27 GRE Verbal Practice Questions with Explanations

GRE verbal sample questions by Magoosh

GRE verbal practice is an essential part of your GRE prep! Read on for 27 GRE verbal reasoning practice questions, covering the question formats, types, and difficulty levels you’ll see on test day.

If you want to start right away, use the table below to jump to each practice question. If you’re returning to this post, skip to the important takeaways. And once you feel confident in all the areas, head over to our GRE practice test to test your knowledge!

GRE Verbal Practice Table of Contents

GRE Verbal: What to Expect

There are three types of questions in the GRE verbal reasoning section: Reading Comprehension (RC), Sentence Completion (SC), and Sentence Equivalence (SE).

Magoosh has you covered! Below is a range of GRE verbal practice questions with answers and explanations, covering not just SC, SE, and RC, but also different question types and difficulty levels within those categories.

(NOTE: We’ve provided interactive buttons for you to select your answer as you go through these questions. This way, you can keep track of your answers and check your work. However, please note that there’s no option to submit them! Also, some of these questions are taken directly from Magoosh GRE, offered here in this post for free. These questions include links to their Magoosh GRE question/answer pages, which include video and text explanations.)

About GRE Reading Comprehension

I’m going to let you in on a secret about GRE Reading Comprehension. Within the GRE RC question format, there are two very different question formats: regular Reading Comprehension and Paragraph Arguments.

Reading Comprehension passages are 1-4 paragraphs long and are followed by 2-4 questions. The questions in these format focus on a wide variety of passage content: author attitudes, implied ideas, stated ideas, the meaning or purpose of a given word, phrase, or sentence, and so on.

The other format is the Paragraph Argument. PA passages are always one paragraph long. The paragraphs themselves are relatively short, usually 1/3 to 1/2 the length of one the single regular RC paragraphs mentioned above. The PA question format is all about logic. PAs always put forth an argument and are followed by a single logic-oriented question. The PA questions come in six types:

  • Weaken/Strengthen
  • Evaluate Argument
  • Paradox
  • Assumption
  • Bold-Faced
  • Fill-in-the-Blank

These question types are described in Chris’s blog post “Types of Paragraph Argument Questions on the Revised GRE.”

Alright, let’s get started. Below, we’ll look at two Reading Comprehension passages and question sets followed by four Paragraph Argument questions.

GRE Reading Comprehension Questions by Magoosh

Long GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Passage

In Don Giovanni, what is perhaps Mozart’s best-known opera, there exist two distinct endings, a phenomenon not entirely unknown during the composer’s time, but one that invites the obvious question: Why did Mozart decide to include alternate endings for Don Giovanni when he did not do the same with his other famous operas, Die Zauberflöte and Le Nozze di Figaro. Another question, and one not so obvious, is: Why was Mozart himself uncertain as to which of the two endings to choose, as is evidenced in his correspondence with Lorenzo Da Ponte, the opera’s librettist?

A common answer is to treat both these questions as one: Mozart was uncertain as to which ending to provide, so he wrote both endings. Such a reply ignores an important consideration: Why did Mozart decide to provide these specific endings? Libard provides a reasonable answer: The traditional ending—in the sense that it is the one that was popular during the composer’s day and continues to be so today—is clearly more palatable for audiences. The hero, Don Giovanni, is chided for his libertine ways and then the cast appears in tutti, bellowing a merry chorus as the curtain falls. The audience is left having a light dose of entertainment, which, after all, was the aim of many of the operas of Mozart’s time. Fine, but then what of the tragic ending? Libard—trading the sensible for the pat—offers little more than that such an ending reflects the political climate of the day.

This alternate ending—Don Giovanni is suddenly cast down to Hell, and instead of being redeemed, the hero emerges from the underworld chastened, and the curtain falls—was interpreted by the critics of the day as heavy-handed didacticism. While such a view is not entirely without merit—Mozart ultimately aimed to impart some lesson for his incorrigible Lothario—it still leaves the question unanswered as to why two endings and what exactly did Mozart aim to communicate that could not be housed in a traditional ending.

One answer offered recently by musicologist Gustavo Lucien is that Mozart balked at including a traditional ending, feeling that it was incongruous with the serious tone of most of the opera. Indeed, Don Giovanni falls more under the rubric of opera series than opera buffo, the latter typically featuring light endings in which the entire cast sings in an upbeat, major key. Da Ponte, however, insisted that forthwith casting Don Giovanni to Hell, and offering him scant opportunity for redemption, would likely leave the audience feeling ambivalent. Such an ending would also suggest that the librettist had been unable to think of a tidy resolution. Da Ponte, then, was not so much against a tragic ending as he was an abrupt tragic ending. Perhaps even Mozart was unsure of what to do with Don Giovanni once he was in Hell and may have even been working out a different ending, using the light ending as a stopgap till he achieved such an aim. In that case the fate of Don Giovanni can best be answered by the fact that Mozart—through debts, ill-health, and the composer’s obligation to compose works for his patrons –was unable to return to a work he had tabled.

Question 1

In the context in which it is used, “tabled” most nearly means

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: E) put aside indefinitely

We learn earlier in the paragraph that Mozart had put aside Don Giovanni hoping to come back to it once he had thought of a better ending. Therefore, in this context, ‘table’ means to put aside for later. (E), “put aside indefinitely,” is the answer.

