How do I Choose the Best GRE&Reg; Study Guide?

K. Testa

In order to choose the best GRE® study guide, you should first consider the type of review method that you would prefer in preparation for the exam. For instance, you could take a GRE® course or hire a tutor. In those situations, the instructor or tutor might provide a study guide for you. There is also the option of preparing on your own. In this case, you will probably have to choose from among the many study guides available. Their formats and approaches may differ, so most people research various types of study guides before choosing the right one for them.

A GRE tutor will likely provide a study guide for his or her student.
A GRE tutor will likely provide a study guide for his or her student.

There are three basic options when selecting a GRE® study guide. The first is a book, and some of these come with a supplementary CD-ROM. The second type is a software package that allows all of the test review to be done on a computer. A third way to study is by using a guide and practice tests that can only be accessed online, such as through one of the popular test preparation companies.

Different people tend to have different study habits. For example, some people study better by reading a printed book, so that they can take notes and review the material as many times as necessary. Others might benefit more from taking online practice tests and doing all of their review exercises on a computer, which simulates the actual exam. Sometimes, the most effective study method for someone utilizes a combination of the book and the computer methods.

Knowing what material is on the general test, and understanding your potential areas of weakness, can help you select the type of GRE® study guide that will help you prepare most efficiently. The analytical writing section contains one issue essay and one argument analysis. The quantitative section tests high school-level math concepts, such as basic arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The verbal section focuses mainly on sentence completion and reading comprehension. In addition to the GRE® General Test, there are eight different subject tests offered. These exams are sometimes required for students in disciplines like psychology and chemistry.

You can purchase or borrow older editions of study guides, but many software packages and online guides are available that give the most current exam information. Older guides can save money, but you should be careful that the information or format of the questions is not outdated. For instance, the GRE® is usually taken on a computer, and the paper-based version of the exam may be used only in certain parts of the world. Furthermore, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) — the company that administers the GRE® — periodically revises the format and content of the exam.

When purchasing a GRE® study guide, someone with a limited budget might want to focus on the specific topics that he or she feels are most important to review. There are guides that give an overview and tips for the general test. There are also more specific workbooks, flash cards, and practice tests that focus on particular sections of the exam. Someone interested in taking a GRE® subject test might also benefit from studying one of those practice guides, as well.

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