Best GRE Prep Courses for 2017

We explore the important features of the best GRE Prep Courses

GRE Test Prep

The GRE general exam can be a frightening test if you're not prepared, so it's a good idea to seek out the best GRE prep course before your test day. Most grad schools - which are costly - require this particular admission test, which assesses your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning abilities. In other words, expect an exam that is similar to the SAT and ACT.

If you happen to be preparing for your upcoming test, you are probably wondering what the most useful GRE prep course available is. That may just be the Kaplan GRE, which provides you with all that you need to ensure success or at least an increase in your score. So with that said, let's investigate the Kaplan GRE course offerings and the available tools.

Best GRE Prep Courses for 2017 [INSERT_IMAGE]

GMAT vs GRE

Let's first talk about the difference between the GMAT and the GRE test. First of all, while the GRE is a test that most graduate schools and some business schools require, the GMAT is required by most business schools. Fun fact: those who are pursuing Arts Administration as a graduate degree will more than likely be taking the GMAT.

Anyway, the GRE consists of a 60-minute Analytical Writing section (two essays that take 30 minutes each), a two 30-minute part Verbal Reasoning section, two 35-minute Quantitative Reasoning sections, and a 30- to a 35-minute experimental section that can be either math or verbal.

However, the GMAT consists of a 30-minute Analytic section with one essay, a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section, a 75-minute Quantitative section, and a 75-minute Verbal section.

Third, the GMAT is administered as a computer-adaptive test. The GRE is offered as a computer adaptive test by section.

As for scoring? Verbal and Quantitative scores range from 130 to 170 in 1-point increments for the GRE, whereas the GMAT score ranges from 200 to 800 in 10-point increments.

The GMAT is also a little more costly. The cost for the GMAT is $250, whereas it is $195 for the GRE. The GRE takes 3.5 hours using paper or 3.75 hours using a computer, whereas the GMAT takes 3.5 hours.

Finally, both tests' scores are valid for up to five years.

Should you consider the GRE, however? If you have the option, you should go with whatever test feels best for you. If you feel like you can excel with essays, then you should consider the GRE. You also have an option to choose math or verbal for the experimental section, giving you more freedom.

Determining the Best GRE Prep Course

There are several factors that come into play when finding out which GRE prep course provider is the best. Here are just some of the variables I have taken into consideration during my process as I whittled down the selection:

Admissions

The best GRE prep course not only offers practice tests and warm, caring, and welcoming environment, but also the proper tools to help you apply to graduate school. You should learn more about grad school and its admissions process thanks to the service's blogs and guides. Perhaps the service would feature a mock interview for when you approach the admissions officers and receive help on your application.

Practice Tests

Practice tests are incredibly important. You know what they say, "Practice makes perfect." And if you don't practice, you more than likely will not score highly on the GRE. Only the best services offer a variety of tests for you to practice with. The service should be offering various practice test options, including free practice tests, proctored practice tests both on-site and online, and full exams that are included with its products.

Study Delivery

Some students need structure, whereas others are able to rely on self-prep methods. Some cannot follow the pacing of a typical classroom and desire the benefits of one-on-one private tutoring. A service that doesn't offer a broad range of study delivery methods is actually ranked lower compared to a service that does. Kaplan happens to offer various types of GRE prep course settings: Live Online, In Person, One-on-One, and Self-Prep. This is why it ranks so highly among its competitors.

Kaplan happens to offer various types of GRE prep course settings: Live Online, In Person, One-on-One, and Self-Prep. This is why it ranks so highly among its competitors.

Prep Materials

Another major factor to take into account is the quality and quantity of the prep materials. Are the materials thorough? What does the service offer in terms of prep materials? Are there daily quizzes, flashcards, and videos available? Are these materials engaging and provide you with enough strategy and knowledge that will later serve you in your GRE? This is what should be considered when analyzing the available GRE prep courses.

Customer Support

Without the customers, the companies wouldn't exist. That's why the companies need to do their best in order to retain customer loyalty. To determine which GRE prep course providers should be on top, I had to consider the following questions:

  • Are the teachers considerate and caring toward the student?
  • How can the student connect with the company or the teacher?
  • Can the company be contacted via phone, social media, live chat, or email?
  • Does the company solve issues to the satisfaction of the student?

Best GRE Classes - Kaplan

According to the GRE's, "A Snapshot of the Individuals Who Took the GRE Revised General Test," which studied test-takers between June 2013 and June 2014, a total of 572,779 people took the GRE. The mean Verbal Reasoning Score for that same time period was 150.2, whereas the mean Quantitative Reasoning score was set at 152.5. As for analytical? 3.5 was the mean score. This is out of a total of 340 (excluding essay score). More or less, to reach at least even the average score, you're going to need to study, and what better way to study than with a Kaplan course?

