Best GRE Prep Books in 2023 

 July 24, 2023

By  Chuky Ofoegbu

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One barrier to pursuing an advanced degree, such as a Master’s degree or a Doctorate, is the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) – the standardized test used for admissions decisions by many universities.

Often, students begin their search for graduate schools by eliminating any that require the GRE due to the extensive time required to appropriately prepare for the test, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Why limit your options when there are tons of excellent GRE prep resources, that if used effectively, can help you reach your goal of getting into graduate school?

In this article, we bring our experience from buying and studying with several GRE prep resources tutoring the GRE to review the best GRE prep books of 2023. We've rated each book by winning categories, to help you find the right GRE prep resources, without breaking the bank.

Interested in a GRE prep course? Check out our holistic review of the best GRE prep courses on the market

GRE prep books we recommend

Best Overall: Princeton Review GRE Premium Prep, 2022

Best for Quantitative Reasoning: 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, 3rd Edition by Manhattan Prep

Best for Verbal Reasoning: GRE Verbal Reasoning Prep, 3rd Edition by Test Prep Books

Best for Vocab Building: GRE Essential Words, 5th Edition by Barron's

Best for Practice Tests: The Official Guide to the GRE, 3rd Edition by ETS

Best Overall GRE Prep Book: Princeton Review GRE Premium Prep, 2022

The winner for the Best Overall GRE Prep Book is the Princeton Review GRE Premium Prep, 2022. In my experience, Princeton Review provides questions that are more difficult than those developed by the ETS, which could be beneficial if you want to prepare for the worst and master the material for the real test.

Where this book beats all others is in the effectiveness of their test-taking strategies. In addition to learning the fundamentals of each GRE section, you'll also learn section specific techniques to dominate each section.  It's no surprise why The Princeton Review is a fan-favorite among test-takers who are looking to get the perfect score on a standardized test like the GRE.


  • High difficulty questions – The Princeton Review is known for developing questions that are more difficult than those written by ETS for the SAT and ACT, and this holds true for the GRE as well. By practicing problems that are harder than what will actually come up on test day, students get prepared for anything that gets thrown their way.
  • 7 full-length practice tests (2 in the book and 5 online) – This is the most full-length practice tests provide by a GRE prep book.
  • $100 off self-paced GRE online course – If you’re looking for additional resources and maybe a more structured learning platform, students who purchase the Princeton Review GRE Premium Prep book will also get a discount on the intensive online course.
  • Schedule review sessions every 4, 8, or 12-weeks – You choose your timeline for preparing for the test. Determine when you want to plan review sessions and test yourself on the concepts you learn from the book.
  • 9 videos by The Princeton Review teachers with step-by-step explanations – Hear from the experts and apply their tips and tricks during your preparation.


  • Answer explanations tend to be more difficult to understand – If you’re starting off below average in terms of your academic level, this book might not be for you because the explanations are geared towards those who are generally high-achievers. Our suggestion is to get a baseline of where you stand before starting to prep for the GRE and then determine if this book is the right one to start with, or if you should ease your way into things with something more basic.
  • No guarantee of higher score – Unlike some other prep books, The Princeton Review does not offer a ‘higher score guarantee,’ meaning that you only get out of this what you put into it. Those who buy the book and don’t use it effectively will not experience the same results as those who work the program.

Best for Quantitative Reasoning: 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems, 3rd Edition by Manhattan Prep

Manhattan Prep was started in 2000 by Teach for America alumnus and Yale graduate, Zeke Vanderhoek, and since then the company has grown based on its philosophy that students learn better from better teachers, which is exemplified by the 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems: 1,800+ Practice Problems in Book and Online (Manhattan Prep 5 lb.) Third Edition. This book contains over 1800 problems covering all areas of the GRE, but it really shines when it comes to the Quantitative Reasoning section. The math problems are tough and very much like those on the actual test, and the explanations include step-by-step guides to hone your skills.


