GRE Verbal Review

GRE Verbal Review

The Verbal Reasoning component is designed to evaluate your capacity to interpret, analyze, and synthesize written information, as well as comprehend the interconnections between parts of sentences, words, and ideas. Different formats are used to pose questions in the Verbal Reasoning section, with each format explored in detail. Approximately half of this section involves reading texts and responding to associated questions. The remaining portion necessitates interpreting and completing existing sentences, sentence groups, or paragraphs.
While a significant number of questions adhere to the standard multiple-choice format, requiring you to choose a single correct answer, some others demand the selection of multiple correct responses. Certain questions even require you to pick a sentence from the provided text passage. The choice quantity varies based on the nature of the question.

GRE Verbal Types of Questions

The Verbal Reasoning section comprises three distinct question categories:

Reading Comprehension

Text Completion

Sentence Equivalence

Each question category will be explored individually in the following segments. This approach aims to equip you with effective strategies to tackle each type of question. Please proceed to the next section for a more in-depth study and understanding.

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension Questions are crafted to examine a broad array of capabilities that are integral to decoding and understanding the type of prose one typically encounters in graduate school. These skills encompass:

  • Comprehending the significance of individual words and sentences
  • Grasping the gist of paragraphs and larger chunks of text
  • Differentiating between primary and secondary points
  • Summarizing a text passage
  • Deriving conclusions from the given information
  • Reasoning from partial data and inferring omitted details
  • Understanding the text’s structure and how its various parts connect
  • Identifying the writer’s viewpoint and assumptions
  • Analyzing a text to form conclusions about it
  • Spotting strengths and weaknesses
  • Formulating and contemplating alternative interpretations

As suggested by this list, comprehending a piece of text goes beyond the passive understanding of its words and sentences; it calls for active engagement with the text, querying, hypothesizing, evaluating, and contemplating the text’s relation to other texts and data.

Every Reading Comprehension question is based on a text passage, which could vary from one paragraph to multiple paragraphs. The test contains around ten passages, most of which are a single paragraph long, with one or two extending to multiple paragraphs. Passages are derived from diverse fields, including physical and biological sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and everyday topics. They are sourced from books and periodicals of both academic and non-academic nature.

Typically, half the test questions are based on these passages, with each passage spawning anywhere from one to six questions. Questions can explore any of the aforementioned topics, from understanding a specific word’s meaning to assessing evidence that might reinforce or weaken the points made in the passage. While many of the questions follow the standard multiple-choice format, where you need to choose a single correct answer, others require you to select multiple correct responses or pick a sentence from the passage.

Further elaboration on these question types is provided later, and it is crucial to familiarize yourself with their nuances.

General Advice: Reading passages span various disciplines and sources so that you might encounter unfamiliar material. Do not let this discourage you. All questions can be answered based on the information given in the passage, without relying on external knowledge. If you do encounter a particularly challenging or unfamiliar passage, it might be beneficial to tackle it last.

Reading Comprehension Multiple-Choice Questions: Select One Answer Choice

Description: These traditional multiple-choice questions present you with five answer options, out of which you must select one.

Tips for Answering:

  • Ensure that you read through all answer choices before settling on your selection. This holds even if you believe you’ve discerned the answer prematurely.
  • Be cautious of answer choices that might be only partially correct or that address only a part of the question. The right answer is the one that most precisely and comprehensively responds to the posed question.
  • Avoid selecting an answer choice solely based on its veracity. The correctness of an answer in the context of the question is more crucial.
  • Contextual understanding is key. If the question is about the meaning of a word as used in the passage, make sure your chosen answer correctly reflects the word’s usage within that specific passage. Remember, many words can have vastly different meanings in different contexts.

Reading Comprehension Multiple-Choice Questions: Select One or More Answer Choices


  • These questions provide three answer options and instruct you to select all correct choices; the correct answers may include one, two, or all three options.
  • To score points for these questions, all and only the correct answers must be selected; partial correctness does not yield any credit.
  • Unlike traditional multiple-choice questions, these questions are marked with square boxes next to the answer choices instead of circles or ovals.

Tips for Answering:

  • Consider each answer choice individually based on its own merit. Avoid taking other options into account when evaluating a particular choice.
  • Ensure that your answer choices provide an accurate and complete response to the question.
  • Stay alert to answer choices that might only be partially correct or partially address the question. Avoid choosing them.
  • Refrain from selecting an answer choice solely because it is factually correct. It also needs to answer the question in context correctly.
  • Refrain from being alarmed if you believe all three answer choices are correct. These types of questions have three correct answer choices.

