If paid GRE prep courses seem like a waste of your money, then you might be considering a free course instead. As an expert tutor with years of experience, I decided to help you find the best options that can actually help you achieve high scores. Here are my recommendations.
Top 3 Free Online GRE Prep Courses
A lot of free online prep courses offer so much value that you may never consider taking a paid course again. I chose the three best courses for you:
In my opinion, this is the best and most comprehensive free GRE course you can find online. You’ll get a 300-page course, 150+ videos, practice questions, and a demo test at the end.
I particularly like that there’s also an Intro section that explains how the committee will assess your GRE score. Most students don’t take the time to review this on their own -- but they should.
Knowing how the committee uses your scores will give you a better idea on what to focus on during your studies.
This course revolves around the quant section, but I chose it because this is what most students struggle with on the GRE anyway.
There are two reasons why: math is difficult, and math questions on the GRE are deliberately tricky.
Kolbly’s course will walk you through both. You’ll be able to better understand frequently-tested math concepts, as well as how to analyze the questions.
I’m technically cheating with this one because it’s a collection of 68 hour-long YouTube videos and not a course per se. However, the playlist organizes the videos in a way that feels natural and makes sense.
Besides teaching you concepts from all three subject areas, these videos will also teach some handy test-taking strategies to help you nail the exam.
What to Look For In a GRE Prep Course
No matter if you’re taking a free or paid prep course, you want it to be valuable -- right? Assess if a course is worth your time by using my 4-point checklist:
1. Is It Taught By Experts?
Thanks to the Internet, everyone can record a course today. This is both a plus and a minus.
You don’t want to get your knowledge from someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. So, before you hit the play button, check if the person behind the course has any relevant credentials.
Are they a professor by vocation or have they demonstrated course-related knowledge in any other way? If no, then you might want to close the tab.
2. Does It Help You Overcome Weaknesses?
In other words, does the course focus on something you really need help with? The GRE has three sections. Chances are you don’t need help with all of them. You might be struggling with math, but excel at writing essays.
Choose a course that revolves around the area you’re not confident about. This way, you won’t waste time sitting through lectures that aren’t teaching you anything new.
3. Is It Only Based on Practice or Theory?
The best courses have a healthy balance between practice and theory. Still, a lot of courses out there only revolve around sample questions and practice tests.
This might be a good option if you’ve already nailed the theory. But there’s a high probability that you haven’t, which is why you need to do some learning first.
4. Is It Teaching You Strategies for the Actual GRE?
The GRE is a standardized, section-adaptive test that might be wildly different from any other test you’ve taken during high school. Because of that, your GRE prep course should also teach you things like time-management or essay-writing strategies.
Additionally, the GRE is notorious for its tricky wording of the questions. A good GRE course will teach you how to overcome this obstacle. In other words, it teaches you how to analyze questions to find out what you’re really being asked to do.
What’s the Cost of Paid Courses?
The biggest reason why students opt for free courses instead of the paid ones is the price. Admittedly, many of the top-quality GRE prep courses have hefty price tags -- but this is an exception rather than the rule.
I’ve managed to find courses that start at as little as $149. There are some pricier courses as well. Check out this review if you wish to learn which (paid) GRE prep course we think is the best.
Free Online GRE Prep Courses: The Takeaway
You can find free GRE prep courses online. But you must be aware of the drawbacks that always come with free resources.
Free courses don’t keep you accountable. You’re much more likely to miss lectures if you’re not paying for them. Secondly, you don’t have a tutor to motivate you.
The biggest disadvantage of free courses is, in my opinion, the absence of feedback. No one can tell you if you’re making any progress.
Still, if you’re a highly independent person, then free courses might be a good option.