How to Ace GRE's Verbal Section?

    Updated on: 22 May 2022

    The Verbal Reasoning measure of the GRE assesses your ability to analyze and evaluate written material, identify information contained in it, analyze relationships among parts of sentences, and recognize relationships among words and concepts. This article briefs you about GRE’s Verbal section, along with tips on how to ace it.

    For more information on GRE Syllabus read here

    The GRE Verbal consists of three separate areas of testing: 

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    1. Text Completion

    The ability of interpretation and evaluation is judged in this section. Crucial words are omitted from short passages asking you to use the remaining information in the passage to select words or phrases to fill in the blanks and create a meaningful sentence.

    The passage is composed of 5-6 sentences, with 1-3 blanks. There are choices given for a blank, out of which only one is correct. No credits are given for partially correct answers.

    2. Sentence-Equivalence

    Sentence Equivalence tests your ability to reach to the conclusion of a passage. Questions consist of a single sentence with just one blank, and they ask you to find two choices that lead to a complete, coherent sentence while producing sentences that mean the same thing.

    A question of this section consists of a sentence with a single blank with six options out of which two are to be chosen. There are no credits for partially correct answers.

    3. Reading Comprehension

    Reading comprehension is designed to test you on various aspects like understanding the meaning of individual words and sentences, understanding the meaning of paragraphs and larger bodies of text, distinguishing between minor and major points and summarizing a passage etc. 

    Each Reading Comprehension question is based on a passage that may range in length from one paragraph to several paragraphs. The test contains approximately 10 passages, and about half of the questions in the test are based on these passages!

    Questions in the Reading Comprehension come mainly in three formats viz:

    • Multiple-Choice Questions: Choose one answer: Four options are given and you have to choose one correct answer.
    • Multiple-Choice Questions: Choose one or more answers: You'll be given 3 answer choices, and you’ll have to choose every correct answer, which could be one, two or all three of them.
    • Select-in-Passage: This is a totally new sub-question type, unique to the GRE. Here you will need to click on a sentence in the passage that answers the question.

    Here are a few tips on how to ace the GRE verbal section.

    Master the Vocabulary:

    One thing which plays a crucial role in the verbal section is your command of vocabulary and grammar.

    John Stephen who scored 167 out of 170 in the verbal section in GRE 2013 quotes,

    “I think Verbal is about targeting your weakness and working on turning them into strengths. If you tend to shy away from vocabulary, it’s good to dive into vocabulary lists. I went about working on as many passages as I could during my preparation. “

    He further goes on to say, “Vocabulary and its usage can be strengthened by studying lists and writing out sentences that use these words so that they’re easier to remember.”

    Here are a few resources that help improve your vocabulary:

    • Memorize: You can memorize new words by various memorizing techniques like using mnemonics, recording yourself, playing vocabulary games, etc.
    • Magoosh GRE vocabulary flashcards: Flashcards are a great tool to get you started and build a great GRE vocabulary. Reviewing your flashcards on a daily basis will help raise your score by exposing you to new words and helping you draw connections between words.
    • Refer to dictionaries to best understand words: Good thematic English dictionaries provide clear word usage explanations and also a few usage sentences for each word meaning. Some good dictionaries for the preparation are:
      • Dictionary.com - This widely used online dictionary comes with a thesaurus, sentence explanations, etc.
      • Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary: It comes with a thesaurus along with other features like grammatical usages etc.
      • Concise English Dictionary and Thesaurus: This dictionary is available as a mobile application with various useful features like explained meaning, sentence formation etc.

    Read Everything You Can:

    There is no alternative to reading when it comes to reinforcing your vocabulary and understanding. English articles from prominent newspapers like The Hindu, can be of great help in the purpose. You can give some time to English magazines and also start reading reputed novels/ blogs.

    When Ashwini Nene, who scored 340/340 in 2013 was asked about her strategy for the Verbal section, she quoted that understanding the actual definition of words within different kinds of context is very important. In order to develop that kind of understanding, she explained that reading is very important.

    Make comprehension You Best Friend !:

    One of the toughest parts of the GRE is the Reading Comprehension (RC). Acing RC will require a combination of a good amount of practice and right strategies. Passages of different kinds to be asked in GRE require a different strategy. Different types of passages include analytical passages, which generally deal with the analysis of ideas/issues/events, descriptive passages, which generally describe an event/a person/a place, etc. and statistical passages, which present statistics and data. 

    While you practice RC, engage into active reading – extract essential information from the passage, capture new words and focus on the main points of the passage. Learn more about about active reading techniques to enhance your comprehensive abilities. 

    Mock Tests:

    You can understand your overall standing and identify your weakness via Mock Tests. Giving a mock test in a test simulated environment gives you the actual exam experience. You should start the mock tests at least a month prior to actual GRE to identify the sections where you’re scoring below par and try to overcome the shortcomings in subsequent tests.

    Next up, we discuss some useful preparation resources to ace the GRE Verbal section.

    Best Books to Prepare for Verbal Section:

    On the basis of recommendations from past, some of the best books are:

    • Magoosh GRE e-book:  This free e-Book is a compilation of the best of the Magoosh GRE blog.
    • 5 Lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems by Manhattan: This is the most famous and effective book of GRE practice problems
    • Wiley's GRE verbal grail: The book discusses each topic tested in the verbal section of the GRE and follows it up with a battery of exhaustive practices tests.
    • ETS official guide to the revised GRE general test: This book comes from the official makers of GRE which makes it largely popular and effective.

    Mock Examination for GRE:

    There is plenty of mock examination available. Some of the most popular ones are:

    • POWER PREP Online (Computer-Based GRE): ETS’s POWER PREP Online program contains two official computer-based GRE mock tests. What makes it largely popular is it’s absolutely free to sign up for and use. This is an absolute must.
    • Kaplan mock exams
    • Manhattan mock exams
    • Magoosh mock exam: It comes with various practice questions along with student's progress report.

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    All the best!

    Check Also - IELTS: How To Ace The Exam

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