Practice tests are one of the most important tools to use for GRE prep, but, unfortunately, many of the practice GREs available online aren’t high quality. When you study with a low-quality GRE practice test, you can actually end up lowering your GRE skills by studying topics you don’t need to be and neglecting the actual skills you should be studying.
Fortunately, in this guide we’ve collected all the best free GRE practice tests for you to use. In addition to explaining the pros and cons of each practice test, we also explain what makes a great GRE practice test and give tips on how to use practice tests when studying for the GRE.
What Makes a Good GRE Practice Test?
Before we look at the best free GRE practice tests, let’s first look at what makes a practice test great. There are many free practice GRE exams out there, ranging in quality from excellent to pretty terrible. In this section we go over the four qualities that all the best practice GREs share.
#1: High-Quality Questions
Above all, your free GRE test needs to have practice questions that are as close as possible to what you’ll see on the actual GRE. That means they are worded similarly, test the same concepts, have the same difficulty level, etc.
It’s not easy to consistently create high-quality practice GRE problems, and many free practice GREs have questions that aren’t all that close to what you’ll see on test day. If you use them for practice, it could cause you to study the wrong things for the GRE.
This is why official practice tests are the best free GRE practice tests to use. They’re made by the same people who make the actual GRE, so you can be sure the questions are high quality.
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#2: Similar Format to the Real GRE
One common feature in many low-quality GRE practice tests is that they’re not actually tests, but rather short quizzes with 10 or twenty questions. GRE quizzes can definitely be a helpful study tool, but they don’t replace full-length GRE practice tests.
The GRE is a 3.5 hour, fast-paced exam, and you want to know exactly how a test of that length and intensity affects you well before you sit down to take the real test. Your practice GRE tests should have the same format as the real GRE. This means the same number of questions, same number of sections, same timing rules, etc.
The first section of the GRE will always be Analytical Writing, where you’ll have two 30-minute blocks to write two essays: “Analyze an Issue” and “Analyze an Argument.” The next five sections can occur in any order. They’ll include two sections of Verbal Reasoning, two sections of Quantitative Reasoning, and one section that won’t count toward your scores (you won’t know which section this is, so try your best on all the GRE questions).
For each Verbal Reasoning section, you will have 30 minutes to answer 20 multiple-choice questions. For each Quantitative Reasoning section, you will have 35 minutes to answer 20 multiple-choice and write-in questions. Your practice GRE tests should match this format as closely as possible.
Additionally, the GRE is also section adaptive. This means your score on the first Verbal and Quantitative sections determine the difficulty level of the second Verbal and Quantitative sections. Many practice GREs, especially free ones, aren’t section adaptive because it’s more work for the test creators, but those that are give you slightly more accurate scores because they’re that much more similar to the actual GRE.
#3: Strong Answer Explanations
It’s not enough to have great GRE practice questions; those questions also need to be accompanied by in-depth answer explanations. If the answer explanations are brief or non-existent, that can make it difficult for you to understand what you’re doing wrong and learn from your mistakes.
The best answer explanations will clearly explain how to get the correct answer while also going over common mistakes students can make that lead them to an incorrect answer.
#4: Easy to Use
Finally, GRE practice tests should be easy to use. If a practice test has a clunky interface or requires a lot of steps before you can access the test, that increases your frustration and takes time away from actual GRE practice. The GRE exam is already nearly four hours long; you don’t need to spend extra time struggling with a poorly-designed practice GRE.
The Best Free GRE Practice Tests
Below are the best free online GRE practice tests available. For each of them we include a description of the exam(s) as well as pros and cons. They’re roughly ordered from highest quality to lowest quality, although even the less-than-perfect exams are worth using.
If you only have time to take one or two practice GRE tests, it should be these. PowerPrep II is one of the best GRE study materials available. All you need to do is download the software to get access to two complete practice GREs. These are official practice exams, which means they’re made by the same people who make the real GRE you’ll take on exam day. Official practice tests are the best to use because you can be sure they have the same format, content, timing, and difficulty level as the actual GRE.
The main drawback to these exams is that they don’t include answer explanations, but they’re still a great resource.
- The closest experience you can get to the actual GRE, in terms of the questions asked and what the interface looks like.
- Tests are section adaptive so your final score will be more accurate than the score you’d get from a non-adaptive exam.
- Computer-based interface is identical to what you’ll see on exam day so you can be prepared for what the GRE test looks like and how to navigate it.
- No answer explanations to learn how to solve problems, just an answer key.
- No Analytical Writing scores provided.
ETS Paper Exams
ETS, the maker of the GRE, has also released retired GREs. These are official tests that were used several years ago, so, like the PowerPrep tests, the questions will be very similar to the GRE you take on exam day. There are currently two PDF exams available:
These exams overlap many questions with the PowerPrep tests, so we recommend taking the PowerPrep tests first and using these to practice any of the questions you haven’t already seen.
- Official tests, so they’ll be very similar to the real GRE.
- Have a lot of overlap with the PowerPrep exams.
- Paper exams, so you don’t experience taking the GRE on the computer the way you will on exam day.
- No answer explanations, only an answer key.
Manhattan Prep’s free GRE test is one of the best unofficial free GRE’s available. You’ll need to create a free account, but once you do you can access the practice test. The practice questions are high-quality for an unofficial resource, and the format of the exam is very similar to what you’ll see on test day. As an added bonus, this exam has some of the most in-depth answer explanations available for free GREs, so it’s a great resource if you’re struggling to understand why you get certain questions wrong.
