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GRE Prep Resources — Courses vs. Self-study (Books and Websites)

If you're thinking of enrolling in one of the many full-blown GRE prep courses available today, you should also think about the law of diminishing returns. The plethora of free GRE-prep resources available on the Web today, along with two or three carefully selected books, can provide all you need for GRE prep.

If you'll be taking the computer-based rather than paper-based version, taking practice tests with GRE software might provide a slight additional boost to your performance. Simulated testing can help you:

  • become comfortable with the computer interface

  • become accustomed to switching back and forth between a computer screen and scratch paper

  • find your proper pace (which may be somewhat slower than for the paper-based test)

Keep in mind that many GRE prep books include test-taking software at little or no additional cost. The bottom line: You don't need to spend more than $40-$50 to be fully prepared for the GRE.

So does this mean that you would be throwing away money by enrolling in one of the many formal GRE prep courses available these days? Not necessarily. The ones that offer live classroom instruction do have their advantages. A live classroom setting can help you to focus your attention; the immediate feedback from instructors and other students can be helpful; and all course materials are preselected for you.

On the other hand, these courses are relatively expensive. So if you're considering one of these full-blown GRE prep courses, be sure to ask about a possible fee reduction (a so-called "scholarship") and about the option of repeating the course at least once without charge.