6 Best GRE Prep Courses Online of 2021

If you have plans on attending a graduate school, there’s a high chance that you’re going to need to sit for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE is a professionally administered test that assesses a test taker’s cognitive aptitude required to earn a graduate degree successfully.

GRE is not just challenging, but getting high scores on your test is critical. Your GRE score is a factor not just for admissions but it will also influence the amount of funding you’ll receive. Many graduate programs use GRE scores to determine scholarships, fellowships and academic financial aid.

Now that we’ve established the importance of getting a high GRE score, the next step is to find a GRE prep course that will help you achieve your goals. With so many best GRE prep courses available online, it can be confusing to decide on which one is the right one for you. In this guide, we thoroughly review and evaluate the best GRE prep courses available to help you make an informed decision.

Best GRE Prep Courses

Princeton Review

Princeton Review self-paced online GRE prep course is the king in video instruction. Others may come close but it is clear that Princeton Review is the #1 in terms of online video GRE test prep category.

All the videos produced by Princeton Review are engaging, thorough, and successfully achieves an excellent balance of lecture and interaction. On top of providing first-rate video instruction, Princeton also provides a number of full-length practice tests to help you stay prepared. The GRE test prep course offers a category best 8 practice tests, all taken through their proprietary and adaptive platform.

As discussed earlier, Princeton Review’s video lessons are what really shines for this company. All the self-paced online videos are thoughtfully designed and written, and even better executed. Each video will have an instructor who appears on screen and works through the lesson in front of a really sharp digital whiteboard with text, notes, and graphics appearing as they talk.

There will also be times when the instructor will pull out their marker and start working on a problem or make notes on an invisible plate of glass so that the text appears before them. The combination of a digital whiteboard and transparent marker board really makes for an incredibly engaging lesson to keep student’s attention. Aside from first-rate delivery, the content of each lesson is also exceptional. All in all, the first-rate production quality and spot-on substantive material propel Princeton Review onto the top of our list today.

Furthermore, Princeton Review’s practice test offerings also truly stand out from the rest with a best in category 8 full-length practice tests. This is a very important feature for students who prefer to learn by doing actual questions. There are no better means of prepping than to take practice tests under exam-like conditions to help you manage and prepare yourself for the actual day. Princeton Review offers this opportunity more than anyone else.

Additionally, Princeton even employs proprietary adaptive technology that’s able to replicate the nature of the official GRE. During a GRE test, the sections get progressively harder or easier depending on your performance on earlier sections. Princeton Review’s practice test technology does an excellent job at mirroring this function to make their practice test platform look and feel just like the real thing.

The bottom line is that Princeton Review offers in-person courses, online classroom courses, and self-paced courses to suit each individual’s learning style. The more expensive subscription comes with unlimited access to Princeton Review’s live sessions and original content. Plus more than 2,500 practice questions, 60 video lessons, Adaptive Drills, and eight practice tests. They even include a GRE expert that will help review your written essay.

Princeton Review’s satisfaction guarantee is unmatched by any other program. They even have a High Score Guarantee where students are permitted to retake the course if they’re unsatisfied with their after-course score. If your results do not improve, they will issue a full refund on the GRE prep course.

Pros

  1. Years of experience in test prep business to ensure academic success.
  2. 8 full-length computer-adaptive practice tests that provide students with a more simulated practice. Students will even receive a 1-on-1 review feedback on their test from their instructor to identify weaknesses.
  3. Princeton Review offers personalized feedback on your practice essays to help you turn the AWA section into one of your greatest strengths. A GRE expert will score your essay and provide constructive feedback on how you can improve.
  4. High Score Guarantee allows you to ask for a repeat or full refund if you don’t feel ready to take the test at the end of a course, aren’t satisfied with your result, or can’t improve your score.

Cons

  1. Princeton Review does not have a question bank for quizzes to test yourself between full-length practice exams

Achievable

Unlike the GRE prep course we reviewed above, Achievable GRE is a quiz-focused approach that’s perfect for those who learn by doing. Their modern platform makes studying easier and more enjoyable with adaptive learning techniques to help you score higher in less time. Achievable GRE is also an affordable GRE prep course option for those with a tight budget.

Achievable GRE prep course feels just like the smartest prep course in the room as it relies on adaptive algorithms to allocate study material, AI to grade essays, and proven memory science principles to maximize gains. The main feature we love is this company’s dedication to efficiency.

Achievable delivers a comprehensive digital textbook with hundreds of verbal practice problems and an infinite number of quantitative practice questions. It also has narrowly focused review sessions to help you target your weaknesses. Although the features of this GRE test prep course are not as robust as you’d find on Kaplan or Princeton Review, we can’t really complain with a price of just $199. This is definitely the GRE test prep course to go for if you want to get the best bang for your buck.

