What are the GRE Verbal question types? How to study for the GRE? The ultimate guide to GRE Verbal

What GRE tutors think about GRE Verbal and how to prepare for it?

After reading this article, you will understand what the GRE Verbal is, how to prepare for it, and how to break through bottlenecks.

We will guide you step by step to help you get into your dream school.

What is GRE Verbal? What are the question types?

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is an important step in the U.S. graduate school application process. The GRE is divided into two parts: Verbal Reasoning (Verbal), and Quantitative Reasoning (Quantitative). This article will talk about the GRE Verbal question types, preparation strategies and tips to ace GRE verbal.

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE contains three types of questions:

1. Reading Comprehension

Answer questions based on the content. Questions are designed to test your ability to understand passages and sentence structure. They will also ask you to identify the statement that best expresses the central idea.

2. Text Completion

Text Completion questions test your English ability by omitting crucial words from short passages and asking you to use the remaining information in the passage as a basis for selecting words. Therefore, vocabulary plays a fundamental role. Besides, identifying parts of speech based on the context will help you get the right answer.

3. Sentence Equivalence

Many students find the Sentence Equivalence to be the hardest part of the entire Verbal section. Sentence Equivalence questions require you to complete a sentence by choosing two words either of which will fit the blank. So, you have to understand the meaning of the sentence and root words as well. Two similar words can be used in different contexts.

The best way to improve your vocabulary is by doing practice questions. Some students may rely heavily on reading vocabulary books. However, it’s not efficient because vocabulary books often contain many words rarely tested in GRE. Vocabulary building is easiest when you encounter words in context. Seeing words appear in an exam question can be far more helpful than seeing them appear on vocabulary lists. Not only do you gain exposure to unfamiliar words; you also see how they’re used.

What are the best books for GRE Verbal? What are the tips for preparing and solving the questions?

in addition to the GRE previous year question papers, we recommend GRE Official Guide and GRE Magoosh, which will enable you to quickly understand the GRE question types. Other supplementary materials include GRE Verbal 1300 text completion questions, GRE Reading 300 questions, Magoosh GRE Flashcard, and PowerPREP Online – Practice Test. The following are the key points of preparation and tips.

1. Reading Comprehension

There are three main types of questions, including main idea questions, detail questions, and logic questions.

For main idea questions, you need to understand the first and last sentence of each paragraph.

For detail questions, you need to focus on the example in the article.

For logic questions, you have to identify the conclusion in the article.

Please take a look at the following example.


Reviving the practice of using elements of popular music in classical composition, an approach that had been in hibernation in the United States during the 1960s, composer Philip Glass (born 1937) embraced the ethos of popular music in his compositions. Glass based two symphonies on music by rock musicians David Bowie and Brian Eno, but the symphonies’ sound is distinctively his. Popular elements do not appear out of place in Glass’s classical music, which from its early days has shared certain harmonies and rhythms with rock music. Yet this use of popular elements has not made Glass a composer of popular music. His music is not a version of popular music packaged to attract classical listeners; it is high art for listeners steeped in rock rather than the classics.

The passage addresses which of the following issues related to Glass’s use of popular elements in his classical compositions?

(A) How it is regarded by listeners who prefer rock to the classics

(B) How it has affected the commercial success of Glass’s music

(C) Whether it has contributed to a revival of interest among other composers in using popular elements in their compositions

(D) Whether it has had a detrimental effect on Glass’s reputation as a composer of classical music

(E) Whether it has caused certain of Glass’s works to be derivative in quality


This article starts with how the composer revived the practice of using pop music in classical music. Philip Glass embraced the characteristics of pop music in his work. Then he created two works based on the work of David Bowie and Brian Eno.

The last paragraph says, “Yet this use of popular elements has not made Glass a composer of popular music.” What has he become? Pay attention to this paragraph: His music is not a version of popular music packaged to attract classical listeners, his music is not a pop music packaged version to attract classical listeners, but it is high art for listeners steeped in rock music. The conclusion is the last sentence in the paragraph.

The answer to this question is E. The word derivative means something developed or obtained from something else. Glass’s works are derivative in quality.

2. Text Completion

GRE Text Completion questions contain one, two, or three blanks. You have to read the entire article to see if there is a transitional word to determine whether the blank has the same or opposite meaning. Pay attention to transitional words like however, nevertheless, and nonetheless.

Please take a look at the following example.


Edward was understandably upset that he had lost the position, but he was (i)____ by the conviction that he had done nothing to (ii)____ the dismissal.

