5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems Paperback – 5 Feb 2013
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The first thing to be clear about is that this is (as advertised) a supplement. It should not be the only GRE prep book you use: think of it as a workbook to go along with your textbook. In other words...
WHAT IT IS
A great mental workout consisting of lots and lots of drills. Once you know the basics, this will really help reinforce what you've learned. There is a range of difficulty, though the difficulty level is not generally marked.
Rather quant-heavy. The quantitative portion takes up about two-thirds of the book, but this makes sense since there is so much ground to cover. You'll find every type of problem that will appear in that section, broken down by category so you can focus on your trouble areas.
WHAT IT'S NOT
A bag o' tricks. This book will not teach you how to "outsmart" the GRE or provide you with shortcuts for solving the problems.
A book of practice tests. However, the back of the book does include timed practice sections: one easy, medium, and difficult section for both quantitative and verbal.
Excellent explanations in the answer sections. These were simple, clear, and easy to understand. Answers in the quant section show how to solve the problems step by step, while also reviewing relevant concepts. Verbal explanations were likewise great. For example, I'm sometimes stumped by "inference" questions in the reading comprehension sections--how much of a logical leap should you make in choosing an answer? This book clarified that very well.
Verbal section very reflective of the real GRE, "traps" and all.
Wonderful essay section. The prompts will give you a great sense of what to expect for the Analytical Writing Assessment. Each prompt is followed by a "take" and sample essay by a Manhattan Prep instructor. The "take" includes ideas for how to approach the prompt and how to effectively outline; both these and the sample essays are excellent.
Advanced quant section for test-takers aspiring to a perfect or near-perfect quant score. This covers the few very difficult Mathlete problems you're likely to see on each test. If you're not aiming for an engineering PhD at MIT, you can always skip this section.
This book will truly help you bone up on your math skills. However, quant problems seemed a little more straightforward (not easy, just straightforward) than the real GRE, which loves to trick you. [For example, if you don't read a GRE question carefully, you may end up doing a lengthy equation that wasn't even necessary.]
Fairly solid vocab list in the back, but definitions are not included (the book recommends some online dictionaries). Then again, it's not like this book really needs to be any heavier.
Overall, this gargantuan tome will definitely help you ameliorate any stupefaction you have with the abstruse problems on the GRE. I especially recommend it for those who, like me, need a lot of math practice.
First time around - studied from ETS, Princeton Review and Kaplan. I did alright. The practice material from PR and Kaplan isn't the same level of rigor as the ETS exam, and ETS's book has a limited number of practice problems. So I did a lot of practice, but it didn't prepare me for the more difficult math and reading sections later in the test. My 2nd sections increased in difficulty and I was overwhelmed.
Second time, two years later - Started with Kaplan and Princeton Review, but again was feeling underprepared. A friend recommended the 5lb Manhattan Prep book to me. GAME. CHANGER. I wish I had known about this book with more time before taking the GRE again, I probably would have also invested in some of Manhattan Prep's other study material for the quantitative section. A large part of taking standardized tests is getting a feel for the test, which only comes from lots of practice. This book gives you:
-- a ton of practice, at the right level of difficulty. 500+ pages of just math practice and explanations (nevermind all of the reading and essay practice in this beast of a book)
-- 30-50 practice questions for EACH topic. I found this really helpful because it allowed me to see the nuances between different kinds of probability or triangle questions, etc. At the end there are mixed sections to tie it all together, plus a section of advanced quantitative questions if you've mastered everything else.
--AWESOME answer explanations. They're thorough, often detailing alternate approaches - different perspectives are really useful if you don't understand something the first time around.
I'm so happy with how this book prepared me, and much happier with my score the second time around. I agree with other reviewers that ETS is still the best practice material, but this is definitely the second best book you can buy to prepare yourself. I've never felt compelled to write a review for anything until now. Buy this book buy this book, even if you only have a few weeks of studying left, it's worth it.
(Side note - nothing to do with the book, but I used Magoosh's vocab app, that was also useful)
This 5 lb GRE book was the only non-ETS material I used to study for the GRE. However, I've glossed through other Kaplan/Princeton/Etc GRE books and have to say that this book is one of the best study materials you can get. The book is big, and I did not finish all the questions, partly because the questions seem to all look the same after awhile (this is a good thing!) and partly because I was lazy (this is a less good thing). I scored a 325, and the questions I mostly got wrong were in the vocabulary section and because of timing, because I didn't feel like studying vocab, and because I only timed myself on a practice test once.
