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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for a plan of attack....
I must admit that I was intially skeptical about how much a Literature GRE prep book could help me; it seems almost common sense to think you cannot possibly study for such a broad topic. The book dispells this myth right away, and uses a convincing argument: the fact that literature in English covers such a broad area is something to the test maker's detriment, not the...
Published on July 22, 2007 by Derek La Shot

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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like Edition 4.1 -- updated after I took the test
I spent about an hour looking through this book and found that not only is the sample test (still only 1) the same, but so is 95% of the book. Granted, I would not expect the publishers to change their study methods, but if you release a new edition there should be something worth the new cover. Shouldn't there? At least provide a 2nd test to go along with the other one...
Published on September 20, 2005 by evanjamesroskos


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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More like Edition 4.1 -- updated after I took the test, September 20, 2005
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
I spent about an hour looking through this book and found that not only is the sample test (still only 1) the same, but so is 95% of the book. Granted, I would not expect the publishers to change their study methods, but if you release a new edition there should be something worth the new cover. Shouldn't there? At least provide a 2nd test to go along with the other one -- it's not like they spent money reusing the old one...

There are some alterations to the study info. Homer has his own section. There are family trees for the major Greek tragedies (with a note stating that the test won't ask specific questions about who is related to whom). Other than that, there is still a lack of emphasis on minority writers of the 20th century & lit theory.

There is a new section that has grammar vocabulary that is probably very helpful for those "Identify the gerund" questions. Except that, in the sample sentences, the gerund is not specifically identified with boldface or an underline or an arrow. (Of course, gerunds tend to stand out, but some of the more obscure ones don't).

Despite all of this, if you don't have the 4th edition, this edition is quite helpful. This is why I have to give the book 3 stars -- it covers alot of ground, has some helpful tips, and is a good foundation for your two months of studying. I wouldn't rely on it alone to get a great score, but there are lists of names that you should know in here and the more practice tests you can take, the better. Good luck!

UPDATE! I took the test last weekend. This guide is not enough to prepare you for the test anymore. Increases in 20th century lit crit/theory and decreased use of the 'obvious' pieces that this guide hinges on made the GRE Lit exam tough. Questions on the big authors used obscure passages and emphasized comphrehension as much as identification. So, while the test is more fair in some sense (you don't need to recognize a passage to be able to comprehend it), this guide spends most of its time prepping you for identifying authors and passages that the test-writers seem to be avoiding because of this very book! Anyway, this is not to say the guide isn't helpful, but it was not nearly as helpful as I'd hoped.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but limited, November 11, 2005
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
Having recently taken the GRE Literature in English subject test, I feel that a great deal of the information provided by this book is useful and got me quite a few marks that I would otherwise have certainly missed.

The first section - "The Big Picture" - gives some basic information about the test and describes the various types of questions on it. The second section - "Cracking the System" - includes some standard advice about time-management, and explains how the test is scored. It also provides a general overview of the philosophy behind the test and what kind of authors and works are likely to be on it. There are also a bunch of general tips and techniques for answering questions, the most important of which is stressed in the book - learn names!

"Cracking the System by Cracking the Books" - the third section - is the most useful, but also the most incomplete. On the positive side, the sections on Greek epic and tragedy cover the most important aspects (i.e. names and plot) of several classical works likely to appear on the test, and the Chaucer section (with summaries of the major stories in the Canterbury Tales) is also well done. While not all the authors and works listed as sure-shots in the study guides provided were on my test, enough of them were to make using these guides worthwhile. Although I have to say, along with reviewers of the earlier edition of this book, I saw no Herrick Julia poems! The glossary of literary terms, verse forms and stanza types, while brief, did include a number of terms I had never seen before that proved useful. The summary of critical schools and their 'buzz words' is very basic, but would be useful to someone who hasn't done a critical theory course of any breadth (or who was enrolled but asleep...).

