Pop quiz: what’s like a sentence completion but trickier? If you answered GRE text completion, you’d be right. A GRE text completion is similar to a sentence completion, but has a few important differences. For one, there can be multiple sentences in a text completion. In fact, this GRE Verbal question type may sometimes run on for an entire paragraph. That’s because some have as many as three blanks.
The other important difference between a GRE text completion and a GRE sentence completion is in a GRE text completion question, that each blank has only three possible answer choices, but you have to get all three correct in order to get the question correct (that amounts to a 1 in 27 chance in guessing!).
To help you master this question type–and because the odds are against guessing the correct answer!–here are five important strategies you should follow to master GRE text completions on test day:
1. Don’t Dive In
Read the entire stem before you try to answer a GRE text completion. The reason for this strategy is that the first blank is often ambiguous unless you have read the entire paragraph.
2. Break Down the Text Completion
GRE text completions are sometimes a paragraph long, so it is easy to get lost in them. A great strategy is trying to understand the big picture. Breaking down the paragraph in your own words (paraphrasing the paragraph) will help you get a grasp on what the sentences are talking about. Then you’re ready for step #3.
3. Use Your Own Words
Here, we’re on familiar footing. Much like the sentence completions and the sentence equivalence questions, put your own word(s) in the blank or blanks you see on the GRE text completion. To do so, you must always justify your answers not just on the context, but some of the specific words or phrases in the sentence itself. I’ve commonly referred to these word(s) as the clue.
4. The Second (or Third) Blank First
Because the first blank is difficult to deal with, first try finding a word for the second or third blank in the text completion. Then, work your way backwards to the first blank. The caveat: this technique only applies if you can come up with a word for the second or third blank. If you can’t, then work with the first blank.
5. Use the Entire Text Completion as Context
When you’ve finally chosen your two/three answers, plug them back into the blanks. Does the completed sentence make sense with your earlier paraphrase? If so, congratulations! You’ve solved your GRE text completion!
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