GRE Big Book Review by ETS | Overview, Pros, Cons

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) is one of the most important tests for prospective graduate school applicants. It is a standardized test used to assess the abilities of graduate school applicants using the GRE big book as study material. The exam measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills.

The GRE requires thorough preparation as an important component of graduate school applications. Fortunately, many study materials are available to help you succeed, including the GRE Big Book by ETS.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the GRE Big Book, its history, contents, format, pros and cons, and how it compares to other study materials.

Overview Of The Gre Big Book

The GRE Big Book by ETS (Educational Testing Service) is a popular resource for students preparing for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

The book was first published in 1996 and contains 27 tests with questions from previous versions of the GRE. Thousands of students have used the book over the years, and it is still considered a reliable resource for practice tests and study material.

One of the advantages of the GRE Big Book is that it provides a large number of practice tests and questions, allowing students to practice and refine their skills. Each test contains around 40 questions, and each test has answer keys, which can be helpful for self-study.

Moreover, the questions in the book are from actual GRE tests from previous years, so students can get a feel for what to expect on test day.

However, it is worth noting that the GRE Big Book does not provide detailed explanations for the questions, unlike other study materials available in the market. The book assumes that the student already understands the material well, which may only be the case for some students.

Moreover, the book only covers some topics that appear on the GRE, which may leave some students with gaps in their preparation.

Overall, the GRE Big Book can be useful for students who need more practice and want to get a feel for the actual GRE exam.

However, it may need to be sufficient for those who require a more comprehensive review of the material covered in the exam. Students should use this book in combination with other study materials for a well-rounded preparation for the GRE.

Find out how many times you can take the GRE with this article- How Many Times Can You Take The GRE Test?

History And Background Of The GRE Big Book

The ETS (Educational Testing Service) published the GRE Big Book in 2000 as an official guide to preparing for the GRE. The book comprises questions that have appeared on the actual GRE test in the past.

The book tends to help test-takers understand the types of questions they might encounter on the exam and provide sufficient practice material.

The GRE Big Book quickly became a popular study guide due to its unique format and its ability to help students build confidence for the exam.

Although the GRE Big Book was published originally in 2000, it is still relevant today as it covers a broad range of question types, and the format of the questions remains unchanged.

The questions in the GRE Big Book are still applicable to the current GRE format, so it remains a popular study material for test-takers.

ETS has since published several newer editions of the official guide, but many test-takers still prefer the GRE Big Book because of its unique content.

Contents Of The Book

The GRE Big Book contains 27 practice tests, separated into sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

The Verbal Reasoning section contains 25 practice tests, the Quantitative Reasoning section contains 26 practice tests, and the Analytical Writing section contains two practice tests. 

Each Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections practice test contains approximately 20 questions.

The questions are multiple-choice, and the answer choices are listed directly below the question. Detailed answer explanations are provided for each question, allowing test takers to understand their mistakes better and learn from them.

The Analytical Writing section of the book contains two practice tests, with prompts that require test takers to analyze and critique a given argument. Test takers receive a brief passage for each prompt, followed by a question prompt.

The prompts vary in topic, but all require the test taker to evaluate the argument and provide a response that demonstrates strong analytical and critical thinking skills.

In addition to the practice tests, the GRE Big Book also includes a helpful introduction section, which provides tips and strategies for tackling the exam, as well as a list of common GRE vocabulary words and their definitions.

Overall, the book provides a comprehensive set of practice tests and resources that students can use to supplement any GRE study plan.

With its large collection of practice tests and detailed answer explanations, it is a valuable tool for test takers looking to improve their performance on the exam or those retaking the exam.

Download GRE Big Book Pdf Format Here for Free Below:

Want to be a cosmetologist? Find out more- How Long Does It Take To Become A Cosmetologist?

Format Of The Questions And Practice Tests

The GRE Big Book contains a total of 27 practice tests, with each test consisting of approximately 50 to 60 multiple-choice questions.

The designed questions mimic the actual GRE format and cover a wide range of topics, including analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning.

The practice questions are grouped into two sections – the first contains easier questions, while the second contains harder ones.

The book was designed to help test-takers gradually build their confidence and skill level as they progress through the book.

One downside of the GRE Big Book is that the questions can be quite outdated. Since the book was published in the 1990s, some of the questions may need to reflect the current format or difficulty level of the GRE.

However, this can also be an advantage – since the questions are older, they may need to be more familiar to test-takers and offer a unique challenge.

Overall, the format of the questions and practice tests in the GRE Big Book can be beneficial for those who want to get a sense of what the actual exam will be like.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the book may provide a less up-to-date or accurate reflection of the current one.

Pros Of Using The GRE Big Book

1. Authentic questions

The GRE Big Book consists of real retired GRE questions that have been previously used on actual GREs. This makes it a valuable resource for test-takers to practice with authentic questions that are likely to appear on the actual test.

2. Comprehensive coverage

The book covers all three sections of the GRE, i.e., Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. It provides a broad range of questions and practice tests to help students thoroughly understand the exam.

3. Detailed explanations

The book comes with detailed explanations for every question, including step-by-step solutions and reasoning. This allows test-takers to understand the concepts behind the questions and identify areas where they need more practice.

4. Affordable

The GRE Big Book is relatively affordable compared to other GRE study materials. This makes it a popular choice for students who are on a budget and want to prepare for the exam without breaking the bank.

5. Time-saving

As the book contains only real GRE questions, students can skip the trial-and-error phase that they would normally go through while practicing with other materials.