While all this makes this book probably worth buying for most test-takers, it has some inexcusable weaknesses and omissions. The grammar review does not cover many of the terms one needs to know, and includes only simple sentences as examples that are nothing like the real thing. Worse is the complete omission of Shakespeare, which the author writes off as `assumed knowledge'. Come on, how much time would it have taken to include 50-word summaries of Shakespeare's plays, especially since just knowing the names and basic plots can get you quite a few marks? Also absent is pretty much the whole 20th century and writers who are not "dead white males", both of which ETS draws on substantially. Leaving these important areas out when Princeton Review could so easily create study-guides and summaries for them is just plain lazy.

The test at the end has explanations for all answer choices - a plus - and in terms of question types is fairly similar to the real thing, even though the obscurity of a few of the authors and works on it makes a small number of the questions misleadingly difficult. Unfortunately there is only one practice test; as the real test is difficult to finish in the time available, this is a serious weakness in a prep book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for a plan of attack...., July 22, 2007
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
I must admit that I was intially skeptical about how much a Literature GRE prep book could help me; it seems almost common sense to think you cannot possibly study for such a broad topic. The book dispells this myth right away, and uses a convincing argument: the fact that literature in English covers such a broad area is something to the test maker's detriment, not the test taker's. It is the GRE subject test maker's responsibility to create a test that is multiculturaly sound; one that needs a represntative of English literature that a student of English at a college in India could recognize as easily as a student of English at Harvard. Therefore, there are ways to study for this broad topic: by looking at the barest essentials; the canonical pieces of poetry and fiction that a discernible person might guess an English major might have studied. Which leads to the next myth: that once you have a list of likely works that you must read every single one, from Beowulf to the Modern era. This isn't true, (the book makes the point here that one shouldn't bother going to grad school if s/he's already read most of the important works in English; it would surely be worth a degree or two by that point) in fact you need only skim the important details of these works by 1.reading a summary; 2. reading an author's bio or an intro section to the work in the Norton anthology; or 3. if you've already read the work, quickly reviewing the plot and characters by skimming a few passages to jog your memory. The goal is to get points, and luckily most of those points are easily taken if you can recognize a certain passage, which most likely contains key elements from a work or author and not a vaugue obscurity that no one has read except the most fervent of an author's scholar.
Oh, and if you're like me and weren't an English major, I highly recommend that you buy this book as a favor to yourself. As you're already disadvantaged by your skim study in comparison to the English majors you'll be competing against in grad school, you need all the advantages you can get. It starts with this one. The book has major and minor lists of works and authors that scrupulous research of previous tests deems you should know, so I suggest you take advantage of it. Luckily I was an English minor, and was fairly well versed by reading in my spare time. If you aren't either of this things however, I'd suggest not only getting this book, but hiring a tutor.
In summary, if you like the large, cumbersome expanses of a huge discipline attempting to be shoved into a small peanut shell, then this book is for you. You'll be getting just a snippet, but this snippet may indeed be worth your money and effort. Just remember though: it's a guide or an outline, not the end all and be all of your studying efforts. Treat it as such, and keep your Norton anthology handy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Benefits from a lack of serious competition..., May 22, 2009
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Kit (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
There's something fundamentally iffy about the idea of a test prep book that has only one practice test. I mean, ETS will send you one of those for free. That having been said, the study methods outlined here, particularly the tips on works and periods the text is likely to emphasize, are great. The practice test with its detailed and helpful explanation answers are very valuable, and you do need this book if you are studying for the Literature GRE.

Do not, however, rely on it as heavily as the most positive reviewers tell you to. This book is lazy on a number of points -- it tells you not to bother studying Shakespeare or the Bible without offering any kind of tips or "cheat sheet" about either topic, and its summary of the major schools of literary theory is out of date and written at basically a high school AP level. (Come on, if you don't know what Marxism is you probably shouldn't be taking the Literature GRE just yet...)