In my opinion, the questions in this book are generally tougher than what I had on the actual GRE (aside from vocab, as vocab is basically just vocab either way). So here is what I would do:
1. I would go through at least 1 of each section in this book - READ THROUGH THE EXPLANATIONS OF WHAT YOU GOT WRONG.
2. Then take the first ETS free practice test (download PowerPrep II onto your computer if you have one, otherwise I believe they have a paper version as well)
3. Then look over your score (ETS doesn't give you explanations, so you'll have to go by your score and intuition to see what you didn't understand)
4. Do the rest/as much as possible left of the sections in this book. If you can't finish all of them, at least do the sections that you struggled most on.
5. Then take the second ETS free practice test.
6. Then do vocabulary. This book is similar to all other GRE books in the way they attack vocab (basically try to get you to memorize as many words as possible). This works for some people, but it takes a long time, and quite often seems counterproductive if you won't remember the words after the test anyway. If you have the time and means, what I suggest to do is to read news editorials and opinionated articles and look up the words you don't know. This way, you really get the context of the word not only in the sentence, but also from the article and content itself. It is surprising how many words you've read and glossed over, thinking you knew what it meant, only to realize that you were completely wrong.
I hope this review is helpful to you stressed-out students and/or nontraditional GRE takers! Good luck, friends.
A misconception with the verbal is that you need to know many vocabulary words; this is not true. It would help however studying vocabulary lists will be wasted time. You can strategically study the 'way' to view the question and answer the problem that will allow you to answer correctly and concentrate on problems where you need to absolutely know the answer--Quant. Take note that I said 'strategically' because GRE preparation should begin with strategies, then to the problems themselves.
The latter is why the 5 lb book of GRE practice problems is a must buy...but as part #2. This book is 80% of the 'ne plus ultra' GRE book that does not exist. The other 20% concerns strategies for the questions. This 5 lb. does not contain strategies specifically; it contains answers for all of the questions which explain how to approach them though this is not the same as teaching general strategies and approaches for the GRE test.
My GRE preparation consisted of taking (1) book and lightly studying over the course of 3 weeks. I studied no verbal and concentrated only on the quantitative. The book I chose to use was: Cracking the New GRE with DVD, 2012 Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation). It is quick, succinct, and made me feel as if I sufficiently re-learned the essential math that was needed for the GRE. The Princeton Review book went over strategies *only* with additional problems and section ending tests after. The mastering of the math portion left me confident to take the GRE with my verbal knowledge left 'raw'.
The result of the above was that I did as I expected...on the verbal (my guess was that I was above average, which was a correct assessment) however not as expected on the quantitative. The previous was confusing because I mastered the quantitative portion however it was the 'easy' one.
Looking back on the Princeton Review Book after taking the GRE, I can say it prepares you well...for the easy test i.e. the part of quant you take if you do poorly on the first test. **The GRE test, as you already know/will know, begins with an average quant section. How well you do on this will determine which of three subsequent quant tests (sorted by difficulty) you receive on the second. The reason I know the PR book helped with the easy portion is that all of the strategies, and problems, where from the second test I received whereas the more difficult ones were not.
My scores (Average):
My lengthy aside above was to give you the basis for which I strongly recommend the 5 lb book of GRE practice problems.
The 5 lb, as other reviews have said, is literally 5 lbs and is very big. However, it is sectioned off by type of problems so that you can concentrate on the individual areas.
If you go through the problems in this book and master them added with an *additional* book on strategies to take on the test, you *will* excel at the GRE, period. When I say excel I mean at least 160 on Quant from someone with this section as their weakpoint. The reason I can say this is because the Quant sections cover the types of problems, with increased difficulty, of the types of questions on the GRE. You do not need 'past' tests or questions from old GREs because they use the same type of 'critical thinking' format--which the 5 lb. goes over individually.
It is not enough for me to recommend this GRE 5lb. prep book; this is your prep book for the majority of your studying. If you use it, you will achieve your results--no tutoring needed.
The verbal section of the tests have a more simple approach then the quant, you either know the vocabulary or you do not and you either do well at seeing logical formations of passages or not. The reason for my light review on the latter is because this was not my concentration. The 5lb book however, does have verbal sections--though it is roughly 20% of the books versus 80% for quant.
Your preparation should start with firstly learning strategies to quickly realize, when you see a problem on the test, which 'kind' of question it is and how to deal with them. This can be done quite well with various books ( not the 5lb ) for which I can recommend: Cracking the GRE with 4 Practice Tests, 2014 Edition (Graduate School Test Preparation) which is updated and expanded greatly since the version I used--2012.
The next, and where the majority of your focus should be on, would be through the problems themselves which the 5 lb book can be your only source. If you take at least 2 months (safe estimate though you quite possibly do well with less), studying 20 hours a week, on these sources, you will guarantee yourself a very, very high GRE score.