Last Updated: March 17, 2021
GRE Verbal Reasoning
The GRE test conducted by ETS has 3 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Out of the three sections, the Verbal Reasoning section is the only section where the preparation is relatively easy and banks on the proficiency the student has on the language.
This section aims in analyzing the ability of the student to gather information and find links between them. Candidates are also expected to find the relationships between words and complete sentences using their knowledge of the language.
The Verbal Reasoning Section of GRE is not a substitute for the TOEFL test.
About the GRE Verbal Reasoning Section
The goal of the GRE verbal reasoning test is to measure the candidate’s ability to understand and analyze written passages, to understanding the meaning and context of words being used. The Verbal Reasoning section is the toughest section for non-native English speakers. If the candidate’s first language is not English then they need to prepare for it. There are 40 questions in the verbal section (2 sections with 20 questions each). Each section is of 30 minutes.
GRE Question Types
GRE verbal section has three different types of questions:
- Reading Comprehension: The questions in this section are based on the passages provided which may vary in length from one to several paragraphs. Each passage will have five to six questions. There will be multiple-choice questions with one answer or multiple answers, and select-in-passage questions.
- Text Completion: Text completion questions will contain passages with one to sentences of length containing one to three blanks which the candidate will have to fill. There will be no credit for partially answered questions and so the candidate will receive marks only if they have filled all the blanks correctly.
- Sentence Equivalence: The questions in this section will contain a single sentence with one blank and six answer choices for each question. Candidates will have to choose two answers for each question. One will not receive credit for being partially right.
Approaching the Question Types
- The passages will be taken from multiple disciplines.
- Questions will be asked directly from the passage and hence do not require knowledge of the disciplines.
- Identify the main ideas and the supporting ideas.
- Find the ideas that the author is advancing from those that are being reported.
- Also, figure out the ideas that are being stated as facts and those that are hypothetical.
- Focus only on the information provided in the text. Do not rely on external information.
- Identify words and phrases that seem particularly significant. Choose them according to how they contribute to the meaning of the entire structure.
- Fill in words and phrases that accurately fit than partially fit.
- Identify if the answers chosen will fill in the passage logically, grammatically, and coherently.
- Identify words and phrases that emphasize the structure of the sentence by contributing to the central meaning of the text.
- Fill in the blanks with words or phrases that seem to fit and check if more than one word in the answer choice has similar meanings.
- Select a pair of answers that can fit into the blank to create a coherent statement.
- The final meaning of the sentence should be complete both grammatically and coherently.
The score for Verbal Reasoning is similar to that of the Quantitative Reasoning section. The Verbal Reasoning section has two sub-sections. The first one will be of moderate difficulty whereas the second one will be dependent on the performance of the student in the first section. If the student has performed exceptionally in the first section, the next section will be comparatively tougher. If the student has not performed well enough, the second section will be easier.
The scores will then be equated through a method called scaling where the difficulty levels of the paper will not matter. The difficulty levels will be visible for the perusal of the colleges and universities the candidates apply to.
Tips to Crack the Verbal Reasoning Section
- Brush up on vocabulary skills. Practice using flashcards and word lists that are available online and as practice books.
- Prepare using academic passages. The passages that are provided in the verbal reasoning section will be dry and academic in nature. So, practicing using easier fictional texts will not aid the student much in their endeavor to crack the section.
- Keep track of time while doing practice tests. Students often receive a lesser score since they are unable to complete the test on time. The passages provided in this section will have a few paragraphs each and this will require a lot of time to read unless the student has practiced paced reading while preparing for the test.
- Skim through the passage provided. Do not attempt reading the passages word by word since this will take a lot of time and one may not be able to retain as much information as is required for answering the questions.
- Read the question after skimming through the passage and then go back to the passage. This will provide the student with a better understanding of what to look for and reread the text accordingly.
- If presented with a word whose meaning is not certain, always place the word in the context to find its meaning.
- Understand that GRE offers the option of marking questions and returning to them later. If in confusion, never spend more than the required time on any question. Mark the question and come back to it later.
- Since there is no negative marking, one can go back to the questions that have been marked, and if there is no extra time to find the right answer to the question, mark any probable answer since it increases the chances of getting a better grade.