So, qualified praise. You should use this book definitely, but you should also do some things it tells you not to: 1) Read King Lear. Now! 2) Looking through some key books of the Bible (the beginning and end of each of the Four Gospels, and maybe Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs) couldn't hurt. 3) Pick up a basic paperback introduction to literary theory (Terry Eagleton's will serve well and can be read in a day or two).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for how to take the test, January 9, 2007
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This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
If you are looking for a last minute study session, this is not the place to turn. They give you excellent advice on how the test is scored and methods of marking answers but there are few passages in it. They do provide an excellent list of authors you should know and quick overviews of some classic literature but nothing extreamely specific. I used this book in conjunction with my own study program and found the book really worth my while. It's a little light on Lit theory though, so you may want to brush up on that part of the test. Overall I would buy it again. It's written with a dry sense of humor and a drive to see the student do well
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Used this and saw MAJOR rewards!, November 11, 2009
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
I took the Lit GRE a year ago and was unhappy with my score, so I bought this study guide and spent my summer trying to improve my score. The result? I improved by 120 points and moved from the 55th percentile to the 91st! I used this book as a jumping off point for some major study time, and I feel it was extremely useful.

The book focuses on helping its readers score easy points on what is a very long, broad, and taxing exam. The book is separated into sections. The first sections offer a test overview and a basic strategy for tackling the exam. It emphasizes identification, and having taken the test twice, I'd definitely say that identifications comprise the bulk of the test. The rest of the book tells you what to study through a series of lists. It doesn't just list a book and author and say "know this," however. Rather, it points out the best works to read (best meaning that they are quick to read and have a high likelihood of showing up on the test). I read all the short works and feel that this was definitely worth my study time. Also, they give a great overview of literary and verse terms, which will definitely help you on the test.

Again, I didn't just use this book. I used the book as a jumping off point for more in-depth study. The book helped me earn the easy points, but the practice test and its answer explanations (READ THEM ALL--EVEN IF YOU GOT THE QUESTION RIGHT) tells you what else you should know or study for the test. Because this material has a much smaller chance of showing up on the test, it doesn't make the lists in the earlier sections of the book. Still, it is not just a practice exam but a study tool in itself that you must use to find your weaknesses. Once aware of what your problems are, you should be using the Norton anthologies and some other sources to fill in your weak spots. This is what I did, and it paid off. I'm surprised that some people did not find the practice test useful as this really helped me focus on exactly what areas I needed to study.

Lastly, this book doesn't cover the Bible or minority authors or 20th century literature, but this is because this material doesn't show up on enough questions to warrant a lot of study time. Princeton Review tells you this, and it's really true.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Sure It Covers Enough, September 12, 2009
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This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
Princeton usually offers a) a thorough coverage of what's on tests, b) tricks of the trade to beat the test, or c) both. This book provides information that's on the test and gives a trick or two, but it's not a strong enough resource for a test that is consistently labeled as very difficult. It's wiser to borrow it from the library or look at it in the store than to buy it. Online materials, including Vade Mecum ([...]) are MUCH stronger resources.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book relieves the pressure..., August 14, 2006
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
When I took the GRE in lit three years ago, I didn't know about this book. I wish I would have. Studying literature isn't like studying math; you can't just learn the formulas to be successful. And with such an anbundance of literature from which to choose, you may get the feeling very early on in your course of study for this exam that you have no idea where to start. Now I'm taking the exam again and this book helps. This book more than helps. Let the experts guide you. They've studied the GRE exams and know ETS's trademark question styles that will help you. The writers and contributors to this study guide help show you where to start, what to emphasize, and how to study for the exam rather than the material, and they do it with a sarcastic wit that keeps you interested. Buy this book - if not for the infinite wisdom, for the pressure it relieves.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, September 27, 2006
This review is from: Cracking the GRE Literature Test, 5th Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) (Paperback)
This book is great! It has wonderful strategy tips that really helped me on managing my time. The mythology chart and the historical chronology of literary periods are also excellent. The explanations of the practice test answers also explain what all the wrong answers are so you can better reference where to look up these authors and titles. I only wish that there was more than one practice test and that the book was longer. Buy this book for your test!
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