(Want to know why “toiled over” or “considered” aren’t correct answers? Click here to view the FAQs and see a video explanation.)


Question 2

The author of the passage would take exception to all of the following statements regarding Libard’s response to the existence of dual endings to Don Giovanni EXCEPT?

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: A

This is a trickily worded question, which amounts to a double negative. “Take exception” means to disagree with. Because this is an EXCEPT question, the answer is something with which the author would either agree or not clearly disagree.

The author would agree with (A), because Libard offers two explanations regarding the questions posed by the author. The author considers one explanation reasonable, the other lacking. Therefore, the author would agree that Libard’s explanations are not “uniform in their usefulness.”

(Want to know why E is incorrect or what “trading the sensible for the pat” means? Click here to view FAQ and a video explanation.)


Question 3

According to the passage, Mozart’s use of a tragic ending allowed him to accomplish which of the following?

Select ALL answers that apply.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answers: A only

In the third paragraph, the passage says that “Mozart ultimately aimed to impart…” Therefore (A).

The passage says the traditional ending did not fit with the serious tone of the opera, and so Mozart did not use the traditional ( = non-serious) ending. Thus the tragic ending was not typical and not consistent with the conventions of the time. (B) is not correct.

(C) describes the traditional ending, not the tragic ending. (C) is incorrect.

(View and answer this question with video explanation.)


Question 4

Highlight the sentence in the passage that describes an explanation of Mozart’s contemporaries regarding the composer’s objective in choosing a tragic ending.

NOTE: This question can’t be displayed here on the blog because it requires you to scroll through the passage in a sidebar and click sentences in the passage to highlight them. This is also how it works on the real GRE! Click here to access and this question, complete with video explanation.

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Short GRE Reading Comprehension Sample Passage

For much of the 20th century, paleontologists theorized that dinosaurs, like reptiles, were ectothermic, their body temperature regulated externally. These scientists, however, based their conclusions on faulty reasoning, claiming that scaly skin was common to all ectotherms (birds, which are ectothermic, do not have scaly skin) and that the dinosaur’s size could account for ectothermy (some adult dinosaurs weighed as little as ten pounds). Supplanting this theory is an entirely new line of thought: dinosaurs were actually mesothermic, neither warm- nor cold-blooded. By taking this middle ground, some paleontologists maintain that dinosaurs were faster than a similar-sized reptile yet did not require as much food as a similar-sized mammal. To substantiate this theory, paleontologists intend to study how birds, the dinosaur’s closest extant relative, might have at one time been mesothermic.

Question 5

The two parts in parentheses serve to do which of the following?

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: C

Notice the structure of the sentence, “based their conclusions on faulty reasoning, claiming that scaly skin was common to all ectotherms.

The bolded part is the specific claim. Look at part in parentheses and how it relates to the bolded part above:

(birds, which are ectothermic, do not have scaly skin).

This is a clear denial of the boldfaced part. The exact same thing happens with the second claim of scientists:

“…the dinosaur’s size could account for ectothermy.”

Here is the objection (in parentheses) that states the boldfaced part is untrue:

(some adult dinosaurs weighed as little as ten pounds).

This points to answer (C): “Provides a rebuttal to a commonly held view regarding the physical aspects of dinosaurs” — the commonly held view is that dinosaurs are ectotherms simply because they have scaly skin.

(Want to know why A isn’t correct? Click here to view the video explanation.)


Question 6

Which of the following does the passage imply regarding birds?

Select ALL answers that apply.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answers: A, C

The passage mentions that some scientists claimed that all ectotherms have scaly skin, However, birds, which are ectotherms, do not have scaly skin. Therefore, they have certain features that they do not share with other ectotherms, i.e., the lack of scaly skin. Answer: [A].

The passage mentions that dinosaurs require less food than a similar-sized mammal. However, there is no mention about how much food a bird requires. Sure, birds, like dinosaurs, might have been mesothermic, but mesothermy relates to body temperature regulation, not to the amount of food consumed.

The last sentence states that birds “might have at one time been mesothermic.” That is, they might have changed from mesotherms to ectotherms. From the first sentence, we learn that “ectothermic” describes body regulation. Therefore, birds possibly changed the way they regulate body temperate. Answer [C].

(Want to know why A is correct? Click here to view this question’s video explanation.)


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Paragraph Argument Passages

NOTE: By far, the most common GRE Paragraph Argument question types are: Weaken/Strengthen, Evaluate Argument, Paradox, Assumption. Those question types appear below.

Question 7

The Malbec grape, originally grown in France, has become the main varietal in Argentina. This is surprising because most Malbec grown in Argentina is grown at high altitudes, whereas the Malbec grape once was grown at low altitudes. Therefore, Argentinian winegrowers should grow the Malbec grape at low elevations.

Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the conclusion of the argument?

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: D

Answer: Here we have a great reason why the Malbec grape cannot be grown at low altitudes: The phylloxera will destroy the grape.

(Want to know why C is incorrect? Click here to view the answer and explanation.)


Question 8

Downtown Greensborough is a major financial center, in which many citizens either drive or rely on public transportation to get to work. This setup has led up to a spate in the number of pedestrians who have been struck and killed by vehicles. In an effort to curb the number of pedestrian-related fatalities, Greensborough has installed speed reduction signs at the six city intersections in which the highest numbers of fatalities have occurred in the last year. The Greensborough city government predicts that the number of pedestrian fatalities will significantly decrease once the speed reduction signs have been installed.

Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the validity of the conclusion?

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: C

In this case, what the test writers are doing is anticipating a possible weakness in the argument. Essentially, they are defusing a potential objection by showing how that objection is no longer valid. For example, if someone said, “hey your argument has a gap in it because it is only based on six intersections, which isn’t the same as the entire downtown area.” The correct answer, (C), retorts, “Well, most of pedestrian deaths happen at those six intersections.”


Question 9

The Green Peas Grocery Store in the remote wealthy enclave of Luxville charges more than the Green Peas Grocery Store in Oak City charges for the same items. Clearly, on any given item, the Green Peas grocery franchise is taking advantage of its location in Luxville to reap higher profits on that item.

In evaluating the argument, it would be most useful to compare

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: B

What we want to explain are the higher prices, for the same items, in Luxville. The argument takes a firm stand: the Luxville store is just taking advantage of its location. Implicitly, the author is saying: the Luxville store has no valid reason for charging high prices. If there were a valid reason, that would call this entire argument into question.

(B) is the credited answer. If Luxville remote, transportation to that location could be an issue, and if the additional transportation needs adds an extra cost, this would be a valid reason for charging more in the Luxville store. It would call the argument into question.

(Why isn’t D the correct answer? Click here to view and answer this question with video explanation.)


Question 10

Linguist: Each language has a word that captures a concept or emotional state in a way that no other language does. To capture such a breadth of expression, an artificial language should be created that contains words corresponding to all the different concepts and emotional states captured by the world’s languages. That is not to say that such a language would contain as many words as there are in all the world’s languages. Rather, only for those words that have no corresponding word in another language. While such a plan is hugely ambitious, the resulting language would be more thorough than any existing language.

The conclusion drawn above depends on which of the following assumptions?

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: E

The conclusion assumes that thoroughness, as it relates towards a language, can be defined as encompassing “the range of concepts and emotional states…” That is, there is nothing else that accounts for a language’s thoroughness. This leads us to (E).

(A) contrasts existing and extinct languages. Not relevant.

(B) does not relate to the discussion. On the surface, it looks like it may weaken the point but it does not do so. Even if it did, we are dealing with an assumption.

(C) is a general fact that is irrelevant.

(D) sounds like it weakens the argument, if anything.

(View and answer this question with video explanation.)


Question 11

In a certain state, over 80% of the land is made up of farms, but historically, large farm machinery has not sold well in this state. The percentage of land devoted to farms is not expected to increase. In fact, the number of farms in the state has been slowly declining over the past decade. A new manufacturer of large farm equipment is building a factory in the middle of this state, and the manufacturer’s plans for success depend on strong in-state sales of its product. Both the manufacturer and the industry analysts expect this manufacturer to be quite successful over the next few years

Which of the following, if true, most helps to provide a justification for the manufacturer’s and the industry analysts’ optimistic expectations?

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: A

The argument is presented in such a way that it looks like a really bad idea to buy large farm machinery. Yet analysts are expecting profits from large farm machinery.

(A) provides the justification. Notice it says that the percent of land left to farms will not increase. However, if all the small farms are being combined into large farms, then there will be a need for large machinery.

(B) is wrong because the focus of the argument is on large machinery, not the railroad industry.

(C) does not work since food imports do not relate to large farm machinery, or, for that matter, the argument itself.

(D) doesn’t answer the fundamental question: How can investors expect to profit from large farm machinery?

(E) is irrelevant. The type of crops grown is not an issue.

(View and answer this question with video explanation.)

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About GRE Sentence Completion Questions

Sentence Completion questions on the GRE involve reading a prompt that is usually one sentence long, but can be 2-3 sentences long. Each prompt will have either 1, 2, or 3 blanks that need to be completed with the words or phrases in the answer choices. Single-blank Sentence Completion prompts have 5 answer choices per blank. SC prompts with 2 or 3 blanks have three answer choices for each blank.

You’ll often deal with “turn sentences” in SC questions. In turn sentences, a certain word will signal that the ideas in the first part of the prompt and a later part of the prompt will are being contrasted. (Think of this in terms of contrast words like “although,” “however,” etc….) When a turn is in play in GRE verbal SC, a word in at least one of the blanks will have a meaning or connotation that is the opposite of keywords in another part of the sentence.

If my brief description of “turn” above still seems a little confusing, don’t worry—turn can be tricky at first, but this concept can be mastered. For extra help, check out Magoosh’s blog post “Turn Words and Phrases on the GRE.” You may want to give that blog post at least a quick scan before you continue, as some of the Sentence Completion questions below contain turn sentences.

One last piece of advice before you jump in: the complexity of Sentence Completion sentences varies a lot, depending on the difficulty level. So the practice questions below cover each of the major difficulty levels needed for good GRE verbal practice: easy, medium, hard, and very hard.

GRE Sentence Completion Questions by Magoosh

Single Blank Text Sentence Completion Questions

Question 12

The travel writer’s ______________ towards others he met on his cross-country trip most likely endeared him only to those readers with a misanthropic bent.

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: C) cynicism

The keywords are “endeared…misanthropic bent.” Misanthropic readers are those who have a general ill-will towards humanity. Therefore, the travel writer must be expressing some negative attitude. (C), “cynicism,” means interpreting others behavior as solely motivated by self-interest. A misanthropic person is prone to looking cynically upon the actions of others.