  • Questions grouped by practice sets – Some may assume that the best way to study is to complete all the practice problems in the same format as the actual test, but Manhattan Prep proves that some students learn best when problems are organized by topic when developing the fundamental skills, specifically when it comes to quantitative reasoning. Rather than displaying full-length practice tests, this book uses focused practice sets that target concrete skills.
  • Online Companion Lessons – The third edition of this prep book includes access to Manhattan Prep’s Interact® for GRE, a revolutionary, on-demand learning platform. There are 15 on-demand lessons available to students who purchase this book.
  • Mixed Difficulty Questions – The Manhattan GRE prep book includes a good mix of low, medium, and high difficulty math problems that mirror what students will see on the actual test. In addition, reviews have pointed out that the book also contains a full chapter on advanced math questions geared towards those aiming for a perfect quant score.


  • Includes subpar reading comprehension practice - While Manhattan Prep offers a GRE prep book specifically for math, this overall book has the higher-quality math problems. Therefore, one con to purchasing this book is that you are receiving subpar reading comprehension practice. Basically, this book is best for the quant portion of the test and the verbal review wasn’t deemed as helpful by reviewers.
  • Geared towards those with some math background – Like the Princeton Review GRE Prep book, Manhattan Prep’s GRE review book is geared towards those who have already put in a bit of time studying for the GRE. If a student hasn’t looked at these math concepts in years, this might not be the best book to start with.

Best Verbal Explanations: GRE Verbal Workbook by Test Prep Books

Many students struggle to make sense of the explanations to the reading comprehension questions from the verbal reasoning GRE practice sets, but that won’t be an issue with the GRE Verbal Workbook: GRE Verbal Reasoning Prep with Three Complete Practice Tests, 3rd Edition. Test Prep Books offers some of the most thorough explanations to the verbal questions. This is especially helpful for those who want to better understand how to improve their reading comprehension skills.


  • 3 practice tests with detailed answers – Practice the verbal section in the same context you would on test day. These three 50-question practice tests include accompanying answer documents with extensive explanations so that there is no secret why an answer is correct.
  •  Test taking tools – Before students jump into the practice tests, they can read an overview of what the GRE covers and specific test-taking tools and strategies to set them up for success. Students who reviewed the book online emphasize that everything is easy to understand and apply to their practice.


  • Extra features aren’t well advertised – According to online reviews, students who purchase this book are also entitled to extra resources by TPB, but the book description doesn’t make that very clear. Be sure to call and talk to someone from customer service to ensure you are getting everything you paid for.

Best for Vocab: GRE Essential Words, 5th Edition by Barron's Test Prep

For those students who need to brush up on their vocabulary for the GRE, the GRE Essential Words (Barron's Test Prep) Fifth Edition is the optimal choice. This book boasts a comprehensive list of 800 graduate-level words with definitions that appear most frequently on the GRE. In addition, Barron’s Test Prep includes a pre-test to identify weaknesses and a post-test to measure progress.


  • Pre-test and Post-test Before you begin studying with the GRE Essential Words (Barron's Test Prep) Fifth Edition, take the pre-test. This will allow students to identify specific areas of weakness and then target their study schedule towards the highest priority topics. In addition, after you complete your study regimen, take the final post-test to determine how you have improved and get a gauge of how you might perform on test day.
  • Practice Exercises – Not only does this book provide a list of vocab words and explanation, but it also highlights targeted exercises to test your knowledge. Students can read through chunks of the list of words and continuously work on the practice questions to test their knowledge as they learn new concepts.
  • Chapter dedicated to word roots – Sometimes just memorizing words isn’t effective, which is why Barron’s Test Prep also dedicated a chapter of this GRE prep book to discuss and analyze word roots to help students make sense of some of the definitions.


