Review: ETS GRE PowerPrep II for Mac

Good news for all you mac-loving, liberal arts grads (and everyone else, of course): you can now prepare for your computer-based GRE without ever having to look at a Windows operating system.  Yes, that’s right.  ETS has finally put out a version of PowerPrep II for Mac.  Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, open it up and you’ll find a program that looks like, feels like, and even smells like an actual GRE test.

The layout of test – including how the questions and answer choices look – is almost completely identical to the real test.  The only noticeable difference is in the size of the test window.  During the actual GRE, your whole screen will be filled by the test window.  I was not, however, able to resize the PowerPrep test window to cover the whole screen, leaving me susceptible to any distractions that might pop out from behind the PowerPrep program (Ed. Note: the same occurs with the Windows version; beware the distractions).  In order to counteract this issue, make sure you have disabled your wireless, turned off any notifications, and traded out your live wallpaper for a plainer aesthetic.  You want to create an environment for yourself that simulates a real testing experience in order to truly gauge how you are scoring.

In addition to the window size, the spread of buttons at the top of the window are slightly more extensive in the PowerPrep program than in the actual test.  While the GRE gives you the basic choice between quitting the test (how tempting!) and continuing, the PowerPrep software allows such actions as “Exit Section” or “Save and Quit” all throughout the practice test.  But as Tommy Lee Jones says in Men In Black, “Don’t ever, ever touch the red button.”  Although the buttons in the PowerPrep software aren’t red, you would do yourself a disservice by stopping a diagnostic test in the middle.  Taking full-length practice tests (which include scheduled breaks) is essential to building up your GRE endurance.  Just as LeBron James would not pause to go make a sandwich halfway through the 3rd quarter of an NBA Finals game, you should not stop your practice test in the middle.

Aside from the window size and the buttons, the PowerPrep software simulates the GRE test accurately and smoothly (and it also mirrors the functionality and aesthetic of the Windows version).  GRE features such as full instructions at the beginning of each section, the option to mark questions you want to return to, and a section review screen are replicated in the PowerPrep software.  Additionally, the whole program is chock full of great resources.  There is a test preview tool for folks who are not yet ready to jump into taking a practice test and two full-length tests for those who are.  And as with PowerPrep II for Windows, the Mac version gives you the ability to review incorrect questions (a great learning tool!) after you’ve completed the test.

So to my fellow Mac users and seekers of higher education: put down the earl grey latte, take out your headphones, and give up your much sought-after seat at the coffee house.  It’s time to begin studying for the GRE!

-Kara Segal

Editors Note: Showcasing her dedication to the test prep cause, Kara dutifully took the GRE but a couple days before writing this post. While she missed out on prepping with the new Mac PowerPrep software, she was able to have a fresh GRE experience with which to compare to the software. Keep an eye on this space for upcoming posts about her GRE test experience, as well as helpful tips and insights on how to conquer the GRE when you take it.

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