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Best books, websites, etc. for a better GRE score (esp. Analytical Writing)

rmaguirrmaguir Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
edited April 2008 in Graduate School
I've just decided to retake the GRE due to my surprisingly low Analytical Writing score. That's the main point of this post, yet since I'm going to take the test again, I might as well try to improve my overall score.

Concerning my AW score, I was an English undergrad with a long history of writing papers for political science, history, and lit. theory classes. I've always done well. Yet, on the GRE, I only got a 4. On another post I wrote, someone mentioned not being a good writer and, despite that, having pulled off a 5 after reading a book and doing exactly what it said.

I have two books, though I paid little attention to the sections in those books on AW. In any case, I'm wondering if there are any books that people found particularly helpful for this section.

Concerning the Verbal section, I've heard many people recommending a Barron's book, but I don't know what it's called.

For the Quantitative Section, I'm wondering if there's a book that presents a straightforward list of formulas and principles to remember. I'm good at math (I might be one of few English majors to have taken and done well in high level calculus), but I find it really hard to do it under time constraints. I feel like if I could get my hands on a concise summation of the stuff in the Q section, it would speed up my mental processes.

in the end, any resources you who've taken the test found to be very useful, I'm interested in it.
Post edited by rmaguir on

Replies to: Best books, websites, etc. for a better GRE score (esp. Analytical Writing)

  • indecisive2020indecisive2020 Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    For the overall review that's on the brief side and helpful tips for AW I'd pick the princeton review. It definetly helped me wrap my mind around what ETS is looking for in the AW, remember ETS has there own standards so you might be a great writer but unless it has the key elements they are looking for, you won't get the highest score.

    For Quant, Kaplan has a great coverage of math formulas (but there are a lot of them, so if you're short on time and want to go with the condensed version Princeton review will get you by). As you probably know verbal is all about vocab, I'm not familiar with Barron's book, but there's another little book put out by Princeton (I swear I am not a hire promoter of princeton stuff) not sure what the title is but it is all vocab words, analogies, and sentence completions. It helped me out a lot, but I would say the Princeton Review covers all the key concepts well and you can just branch off of that depending on how much time you have.
  • l3monkidl3monkid Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    When I took the GREs I had both the Barrons and Kaplan on hand. It is essential that you read over the AW section for at least one book, and memorize EVERY vocab in both books. In fact, even that doesn't cover it. You also have to find more vocab lists online (there are tons), or look for extra review books online.

    Practice is the key. You won't believe how often these questions are repeated, if you just do more practice exams.

    As for AW, I found that my best source was to keep the Kaplan as a mere guide, and read up on example essays. Then I tried writing my own original essay on the same topic, and compared it to the 6-point essays in terms of grammar, spelling, tone, logic, flow, etc. I did this for all the topics that I had sample essays for, as well as a few "new" topics (w/o samples) that are given on the GRE website. Then right before the exam, I read some sample essays over just to get a feel for them again.
  • cm85cm85 Posts: 23Registered User New Member
    I found Barrons book (no need for the name, just look up barrons and gre and you'll find it, or go to the gre/mcat/lsat section of the bookstore) to be awesome for quant work, as it covers every little detail and type of math you may need, with bullet points/highlighted areas.
    Can be ALOT to cover though if your behind in your quant skills, as it is a long section, and very detailed. Their "tricks" really helped me too.
    I also used their vocab list extensivly.
    I used their AW section a bit, but mostly for practice. I received a 5.5, but I tend to be a strong writer to begin with and only did two practice essay and skimmed the section for reading. Just be clear, CONCISE, and use that whole "into paragraph with topics outlines, para for each topic, and closing" formula (eg the 5 paragraph formula from highschool) and you should be ok. Read examples of what each "graded" essay is like, it'll give you ideas as to what they want. Alot of my friends who did poorly on the AW section overwrote, using 6-10 paragraphs. As a liberal arts major I know thats usually desirable in the field, but not for the GRE.
    Practicing from the official list of topics online is a good move too.


    I picked up a kaplan math workbook and vocab notecard set which was great as well for additional help. You def. need more than one sources vocab work, and math practice is a key thing.
  • l3monkidl3monkid Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    Oh yeah, cm85's totally right, and reminds me of something I missed. The GRE isn't looking for "good writing" in the sense of literary talent. They're looking for concise, structured, logical arguments. It's almost boring, and it's almost like just a fill in the blanks. After reading a few example essays you realize that each essay almost starts and ends their sentences with the SAME wordings. And you can totally steal that flow and structure and just insert different arguments/topics.

    btw, I'm a computing science major, and I hadn't written an essay in 4 years at the time I wrote my GRE. Conciseness was really difficult for me since my vocabulary wasn't very large. I got a 5.5.
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