Many know that the GRE is about to change. In a previous post, I gave a high-level account of the changes we can expect to see on the new GRE.
Today, I’ll focus on a specific component—Sentence Completions.
First, let’s talk about how Sentence Completions are not changing. You will have a sentence with one blank followed by five answer choices.
On the new GRE, however, the one-blank sentence completion is rare. You are more likely to see dual-blanks and even triple-blank sentences.
You may be thinking to yourself that the GRE already has dual-blank sentences, and has had them for years. Sure, but now they are followed by three possible answer choices for each blank. Therefore to correctly answer the sentence you have to get both blanks right. If you are randomly guessing that is a 1 in 9 chance, vs. a 1 in 5 chance.
As you can guess, the same applies to the three-blank sentence completions. To receive credit for the question—there is no partial credit—you’ll have to answer all three blanks correctly, a 1 in 27 chance were you just guessing.
That said, the general strategy should not change too much. Let’s look below.
1. Read the Sentence(s)
2. Look for the Signpost
3. Come up with own Words
4. Note Subtle Shades in Meaning
1. Reading the sentence may seem obvious but note the (s) after sentence. Especially on the triple-blanks you will have to read multiple sentences, sometimes even a mini-paragraph to answer the question. Really speaking you will be doing paragraph completions (sentences completions just don’t have a catchy ring to it.)
So remember, read the entire paragraph to get the whole meaning before proceeding to the next step.
2. The signpost step is identical to dealing with sentence completions on the current GRE.
3. The same holds true for coming up with your own words.
4. This step differs from the current GRE. Consider the dual-blanks presently. Sometimes an answer choice has the perfect word that could fit into the first blank. That doesn’t make the answer choice correct. The second word could very well not work, invalidating the entire answer. The correct answer choice will include two words that work well, albeit not quite as well as the one word.
With the new GRE you must choose the best answer for each blank, the word that is mostly closely refers to the signpost. This approach is actually no different from the current single-blank sentence completions. In a way, we can think of it like this—the new GRE will only have single-blank sentence completions, but they will be bundled together in a paragraph.
(Semantics aside, I will still refer to two blank sentences as dual-blanks and three blank sentences/paragraphs as triple-blanks.)
Stay tuned for some practice sentence completions that will help us practice the strategies above.