- Questions are very similar to actual GRE questions.
- Exam is section adaptive.
- In-depth answer explanations.
- Computer interface is similar to the actual GRE’s.
- Same format as the actual GRE.
- You need to create a Manhattan Prep account to access the test.
- Some questions are a bit more difficult than what you’d see on the actual GRE, which can make you feel more unprepared than you actually are.
You can get another free online GRE practice test from Kaplan. This exam is similar to Manhattan Prep’s, and it does a pretty good job of replicating the format and types of questions you see on the GRE. However, its answer explanations are not as robust as Manhattan Prep’s are.
- Same format as the actual GRE.
- Computer interface is very close to what you’ll see on test day.
- After you complete the exam, you’ll receive analysis of which sections/topics you did well on and which you can improve in.
- Some questions are quite different from what you’ll see on the actual GRE, both in terms of how the question is worded and the skills it tests you on. Most of the test is a good replication of the GRE, but a few questions, across all sections, are a bit off.
- The answer explanations aren’t very in-depth.
- It’s not section adaptive.
Princeton Review offers one free online GRE practice test on its website. You’ll need to create a free account to access the test, and once you create your account, you’ll only have free access to the test for 14 days. Like Manhattan Prep’s and Kaplan’s tests, this practice exam has the same timing and format as the real GRE, and the computer interface is very similar to what you’ll see on test day.
However, after you take the text, you’ll get a score sheet that shows which question numbers you got right and wrong, but you won’t be able to look at the questions again, and there are no answer explanations. Since you can’t review the questions you missed, that makes it very hard to learn from your mistakes. We recommend this test if you feel pretty confident in your GRE skills and want a practice test to just get an idea of how well you’re scoring, without answer explanations.
- Questions are similar to real GRE questions.
- Computer interface is similar to what you’ll see on test day.
- After you take the test, you’ll get a basic breakdown of the subjects you’re doing well on and the topics you need to improve in.
- Can’t review any questions once you’ve completed the test.
- There are no answer explanations.
- Some questions are a bit easier than what you’d actually see on the GRE.
- It’s not section adaptive.
McGraw Hill also offers a free diagnostic GRE test (which has one Verbal and one Quantitative section), as well as five additional practice tests. The questions are pretty high quality, but the format is different from the actual GRE, so we recommend saving these until you’ve taken the other GRE practice tests. You can also take one section at a time during times when you want to study for the GRE but don’t have time to take a complete practice test.
- Lots of practice questions available.
- Don’t need to create an account to access the questions.
- Pretty robust answer explanations. They could go into more depth, but you’ll get a good understanding of how to solve the questions from them.
- Each exam is significantly shorter than the actual GRE.
- Some questions, especially Quant questions, are significantly easier than what you’ll see on the actual GRE.
- Practice test can be clunky and difficult to navigate.
- Computer interface is different than what you’ll see on the actual GRE.
- It’s not section adaptive.
- There are no Analytical Writing practice questions.
How to Use Free Practice Tests in Your GRE Prep
Now you know what the best GRE free practice tests are, but how can you make the most of them? Follow the three tips below to get the most out of your practice GREs so you can get the scores you want.
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Spread the Practice Tests Throughout Your Study Period
You should take at least two practice GREs, and we recommend three to four if you have time for it. Take one practice test at the beginning of your studying so you can get an idea of how much you need to improve and in what areas you should focus most of your studying, and take another practice test at the end so you have a rough idea of how well you’ll do on the actual GRE.
If you have time to take additional practice tests, space them out throughout your studying so you get a regular update of how well you’re doing. We recommend taking one PowerPrep test at the beginning and the other at the end of your studying since these are the most accurate. Take unofficial practice tests like the Manhattan Prep exam in the middle of your study period.
Take the Test With Correct Timing, and in One Sitting
Many of these free GRE tests give you the option to take the test either timed or untimed. You should always take the practice tests timed and in one sitting, the same way you’ll take the actual GRE. This will help prepare you for the exam by getting used to taking a long exam with strict timing conditions.
If you take long breaks between sections or give yourself extra time to solve problems on the practice tests, your practice test score won’t be an accurate estimate of how well you’ll do on the real GRE, and you won’t be preparing yourself well. Always use the timed option if it’s available, and stick to it while you’re taking the test.
Review Your Mistakes
After you finish your free GRE test, your work isn’t done yet. For every practice test you take, you should review each of the questions you got wrong so you can understand what you did incorrectly. This can be tedious and time consuming, but it’s the best way to improve your GRE score. Otherwise, you’ll keep making the same mistakes because you won’t learn what you’re doing incorrectly.
If you find you’re getting many questions on certain topics wrong, you can review those topics in GRE prep books or with additional study materials.
Summary: The Best Free Online GRE Practice Tests
Practice tests are an essential part of your GRE prep, and you should only use the highest quality tests when you’re studying. Make sure you GRE free practice tests have high-quality practice questions, a similar format to the real GRE, in-depth answer explanations, and are easy to use.
For free online GRE practice tests, we recommend using the two PowerPrep tests first since they are closest to the actual GRE. Additional official and unofficial practice tests can be used afterwards. When taking a free GRE practice test online, spread the practice tests throughout your study period, take the test with proper timing, and review the questions you answered incorrectly so you understand where you made mistakes.
Which GRE books are worth buying, and which should you avoid? Learn more by reading our guide on GRE book reviews.