(A) “diffidence”, which means modesty or shyness resulting from a lack of self-confidence, does not fit the context.

(B) “humility” would not endear the writer to misanthropes.

(D) “garrulity” means talkativeness.

(E) “obsequiousness” means excessively fawning.

(Click here view this answer and video explanation.)


Question 13

Unlike the performances of her youth, in which she seamlessly inhabited a role, the performances of her later years were ____________, as though she were calling out to audiences, “look how convincingly I can portray my character.”

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: E) contrived

The contrast is between “seamlessly inhabited” and the blank. The quotation further underscores the point that the actress’s performances were not at all natural. In this sense (E), “contrived,” works best.

(Why doesn’t D work? Click here to view this answer with video explanation.)


Question 14

With characteristic ____________, H.L. Mencken skewered the sacred cows of his time, criticizing social trends and government institutions with equal asperity.

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: C) vitriol

The answer is C, vitriol, and the clue here is criticizing. Sure, it helps to know what sacred cows (they are cherished beliefs) and asperity (bitterness) are, but you should still be able to come up with your own word based on criticizing. My word is criticizing-ness. I know – it is not an actual word. But, that’s the whole point – you only have to get the meaning of the blank – and the meaning of criticizing-ness is clear.

Now, let’s go through the answer choices. Hauteur may be unfamiliar to you, but you should notice it comes from the word “haughty”, which means arrogant (this is a very common GRE word, and is, in fact, used to define more difficult GRE words, such as supercilious). Arrogance isn’t quite criticizing-ness.

Next we have (B), but playfulness clearly doesn’t work. Then, we have (C) vitriol, the most difficult word of the bunch, and the GRE knows this. In fact, they are offering answer choices that kind of fit the clue, like hauteur, but not really. (D) civility is not one of these words, but (E) dash is. If you do something with dash, you do it with flair. Couldn’t you criticize something with flair? Sure. The only problem is, there is no clue – that is word or phrase – that supports dash.

Of course, knowing asperity helps. Asperity, meaning bitterness, matches up perfectly with vitriol, which means bitter criticism.

Even had you not known this, successfully eliminating three of the five answers gives you a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly. Plugging in the answer choices into the blanks, on the other hand, does not increase your odds.


Question 15

An element of _________ on the part of the audience is interwoven into the multi-era saga, for two actors portraying the same character at different phases of life are distinguishable enough that the audience is able to discern differences for which the mere passing of years cannot account.

Select the answer.

Click here for the answer and explanation

Answer: C) disbelief

The key to unraveling this tough question is to break up the sentence into digestible parts, simplifying along the way:

“An element of _______ on the part of the audience…saga” = The is an inherent quality of the multi-era saga

“Two actors…difference” = the audience can tell how two actors playing the same character differ physically

“passing years…account” = these differences are greater than those that naturally happen when a person ages

Therefore, an inherent part of watching the multi-era saga is an element of disbelief, since the audience knows that the same character is actually played by two different people.

(Why doesn’t A work? Click here to view this answer with video explanation.)


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Double Blank Text Completion Questions

Question 16

The gossip columnist’s ____________ was ____________ the number of her published columns–the more articles she wrote, the more untruths she spread.

Select the answer for BLANK i.

Select the answer for BLANK ii.

Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: A) calumny
  • ii: D) commensurate with
  • Explanation:
    ’The more untruths…’ matches up with (A) calumny, or slander. (D) commensurate describes the relationship between two things, in which when one increases the other increases, or when one decreases the other decreases. ‘In proportion to’ is another way of saying ‘commensurate with.’

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 17

    Were scientific advancement simply a question of the mere accumulation of facts then we have made (1) ____________ progress over the last two centuries; however, it is not sheer data alone but rather a scientist’s ability to interpret this information that accounts for the (2) ____________ breakthroughs of the last couple hundred years.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: C) evident
  • ii: E) momentous
  • Explanation:
    For the first blank, you probably know the definition to (B) scant and (C) evident. Do not be thrown off by (A) inimitable. For now discount it. Only if neither (B) nor (C) works should you return to (A).

    Let’s assume that science has made scant progress (little progress). If that were the case, what word would fit in the second blank? You may be tempted to say ‘big’ because of the word ‘however,’ which reverses the direction of the sentence. However, the keywords, it is not sheer data alone, show that accumulated facts and scientist’s ability together create a certain type of breakthrough. Thus the two blanks are similar.

    But does it make sense to assume that we have made little progress, and small breakthroughs? Notice keywords such as scientist’s ability to interpret. Clearly there is a positive connotation. That is scientists have helped science progress through their ability to interpret, not just to collect facts.

    Plugging in (C) evident and (E) momentous we can see the sentence makes sense: if facts alone counted for progress then we have made obvious progress. However, momentous breakthroughs require not just facts but scientists’ ability to interpret information.

    It is important to note that you should not automatically assume that the second blank is momentous. True, this is a reasonable assumption, as most would agree that science has come a long way since Darwin set sail on the Beagle. For the Text Completion, however, you must base your answer solely on the information in the Text Completion. Oftentimes, your “reasonable” assumption may backfire. That is there will be specific words in the sentence that go against your assumption. So remember—the answer to any blank will always be in the sentence.


