Jun 30, 2011

Review of Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE:

"Cracking the GRE" from Princeton Review is noted for its good coverage of all the key concepts in both the verbal and quantitative section. There are many question types in the GRE math and verbal section and if you are the type of learner who demands lucid explanations of every question type with examples and abundant practise questions, then this is the right book for you. These explanations are accompanied by numerous practise questions that test your understanding of that question type. This further helps the student to absorb and comprehend key concepts faster. Most of the quantitative questions are fully worked out with satisfactory and complete answers that help even those who are not very clear in math concepts get better through practise. However, if your math level is very low then here are some other books to help you get up to speed.

Finally, in short, the positives and negatives of the Princeton GRE prep book are,


  • Clear, solid Explanations of almost all question types.

  • Informal and friendly tone used in the text. This helps keep things interesting.

  • Many (about 10) practise problems after clear explanations help to understand each question type better.

  • Short but useful list of words with their meanings. Although not as humungous as Barron's 3500 word list, this list at least gets you started rather than paralize you in fear.

  • Princeton Review has a feature where you can prepare better for the Analytical Writing section by getting your essays graded online for $5.99 each. This is a very useful add-on since it is always better to have someone else critique your essay rather than you doing it yourself.


  • The section on Reading comprehension could be much better especially since every thing else is very well explained. RC's are one of the most important sections on the GRE and will gain more importance in the revised GRE. Thus, it is not safe at all to neglect them. Other than this section, the Princeton book does very well as a GRE prep book you can “learn” from. But Practise is another story. Kaplan does a better job of making you practise more questions but their explanations are not as good as Princeton's.

  • The practise questions are not arranged in mixed difficulty. Rather they are sorted according to easy, medium and hard levels. It would be more beneficial if the practise questions were jumbled just like they would be on the real test.

  • Compared to the Kaplan GRE prep book, the overall number of practise tests that are available are not even close. Kaplan does a much better job of providing many more problems to practise on. Read on to know more about how Kaplan fills in the gaps of the other GRE prep books.

Overall, the Princeton Book is a very good buy. It does what a good prep book should do handsomely. As mentioned above, only the Reading Comprehension section needs a bit of improvement. Everything else is thoroughly explained. This book would be the better bet when compared to the Kaplan book if you are buying only one gre prep book. If you can afford both, then the Kaplan book can help to get you a lot of practice questions.

GRE Study Material: Reviews of the Best GRE Prep books

"Which is the best GRE book to prepare from?,” “Which GRE prep book is more suited towards those who have lost touch with Math like me?,” “Which is the most effective GRE book for increasing my overall score?” and “Which is the most comprehensive GRE study guide to buy?” are some of the most commonly asked questions by students searching for the most suitable GRE study guide. They reflect the different needs faced by various students who have varied expectations from the guide they buy.

Choose the GRE prep book that suits you best: Know its Pluses & Minuses

We understand that you want the best GRE study guides on your shelf before you embark on preparing your hardest. What is well-suited for one student as a study aid may not be such a good choice for another. You need to go through the list of GRE prep books below and read through the positives and negatives of each book before you make a decision to buy the most suited book or books. Having attempted the GRE myself, I am aware of the positive difference good GRE preparation materials along with hard work make towards the outcome.

The Major GRE Prep Book Publishers:

Over the years, the students who have attempted the GRE have relied on three to four major publishers who are very widely referred to even today. These books are the Princeton Review's “Cracking the GRE ” series, the Barron's GRE 2011 book and the Kaplan GRE prep book.

A word of advice before you read the reviews.

Make Sure that the GRE Prep Book you choose strengthens your Weak Spots:

My personal recommendation before choosing GRE prep books is that you need to be aware of how strong you are inherently in a particular section. If you are a very logical person or did well in high school math, then GRE Math would be easier for you. And if you are a regular reader of classic novels and can easily glean the intent and tone of complex, verbose passages then the verbal section wouldn't be much of a bother for you. Only you know your strengths. You should accordingly choose the gre prep book that strengthens your weak areas better. In many cases you might have to invest in two or more books to get the best exposure to sample questions and explanatory material.

Review of Princeton Review's Cracking the GRE 
Review of Kaplan's New GRE 2011-2012 Premier with CD-ROM