on June 29, 2009
I just finished studying for the GRE with Barron's, Kaplan, ETS, and Princeton Review, and Cracking the GRE is by far the best out of the four. Its math and verbal sections are incredibly user-friendly and helpful, and the analytical writing section is essential if you want a top-scoring essay on the test. Princeton Review not only tells you exactly what you need to do to get the highest scores on your essays, but its website also offers LiveGrader, a service which allows you to have your essays scored by actual graders (not computers!) for $6 per test. This is much cheaper than the grading service ETS offers ($13 per test)! The math section is excellent for someone (like me) who is not gifted in math, with the most simple, clear, and useful explanations of any GRE prep book I've found. As far as I'm concerned, Cracking the GRE is ESSENTIAL to do well on the GRE!! The only caveat I would add is that if you want a top score on the verbal section you'll also need to reference Barron's comprehensive vocabulary list, which is unmatched by any other book...
on August 1, 2012
First, I am certain that someone is planting reviews on this book to get sales. Unethical. All of the reviewers thus far only have made one review (look at their history) and that review is on this book. Shady. With that being stated...
The book is pretty good, however; it is lacking. There was a question type on the math GRE that it does not cover. As far as Princeton Review is concerned, this certain type of question does not exist. Well, it does! Fine if you don't want to max out your score. Not fine for me. I figured out how to do it in real time the last time I took the GRE, but I missed it the first time around because I wasn't expecting it at all. I am paying for a book to tell me how to beat the system. I should beat it. You should beat it.
Also, the section on permutations was overly brief, skimming over juicy bits. I can see why they did that, though. Most people don't want to know all the permutation and combination formulas. I do! So I reviewed the material online. The issue is that if you don't know that stuff during the test, you have to guess with the letter of the day because you aren't prepared to answer it. I'd rather have a 100% chance of getting it right than a 20%. Maybe that is just me.
For $15 off Amazon, I would recommend the book, however; these planted reviews saying the book is perfect are just lies.
on October 1, 2009
This book should not be the only source you use to study for the GRE. While it does contain advice on helpful strategies to employ to answer the different question types, it has very, very little practice, which is precisely what you need most to adequately prepare for the GRE! The DVD that accompanies the book has very little material on it, and even less material that is useful. If you do want to buy this book, choose the non-DVD option and save yourself some money. I don't find the Hit Parade very useful because it just lists the word, part of speech (noun, adjective, verb) and the definition of the word, without giving the word in context. They encourage you to put the word in a sentence yourself, but this is difficult for words that you are totally unfamiliar with (you may be using it the wrong way). I like Kaplan's strategy better, which is to place a word in a sentence, because it helps with recall. Kaplan also creates sentences in which the meaning of the word is clear.
A positive: the PR book comes with a product key which you can plug in on the Princeton Review website and get access to four full-length practice tests and some practice lessons and drills. You can get a demo version of what I'm talking about for free on the website (even if you don't have the product key), but the product key unlocks some more options. Curiously, the study plan that PR provides you with (on the website) tells you to practice using ETS's "Practicing to Take the GRE: General Test, 10th Edition" -- so they expect you to buy yet another book.
Bottom line, PR is good for strategy, but bad for practice. My boyfriend used Kaplan and I'm using some of his material (flashcards, pocket reference, etc), and I'm finding Kaplan much better for verbal (I haven't gotten to the math section yet).
on August 7, 2012
This book is overall pretty good; I definitely recommend it for the price.
On the other hand, I'm a math major, looking to go on to a Ph.D. in math, and have found the math section of this book in need of some serious editing. There are incorrect explanations and answers, though not many, but enough to cause concern. Some of the questions in the math part are written in a logically unsound manner; that is, they could logically be interpreted more than one way, and relatively often the correct answer is I can not tell (although this is not often a choice, thank goodness). For a subject based on the application of logic to certain assumptions/definitions/axioms, this seems strange to me.
The verbal section has been very helpful to me, especially in test-taking strategies (if it's not in the passage, it's not the answer!!). However, someone from the Princeton Review has got to rip the math section apart and start over.
on August 19, 2012
One of the earlier posters complained of all the reviewers having only one review. Well, I'm one of those "one-reviewers," simply because I've been too lazy in the past to post a review about... well, anything. Anyway, just wanted to let you know - this isn't a shill review or anything of the sort. I just felt compelled to report on my experience with the GRE and the Princeton Review book.