    Question 18

    In (i) ________ what they see as a culture so dominated by technology as to be rendered incapable of sustained introspection, the authors cast generalizations so wide that all but the hardiest Luddites will remain (ii) ________.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: A) bemoaning
  • ii: E) unconvinced
  • Explanation:
    “Cast generalizations…” indicates that the book is unconvincing. Luddites are those who reflexively decry technology. They are the only ones who will be convinced by the authors’ over generalizations. “All but” means “except”. Therefore, all those except the Luddites will remain (E) unconvinced.

    For the first blank, it would be odd to use (B) glorifying to describe how the authors would feel about a society incapable of sustained introspection. (A) bemoaning means speaking out against.

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 19

    The term “rocket scientist,” as used to denote somebody of great erudition, is (i) ________ given that the last few decades has seen a flowering of vocations just as worthy of (ii) _________, and far more topical.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: C) anachronistic
  • ii: E) identification with such individuals
  • Explanation:
    “Far more topical” indicates that we are dealing with the element of time/relevance. “The last few decades” also brings out the contrast between the old–the term rocket scientist–and vocations today. Answer: (C), “anachronistic.”

    The second blank is a little trickier because “this exalted term” is a strong distractor. However, it is highly intelligent individuals, not the vocations themselves, that are described as “rocket scientists”. The point of the sentence is that other, more current occupations should be used to describe highly intelligent individuals. (E), “identification with…” works best.

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


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    Triple Blank Text Completion Questions

    Question 20

    That we can, from a piece of art, (i) ____________ the unconscious urges of the artist—urges that remain hidden even from the artist himself—will remain a(n) (ii)______________ issue, as it is one (iii) ___________ empirical analysis: we can never definitively know what is submerged deep inside the artist’s psyche, let alone reconcile any such revelations with the artist’s work.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Select the answer for BLANK iii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: A) derive
  • ii: E) intractable
  • iii: H) not readily amenable
  • Explanation:
    The very last part of the sentence tells us that we can’t figure out an artist’s “unconscious urges” by analyzing his or her artwork. Therefore, (A) derive works best. When you derive something, you figure it out. (B) appreciate doesn’t really capture the sense of “figuring out/discovering”, which ties back to the clue “never definitively know”. The problem is that we have this clue: “urges that remain hidden even from the artist himself”. The word “appreciate” means “to be aware of/to recognize the quality of.” It doesn’t really fit to say that someone could “appreciate” a part of a piece of artwork that the artist himself didn’t know about. Rather, we want a word that means “extract”. The sentence is talking about people finding something hidden in a piece of art. “Appreciate” doesn’t have this connotation of “extracting” the hidden meaning.

    At this point, we can figure out that deriving unconscious urges is a thorny problem. (E) intractable, which means difficult to deal with, matches this meaning nicely.

    Finally, “empirical analysis” deals with testing observable, measurable phenomenon. The sentence tells us that we “never definitively know what is submerged deep inside the artist’s psyche.” How can we empirically analyze something we don’t know? In order to do an empirical analysis, we need quantifiable data. If we can’t definitely know something, we can’t have any data on it. Thus, the issue is (H) “not readily amenable to” empirical analysis, meaning it cannot be easily tested. We can’t choose (G) “easily subjected to,” which would mean the opposite: that we can indeed study and even solve the question by empirical analysis. And if we put (I) “likely to be resolved by” in the blank, we’d be saying the opposite of what we want – we’d be saying that this issue can be solved by empirical analysis, which is the opposite of what the correct answer choice says (not readily amenable to).

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 21

    That the comedian was so (i) ____________ as to be unable to (ii) ____________ the effect she had on others was not lost on her audience, who quickly stood up to leave, hoping their action would at least (iii) ____________.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Select the answer for BLANK iii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: B) oblivious
  • ii: D) discern
  • iii: H) send an unambiguous message
  • Explanation:
    To take apart this text completion, you should try to put in your own words what is happening. The audience has walked out on the comedian, who was not able to notice the effect she was having. Notice is my own word for the second blank. The word that is the closest is (D) discern.

    The first blank should be the opposite because she was “so _____ as to be unable to notice the effect.” Oblivious (B) is a good opposite.

    As for the third blank, the crowd is aware that the comedian is very oblivious, and so they hope that they can finally do something so she will take notice (they choose, in this case, to walk out). They hope that “their action would send a clear message”. The answer that best matches up for the third blank is (H), “send an unambiguous message.”

    To make sure that all the pieces ‘fall into place’, try plugging in those answers to see if they make sense. This final step will help you make sure that the sentence has coherent meaning. In this case (B), (D), and (H), the answers, make sense.

    If you chose a different answer, say (A), (E), and (G), try plugging them into and reading the sentence. Does that make sense? If you say kind of, which is often the case with wrong answers (they kind of work), try to see if there is a different interpretation. In this case, that interpretation is the one above.


    Question 22

    James Maxwell once remarked that the best scientists are the (i) ____________ ones; not hemmed in by the (ii) ____________ of their respective fields, they are able to approach problems with a(n) (iii) ____________ mind, so to speak.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Select the answer for BLANK iii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: C) ignorant
  • ii: E) preconceptions
  • iii: I) empty
  • Explanation:
    Here it may be tempting to read the sentence and plug in (A), “adaptable”,” or (B), “revolutionary”. Both answers make sense. In fact, you could construct a legitimate sentence using (A) and (D) myopia/(E) preconceptions or (B) and (D)/(E). However, how would you create a coherent sentence with the third blank?

