a free access code to their online course—they do provide 20% off, though.

Related reading: Magoosh GRE review