GRE Test Prep Guide

Standardized tests have a way of making students feel like they are always one step behind.  The test preparation industry takes advantage of this insecurity in students by releasing pricey study books and offering expensive tutoring programs to prepare students for tests. Because of the importance of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), prospective grad students who are prone to pre-exam stress end up pouring money into such services designed to bring them competitive GRE scores. While students should prepare themselves well for this exam, you don’t need to invest your fortune or your sanity into these expensive study resources.

Instead, do yourself a favor and use the free GRE test prep resources we’ve compiled for you below., including study apps, books, and online practice tests. And don’t forget: the quality of practice is better than the quantity, so try out each of these prep resources until you find the ones that work best for you. Then you can create a reasonable and disciplined study regimen to get you through the GRE with maximum scores and minimum anxiety.

Fire up GRE Study Apps

For many students, a GRE prep regimen of interactive games and daily lessons is easier to maintain than a series of good-old fashioned study sessions. Fortunately, today’s students have one major advantage that earlier generations of GRE-maddened students never did: mobile test-prep apps. Now, you can thumb through a free practice test on an iPhone any time of day.

Here are a few of our favorites:

BenchPrep: BenchPrep believes that frequent, light-weight studying is the best way to prepare for a test. Once you sign up, you’ll find studying with BenchPrep is a convenient and painless way to master the core knowledge required by the test.

GRE Word Boost: With 500 essential GRE words in its database, you can study and quiz yourself anytime. You’ll be able to access vocabulary questions, drills and games from any mobile device at any time of day.

Kaplan GRE® Exam Vocabulary Flashcards and Reference Guide: You can browse definitions, parts of speech, synonyms and more with over 500 flashcards.

StudyByApp: StudyByApp is a great tool for students who know their own learning styles well. You can assemble your own toolkits from shared GRE content found online. You can also create GRE guide templates and share them with other users.

Test Prep for Dummies: This appropriately named app is one of the most straightforward prep tools available. Simply download and start answering sample questions at your own pace.

Practice Studying with Online Tests

Most GRE testing facilities will require U.S. students to take a computerized test, so it’s a good idea to simulate this experience by taking a fully timed practice test online. The array of practice materials online can be dizzying for students who aren’t completely sure what approach to take. Here are a few of the major practice sites:

Official GRE Test Prep Tips from ETS - The ETS is the official GRE testing and assessment company. In addition to free prep materials and practice tests, the ETS also sells one of the most popular prep programs on the market, POWERPREP. ETS materials are often the best available because they are written by the same people who write the tests themselves. If you want to get a better idea of what the test is actually trying to measure, there’s no better place to start than with these 20 recently released full-length tests.

Box Free Concepts – Take a moment to review box-free-concept’s summary for a quick overview of the components that contribute to your GRE score.

Free GRE Subject Test Books – If you are taking a subject test in addition to the standard GRE test, download a few of these older test booklets to get an idea of what kind of material you’ll be tested on in your specific subject.

GRE Test Prep Tutorials – Be sure to check out the video tutorials featured here. The site is partnered with and provides an array of minute math review sessions specifically geared for those who are anxious about remembering mathematical formulas that have long fallen out of their daily usage.

GRE Vocabulary Help – Here you’ll find more involved vocabulary study guides that include quizzes and lessons on identifying word roots.

GRE Word Lists from Major Tests – This is a nice resource if you want to review vocabulary at your own level and pace. Start with the “advanced” list and see how far you can get.

Kaplan Free Practice Test Options for the GRE– Kaplan is one of the most popular test preparation resources on the web. Unlike many of the major test-prep companies, Kaplan still offers free practice GREs and even GMATs for users who haven’t signed up for a Kaplan account.

Learn Hub – Aside from Princeton and ETS, LearnHub provides one of the most extensive and tailored GRE prep materials. Be sure to check out their blog for the latest news and discussions from GRE experts and coaches.

My GRE Tutor- While students will need to create an account to access the free materials available from My GRE Tutor, the study aides are worthwhile. With an option to collaborate in essay workshops, this is a particularly valuable resource for students who need to develop their analytical essay writing skills in a short amount of time.

Peterson’s Sample GRE Test Questions- Peterson’s provides questions and answers from past GREs. This is a great way for first-timers to acquaint themselves with the different question types they’ll encounter on the real test.

Test Prep Practice – Check this site for a more thorough discussion of the ways in which test preparation strategies can be tailored to your own learning styles and abilities. You’ll also find a guide to accessing financial aid to cover testing fees.

Test Prep Review- This site is dedicated to assembling sample questions and free test guides for all major standardized exams. Its GRE section focuses heavily on vocabulary review.

The Princeton Review Free GRE Practice Test- The Princeton Review offers GRE practice exams that can be taken either online or in-person. The company will also provide you with a personalized list of tips to improve your score along with your performance report.

Check Out GRE Study Books

Every successful GRE student has different needs and preferences.Choosing a book is probably the most important and individualizing part of GRE prep. Some books are written to adhere to the expectations of ETS, some are written to provide services such as online practice tests and automatic scoring, and some are written with character; all of which will make your prep time a little less painful. Which type of book you choose will mostly depend upon your level of discipline and your attention span.

The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test – As the official resource from ETS, this guide is great for the traditional study session. The answer to each sample question is thoroughly explained. Each example will serve as a mini concept review of the math and vocabulary lessons you’ll need to know to achieve a high score across all sections of the test.

Barron’s GRE – Barron’s is best known for its crash course tips for smart-testing strategies. The writers of the book thoroughly explain the scoring trends of the test. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to improve your score by knowing how to allot your time efficiently on test day. You’ll understand when and how to guess on a question, when it’s better to move on.

Kaplan GRE Premier – Kaplan’s resource is ideal for students who just want to take practice tests. It comes with ten practice sets per section. Taking these tests in strictly timed settings on your own will ensure that no surprises await you on test day.