    Neither fertile nor rational are really backed up by clues in the passage. Not being limited by their field’s way of thinking doesn’t quite imply a fertile mind. More likely, having a mind that is not stuck in a certain way of thinking would be one that is empty. You may argue that empty mind is too negative, but notice the words ‘so to speak.’ This is a phrase that translates to “metaphorically.”

    Completing the third blank with ‘empty’ allows us to work back through the first two blanks. We want scientists with an empty mind, thus (C) ignorant works best in the first blank. From there, we can see that E is good for the second blank, since preconceptions are ideas, and if a mind is not hemmed in by preconceptions, it means it contains no limiting ideas… and a mind that doesn’t have ideas could also be described as empty.

    To be ignorant of what is going on in a specific field is not to be hemmed in by the preconceptions. Scientists are free to approach a problem on their own terms, learning as they go.


    Question 23

    Heinrich Feyermahn, in insisting that Galileo did not fully uphold the tenets of scientific rationalism, does not ____________ the Italian astronomer, but rather the very edifice of Western thought. For if Galileo is the purported exemplar of rational thinking, and yet is ____________, then the history of science cannot be understood as an endless succession of scientists carrying out their work free of all-too-human biases. Thus, Feyermahn admonishes, in faithfully chronicling the sweep of science in the last 300 years, historiographers would be ____________ not to include the human foibles that were part of even the most ostensibly Apollonian endeavors.

    Select the answer for BLANK i.

    Select the answer for BLANK ii.

    Select the answer for BLANK iii.

    Click here for the answer and explanation


  • i: A) exclusively implicate
  • ii: D) found wanting
  • iii: H) remiss
  • Explanation:
    Feyermahn finds fault with Galileo for not being completely rational, but he doesn’t place all of the blame only on Galileo. Rather, his contention is that all of scientific thought is built on human endeavor, which is susceptible to biases and therefore not entirely rational. For the first blank we want words showing that Feyermahn is not criticizing only Galileo. A), ‘Exclusively implicate’ works best.

    The second sentence implies that Galileo is not perfectly rational, and thus D), ‘found wanting’, which means lacking, works best. F, ‘dismissed as inconsequential’ is too extreme. The sentence is only implying that Galileo came up short. The third sentence moves to modern chroniclers of science, who Feyermahn urges to be aware of the human weaknesses of scientists. Those writers of science who choose not to would be remiss, or negligent. I, ‘contrarian’ implies a conscious obduracy that is not supported by the context.

    FAQ: Why is “partially repudiate” incorrect?

    A: “Repudiate” means roughly to go against or to deny the truth or validity of something. So repudiate does kind of fit, but the word that throws everything off is the word “partially.”

    Feyermahn’s criticism of Galileo’s scientific rationalism brings into question the entire foundation and history of western scientific thought:

    “does not ____________ the Italian astronomer, but rather the very edifice of Western thought.”

    That is a pretty big thing- it’s basically everything!

    “Partially” means only a part, not the whole. For example, if you only write the introduction for your GRE essays but not the body or conclusion, you only did a part of the work. You did not do all of the work. Thus, you “partially” did the essay.

    To say that Feyermahn “partially repudiated” Galileo would be to say he only questioned or denied part of Galileo. But we know from the rest of the passage that he called into question both Galileo’s entire body of scientific work and the entire historical view of western science. So partially repudiated just doesn’t fit the blank.

    (What does “ostensibly Apollonian” mean? Click here to view and answer this question with video explanation.)

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    About Sentence Equivalence Questions

    At long last, we arrive at GRE Sentence Equivalence questions, our third important category of GRE verbal practice. Like Text Completion questions, GRE Sentence Equivalence questions sometimes include turn words–words that indicate a change in meaning or connotation so that the words in one half of a sentence are in some way opposite to the words in the other half of the sentence. Again, as I mentioned in the instructions for TC, read Chris Lele’s tutorial on turn words and sentences, and watch for turn in the questions below.

    But before you get started, let’s talk a little about the things that make Sentence Equivalence different from Text Completion. For one thing, Sentence Equivalence questions are always short, single-blank prompts. In addition, when you fill in the blank, you select two different words that could both go in the blank. These two different words will be selectd form 6 answer choices. But don’t just choose nay two words that could logically complete the sentence. Instead, make sure you choose the two words that will complete the sentence and give the sentence the same meaning, no matter which word you use.

    Often, this means choosing the two words that have the same definition. However, sometimes two words can have slightly different meanings, but still fill in the blank to create two sentences with the same meaning. To give a simple exmaple of this (simpler than you’d actually see on the GRE), you can say “The mouse ran away and the cat followed it” or “The mouse ran away and the cat chased it.” “Followed” and “chased” don’t have the exact same meaning, and they can even have completely different meanings in other sentences. But in “The mouse ran away and the cat __________ it,” those two slightly different words can fill the blank to make equivalent sentences.

    Finally, I’m going to give you one more inside GRE verbal practice tip that is not directly mentioned in the official GRE guide: every Sentence Equivalence question in GRE verbal has the same pattern of answer choices. In the 6 choices, there will always be two words that are equivalent but incorrect, two words that have different meanings form each other and the other words and are thus incorrect, and two correct equivalent words. Often, it can be helpful to try to eliminate the non-simile pair and incorrect similes first.

