offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh GRE Prep.

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. 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


Magoosh students score 12 points better than average on the GRE. Click here to  learn more!

Most Popular Resources

18 Responses to GRE Verbal

  1. surya August 25, 2012 at 8:52 am #


    I’m surya. Now I am pursuing b-tech final yr. so, at the end of september i’m gng to plan to attempt the gre exam.

    so, i’ve a question i have approxmately 30 days. Is 1 month is enough to get the good score in gre?

    If it’s possible give the guide lines how to prepare these 30 days.

    I don’t have any kind of books.

    Just i’m preparing in online sites such as
    Is these sites are enough are we have to refer more to get the good score?

    please give the answer. And please sugesst me to get the good score.

    I’m expecting i want to get more than 320 is it possible for me?

    please suggest me sir..

    Thank U.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Hi Surya,

      So it’s difficult to say if you will be able to get a 320+. See, it all depends on where you are starting. With 30 days left, if you are at about a 310, a 10+ point improvement, while not easy, is possible.

      On the other hand if you are below a 300, a 20+ improvement, while not impossible, is very very difficult.

      What I recommend is going through our ebooks (which contains the 30-day study guide, amongst others study guides).

      Also, if you’ve only been using the blog (which is definitely good :)), I also recommend the Magoosh product: With only on-line material, you can definitely get the score you need.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Amey August 21, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    Hi Team,
    I have just registered for Magoosh free 7 days trail and finding it quite interesting.
    I have a query about a verbal question ..Can I post it here?


    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette August 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Hi, Amey

      You can send us the question through the black Help tab in Magoosh! 🙂


  3. raghu July 15, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Hi Chris..

    I want to subscribe to your premium plan… But i am not good at English.. i got just 310 in the verbal section last time.. i have a doubt that whether i could follow your english lessons or i would fall back.. just enlighten me on this issue, so that i could go further…

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Hi Raghu,

      I think the only real obstacle to the verbal lessons would be a listening comprehension. If you are not used to my accent or the speed at which I talk then you may have some difficulty, at least initially.

      In terms of content, our product will be able to help you improve on Verbal. Many of our students are not native English speakers. And many begin with a low verbal score and are able to raise it significantly.

      Hope that helps!

      • raghu July 19, 2012 at 6:47 am #

        hii criss

        i subscribed to your premium plan.. and i would like to put my gre date arround october 5th to 11th. so what do u suggest for a plan…

  4. Rohit June 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    I gave GRE practice test 1 on Powerprep II and got my scores:

    Verbal: 430 – 530
    Quant: 750 – 800

    I am not able to make a correct estimate about my verbal score, which obviously needs improvement. Could you please guide how to make a precise estimate according to the new pattern?

    Also, I had a major fight with time, I had to guess one whole RC passage in both the sections due to lack of time! I guess practice would correct that, but how to tackle that?

  5. Shashi June 2, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Over all which book you will recommend for the verbal and among many whose practise tests are most condign ??

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

      Hi Shashi,

      The book reviews page should give you a fair idea. However, I do not think there is one book for verbal, beyond the ETS Official Guide, that gives you all you need for verbal. Manhattan GRE is the best, but that is taking into the account its on-line tests.

      Hope that helps :).

  6. Shashi May 31, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Hey magoosh can you tell me grubers practice papers at the end of book appears very tough which is not matched with any other be it princeton or kaplan, are they relevant and all answers correct??

  7. Prem May 19, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Hey Chris,

    I have subscribed to the premium course and I’ve been taking a few of the practise test and I’m a little confused with the explanation given for some of the answers. So I was wondering how to contact you with doubts while referring to specific question in the practise section.
    Please do let me know more on this.

    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette May 19, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      Hi, Prem

      You can us the Help tab (the small black rectangle on the left of your screen) to send us any questions you have, and we’d be happy to help!


  8. aadya March 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Hi Magoosh Team,

    I find your website amazing 🙂 Thanks a lot for all the effort.

    Could you please suggest a comprehensive book to practice SE and TC section.

    Thank you in advance.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 26, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Honestly, at this point – with most publishers in the fledgling stages of New GRE test prep – there isn’t much out there. A lot of the stuff is rushed and as a result deficient. Even the estimable Manhattan GRE released a TC and SE book that missed the mark.

      So I will go out on a bit of a limb here, but I think for the best/most comprehensive test prep on SE and TC, combining the Magoosh TC/SE blog posts with the Magoosh question and lesson videos completely blows everything else out of the water.

      If you haven’t already, check out the product, have a look (there is a trial version you can check out):

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!