This means they can focus their energy and time on improving their weaknesses instead of wasting time on irrelevant practice material.

6. Familiarity with the test format

Practicing with real GRE questions can help students become more familiar with the test format and reduce test anxiety.

7. Suitable for all levels

The GRE Big Book can be a useful resource for students at all levels of preparation, from beginners to advanced test-takers.

8. A large number of questions

The book contains a wide range of questions, which can provide ample practice opportunities for students.

Check out how long it takes to be a medical coder- How Long Does It Take To Become A Medical Coder?

Cons Of Using The GRE Big Book

As with any study material, there are some cons to using the GRE Big Book. Here are a few to keep in mind:

1. Outdated Content

While the book is a great resource for practicing with actual GRE questions, its last update was in 1998.

This means that some of the content may need to be updated, and the format of the test has changed since then. You’ll want to supplement your study materials with more current resources to ensure that you’re adequately prepared for the test.

2. Limited Content

While there are over 600 questions in the GRE Big Book, it still only covers a fraction of the content you’ll need to know for the GRE. You’ll need to use other study materials to ensure you’re prepared for all the questions that may appear on the test.

3. Lack of Answer Explanations

While the questions in the book come from actual GRE tests, no answer explanations are provided. This means you’ll need to figure out the answers independently or find a separate resource that provides explanations.

4. No Online Resources

Unlike other study materials, the GRE Big Book doesn’t have any online resources or additional practice tests. This means that you’ll need to supplement your studying with other resources if you want more practice questions or access to online tools and resources.

5. Lack of guidance

The book needs guidance on how to create a study plan or approach the exam in general.

6. Limited Feedback

The book needs to provide feedback on student performance, which can make it difficult for students to gauge their progress and identify areas of weakness.

7. No interactive features

The book does not include any interactive features, such as quizzes or games, which can make studying more engaging.

8. Availability

ETS no longer sells the GRE Big Book, and can be difficult to find in print format. It is good to update or keep in better condition the used copies of the book.

Overall, the book is a helpful resource for anyone looking to practice with real GRE questions. However, the limitations of this resource and use it in conjunction with other study materials to ensure that you’re fully prepared for the test should be kept in mind.

Comparison With Other Study Materials

When it comes to preparing for the GRE, countless study materials are available. So, how does the book stack up against other options? Let’s take a look.

One popular alternative is the Official GRE Super Power Pack, which includes three full-length practice tests and the Official Guide to the GRE. However, while this may seem more comprehensive, it comes at a much higher cost than the GRE Big Book.

Additionally, some users have noted that the practice questions in the Super Power Pack are more difficult than those on the exam, and not ideal for those looking to gauge their performance accurately.

Another popular option is Kaplan’s GRE Prep Plus, which includes video lessons, practice quizzes, and customized study plans.

However, again, this comes at a much higher cost than the GRE Big Book and some users have reported technical issues with the software.

Overall, while there are certainly more modern options available, the GRE Big Book remains a reliable and affordable study tool.

Plus, its extensive pool of practice questions makes it an excellent resource for anyone looking to drill their skills and gain familiarity with the exam format. 

So, whether you choose to supplement your studies with other materials or rely on the GRE Big Book, it’s important to find what works best for you and stick with it. Happy studying!

Find out all about F1 student visa here- F1 Student Visa Interview Questions, Answers, and Tips


After a thorough review of the book, it’s clear that this study material has significant advantages for test takers.

Also, with over 27 real GRE tests, it provides an authentic test-taking experience that is hard to find in other study materials.

Overall, the GRE Big Book by ETS is a useful study tool that can help test takers improve their performance. Nonetheless, using it in conjunction with other study materials is important to gain a complete understanding of the GRE.


What is the purpose of the GRE Big Book?

The GRE Big Book aims to provide students with a comprehensive collection of authentic GRE questions to practice with.

Is the GRE Big Book still relevant for current test-takers?

Yes, While the book is no longer in print, many students still find it to be a valuable resource for practicing with authentic GRE questions.

Is the GRE Big Book a good study resource?

Yes, the GRE Big Book can be a useful study resource for students preparing for the GRE.

How can I use the GRE Big Book effectively?

To use the GRE Big Book effectively, students should focus on practicing with the real GRE questions and reviewing the detailed explanations provided in the book.

However, It can also be helpful to supplement the book with other study resources that provide additional practice and coverage of GRE topics.

How does the GRE Big Book compare to other study resources?

The GRE Big Book is just one of many study resources available for the GRE. While it provides access to a large number of real GRE questions, it may not provide as comprehensive coverage of all GRE topics as other study resources. Students may consider using multiple study resources to prepare for the exam.

Do ETS regularly update the GRE Big Book?

ETS no longer sells the GRE Big Book, so they have not updated it in many years. However, students can still find used copies of the book online.

Can people use the GRE Big Book for other standardized tests?

ETS specifically designed the GRE Big Book for the GRE and it may be less useful for other standardized tests. Students preparing for other exams may consider using study resources specifically designed for those tests.


  •– ETS GRE Big Book Review | Pros, Cons, Overview – YouTube
  •– How to Use the ETS GRE Official Guide – Full Review
  •– Expert Review: The Official Guide to the GRE General Test


You might find these articles helpful:

Leave a Comment

Scholarsly is an educational blog which aggregates study abroad, scholarships update, VISA application and and other important info for our readers. We do not offer direct employment, scholarship, VISA procurement or offer physical travel assistance. We also do not charge you or request money and would not refer you to any agent either. Find more info on our Privacy policy page below and kindly contact us if you need further information.