So, I decided to enroll in film school and many of them require taking the GRE for admittance. Before purchasing ANY books or looking at any notes, I downloaded the official PowerPrep software available at the ETS website. The free software comes with 4 or so tests - 1 unscored practice test (although you get the answers at the end), 2 scored tests (that you can take timed or untimed - I recommend times) and I think another weird practice test. Anyway, I took the untimed practice test and got a perfect score. Unfortunately, the difficulty of the untimed practice test is misleading. I ended earning a 154/170 verbal and 130/170 quantitative on my first timed PowerPrep test. Needless to say, I was rather disappointed with both my scores.
Now that I had a baseline, it was time to seek out a good GRE training book so I could accurately gauge my improvement after taking the second timed test. I actually went to Barnes and Nobles and analyzed all the other books (Barron's, Kaplans, non-brands) until deciding on this book. The other books didn't seem BAD, but the test questions in both the Barron's and Kaplan books didn't read like the ones in from the PowerPrep test. Make no mistake, neither does the Princeton Review book. However, this book did an amazing job at deconstructing the questions and illustrating a few universal strategies to attack them.
Now, here's the two faults of the book -
1. You can tell that the Princeton Review did NOT have access to actual ETS written questions, so they wrote their own. Unfortunately, the example questions provided tended to cater to the Princeton Review's strategies. In other words - the strategies worked VERY WELL for the book's example questions (where I was hitting 100% accuracy), but not so much on the actual ETS questions. However, I could apply the strategies to get the correct answer. Just took a bit more thinking.
2. As the other reviewers have mentioned, the math section is a bit lacking. What I did to compensate was writing down everything I had a problem with while taking the PowerPrep test, studying those sections in the book and seeking outside online help. There was one GREAT tidbit of knowledge found in this book that rang true on the actual GRE. Many of the math questions are INSANELY easy, but the question is worded in such a way that you'll waste precious minutes on advanced calculations that are unnecessary. This book has a small section devoted to seeing through that crap.
So, after 2 weeks of studying, I took the second PowerPrep timed test and landed a 163/verbal and 155/quantitative. Not bad, in my opinion. I took the actual GRE yesterday and earned 160/verbal and 150/quantitative. I was a bit disappointed in the drop, but - there was definitely improvement from studying this book. Personally, I underestimated how daunting it was to sit in a cold metal chair for 4 hours taking a test. Midway through, I experienced heavy brain fatigue.
In the end, I do believe this book helped a lot. I'd advise beginning your study 3 months out (not a few weeks, as I ridiculously tried) and getting some supplemental test questions.
Oh, I kinda glossed over the training for the essay questions, so I don't know how accurate that section in the book is. Once I get my essays graded, I'll read what the book has to say about that, compare it to my essay and give an assessment.
on July 4, 2009
I echo many peoples' sentiments in that I feel both the Princeton Review and Kaplan books are useful. Personally, I like how this book is written better than I do Kaplan's. I also like the strategies a little more. Both are good though. If you're not going to take the courses in person, then I would suggest getting both this text and Kaplan's. The more practice the better. One thing that I found interesting is that after combining Barron's, Kaplan's, and the Princeton review's top 250, top 200 (and top 400 found online after signing up for the online supplements), and top 450 (Hit Parade and beyond the hit parade)words, respectively, I came up with about 940 words. You would think that there would be more overlap; I guess not.
on August 26, 2012
I first purchased GRE for Dummies as a review for the GREs. I was not sure if that would be good enough so I purchased the Princeton Review and Kaplan prep books. Kaplan and Princeton Review were much better than GRE for Dummies. I will explain in detail in a moment, but first I need to say that none of the three prep books I purchased covered all of the math in sufficient detail. If you were good in math in high school or college you will not have a problem with the lack of comprehensive math coverage. However, if you are like me, who took their last math course in the 11th grade, because you are not inclined towards math, or you have been out of college for more than 10 years, you might want to purchase the CliffNotes Math Review for Standardized Tests, latest edition. It is by far the best and most comprehensive math review and it has lots of great practice exercises and tests. It explains concepts well. The math in the GRE prep guides can supplement CliffNotes and you should definitely study the techniques in the GRE prep books, because they are specifically geared to the GRE test, but they assume a certain amount of pre-knowledge. Now back to Princeton. Princeton and Kaplan complemented one another as far as the verbal and essay writing sections were concerned. Princeton excelled at vocabulary drills and explaining how to handle the abstruse reading comprehension passages. They give you lots of good practice drills. They also do a good job of teaching you how to analyze a reading passage. They teach you step by step. They were the best for teaching the reading comprehension. I found Kaplan to be extremely helpful for writing the issue and argument essays. They do the best job of explaining the parts of the argument essay, like premise, conclusion, hidden assumptions, evidence etc. I really got these concepts after I read Kaplan, which was the last book I studied. Both Princeton and Kaplan have different lists of vocab with some of it overlapping and you need to know all of those words. Princeton and Kaplan have full length practice tests in the back of their books and access to online tests as well. The Kaplan online test came closest to the ETS practice tests that you can download from the ETS website, in fact they were even better, because they gave you that extra experimental section that ETS will give you on exam day, which increases the length of the exam. Take as many practice tests as you can and learn from your mistakes. You are given a chance to review all of your answers, right and wrong and see explanations of the correct answers and why they are correct. That is tremendously helpful. My final advice is do not buy GRE for Dummies, but do use both the Princeton Review and the Kaplan Prep books. Those two are well worth the investment. All of the prep books recommend studying for several hours a day, five days a week, for three months prior to the exam. That is advice well worth taking unless you are exceptionally bright. I took the exam and my scores on exam day were consistent with the scores I got during the last week that I was taking the practice tests. (I took practice tests for several weeks). Therefore, I knew that I had done the best I could have possibly done for me.