    GRE Sentence Equivalence Questions by Magoosh

    Question 24

    Water experts predict that unless the coming year’s rainfall will be significantly above average, the city’s denizens, regardless of any protestations, will have to _____ their water usage.

    Select exactly two answer choices that best complete the sentence and produce sentences that are alike in meaning.

    Click here for the answer and explanation

    Answers: A (curtail), F (limit)

    The sentence makes clear that rain is not likely. The denizens, or inhabitants, therefore have to reduce or limit their water usage. As curtail means “to limit,” both (A) curtail and (F) limit are correct.

    (B) intensify is the opposite

    (C) administer does not make sense

    (D) denote means to make or indicated

    (E) disseminate means to spread or scatter

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 25

    As the job fair neared to an end, the recent college graduate became ever more ______, desperately trying to befriend prospective employers he had earlier not even deigned to give so much as a cursory glance.

    Select exactly two answer choices that best complete the sentence and produce sentences that are alike in meaning.

    Click here for the answer and explanation

    Answers: A (ingratiating), B (fawning)

    …’trying to befriend…’, ‘not even deigned’ shows a turn from an aloof condescension to a desperate need to make friends/come across as likeable (A) ingratiating works here because it means trying desperately to win the affection of others. (B) fawning, while slightly different from ingratiating, captures the college graduate’s attempts to win the affection of others through excessive flattery.

    (C) withdrawn is the opposite of the blank

    (D) volatile means prone to changing one’s mood suddenly and unpredictably

    (E) vociferous means outspokenness

    (F) direct doesn’t capture the college graduate’s sense of desperateness to seem likeable

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 26

    The heckler, hiding amongst the amorphous crowd, is the epitome of _______–as soon as he has been identified, he goes scuttling off, head down, grumbling to himself.

    Select exactly two answer choices that best complete the sentence and produce sentences that are alike in meaning.

    Click here for the answer and explanation

    Answers: E (cravenness), F (spinelessness)

    ‘…amongst the amorphous…’ shows that when the heckler cannot be identified he hurls aggressive, inflammatory comments. As soon as he is identified, he sneaks away, ‘head down…’ These clues indicate a cowardliness about the heckler. (E) cravenness is cowardliness and (F) spinelessness connotes the same lack of courage as cravenness

    (A) stealthiness is an attractive answer choice, especially with the first half of the sentence. It does not, however, capture the overall meaning of the sentence. Also, there is no similar word.

    (B) outspokenness, another attractive answer choice, ignores the contrast between before the heckler is identified and after he is identified.

    (C) shyness does not fit the context.

    (D) aloofness means standing apart. A heckler embroils himself in possible conflict and is not aloof.

    (View and answer this question with video explanation.)


    Question 27

    The travel writer must invite ______________ ; few, if any travelogues, have ever been inspired by a languorous afternoon poolside.

    Select exactly two answer choices that best complete the sentence and produce sentences that are alike in meaning.

    Click here for the answer and explanation

    Answers: A (travail), B (tribulations)

    The second part of the sentence states that travelogues do not result from relaxing travel. Therefore, the first blank indicates a word that is opposite of relaxing. (A) and (B) both imply difficulty and challenge.

    (Why don’t C or D work? Click here to view and answer this question with video explanation.)


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    GRE Verbal Takeaway by Magoosh

    GRE Verbal Practice: The Takeaway

    The questions in this post are a great cross-section of the formats, types, and subtypes of GRE verbal prompts you might see on test day. Bear in mind, of course, that the “cross section” mix above doesn’t lineup perfectly with the proportion of each question type on the real GRE. To get a sense for the real mix of questions, see Magoosh’s GRE verbal section question type breakdown.

    Make sure you get truly acquainted with the question types you’ve practiced. Again, Magoosh can help. We have a detailed description of the subtypes of Reading Comprehension. In our complete guide to GRE Reading Comprehension, we tell you all about the different Reading Comprehension passage questions, as well as the different types of Reading Comprehension Paragraph Arguments. And we have similar complete guides for GRE Text Completion and GRE Sentence Equivalence.

    As you get into GRE Verbal section practice, these tips can guide you in what to do (and what not to do!) when taking practice tests:

    And of course, it’s also good to know exactly how GRE verbal fits into the test as a whole. For that, check out our “Everything you need to know” guide to the GRE and take an official ETS practice test. If you’d like additional guidance in your GRE prep, we recommend reviewing our GRE study plans and guides. Those study plans can be used in two ways: you can use them as examples for a different, personal study plan you make for yourself, or you can follow our study plans exactly. To follow our study plans to the letter, of course, you’ll need a Magoosh GRE Premium subscription. To see if Magoosh might be a good GRE Prep “study buddy” for you, you can always try the Magoosh GRE 1-week free trial.

