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GRE Verbal

GRE Verbal Reasoning

The GRE Verbal Reasoning measure is an incredibly challenging test of English grammar, reading comprehension, critical reading, and – most difficult of all – vocabulary! So how do you study for such an intense exam? To start, you’ll need to understand the format of the GRE Verbal section, know the question types you’ll see on test day, and get lots of GRE Verbal practice.

GRE verbal reasoning

GRE Verbal Reasoning Basics

The GRE Verbal Reasoning section doesn’t actually have a spoken verbal component. You’ll be reading passages, analyzing grammatical relationships, and answering multiple choice questions. ETS.org explains the GRE Verbal test thusly:

GRE Verbal
When preparing for this section, divide your GRE Verbal practice into three sections based on the main question types:

    1. Reading Comprehension
    2. Text Completion
    3. Sentence Equivalence

1. Reading Comprehension

This section of the GRE exam aims to test your ability to perform the type of active reading and analysis that you’ll be required to do in graduate school. You’ll have to recognize challenging vocabulary and understand the grammatical elements at work in each text in order to fully comprehend the meaning of each passage.

Reading comprehension questions are based on GRE passages that are one or more paragraphs long. The GRE Verbal Reasoning test contains about 10 passages in total, most of which are short (only one paragraph long). These passages are drawn from various sources: physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, business, arts, humanities, etc. Some are academic and some are nonacademic. You never know what you’re going to get.

Rather than passively reading each passage, you’ll be required to engage with the writing – asking questions, formulating and contradicting your own hypotheses, and understanding the relationships between passages. About half of the reading comprehension questions will be based on the passages provided.

Though all reading comprehension questions are multiple choice, some will require you to select multiple correct answers, rather than just one answer. So, yeah – that provides an added challenge!

2. Text Completion

You know how your brain can read scrambled words (within reason) as long as the first and last letters are correct? (Ex: If You Can Raed Tihs, You Msut Be Raelly Smrat) Well, if you’re a very strong and analytical reader, you do a similar thing as you read long passages. As you read, you are constantly interpreting and reinterpreting the information based on the new information that’s presented farther down the passage. The GRE’s Text Completion questions test your ability to re-evaluate passages. They do so by omitting key information from a sentence and asking you to use the rest of the passage to fill in the blank.

Here’s how these questions go. You’ll get a passage that’s 1-5 sentences long, with 1-3 blanks. You’ll get three answer choices for each blank (or 5 if it’s a single blank passage) and will have to choose the one correct answer to fill in the blank.

The key here is to make sure that your answer choices make the passage coherent. The other trick? Have an excellent vocabulary and knowledge of grammar!

3. Sentence Equivalence

Did I just mention that vocabulary is important? Because this is where it becomes vital. The Sentence Equivalence questions that you’ll see on the GRE are similar to the Text Completion questions, in that you will be required to fill in a blank. However, the structure of these questions is a bit different.

Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with a single blank and six answer choices. Your task is to select the two answer choices that could complete the sentence coherently. The two right answers may not mean the same thing. This section is like a puzzle that requires a lot of practice.

GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice

Just learning about the GRE Verbal Reasoning section’s three question types should have made it clear to you that this section will require a lot of preparation.

If you’re looking for a great place to start your GRE Verbal practice, you can get an overview of GRE Verbal Reasoning with our Ultimate GRE Guide: Verbal Reasoning.

This Ultimate Guide will help you get a feel for the structure and nuance of the Verbal Section. You’ll learn how many sub-sections you’ll be facing, what types of questions you’ll be asked (in more detail than above), and how long you have to answer each one. You’ll also get an overview of GRE-specific strategies to help you decode the each part of the exam.

GRE Analytical Writing

The other non-mathematical section of the GRE is the Analytical Writing test. This section tests your critical thinking and – surprise, surprise – analytical writing abilities. If you hate multiple choice questions and would rather type out your thoughts, then this is the section for you. It’s typed, it’s timed, and it comes in two parts.

GRE Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing test consists of two 30-minute timed writing tasks:

    1. The “Analyze an Issue” task
    2. The “Analyze an Argument” task

1. Analyze an Issue

For this task, you will be presented with an opinion on an issue as well as specific instructions on how to respond to the issue. You’ll be required to evaluate the issue and develop a complex argument with examples to support your views.

2. Analyze an Argument

This task asks you to evaluate an argument according to specific instructions. You’ll have to write about the logical soundness of the given argument, rather than agree or disagree with the position taken.

GRE Verbal Practice & Other Resources

For more details about the GRE Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing tests (and lots of vocabulary help), check out the following links from the Magoosh GRE Blog. They’re organized by category to make searching a breeze.

GRE Verbal Practice

Reading Comprehension Strategies


Text Completion
Sentence Equivalence
Vocabulary

Writing

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