I have to give the best GRE test prep course award to Kaplan here. After all, Kaplan emphasizes individual study strategies to help boost your score. With Kaplan, you're also guaranteed a higher score or your money back.

Furthermore, you'll receive detailed feedback on where and how you need to improve, and you can delve into over 180 hours of content, seven full-length computer tests, and over 5,000 practice items.

There are a couple of features that are unique to Kaplan's courses, which became a hefty factor in our recommendation of the Kaplan GRE prep course.

Kaplan GRE Prep Course Features

Only Kaplan offers what is known as the Official Test Day Experience. This the most realistic GRE practice that you can put yourself through. In fact, Kaplan has an exclusive agreement with Prometric, the company that administers the GRE. When you enroll in only one of the comprehensive GRE courses, you will have access to the Official Test Day Experience.

With the Official Test Day Experience, you'll learn how long it takes to get to the test center on Test Day. You'll also get used t testing in a room filled with other test takers, improve your mental stamina as you will be testing for four whole hours, understand what you can and cannot bring to the testing room, and finally validate your test day routine.

In Person

You'll receive the following if you sign up for In Person:

  • The ability to take a simulated GRE at an actual testing facility.
  • Eight classroom sessions where you can receive comprehensive instruction from experts.
  • Over 5,000 practice questions. You'll also be able to create custom quizzes with Quiz Bank.
  • Over 180 hours of online instruction and practice.
  • The convenience of class times and locations.
  • Free make-up sessions via live classroom sessions or on-demand.
  • Access to the following: GRE Premier: Course Book Edition, GRE Math Workbook, GRE Verbal Workbook, and GRE Pocket Reference.
  • An exclusive flashcard app for on-the-go study, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

In Person Plus

This package is considered the best in value. You'll receive everything that's included in the In Person course, plus the following:

  • Three hours of one-on-one time with a GRE expert using the live online technology platform.
  • The Self-Paced Edition of GRE Math Foundation, which contains a collection of online videos and practice questions that will surely boost your confidence in your mathematical abilities. You'll receive access to on-demand lessons and online workshops, as well as over 400 practice questions.
  • The Self-Paced GRE Advanced Math course, which covers the most advanced math topics that you'll see on the GRE. Within the course, you'll find instructional videos that break down each topic. Additionally, the course contains over 200 high-difficulty practice questions. You'll also receive immediate feedback after practice quizzes and lessons.

Live Online

Live Online is, well, a course not provided to you in person. You are able to access the following with the Live Online course:

  • The ability to take a simulated GRE at an actual testing facility.
  • The viewing of a Kaplan Live Online class.
  • Eight live, highly interactive online classes featuring comprehensive instruction by amazing teachers.
  • Over 5,000 practice questions, including Quiz Bank.
  • Seven full-length computer-based practice tests.
  • Convenient class schedules, accessible from anywhere.
  • Free make-up sessions, either live online or on-demand.
  • The following tools: GRE Premier: Course Book Edition, GRE Math Workbook, GRE Verbal Workbook, and GRE Pocket Reference.
  • Finally, an exclusive flashcard app for on-the-go study. It's available on both iOS and Android.

Live Online Plus

With Live Online Plus you'll receive everything Live Online offers, as well as:

  • Three hours of one-on-one time with a GRE expert.
  • The Self-Paced GRE Math Foundations course
  • The Self-Paced GRE Advanced Math Course

Self-Paced

You'll receive the following with the Self-Paced Test Prep:

  • The ability to take a simulated GRE at an actual testing facility.
  • Online access for 182 days (or six months)
  • Eight recorded video sessions featuring comprehensive instruction on every aspect of the GRE.
  • Over 5,000 practice questions, including Quiz Bank.
  • Seven full-length computer-based practice tests.
  • Over 180 hours of online instruction and practice.
  • Email-based support from the instructors.
  • GRE Premier: Course Book Edition, GRE Math Workbook, GRE Verbal Workbook, and GRE Pocket Reference.
  • An exclusive flashcard app that is available for the iOS and Android.

Self-Paced Plus

You'll have everything that is packed into the self-paced course, plus two hours of one-on-one time with a GRE expert and the GRE Math Foundations Self-Paced course. This package.

Private Tutoring

Finally, you can always opt into Private Tutoring Online. You can either receive either 15 hours, 25 hours, or 35 hours of tutoring time.

GRE Practice Test

There are several practice tests, provided by Kaplan and other companies, that you should take advantage of during your GRE studying journey. Here are just a few of them:

Kaplan's Practice Tests

Kaplan provides you with plenty of tools that will help you practice and improve your score. You can opt for the following:

Three months of access to Quiz Bank, which includes over 2,500 GRE practice questions. You'll be able to build your own quizzes by question type, content, and difficulty level. You can even test your speed in Timed Mode. There is also Tutor Mode, which provides you with explanations for each question.