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    • David Recine

      David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

    12 Responses to 27 GRE Verbal Practice Questions with Explanations

    1. Sudqi May 25, 2021 at 3:37 pm #

      Thank you

    2. Eric November 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm #

      I found #22 to be quite confusing. I came up with the responses “adaptable”, “inertia” and “fertile”. “Adaptable” meaning one is not stuck in place, ie suffering from inertia, and therefore has a mind capable of growth and producing new things, therefore being fertile. I can follow the connection between ignorance and a lack of preconceived notions, however having an empty head conjures purely negative images for me, that of being foolish or stupid, (marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : STUPID, INANE, according to Merriam Webster), not of approaching something with an open mind or with a clean slate, which I think are much clearer metaphors. I don’t think #27’s C and D are invalid options either. “Scandal” and “excitement” often go hand-in-hand and make perfect sense to me in the context and serve as a different sort of foil to the “languorous afternoon poolside.” In my mind.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 7, 2019 at 2:28 pm #

        Hi Eric 🙂 Yes, this is definitely a tricky one. The point is that this statement is counter-intuitive. I agree that adaptable is a tempting answer, but it doesn’t really fit with the other blanks. Do adaptable scientists have fertile minds? Or rational minds? Those don’t really fit. Sure they’re generally positive, but there isn’t much more of a relationship there. Compare that with the pairing of ignorant and empty. If the best scientists are ignorant, not hemmed in by the myopia (short-sightedness) of their fields, then they are better. They can approach problems with an empty mind. Granted, if we were editing this sentence in a writing class, we might say that scientists who come to a problem without bias have clear minds. This is a much better phrasing because it doesn’t use such negative language. However, the GRE loves to use surprising words to throw us off. Frequently the Text Completion sentences don’t have strong writing! The same is true for 27. Scandal and excitement are tempting because they’re more familiar words. They’re not really synonyms though. Scandal is almost certainly bad and excitement is good. Travail and tribulations might not be words we associate with travel, but they both describe challenges. That fits perfectly. Just remember that these sentences are a word-meaning game rather than well-written sentences. I know that sounds obvious, but it is the source of a lot of confusion on the Verbal section!

        • Seth August 16, 2020 at 6:48 pm #

          The Magoosh Test Prep Expert’s explanation of question #22 above suggests that “myopia,” not “preconceptions,” is one of the correct answer choices. I chose myopia as well, because it specifically denotes lack of insight and limiting of scope. More precise than “preconceptions” in my opinion.

          Quote in question: “Compare that with the pairing of ignorant and empty. If the best scientists are ignorant, not hemmed in by the myopia (short-sightedness) of their fields, then they are better.”

          • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
            Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 2, 2021 at 1:22 pm #

            Hi Seth, yes it looks like we made a mistake in that response! Good catch, thanks for bringing this to our attention. The second blank is a really tough one here, and it comes down to the the contrast between the second and third blank. We have the contrast of myopia/empty or preconception/empty. The issue with myopia is that, when discussing scientific myopia in particular, it denotes that the scientist has thoughts/ideas about the field and what it should be. If a person can’t see beyond their field (short-sightedness), it doesn’t mean that their mind is empty. On the contrary, they have ideas about the field that cause them to hem in their scientific inquiries.

    3. Marla September 4, 2019 at 10:43 pm #

      Why the answer to Q 8 is C? I don’t get it. Shouldn’t it be D because it strengthens the conclusion? Please help me out.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 6, 2019 at 7:16 pm #

        Hi Marla! The conclusion is that the signs will help reduce fatalities. (C) supports this conclusion because it supports the idea that the signs are placed where they will have an impact. The author of the passage says that the signs are in six city intersections where the highest number of fatalities occurred, and (C) confirms this. This makes the argument stronger. (D) says that the signs are orange and prominently placed. Yes, you could make the argument that they are easy to see and they might have a big impact because of their visibility. This is a classic Paragraph Argument trap answer. The connection between the passage and the answer choice is an assumption: orange coloring and prominent placement make for greater visibility and visibility of signs are an important factor in whether a driver obeys a sign or not. We, the test taker, assume this because it makes sense in the real world, but it isn’t stated in the passage, so we can’t use it as evidence. Make sure to restrict your thinking to the world of the passage and not include specific ideas from the regular life. I hope that helps!

    4. Charles Baucom August 8, 2019 at 5:45 pm #

      For Question 22, there seems to be a disconnect between the list of correct answers and the explanation provided. The explanation suggests the correct answers are C, E, and I, but the listed answers are A, E, and I. Thanks!

      P.S. This list of questions is great practice.

      • David Recine
        David Recine August 13, 2019 at 9:51 am #

        Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Charles! You’re right, the actual answers to Q22 are C, E, and I.

    5. Ram Sharma August 7, 2019 at 2:12 am #

      Very Helpful !

    6. Evan July 16, 2019 at 6:51 pm #

      Answer C for question 7 is incorrectly transcribed on this blog post from the original text in the video explanation. There is a big difference between here where it reads “…help the Malbec grape grow” and in the original text where it reads “…help many of Argentina’s varietals flourish.”

      As written on this page, Answer C for question 7 is much more compelling than it was intended to be written.

      • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
        Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 19, 2019 at 3:49 pm #

        Hi Evan,

        Thanks for reaching out to Magoosh and pointing out that issue. I’m going to send this to our content team, because it appears that we either copied this question incorrectly, or changed the question but did not make the edit here.

        You’re right that answer (C) in the blog post is more compelling than the answer (C) in the video explanation because it mentions the grape by name. However, this change does not significantly change the argument for why (C) is incorrect.

        (C) says that the soil at high altitudes is rich in nutrients. But does this really weaken the argument? We don’t know anything about the soil at low elevations–maybe it is as rich, or even richer, in nutrients than the soil at high elevation. (C) gives us a reason why the grapes are grown at high elevations, but it does not provide any information to weaken the conclusion that the grapes should be grown at lower elevations.

        I hope that clears up your doubt a bit 🙂

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