Imagine you want to learn Spanish. You find a tutor, and he teaches you vocabulary and conversation. He’s a real fun, laid back guy and he makes learning fun. After a few months, you feel confident handling basic situations, such as ordering coffee and using a taxi to arrive at your destination.
Off to Costa Rica you go. At the airport you try to order coffee, and they give you a quizzical look and give you a cup of water. When you get to the taxi, the driver doesn’t understand a word you are saying and drives you to some seedy motel, instead of your three-star accommodations.
During your trip there, you quickly learn that the Spanish your cool tutor was apparently teaching you wasn’t actually proper Spanish (you Google search your tutor and find out he was born in Kansas). You end up having a fun time in Costa Rica even though your “Spanish” accounted for nada.
GRE for Dummies Premier 7th Edition is that tutor. It’s a fun book, written in a friendly voice, aimed at making a dry and daunting experience seem a whole lot less painful. As to what you are learning, from some of the strategies to the actual questions, might as well be like learning Spanish from a dude from Kansas who once spent a summer in Barcelona.
The Nitty Gritty – Verbal
As for those who actually read the book, I’m pretty confident they did not once look at an actual GRE question, and instead just began scribbling away with aplomb. How else can one explain the fact that one blank sentence completions have only one sentence? It’s not that hard. Look at any GRE book, even Kaplan’s substandard offering. One-blank questions always take place in one sentence.
The debacle continues: three-sentence Sentence Equivalence questions (again, it’s always one sentence). The Text Completion questions are so much more straightforward than what you’ll see on the actual test that it is at times laughable.
The reading passages are oftentimes nothing more than biographical excerpts. The GRE does not have reading like this. Practice this and you will be in for a very rude awakening test day.
Other egregious oversights in the verbal section include mixing up verbs, nouns, and adjectives in answer choices. This is a big no-no, and something I haven’t seen since the likes of REA (they have the ignominious distinction of being the worst test prep in the short history of the industry).
All this is no mere quibbling on my part: you will become flustered not only by the differing format of the actual test, but also by the level of difficulty of questions on the test.
The Math – Not as bad as verbal
The math section makes the math look so fun and easy. Sure, the GRE for Dummies math is not as disappointing as the verbal section. Nonetheless, the math in this book will only prepare you to score in about the 50%. For anything higher, you must look elsewhere. The strategies are very basic, and really won’t help you to deal with the more difficult questions or concepts.
The good news is I didn’t see any major breaches in format, the way I did on the verbal section. If you have already purchased this book, then using the questions isn’t necessarily going to hurt you—though I would only do them if you have access to no other practice questions.
Now, I’m not this curmudgeon (GRE-speak for ‘grouch’), who just spends his day lambasting GRE books. I really want for there to be good GRE books on the market, one’s with questions that are reflective of what you’ll actually see test day, books that you can incorporate into part of your study routine. But GRE for Dummies is the exact opposite of such a book. Do not waste your time and money, and worse, risk your future on this travesty of a GRE book.