Reading Comprehension Questions: Select-in-Passage


  • This type of question requires you to select a sentence within the passage that corresponds to a certain criterion.
  • To answer, click on a sentence that fits the description; clicking on any part of the sentence will highlight it.
  • In lengthier passages, this type of question typically pertains to one or two specified paragraphs, indicated by an arrow. Clicking on a sentence outside these marked paragraphs will not result in highlighting it.
  • Due to its reliance on computer interaction, please note that this question type does not appear in paper-based tests. Instead, similar multiple-choice questions are used.

Tips for Answering:

  • Carefully evaluate each relevant sentence in the passage separately before selecting your answer.
  • Avoid considering sentences that lie outside the specified paragraphs.
  • Do not select a sentence if the description provided in the question only partially applies to it. An accurate answer choice should fully align with the description in the question.
  • Keep in mind that the description provided may not encapsulate all aspects of the sentence. It is acceptable if some aspects of the sentence are not covered by the question’s description as long as the chosen sentence accurately meets the given criteria.

Text Completion Questions


  • Skilled readers do more than assimilate information on a page. They constantly interpret, evaluate, and reason from the material they have read so far, forming a comprehensive picture and revising it as they progress.
  • Text Completion questions assess this ability by removing key words from short passages and prompting the test taker to use the residual information in the passage to choose words or brief phrases to fill in the gaps, thus forming a coherent and meaningful whole.

Question Structure:

  • The passage consists of one to five sentences.
  • There are one to three blanks that need to be filled.
  • Each blank provides three answer choices (five choices are given in the case of a single blank).
  • The answer choices for each blank function independently. This means that choosing an answer for one blank does not influence the choices available for another blank.
  • There is a single correct answer, which includes one choice for each blank. Only partially correct answers receive credit.

Tips for Answering Text Completion Questions:

  • Avoid attempting to consider all possible combinations of answers; this process can be time-consuming and prone to error. Instead, adopt the following strategic approach:
    • Start by reading the entire passage to grasp its overall meaning.
    • Identify essential words or phrases. These can be words that highlight the structure of the passage (such as “although” or “moreover”) or those that are essential to understanding the passage’s content.
    • Formulate your own words for the blanks. Try to fill in the blanks with suitable words or phrases, then look for similar words among the answer choices.
    • Feel free to fill the first blank first. It might be easier to fill in one of the other blanks first. Select an option for that blank, then try to complete another blank. If none of the options for the other blank appear logical, revisit your initial selection.
    • Finally, verify your answers. Once you have chosen an option for each blank, ensure that the completed passage is logically, grammatically, and stylistically coherent.

Sentence Equivalence Questions


  • These questions, similar to Text Completion questions, assess the ability to draw a conclusion about how a passage should be completed based on partial information. However, they emphasize more on the meaning of the completed sentence.
  • Sentence Equivalence questions comprise of a single sentence with one blank, and you are asked to find two choices that not only lead to a complete, coherent sentence but also produce sentences with the same meaning.

Question Structure:

  • Composed of a single sentence with one blank.
  • Offers six answer choices.
  • Requires you to select two of the answer choices. Partially correct answers do not receive any credit.
  • These questions are marked with square boxes beside the answer choices, not circles or ovals.

Tips for Answering Sentence Equivalence Questions:

  • Avoid looking for two words with the same meaning among the answer choices. This can be misleading for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there may be pairs of words in the answer choices that have the same meaning but need to coherently fit into the sentence, making them incorrect. Secondly, the pair of words that make up the correct answer may mean something different. What matters is that the resulting sentences have the same meaning.
  • Start by reading the sentence to get a general understanding of it.
  • Identify significant words or phrases, either because they highlight the structure of the sentence (words like “although” or “moreover”), or because they are crucial for understanding what the sentence is about.
  • Formulate your own words for the blank. Try to fill in the blank with a word that you think fits, then see if two similar words are offered among the answer choices. If you find a word similar to what you expected but need help finding a second one, don’t get stuck on your interpretation. Instead, see if other words among the answer choices could coherently fill the blank.
  • Lastly, double-check your answers. Once you’ve selected your pair of answer choices for the blank, verify that each choice results in a logically, grammatically, and stylistically coherent sentence. Ensure that the two sentences mean the same thing.

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