GRE Verbal Practice: How and What To Study!

greverbalpracticeNo matter how proficient you are with a particular subject, taking an exam that you know is going to be a determining factor towards your admission to a school or program is daunting.  I have known people who felt confident and prepared for a subject because they might have, “done well in English in high school”, or “had the best spelling or grammar in grade school.”  The GRE verbal section of the Graduate Records Examination, however, is a bit different from what you might have been exposed to in the past.  Though you might feel like it mirrors the verbal section of the SAT, the GRE verbal has undergone a few changes over the past few years.  But before you start scrambling to buy the newest and latest study guides and GRE test prep books, we are going to give you some tips on how to get the best GRE verbal and math practice that you can.  Put on your best, “I am going to get into Graduate School!” face, and let’s get started.

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What to Expect and What to Practice

Before we get into some GRE verbal tips, let’s first take a look at each of the sections and what you are going to have to get to know and practice before diving into the exam.  There are three parts to the GRE verbal examination, which are as follows: reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence questions.  Now, onto the reading comprehension!

Reading Comprehension:  The reading comprehension section of the GRE verbal is going to test your reading and comprehension skills at a graduate student level.  Here is what you can expect to see on the reading comprehension portion of the GRE verbal section:

  • 10 total passages that are each about one paragraph in length.  However, there will be several that are a few paragraphs long.
  • Passage topics that range anywhere from physical, biological, and social sciences, to arts, humanities, and every day topics.  They can be both academic and non academic.
  • Following each passage, you will see up to 6 reading comprehension questions.  These questions will ask you things such as: identifying a work, giving evidence to support points in the passage, or to identify the author’s assumptions.
  • For questions, you will generally answer by choosing a single correct answer from a selection of multiple choices.  However, there are some questions where you may need to choose multiple correct answers, or be asked to select a sentence from the passage.

These are a few of the things you will be expected to know how to do in the reading comprehension section:

  • Be able to understand and use vocabulary words.
  • Understand and interpret paragraphs and essays.
  • Identify the major and minor points in a passage.
  • Be able to summarize a passage.
  • Draw conclusions based on a passage.
  • Determine missing information from a passage based on the data you are given.
  • Understand the overall structure of a passage.
  • Identify an author’s perspective.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of an author’s position and perspective.
  • Provide alternative arguments and explanations based on a reading.

Text Completion:  If you are a skilled reader, you should be able to interpret parts of a passage as you are reading it.  The text completion section of the GRE verbal is going to test your ability to interpret as you read.

On the text completion portion of the GRE verbal section, you can expect to see:

  • A passage that contains around 1 to 5 sentences.
  • 1 to 3 blanks with 3 answers choices per blank.  If there is a single blank, the you will see 5 answer choices.  Each of these blanks as one correct answer.

These are a few of the things you will be expected to know how to do for the text completion section:

  • Create a mental picture of the passage and continue to revise and add to the picture as you read.
  • Create meaningful passages by selecting words or phrases that fit into blanks.

Sentence Equivalence:  The sentence equivalence questions on the GRE verbal section will test your ability to use information to determine how a passage should be completed.

On the sentence equivalence portion of the GRE verbal section, you can expect to see:

  • A single sentence with only one blank along with six answer choices.  You will need to select the two answer choices that will make for the best complete and coherent sentence that will create sentences with the same meaning.

greverbalpracticeGeneral Tips

Now that you know what to expect, we are going to provide you with some general tips that will help you through each of these sections:

Vocabulary Tips

  • Know your roots, prefixes, and suffixes before going into the test.  This will help give you better clues for words that you might not be aware of.

Antonym Tips

  • Begin by determining an approximate definition in your mind if you are stuck.
  • Predict what will be the opposite of your definition.
  • Keep in mind that words can have more than one meaning.

Reading Comprehension Tips

  • Do not choose negative answers.  The positive and neutral ones are the safest.
  • Do not spend time on Roman numeral or exception questions, as they can be too time consuming.

Analogy Tips

  • Create a sentence with the two words and apply that sentence to your answer choices.
  • Watch out for answers that have inverse relationships.

Sentence Completion Tips

  • Always read the entire sentence before looking at answer options.
  • Look for connector words that can change the meanings of the words from the original sentence.
  • Decide if the blanks need negative or positive words.

Study Smart!

Take these helpful suggestions for GRE verbal practice and start prepping yourself for your exam!  As always, be sure to check out for online courses that will give you easy and convenient at home lessons and tips taught by GRE professionals.  Get ready to rock your exam!