  • Example sentences are clearer than explanations - Although Barron’s Test Prep does a great job with this verbal reasoning review, one area of weakness is the fact that the example sentences provided for each word are actually easier to understand than the definitions. Reviewers have found that sometimes it is best to skip right to the example sentence before reading the official definition when studying.
  • Kindle formatting is off – Several students who purchased this book wrote reviews about the formatting of the answer key being off for the kindle version. Therefore, it is advised that students purchase the paper copy of the book, which might deter some from getting the most out of this GRE vocab prep book.

Best for Realistic Practice Tests: The Official Guide to the GRE, 3rd Edition by ETS

Our best GRE prep books list will not be complete without including The Official Guide to the GRE, 3rd Edition the only GRE prep book produced and endorsed by the makers of the GRE - ETS. If you're looking for practice questions (and their answer explanations) that will very closely match what you'll see on the day of your GRE exam, then this is the book.

It includes two full-length GRE practice tests in print and access to two simulated tests delivered with the POWERPREP Online resource. These four practice tests come from an actual GRE practice. And if you're looking for more authentic GRE practice tests, you can get the Official GRE Super Power pack, 2nd Edition.

For a more engaging learning experience, you could consider the new GRE course from ETS called The Official GRE Mentor Course. 

Not surprising, this text-based GRE course contains the same lesson content as The Official Guide to the GRE. However, the learning interface is more engaging than that of a prep book. 


  • Authentic practice questions - No other GRE test prep publisher can lay claim to presenting test questions used on actual GRE tests. This is the major selling point of ETS' Official Guides
  • Simulated GRE test  – Using POWERPREP Online, you can experience the same test conditions as the real test 
  • Scored sample responses – Get sample responses for the GRE Analytic Writing section, with commentary from an actual ETS rater


  • Weak test-taking strategies - Although The Official Guide boasts authentic practice questions and tests, it falls short in teaching effective strategies for all sections of the GRE

Other Good GRE Prep Books 

Even though these GRE prep books didn’t make our cut for the very best GRE prep books, they have a place for students who want additional resources to prepare for the GRE. Below are four honorable mentions for The Best GRE Prep Books list of 2023.

GRE Prep Plus 2022 by Kaplan

If you're a student who doesn't know anything about the GRE and you are looking for a beginner’s crash course, the GRE Prep Plus 2022 by Kaplan is a good first choice. With 6 practice tests, online resources, and a higher score guarantee, Kaplan Test Prep provides a way to dive right into all the concepts covered on the GRE, focusing on techniques that are proven to be effective through their research.

GRE Vocabulary in Practice

Author Erica Meltzer developed the GRE Vocabulary in Practice after the GRE was updated in 2012 to include more context-based questions. This book contains over 300 practice questions that mirror those students will see on the GRE verbal section, along with detailed explanations. Though this book isn’t backed by a large company, it is making its way into the market for those looking for additional, lesser-known GRE prep books.

Princeton Review GRE Prep, 2022

In case you’re not ready for the premium version, The Princeton Review also offers the GRE Prep, 2022: 5 Practice Tests + Review & Techniques + Online Features (2022) (Graduate School Test Preparation).  With two fewer practice tests, this GRE prep book offers the same level of difficulty and mirrors the official GRE very closely. If you are looking to use a few smaller prep books, this could be a good option. There are also online learning features available, such as extra practice questions, and students can also get the same $100 discount on The Princeton Review online GRE course that they get with the premium version of the book.

GRE Secrets Study Book, 6th Edition by Mometrix 

Looking for the newest GRE prep book? Mometrix recently came out with the GRE Prep 2022 and 2023: GRE Secrets Study Book [6th edition]. Their high-quality GRE prep book includes 3 full-length practice tests as well as video tutorials by the company’s instructors to really drive in the concepts. However, we didn’t feel right about putting this book on the best list yet, since it is so new.

Chuky Ofoegbu

With almost a decade of experience pursuing higher education in the United States, I fully understand the pain points foreign students endure. I created this website to help foreign students successfully navigate their way through the challenges they will face while living in the United States.

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