Another highlight of the Achievable course is its wise decision to break modules into bite-sized lessons. While Achievable does not provide video lessons, it makes its digital textbook as the centerpiece of its course curriculum. Though that might sound unappealing to some, we actually found this learning style a major positive. Their prep book has 89 chapters, which essentially act as short learning modules. Each chapter is very short and will only take an average of 15 minutes to read. The book is also written in about the plainest English we’ve seen for a GRE prep book, using layman’s terms to describe complicated concepts.

Another thing we love is how the GRE prep course has littered its chapters with simple, easy-to-understand sample problems. The textbook walks you through a concept in plain English, demonstrates the point with an example problem, and helps tie theory to practice. Following each chapter, you’ll be assigned a review session that quizzes you on the material you just learned while also circling back to earlier content. This is a highly effective and efficient method of learning that lets you rip off an entire lesson on a topic (including text and review problems) in less than 30 minutes.

As mentioned earlier, the biggest selling point of the Achievable GRE prep course is the science baked into their curriculum. The smart, adaptive tech is primarily accomplished through their adaptive algorithm which monitors your progress on practice work and is able to optimize your study plan. It is able to identify and help you focus your studies on weak spots.

Another way that Achievable differentiates itself from the rest is through spaced reviews, which is a learning concept backed by memory science. Instead of covering one topic at a time and continuing on with other material until you reach the end of the course content, Achievable periodically pulls old material back into your review quizzes to keep the material fresh in your mind. The smart tech and solid curriculum structure combined with top-shelf texts and practice problems are why Achievable has earned itself a spot on our list today.

Pros

  1. An endless number of questions, quizzes, and practice questions along with step-by-step walkthroughs for each problem.
  2. Adaptive learning techniques to create and update a personalized model of your memory, individually tracking your retention and mastery of each GRE learning objective.
  3. Clean and responsive user interface with progress charts to highlight your journey through the course content and your current strength in each section.
  4. Groups 1,500+ vocabulary words into clusters with similar meanings and quizzes you on distinguishing different sets of words to build up your vocab base in a fraction of the time you’d spend with other studying methods

Cons

  1. No video lessons. Their content comes through an online textbook, which means you’ll need to do a lot of reading.

Magoosh GRE Prep Course

Another best GRE prep course that offers bang for your buck is Magoosh. This GRE test prep course provides significant value at a fraction of the cost of other GRE prep courses. While the cost may be a fraction of its competitor’s offerings, the study material is definitely not.

Magoosh delivers a respectable amount of quality study material with more than 1,200 practice problems, 3 full-length practice tests, and 100+ short video lessons with months of user access. Though Magoosh doesn’t offer a comprehensive curriculum or crazy levels of study material, what you’re really getting with Magoosh is value, flexibility, and a generous slate of high-quality practice materials through a sleek digital platform. If you’re on a tight budget but still want top-notch practice questions and explanations, then Magoosh might just be one of the best GRE test prep courses you need to consider.

Many students find that working practice problems at the heart of their go-to prep plan. And while Magoosh doesn’t offer as many practice problems as other GRE courses do, they do offer superb practice question quality and a great means of working the GRE practice problems. Their custom practice function lets you customize GRE practice problem sets however you like. You can even narrow the scope of questions by type, difficulty, number, timing, and more.

This is not a unique feature to Magoosh, but it is one of the most beneficial aspects of a GRE test prep course. Each practice problem is even followed by a thorough video and text explanation that do a great job of breaking down each problem and clearly articulating why the answer is correct or incorrect. The custom practice tool and quality video explanation really work to boost Magoosh’s value in the GRE test prep industry.

As discussed, Magoosh is well known for its value. Though they don’t give you heaps of resources like other prep companies, their most expensive GRE prep package runs at around $179 only. Some comparable budget self-paced options from competitors like Kaplan can have you paying close to $400, so Magoosh is a dominant force in the price game.

Pros

  1. Magoosh GRE program is unmatched when it comes to providing quality study material at discounted prices.
  2. Most user-friendly online platform with an intuitive interface. Students can view progress charts and recommended lessons from their dashboard.
  3. Great reputation when it comes to direct interaction with students. There’s a customer support tab where you can easily submit questions to the Magoosh team immediately.
  4. Each practice problem provided is accompanied by both written and video explanations that are easily accessible and engaging to learners.

Cons

  1. Does not have as many study resources as other GRE prep courses.

Kaplan

No best GRE Prep courses list is complete without Kaplan. Kaplan is one of the most recognizable names in the test prep industry and they have a tried-and-tested formula for prepping students for almost any standardized test.