Quiz Bank Plus, where you'll receive everything that Quiz Bank offers, but the material can be access for six months rather than three.

Practice Pack, which grants you access to Quiz Bank, three practice tests that work just like the real GRE, and GRE Flashcards for three months. Practice Pack Plus gives you double the practice tests and access time.

McGraw-Hill Education Practice Plus

Kaplan isn't the only company that wants to see your full potential. McGraw-Hill offers a free full-length GRE practice test that will help you in your assessment of your preparation stage. Via your browser, you can take six practice tests and one diagnostic test. Included in the browser application is a set of video instruction to help you formulate strategies. You can even set the timer on your tests.

Best GRE Prep Book

Looking for the best GRE Prep Book? One of the best GRE study guides available would have to be the Kaplan GRE Premier 2017, which features book and mobile-enabled online sections. You'll have access to informative strategies, test information, and plenty of practice questions that should help you score higher on the GRE.

What's included in the Kaplan GRE Premier are:

  • Over 2,200 practice questions with detailed explanations.
  • Six full-length practice tests. There are five realistic multi-stage tests available online and one in the book.
  • A 500-question online Quiz Bank that sports customized quiz creation and a review of practice questions.
  • Mobile-friendly online resources.
  • Videos on stress management and the graduate school application process.
  • Finally, academic support from the Kaplan faculty via the Facebook page.

You should also consider the set of books from the Educational Testing Service, known for its development of the GRE. On its site, you'll find guides containing practice questions and test in order to help you prepare for your upcoming test day. The ETS offers a variety of practice questions in its packages, but you need to log into your ETS Account in order to purchase the guides directly from ETS, otherwise you can purchase the books from another retailer like Amazon. There are several types of guides that you can purchase:

The Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1

This guide offers you 150 real GRE Quantitative Reasoning questions, directly from the test maker. Inside the book, you'll find complete explanations, as well as valuable hints and tips. This book also includes new practice for the GRE Analytical Writing measure.

The Official GRE Quantitative Reasoning Practice Questions, Volume 1

This book gives you access to 150 real GRE Quantitative Reasoning questions, directly from the test maker. These are never-before-published questions with complete explanations and valuable hints and tips. There is also a review of the math topics that are likely to appear on the test.

GRE Test Prep Recap

Overall, Kaplan offers in-depth GRE test preparation courses that are guaranteed to improve your score… or your money back. Many swear by Kaplan's ability to care and provide you with the necessary tools to help you ace the GREs, which serve as a foot into graduate school's door.

Unfortunately, graduate school is costly. Graduate school scholarships are harder to come by in comparison to undergraduate scholarships, but they do exist, so be on the lookout for them. You can always rely on our review of the best scholarship websites.

If you're looking for information and our evaluation of other online prep courses, you can check out our articles on the SAT, ACT, LSAT, and MCAT prep courses.

Best GRE Prep Courses FAQs

Q What is a good GRE score?

A

According to the ETS, the GRE General Test score ranges between 130 and 170 for Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning. However, the Analytical Writing score ranges between 0 and 6.

The average GRE score is a 151 on Verbal and a 152-153 on Quantitative. In regards to Analytical Writing, a 4.0 is the closest score to the 50th percentile. However, the highest score you can achieve on the GRE is a 340.

Overall, a good GRE score is dependent on the college, but admissions faculty typically use GRE scores to rule out only the weakest applicants. For instance, The University of Texas at Austin has accepted graduate students that have a mean Verbal Reasoning score of 161 and a mean Quantitative Reasoning score of 142, but this only pertains to Middle Eastern Journalism. The mean lowest score for accepted students was 134 Verbal Reasoning, but that was for Urban Design. In other words, don't worry too much if your score is average. However, you should definitely aim for 160 or higher if you want to be considered for the top colleges.

Q What is the GRE?

A

The GRE General Test is considered to be the most common entry graduate school test. It stands for Graduate Record Examinations.

Q What is on the GRE Test?

A

You'll find the following on the GRE test:

Analytical Writing - You'll read a paragraph on a general issue and then address the topic. You'll be tested on your ability to support your views with persuasive examples and reasoning.

Essay - You'll need to read and critique an argument, analyzing the statement and explaining your reasoning.

Verbal section - The computer version provides you with 30 questions that must be answered within 30 minutes. The paper version features two segments that are 30 minutes long each (38 questions each).

Math section - You must answer 28 questions in 45 minutes with the computer version, but the paper version has you completing two 30-minute segments that have 30 questions each.

Q How long does it take to get GRE scores?

A

It takes between 10 and 15 days after your test date to receive your GRE scores.

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