Should You Take A GRE Prep Course?

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Oct 5th, 2023

laptop with a gre sign - featured graphic

Dreaming of acing the GRE? Wondering if a prep course could be your secret weapon?

Here’s the scoop: if you’re eyeing that golden ticket into grad school and elevating your career trajectory, a GRE course can indeed boost your score and equip you with the academic toolkit you’ll need. And guess what? Top-tier prep doesn’t have to break the bank. With just $99 to $299, platforms like Magoosh or The Economist offer robust, self-paced courses. For those craving a more hands-on approach, options like Princeton Review, albeit pricier, immerse you in live sessions with experts. Your study game, your rules. Choose what vibes are with you!

Before deciding on a prep course

Take a GRE diagnostic test. First, you will need to measure your baseline score. Complete one of the free full-length tests available online and see how you perform on each section. If you’re deficient in one or more areas and you’re far away from your target score, taking a prep course is recommended.

person sitting at a table with a laptop

There are a couple of reasons to invest in a GRE course:

1. Each GRE attempt costs $160. Do you want to re-take it?

According to an infographic released by ETS, 1 in 4 students decide to retake the exam (you have 5 attempts within 12 months). That’s because they weren’t satisfied with their first score, which wouldn’t qualify them for their grad school of choice. By scoring high on your very first attempt, you’ll save yourself $160 and many hours of extra study. And one of the best ways to do it is by going through a full prep course. Also, scoring high on the GRE allows you to qualify for scholarships, fellowships, and tuition remission grants. This means potentially thousands of dollars saved. How valuable is this to you?

2. GRE prep courses boost your composite score by around 10 points

If you look around the web, you’ll see that most online GRE prep courses guarantee an improvement in the score (even if you only did a diagnostic exam). If you don’t boost your scores after the course, you get your money back. For example, Magoosh guarantees a 5+ point increase per section, and The Economist a 5+ or 7+ per section increase depending on the course you pick. That’s quite a lot because the max score on the GRE is 340. These companies wouldn’t offer such bold guarantees if their courses didn’t deliver the goods.

3. You’ll be able to do practice questions with a timer

GRE is a computer-based test and you have 1m 30 seconds per verbal question and 1m 45 seconds per quant question. Getting the timing right is essential to your success on the actual test. One of the best things about an online prep course is that it sets a timer for each question and allows you to work in a more focused environment. You’ll see how much time you need to answer each question and you’ll be able to improve over time.

study timer

Apps like Magoosh allow you to study with a timer. This is one of the best ways to get better at GRE prep.

4. External motivation and a well-designed study plan

Many students who decide to take the GRE, lose focus and find it hard to discipline themselves to study regularly. On the other hand, a course creates external expectations and a proper study schedule you should follow. It’s like deciding to go on a diet. You can decide you’ll do everything on your own and stick to the strict dietary schedule. Or, you can hire a professional dietician who will create a plan for you, and expect performance reports every week. Which option seems more effective to you?

5. Access to advanced study materials

Studying with a book or by using free online resources is one thing. But logging into an online dashboard especially designed for GRE study is another thing altogether.

princeton review gre books collection

Examples of books you could use for your GRE prep.

Most GRE classes will give you access to:

  • Live instruction with an experienced teacher
  • GRE practice books
  • Up to 8 full-length computer-based practice tests
  • Up to 5,000 practice questions divided by section
  • A strong guarantee
  • Reports and statistics about your performance (this is especially important)
  • Up to 30 hours of instructional videos
  • Email and chat assistance
  • Joining a community of online learners to share your experience

What to look for in a GRE course?

  • Live-online time (or one-to-one coaching) – does not apply to self-prep options
  • Performance reports
  • Ability to study with a timer
  • Personalized study plan and schedule
  • Strong guarantee
  • Lots of practice questions and full-length tests
  • A learning community
  • Ability to get in touch with a teacher through email or chat

Conclusion

You can easily tackle the GRE prep on your own by using free online materials. However taking a prep course will give you access to more materials, as well as a test environment that resembles the real-world exam. If you’re serious about your studies, investing as little as $99 on prep shouldn’t be an obstacle. Next up, you may want to explore a guide to the best ways to prepare for the GRE.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time blogger, educator, digital marketer, freelance writer, editor, and content manager with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient writer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for writers, digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Dive into my journey here, and don't miss out on my free PDF guide 80+ AI marketing tools.