Blank (i)
A. saddened
B. miffed
C. consoled
Blank (ii)
D. merit
E. mar
F. delay

Edward was understandably upset that he had lost the position, but he was (i)____ by the conviction. Let’s take a look at the word conviction. The word convict means a firmly held belief or opinion. The word dismiss means to remove from position.

Let’s see the options one by one. Option A sadden means to make sad. Option B miff means to cause (someone) to become annoyed.

Option C is the correct answer. The definition of console is to alleviate or lessen the grief. There is a “but” in the sentence. Therefore, you have to choose the opposite word for upset.

Option D merit means deserve or be worthy of (reward, punishment, or attention).

Option E mar means to injure or damage.

Edward was sure that he did not deserve to be fired so he was not feeling upset.

Answer: C and D

3. Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with one blank and six word choices. To receive credit, students must select two words that fit the sentence. First, look at the meaning of the question and decide whether it is positive or negative, and then choose two words with similar meaning.

Please take a look at the following example.


The director, accustomed to unquestioning loyalty, was chagrined when she discovered that her directions had been ____ by the chief executive.

A. underscored
B. misinterpreted
C. undermined 
D. misplaced
E. substantiated
F. subverted

What is the definition of accustomed? As a noun, custom means a longstanding practice. The definition of accustomed is that something has become normal or typical or something which is customary or usual. The meaning of unquestioning is not questioning, not expressing or marked by doubt or hesitation. The definition of chagrin is disquietude or distress of mind.

Let’s look at the options.

Option A: Underscore is to draw a line under or to emphasize.

Option B: What does the prefix mis- mean? It means ‘wrong’ or ‘false’. Interpret means explain. Therefore, misinterpret means interpret something wrongly.

Option C: To undermine literally means to dig a hole underneath something, making it likely to collapse. We use the word to describe sabotage or the act of weakening someone else’s efforts.

Option D: The prefix mis- means ‘wrong’ or ‘false’. The word place means to put in a particular position. Misplace means to put in the wrong place.

Option E: Substantiated is a word that is often tested. It means to provide evidence to support or prove the truth.

Option F: The prefix sub- means “below” or “under.” Subvert means to overturn or overthrow from the foundation 

Answer: C and F. Directions of the director has been overthrown by the chief executive and thus the loyalty was beclouded.

What are the important tips that should be kept in mind when taking the GRE?

1. Reading Comprehension

The topic sentence is a sentence, usually at the beginning of a paragraph, that states the main idea of a paragraph. In some paragraphs, the topic sentence appears at the end. Therefore, the first step is to read the first sentence, second sentence and the last sentence to find the central argument.

2. Text Completion

After reading the whole paragraph, you don’t have to start from the first blank. For example, if you come across three blanks, you can start from the middle one. Then, it will be easier to fill in the rest of the blanks.

3. Sentence Equivalence

Through learning root words, suffixes and prefixes, you offer yourself a “code book” that helps you determine the meaning of the word as a whole. Use the process of elimination, cross out all the answers you know are incorrect, then focus on the remaining answers. Not only does this strategy save time, it increases your likelihood of selecting the correct answer greatly.

If the first GRE attempt didn’t go so well, how to strengthen my weaknesses?

If your first attempt didn’t go well, don’t be discouraged.

Find out the question types that you are not conversant with.

If you are not good at reading parts, you can start by improving grammar. For most reading tests, read the last sentence or the first sentence to look for the topic sentence. Grammar is important because it provides information that helps the reader’s comprehension. Learn how to identify the subject and verb of a sentence will be helpful.

For vocabulary questions, we suggest you enlarge your vocabulary and practice more. Also, learning root words can help you break down large, new words into smaller units to discover their meanings.

Often, words have more than one meaning. Don’t assume that the first definition is the only one you need to know! The GRE often tests secondary definitions, so scan through them all.

After a thorough review of the questions you got wrong, you will know which questions are your weaknesses. Practice more and review the mistakes. Find learnings from your mistakes to sharpen your GRE Verbal Reasoning skills!

5. Conclusion:

Finally, here is the conclusion for preparing GRE Verbal.

The GRE Verbal tests the English grammar, reading comprehension, and critical thinking skills of a candidate. Many students find GRE to be one of the most challenging exams because of the breadth of vocabulary tested.

Therefore, a good working knowledge of words and their meanings is very crucial. In addition, you must strengthen your knowledge of word roots, collocations, transitional words, and conjunctions. Don’t forget to practice past-year questions in order to get your target score!

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