So you’ve decided to take the GRE and set yourself up to get into your dream grad school.
Now for the hard part: passing the test.
There’s a reason why the best schools in the country weigh your GRE test score so heavily—the GRE is hard.
But it’s so worth it. If Admissions sees you’ve done well on the test, they’ll be convinced you’ve got what it takes to live up to their standards.
But what if it didn’t have to be so hard? what if you find the best GRE prep course which skyrockets your Gscore?
What if, as a former tutor for the test myself, I told you that I had seen countless students pass the test with flying colors and go on to study at their dream school. And all they had to do was pick the right GRE preparation course.
In fact, the right GRE prep course is probably the most important factor in increasing your GRE score.
I’ve combed the web, studied reviews, and compared countless sites to bring you the best GRE prep course in 2018. They are lead by world-class instructors, complete with lifelike practice tests, and come with comprehensive student support that actually lets you know why you got something wrong and how to never make the mistake again.
Oh, and the best part—they won’t cost a fortune either (what grad student has money to spare?).
Let’s get to it.
Preparing for the GRE takes discipline and drive, but a best GRE prep course is one advantage that is sure to help you score higher. The only downside is the sheer number of options to choose from. I’ve taken the time to review each of these courses with painstaking precision, and identified a few key criteria that each has to have to give you the best chance at getting a higher score (that’s the goal, right?).
First, let’s review the key criteria I focused in on for each course.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Realistic Practice Tests
- 2 Study Options
- 3 Study Materials
- 4 Student Support
- 5 Kaplan GRE Prep: The Ultimate Prep Course ( From $699 )
- 6 Manhattan Prep: Tough but Perfect for Focused Students
- 7 Magoosh: Flexible, Convenient, and Great Value for Money ( #1 GRE prep course )
- 8 Princeton Review: Great for the Writing Section
- 9 The Economist: Budget Option from a World-Famous Name
Realistic Practice Tests
Practice tests are an invaluable way to prepare yourself for the exam. Trust me. I’ve seen even the brightest students flounder under the pressure of the exam.
Familiarizing yourself with the environment with practice tests will make the GRE as easy as that 5th-grade essay you wrote about your dog. The questions have to be realistic, though. You don’t want to squander your money on tests unrelated to the real thing.
Most of these online GRE prep courses will offer both a live and on-demand option. This is a great way to balance the need for a teacher’s instruction and studying at your own pace. Some may even go further and offer tutoring or focused courses as well.
If your GRE course doesn’t bury you in comprehensive study materials, then you should look elsewhere. Ask any GRE tutor how heavy their backpack is as they move from student to student. The more diverse and comprehensive the study materials, the higher the grade I doled out.
If you prefer books over online tutoring then you should check out my recommendation for Best Gre prep book.
The crux of any on-demand course is the support given to students. Professors or other personnel who respond promptly and comprehensively to student demands are a hallmark of any good prep course. Many courses say they’ll always be there, but don’t follow through. All of these do.
Now let’s get to the best GRE prep courses:
Kaplan GRE Prep: The Ultimate Prep Course ( From $699 )
Kaplan is to test prep as Michael Jordan is to basketball: sure, there are other great players, all-time greats even, but there’s little debate about who sits at the top.
With over 180 hours of content, over 5,000 practice items, and tests, on tests, on tests, Kaplan’s prep program puts everything you need to crush GRE in your hands. Literally—the prep powerhouse offers a “higher score money-back guarantee”.
As a former tutor, I can’t stress enough how important it is to take as many tests and do as many practice examples as possible. All of this comes with A+ email support for the on-demand courses.
It isn’t the cheapest, but it’s worth every penny in value.
The Ideal User :
Self-motivated learners ready to take full advantage of all of the resources and support at your fingertips will benefit most from the course. Due to the time sensitivity of the program, you should be taking the GRE within the next 4 months. Since the course is so comprehensive and resource-rich, students who feel they need MAJOR preparation are best suited for this course.
The budget should not be your primary concern.
A good alternative to Kaplan is another heavy hitter on the GRE market: Manhattan Prep.
The unique way they set students up for success on the GRE is by making their problems and exams difficult. I might even dare to say that they are harder than the test itself! If you can stomach the course, it will give you unshakeable confidence on test day. Manhattan also provides focused guidebooks to each section of the exam. This makes it ideal for students who feel as though they need major help in one area.
