GRE Books Vs Online Coaching – GRE Preparation

“How do I prepare for the GRE?” is a doubt that has inevitably crossed the mind of just about every test taker.

Truth be told, there are more than a few ways to go about it. Most students targeting a high GRE score usually either opt to prepare on their own from GRE books or go for some kind of coaching, which may be a traditional classroom program, or online.

If you too are confused about which of these methods you should be choosing, read on to find out!

If you’re the type of student who has always studying independently to being taught, you might feel a natural affinity towards preparing for your GRE yourself. Some of the most common books used by students who prepare on their own include Barron’s GRE and their Math and Verbal workbooks along with Word Power Made Easy for vocabulary building, and the official guide to the GRE, published by the ETS (Educational Testing Service – the organization that conducts the GRE). If you’re already completely acquainted with the structure of the GRE  online test and have taken it earlier, this might be a pretty decent way to prepare, however, if you’re a first-time test taker and haven’t taken an adaptive style exam like the GRE before, it might lead to a few hiccups and the risk of your test prep being left incomplete.

What preparing from GRE books alone cannot help you with:

1. Time Management:

Time management - GRE Books

Time management – GRE Books

The GRE (General) comprises 3 sections – namely the AWA, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. Barring the AWA section, in which students get an hour to write 2 essays of approximately 500 words each, there’s only about a minute and a half to devote to each of the other questions. This includes the time taken for reading and understanding the questions. Undoubtedly, it is a race against time that requires not just knowing the concepts behind each question, but also being able to apply them instantly. With sufficient experience of solving online practice tests in the same pattern as that of the GRE, you can hope to increase both – your accuracy as well as time management skills. You’ll also know just what to expect on test day, and well-equipped to tackle a mixed bag of questions together, rather than just going through the section-wise practice questions you’re likely to find in most books.

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2. Using online tools:

Using online tools

Using online tools

On the GRE, test takers are only allowed the use of an online, on-screen calculator and timer. Familiarising yourself with features like these is an important part of effective GRE prep, so you’re completely comfortable with using them on D-day. You’ll also get to understand how an adaptive test really works (where your performance in the first section determines the difficulty level of the second section), and the effect it has on your final score. None of these are possible when you practice offline through GRE books, either through books or through coaching classes. Live online mock tests in the same style as the GRE that incorporate these tools are undoubtedly more effective in this regard.

3. Doubt Solving:

Doubt Solving

Doubt Solving

Though most questions on the GRE are drawn from concepts you’ve learned in high school, the way they are presented can often be a grueling test of your logical and analytical thinking abilities. Now, while the best books or study material for GRE preparation might do a commendable job at explaining concepts, they can do little to solve any obstacles or doubts you might run into on the way. Personalized online training, on the other hand, ensures that you not only have a solid understanding of the concepts but also receive one-on-one assistance from a trainer, who can help you out with nifty tips to identify and solve tricky questions and save time while you’re at it. 

4. Feedback:



How do you know when you’re ready for the score that can get you to your dream graduate schools? While most of the best online GRE preparation programs include detailed feedback of your performance and progress, when preparing from GRE books, you can only guess how far you’ve come along. Personalized feedback is a crucial component of highly effective GRE prep, as it’s only then, that students can get clarity on what their strengths and weaknesses are where exactly to focus on! At AdmitEDGE, each test undergoes thorough evaluation and analysis to point out how much time students have spent on each question and the concepts that are most likely to trip them up on the test. This method of testing and evaluation has proved to be so effective that the scores obtained by most students on the GRE range between +/- 3 points of their score on the standardized tests they take. This way, it’s easy to know just when to take the GRE in order to be able to hit your dream score in your first attempt!

5. Fast vocabulary building:

Fast vocabulary building

Fast vocabulary building

A significant part of your GRE practice is probably going to be devoted to mastering the expansive GRE vocabulary, consisting of nearly 3500 words. So what is the best way to go about this – is mugging up the dictionary the best option? It has been shown several times that the brain processes images faster, as well as remembers visual content much more vividly than text. Remember the brightly colored picture books that we all learned the alphabet from? Free word learning apps like WordBot, too, use mnemonics (learning tools) to ensure that you remember each word faster, and don’t forget what you learn. Each word is accompanied by a relevant image that will help you associate the word with its meaning, along with its synonyms, antonyms, usage in a sentence and pronunciation. What all of this ensures, is that you are able to build a holistic understanding of each word, and not just memorize them mindlessly.

Try our Wordbot App for free Now! to start experiencing the wonders it can work for your vocabulary!

Setting up the right study plans:

Most test takers don’t have the luxury of devoting their complete attention towards GRE preparation. With working professionals and final year college students already saddled with work or projects and other commitments, time is often at a premium; which is exactly why their study plan has to be one that doesn’t interfere with their schedule, while still getting them ready for their target score! In a situation like this, it makes all the more sense to opt for online coaching as it negates the need to travel to coaching classes allowing one to prepare at a time and pace that is ideally suited to their schedule, current preparation levels, and target score.
Since all of the above factors are bound to vary from one student to another, it’s extremely imperative that your study plan is one that is completely personalized – tailored to your current skill levels, target score, and your time availability!

Download our eBOOK on “study plan of a 338 scorer who scored in just 60 days”

Among all the various methods to prepare for the GRE, online coaching, if done right is a unique combination of convenience, personalization, and speed. It identifies just where you need help, how you should ideally tackle your areas of weakness, and keep an eye on time management all along. It is only befitting that the best way to prepare for an online exam is, well, online practice.

Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not that you shouldn’t refer to books to prepare for your GRE. In fact, they can really help you out with building your concepts and exposing you to the different types of questions on the GRE. However, getting a 320 and above requires more than just knowledge of the concepts – time-management, the practice of taking full-length tests and customized feedback and doubt resolution all play key roles at ensuring that you’re completely primed to take on the GRE and perform to your full potential. Preparing solely from books or at a classroom coaching program where students don’t receive individual, personalized guidance, there’s always the risk of certain gaps being left in one’s preparation, which might come in the way of a high score. All said and done, the best way to prepare for the GRE depends on which mode of learning you feel the most comfortable with, how much time you allocate to your preparation every day and your level of exposure to the GRE test pattern. Our take, based on the experience of having guided over 40,000 students with their GRE, is that online prep, supported by a few good books is an approach that has the potential to yield the best results.

Ideally, if you haven’t started GRE Preparation, you could start off by taking a diagnostic test.

No, it’s not the kind of scary diagnostic test involving needles and doctors that you’re thinking about!

Your GRE diagnostic test is one that will tell you:

  1. All about what your strengths and weaknesses are,
  2. How much time you spend on each question and topic.
  3. Suggest where exactly you need to work on, and the time you’ll need to reach your target score.

Take your Free diagnostic test today and find out exactly how prepared you are for your GRE!

If you’ve already taken your diagnostic test before and are looking for some additional help with preparing for either Verbal or Quants, then we believe you could benefit from some of these eBooks.

Check out our eBOOKS on Quants and Verbal to score 330+ in GRE

We hope you now know how exactly online preparation differs from learning from books and will be able to make an informed decision. Have more questions? Leave them in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you in a jiffy! Happy learning!

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