Their core GRE test prep online curriculum is led by a collection of extremely high-quality video lessons where an instruction works through problems onscreen in illuminated ink as the notes roll across a digital whiteboard behind them. The videos are paired with well-designed quizzes to reinforce the material from the lesson, and each has an accompanying detailed text explanation breaking down the problem with great clarity.

Kaplan’s quantity of study material is also very impressive with over 5,000 practice questions, 7 full-length practice tests, and a host of drills and other coursework in their prep books. All in all, the Kaplan GRE prep course package is an all-around home run in terms of quality of coursework and the level of resources available.

One of our favorite key features of the Kaplan course is their QBank, which is a tool that allows you to create customized quizzes based on problem type, difficulty, timing, and other factors. This allows students the chance to quickly zero in on their weaknesses and work through extra problems to improve in those areas. The QBank also draws from Kaplan’s library of over 5,000 practice questions to give you plenty of fresh problems to work on. Furthermore, the QBank is super easy to use – you can easily jump into a highly personalized practice problem set within seconds of logging in.

Though it seems that more and more test prep courses go away with traditional printed workbook since everyone is going digital, Kaplan has stayed strong in providing its students with a set of first-rate textbooks with its GRE prep course. Their books are well-vetted and are exceedingly detailed, well-written, and use a host of well-timed example problems to quickly explain complicated concepts.

Kaplan books generally track with and supplement their core curriculum for both online and live classes. And we must admit that it does feel nice to be able to follow a lesson along in a hardcopy book and write notes directly on it, highly important concepts and dog-ear pages. Adding these wonderfully thorough prep books to an already foribdable GRE prep course makes for a formula that you simply cannot miss.

Pros

  1. A high score guarantee allows students an opportunity to retake the course or get a refund if their score does not improve.
  2. Their quiz bank has more than 5,000 GRE practice questions that allow you to take customized quizzes and filter which GRE areas you want to focus on and improve on.
  3. The course comes with a flash card app that’s great for studying on-the-go. The 500 flash cards include vocabulary words, synonyms, definitions, and sample sentences.
  4. Official Test Day experience that gives you the ability to take a practice GRE test in an actual Prometric testing facility to give you the edge you need to pass by giving you familiarity and confidence.

Cons

  1. Kaplan has the highest price tag when compared with all the other GRE test prep courses on our list.

PrepScholar

PrepScholar is a relatively newcomer to the GRE prep space, but it does bring the same effective playbook that they’ve used with great success in the SAT and ACT prep space. The GRE prep course offers a 100% online, complete prep package with a unique algorithm that optimizes your study plan.

In addition to their smart tech, PrepScholar offers one of the most robust packages of lesson work available. However, their instructional material is text-based, so you’re going to have to be the type of student that doesn’t mind reading to appreciate their prep course. Assuming if you’re okay with reading a portion of each lesson, their detailed and well-crafted lessons offer some of the best insights and test-taking strategies in the game.

PrepScholar even gives you access to more than 2,000 practice questions and 2 full-length practice exams to help you get ready. While these numbers may pale in comparison with other GRE test prep courses like the Manhattan Prep, we really do love the quality of their practice material and explanations.

As mentioned earlier, one of their biggest selling points is PrepScholar’s ability to design a totally personalized and efficient study plan. This is perfect for those with limited time to study or those who just want to get in and knock out your prep as quickly and efficiently as possible. PrepScholar starts with their 60 questions diagnostic exam at the beginning of the course, which will then evaluate the results through PrepScholar’s propriety “CustomPrep” algorithm to produce a study plan tailored to your needs.

Their incredibly smart software is able to pinpoint your weaknesses and strength and is able to design your studies to maximize gains around them. If the system finds that you’re already really strong on a subject, they won’t waste your time trying to get small, incremental gains from there. They target big gains where you’re currently weakest to help you make big point jumps on the GRE. The study plan will constantly update and change to your ever-evolving GRE knowledge base and skill as you progress through your studies.

Another highlight of PrepScholar is that they have a score increase guarantee. PrepScholar promises that if you complete all of your lessons and do all of your practice work, your score will increase by at least 7 points, if not they will give you your money back. However, there is a fine print to qualify for the refund, but the bottom line is that this guarantee applies to most students and is an incredible insurance policy to protect your investment. The +7 points guarantee is nearly unheard of in the GRE prep space, so PrepScholar obviously has plenty of confidence and believes in the prowess of their prep materials.

Pros

  1. Longes access period of any top GRE prep course online, giving students a full GRE preparation for an entire year.
  2. One of the most affordable GRE prep courses that includes thousands of practice questions, 2 practice tests, video lessons, and a year of access.
  3. +7 Point Improvement Guarantee that promises students will score at least 7 points higher after taking their GRE course of they can get their money back.