Just like Kaplan, Manhattan also provides grade A study materials, including 27 hours of hi-def video (that can be conveniently downloaded!), interactive online study sessions, and arguably the best practice tests in town.
Above all else, what sets Manhattan apart is its adaptive tests. Just like the real test, Manhattan’s practice exams allow you to skip around, and, depending on how you did in the previous section, the next section adjusts in difficulty.
6 adaptive practice tests, 1,800 practice questions, access to archived course lectures for on-demand studiers, and focused strategy guide books all combine into one killer GRE prep course.
The Ideal User:
The focused go-getter that wants a daunting challenge and is ready to guide themselves through difficult coursework.
Whereas Kaplan shines in its comprehensive materials for the GRE, Manhattan is a tad better for those who need major help in one area due to the section guidebooks. I’d say it’s perfect for the student who wants the hardest test on the market and doesn’t have a small budget.
Magoosh: Flexible, Convenient, and Great Value for Money ( #1 GRE prep course )
Previous entries on the list made it because they were massive undertakings with more resources than the Library of Alexandria. Magoosh makes it because it’s all of those things except jammed into a convenient online format and at a fraction of the price.
Not only can you prepare to ace the GRE with stellar study materials, you can do it all right from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and at your own pace.
A seamless UI, intuitive dashboard, and lightning-fast customer support make this “Little Engine that Could” of a course ideal for students who need a best GRE prep course, but don’t have the time or budget to invest in a more comprehensive option. Magoosh’s course covers everything you need at a price that won’t put your month’s rent in jeopardy.
It isn’t all-encompassing like others on the list and is certainly missing some of the in-depth features of predecessors, but it’s got everything you need!
The Ideal User
Based on my experience, Magoosh is the ideal solution for the working GRE prep student on a budget or for self-motivated students who enjoy an online, study-as-you-go pace. If you spend a lot of time at work, you’ll love how easy it is to access your prep course. Also, students who think they’d struggle if they had too many deadlines or live classes to attend will benefit from the free and open method of studying with Magoosh. Of course, you have to be willing to take your education into your own hands.
ATTENTION: STUDENTS WHO NEED TO IMPROVE THEIR WRITING.
This just in: I’ve found you the right prep course. Princeton Review’s GRE prep course comes with all of the usual trimmings — great study materials, adaptive tests, personalized tutoring options — but if you’re looking to hone your writing chops, it’s a cut above the rest.
The secret to turning you into the next Hemingway (or just improving your essay-writing skills) is that Princeton is the only prep course to offer essay feedback. Just submit your essay to the LiveGrader tool, and wait for the expert to tell you exactly how to improve it to get a higher score.
You also get 8 full-length adaptive practice exams, 3 levels of tutoring options, and flexible study options. To top it off, their guarantees are more comprehensive than most. All in all, Princeton offers a ton of value.
What it lacks in progress tracking, practices questions, and study plan options, it makes up for in affordability.
The Ideal User
The student who thrives in either a self-paced or small group environment and feels they need major help with their essay writing.
The unique essay feedback feature is what really makes Princeton stand out. I’m confident students that struggle to write a coherent paper will come out of this course writing passing essays at the minimum.
Also, the 8-full length practice exams are great for students who thrive on taking as many exams as they possibly can. If you want to crack the GRE, Princeton is a great partner in crime.
Authoritative insight, expert opinions on world politics, industry-leading business foresight, and—competitive GRE preparation at affordable prices?
The Economist is a leading name in world news, politics, and finance that has recently stepped into the world of test preparation, and they haven’t disappointed.It’s lacking some of the features of bigger names, but it makes up for that in the options it gives customers for purchasing the plans (I explain this later).
The Ideal User
The Economist is great for students who want a basic prep plan with no frills and don’t want to squander their budget on materials they won’t use. The money-back guarantee makes it ideal to try for anyone though!
Working students with full schedules will benefit the most from the self-paced online format, and students who are used to feedback loops will benefit from the help provided by live tutors.
Studying for the GRE isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. There are plenty of prep courses out there to help you ace the test and get into the school you’ve always dreamed of.
The best GRE prep course of 2018 depends on what’s best for you. Your budget, learning style, schedule, and prep needs all will factor in.