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7 Best Physics GRE Books (2022’s Top Prep Guides)

William Cohen
Published by William Cohen
Last Updated On: March 4, 2022

Many people choose to use prep books as a learning resource for the GRE Physics subject test.

We have tried many physics books for GRE subject test prep, and below is our review of 7 commonly used guides.

We will provide you with the information you need to choose the book that will help you pass this exam.

Table of Contents
Editor's Choice
Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics
Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics
Cost and Value
4.0
Comprehensiveness
5.0
Practice Problems
5.0
Overall Score
4.7
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#2nd Best Choice
Conquering the Physics GRE
Conquering the Physics GRE
Cost and Value
4.0
Comprehensiveness
5.0
Practice Problems
4.5
Overall Score
4.5
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#3rd Best Choice
Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker
Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker
Cost and Value
3.5
Comprehensiveness
5.0
Practice Problems
4.0
Overall Score
4.2
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Physics GRE Prep Books:

1 - Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics

Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics

Schaum’s 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics is one of the top-rated GRE physics test prep books. Its problems come from every area of physics and have in-depth and engaging solutions.

The problems mirror those found in undergraduate physics courses and the GRE subject test. They lay out the answers to each question in a complete yet straightforward fashion, and you can find multiple examples to illustrate any physics concept.

Best of all, the problems come in varying degrees of difficulty. We started with the areas we were weak in and worked our way to the more difficult ones.

Pros
  • A large variety of problems
  • Each solution comes with a detailed explanation
  • Rationale, diagrams, and charts make answers clear
  • Thorough coverage of all topics in physics
Cons
  • No didactic section

2 - Conquering the Physics GRE

Conquering the Physics GRE

Tailored for this subject test's specific structure and content, Conquering the Physics GRE contains key lessons, followed by practice problems to solidify the information. This book is helpful for students who need to dust off their physics knowledge and then practice applying the knowledge to the GRE test.

It covers all topics on the test, and each practice problem has step-by-step solutions that are thorough and easy to follow. It also provides tips and tricks to help you approach questions you may not have seen before.

We found that many practice problems in each chapter were similar to those found on the GRE.

Pros
  • Detailed step-by-step instructions
  • Three full-length tests
  • Practice problems after the lessons
Cons
  • Questions are more challenging than the actual exam

3 - Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker

Fundamentals of Physics by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker

Fundamentals of Physics is one of the premier texts used in physics courses across the United States. The approach is mathematical, so it is a good choice for students who want a comprehensive review of the calculus-based physics found on the GRE subject test.

This book helps the students identify foundational concepts, reason through scientific problems, and solve quantitative practice questions.

We enjoyed the in-depth didactics of this book but thought some of the problem-solving algorithms were more complicated than they needed to be.

Pros
  • Thorough instruction of all physics concepts
  • Problems and solutions throughout the text
  • Comes in a convenient loose-leaf format
Cons
  • Some problems were of low value

4 - Sears and Zemansky's University Physics with Modern Physics

Sears and Zemansky's University Physics with Modern Physics

University Physics provides an excellent review of quantitative-based physics concepts. Overall, the book is well laid out and covers all topics tested on the GRE subject test.

The problem sets at the end of each chapter are well done and provide excellent preparation for the GRE. They also come with answers and full explanations, so you can see how the problem is solved.

Overall, the kinetics and modern physics sections are good, but we found the electricity, magnetism, and fluid sections less well written.

Pros
  • Covers all topics found on the GRE subject test
  • Well-written and easy-to-follow explanations
  • Excellent diagrams and graphics
Cons
  • Inconsistently written - some weak areas

5 - Introduction to Special Relativity by James H. Smith

Introduction to Special Relativity by James H. Smith

If you need a focused review of one of the most critical theories in modern physics, Introduction to Special Relativity may be the right choice. It does not simplify the explanation of this theory, but it does not get bogged down in calculus either.

The topics of forces, fields, zero mass particles, energy, and momentum are thoroughly explained. Additionally, the twin paradox, time dilation, and classical relativity are all covered.

We found that this textbook is not enough to help students prepare for the GRE, and we think it should be combined with other prep books. But if you want a thorough study of special relativity, this is a solid choice.

Pros
  • Powerful but simple explanations
  • Not mathematically sophisticated
  • Low cost and high value for the single topic
Cons
  • Not complete enough for GRE prep

6 - Sterling Test Prep Physics GRE Practice Questions

Sterling Test Prep Physics GRE Practice Questions

Sterling Test Prep does a good job covering all the content that you will see on the exam. It also provides test-taking strategies and examples of how the test is structured.

The included 1,300 practice problems cover the same material that you will find on the actual exam - everything from mechanics to modern physics.

The book also provides six full-length practice exams that closely mimic the real thing. Each practice question has an in-depth explanation that walks you through the solutions.

We liked that this book reviewed all that is on the GRE subject test, but the problems were not sufficiently similar to those found on the GRE.

Pros
  • Covers all aspects of the GRE subject test
  • In-depth explanations and solutions
  • More practice problems than most books
Cons
  • Practice problems are not very similar to exam

7 - GRE Physics w/ CD by Joseph J. Molitoris

GRE Physics with CD by Joseph J. Molitoris

With four full-length practice tests inside, this GRE Physics book may be a good option for anyone looking to get as much practice as possible before taking the test. The two CDs come with test simulation software and two more practice exams.

This book covers all aspects of the GRE physics subject test, including wave phenomena, electricity, magnetism, optics, quantum theory, thermodynamics, and more.

We found a relatively large number of typographical errors in the text that distracted from its utility. Also, it was difficult to find the specific type of questions we wanted to work on the CDs.

Pros
  • Covers all GRE Physics topics
  • Six practice tests are available
  • Tests come with complete answer explanations
Cons
  • Too many typos

Buyer's Guide:

piggy bank and shopping cart

When looking for a Physics GRE prep book, there are a few factors you need to consider.

1. Value and Price

Of course, everyone wants to find a low-cost, high-value book. But be careful, because some books offer a great price, but low value. Price is certainly an important factor, but a low-quality offering will not help you do well on the exam.

2. Scope of Material

The Physics GRE subject test covers undergraduate physics' entire scope and sequence. Thus, you need a prep book that covers all the material.

It is OK to supplement with focused review material, but your main prep book should be comprehensive.

3. Practice Problems

You want to find a book with plenty of problems for you to work on. The best prep books will have practice problems similar to the questions you will see on the exam.

Other GRE Prep Books We've Reviewed:

FAQs

How Do I Prepare for the Physics GRE?

The best way to prepare for the physics GRE is to thoroughly read each of your review sources, use practice problems to solidify your understanding of any concepts you find challenging and look at the solutions to understand where you made mistakes.

Is the Physics GRE Hard?

The GRE Physics Subject Test can be challenging for students who are not rock-solid in their understanding of the material. However, by using a GRE prep book, you can refresh your knowledge and practice the types of questions asked on the exam.

Physics GRE Subject Test Prep Books

After evaluating all our prep book options, we consider the best prep book for the GRE Physics Subject Test to be Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics.

This book offers high value for the cost. It covers the complete range of GRE physics content, comes with a vast number of practice problems, and provides detailed explanations for each one.

Check out Schaum’s 3,000 Solved Problems and increase your chances of getting a higher score on the GRE.

 

Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics

Our #1 Recommendation

Schaum's 3,000 Solved Problems in Physics

  • A large variety of problems
  • Each solution comes with a detailed explanation
  • Rationale, diagrams, and charts make answers clear
  • Thorough coverage of all topics in physics
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