Cons

  1. Fewer practice tests offered by PrepScholar.

Manhattan Prep

One of Manhattan Prep’s signature marketing claims is that they’re able to make studying for the GRE fun! Their video lessons are sprinkled with skits, jokes, and playful cartoons to keep things lively. Despite being a “fun” prep course, the study resources offered by Manhattan Prep is no laughing matter. All their classroom instruction is thorough and delivered by the top 1% scoring instructors with a knack for delivering tough topics across effectively.

Manhattan Prep’s online video lessons are also well designed to keep your attention from beginning right to the end with interactive features and quizzes. They also offer a ton of practice problems, drills, study tools, and a good number of full-length practice tests beyond the video instruction. The well-designed video lesson and practice tests/problems are what makes Manhattan Prep’s GRE course one of the most well-rounded prep courses on the market.

One of the most effective tools in the Manhattan Prep study toolbox is their course structure which employs an extremely effective approach to learning through their repeated sequence of lessons, drills, and quizzes. The company labels this as their “Learn It, Drill It, Prove It” approach that has been proven to work.

The “Learn It” portion of each module comprises an interactive video lesson that delivers all of the content you need to know for that particular topic. The “Drill It” section gives you sets of flashcard-like problems to work through, helping the material you just learned to sink in. Finally, the “Prove It” portion of the module is where you’re quizzed on the subject matter and must get a passing score before you can move on. This effective structure ensures you properly understand the material and also retaining it.

Aside from that, the number of practice problems that Manhattan Prep provides its students simply dwarfs the level of questions other test prep companies offer. With more than 100,000 practice problems, Manhattan Prep offers more than 20x the next closest competitor. If you’re the type of student that likes to learn by doing, then the Manhattan Prep is definitely one of the best GRE prep courses for you. With over 100,000 practice problems, video lessons, books, and practice tests, you’ll never run out of study material.

Pros

  1. A comprehensive course that gives students a number of in-depth materials to study for each area of the exam.
  2. Downloadable video lessons that let you study virtually anywhere. Their on-demand video lectures can be streamed live or downloaded to your device so that you can study on-the-go.
  3. 6 quality practice tests with practice questions that are very close to those features on the actual GRE exam.
  4. Manhattan Prep is meticulous in selecting their instructors and they are knowledgeable in all areas of the GRE.

Cons

  1. No refund policy as their website states that all payments are non-refundable for any reason.

General GRE Information

GRE Overview

GRE stands for “Graduate Record Examinations” and is administered by the Educational Testing Service to assess a candidate’s readiness for graduate school. The GRE is often required as a main component in a candidate’s application into a graduate program.

GRE Test Structure

The GRE is a computer-based, standardized exam that consists of multiple-choice questions to measure an individual’s ability to evaluate data, think critically, and solve problems. The GRE exam is split into three different sections, and they are:

  1. Analytical writing
  2. Verbal reasoning
  3. Quantitative reasoning

The analytical writing portion consists of two, thirty-minute tasks where individuals are required to write two different essays during the exam. One essay focuses on analyzing an issue and the other centers around analyzing an argument. The analytical writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, with the average score equaling 4.

The verbal reasoning portion of the exam is composed of two, 20 question sections where individuals are given 30 minutes to complete each section. Of the 20 questions, 10 questions relate to reading comprehension, six relate to text completion, and four relate to sentence equivalence. The verbal reasoning section of the exam is scored on a scale of 130 to 170, with the average score equaling 151.

Similar to the verbal reasoning part of the exam, the quantitative reasoning portion consists of two, 20 question sections. However, in this part, individuals will receive 35 minutes to complete each section. Of the 20 questions, 12 to 13 will relate to problem-solving and 7-8 will relate to the quantitative comparison. The quantitative reasoning section is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 with the average score of the section being 153.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of GRE Prep Courses available online, there are also great options for those on a budget. Before making any final decision on which is the best GRE preparation course for you, do remember to take some time to note down exactly what you want from the course and see which ones match your list.

With the power of the internet and technology, tutoring and exam preparation is so much more accessible now. But if you do have any questions regarding the GRE preparation course, do contact the provider and ask all the questions you need. A financial investment is still a financial investment, no matter how big or small it is.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need GRE prep courses?

GRE prep courses are required by a vast majority of students to get a great score on the GRE. The GRE course provides students the study material and relevant content they need in order to ace the exam.

How much does the GRE practice course cost?

GRE courses can cost anywhere from $150 up to $2,500 and this will all depend on what type of format you prefer you learn in as well as the number of resources you need. For most students, the average course will cost around one thousand dollars.

Will GRE courses raise my score?

GRE courses will almost always help you score better on the exam compared to not using one. And if you don’t, most prep companies will even give you your money back through their score increase guarantee program.

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