There are two kinds of people who take the Graduate Record Examination. Well, three, actually: Those who don't study for the GRE, those who take a course costing several hundred dollars, and those of us buying a book or two. Buy "Cracking the GRE." It is what you need.
I suspect those who take the courses get their money's worth.
However, "Cracking the GRE" is a much cheaper, quicker solution. It cuts to the chase, tells you what you need to know, and shows you how to figure out those algebra problems better than your high school freshman year teacher.
They teach you how to be organized during the test. And you'll learn how to draw sensible charts for the logic portion. This will save you precious time as you realize you have no clue how to answer number 27. It teach you how to effectively guess.
With the DVD, you will endure (it is a tough exam, after all), test conditions, and receive video tutorials. The greatest benefit, however, and where you might find yourself studying the most is the book. Plow through word lists, key types of questions and testing suggestions.
I took the GRE. I used the Princeton Review. I crammed. Sure, sure--not the best approach for an important exam, but the fact remains, I'm not alone. Effective cramming involves knowing what to jettison, and what to keep on board. That is, knowing what is important to focus on. The Princeton Review folks know this.
I dreaded the math portion. If I told you how low my high school grades were for math, and then told you my GRE score, you'd likely believe neither. But it is true. My score rocked. Why? The easy teaching style of "Cracking the GRE." The MIT admissions people wouldn't be impressed with my score, but for a guy with a literature degree looking to get into a marketing communications program, the "Cracking the GRE" helped me get the math score I needed.
Have I convinced you? No more delaying. Hurry up, get on with it, and buy "Cracking the GRE." You'll get the best results cramming can bring you. Oh, and be sure to get to the exam early. There is a long form to fill out beforehand.
I fully recommend "Cracking the GRE."
on November 15, 2009
I purchased the Princeton Review and Kaplan GRE study books several months ago. I started with Kaplan and found it more confusing than helpful. I read the first section or two, and then did not continue with this book. Princeton Review, however, was much more clear, in my opinion. Before studying at all, I scored a 490 verbal and 490 quantitative on the PR computer adaptive test (very helpful!). I spent the next two months studying about 10 hours each week. My main obstacle was learning new vocab, whereas I really just needed a bit of review for math. I memorized the first 4 vocab lists in PR's "hit parade" (out of 6). I also bought ETS's "Practicing to Take the GRE" book, which contains actual past-used paper tests. The PR book does not provide enough practice problems, which would be my only complaint, so definitely buy ETS's book as well. I also found the Writing Section in PR to be extremely helpful. I went into the test with the structure for the essays already planned out.
The last week of studying, I took 2 full tests to get a good idea of how to pace myself (VERY important!) and how tired I would be by the final section. Again, the ETS and PR books are all I used to study. I took only 1 math and 1 english class in college, so I'm not exactly an expert in either area. On the actual GRE, I scored a 730 Quant, 610 Verbal. I would definitely recommend these two books to anyone taking the GRE. I am thrilled that I don't have to worry about taking the GRE again for a higher score!
on July 31, 2009
I can't recommend this highly enough. I've been out of college 34 years. It's been 38 years since I took a math class (and then who knows how much attention I was paying). I worked with this book and the related tools on the Princeton Review web site for less than two weeks and I was able to get the score I needed for grad school (a combined 1100). It was also helpful on the essay questions, though I won't know those scores for a while. What an amazing tool! Just do like they say, take the practice tests, etc., and you'll be good.