Are you gearing up to take the GRE General Test for your graduate school applications? If so, you’re probably aware that the GRE includes a Verbal section. But what exactly does this section assess, and what kinds of questions can you expect to encounter? In this article, we’ll demystify the GRE Verbal section. We’ll also provide you with some handy GRE verbal sample questions and expert tips to help you conquer each GRE Verbal question type.
In this blog:
- What GRE Verbal Comprises?
- Reading Comprehension
- Sentence Completion
- Sentence Equivalence
- Tips to Ace GRE Verbal
What GRE Verbal Comprises?
The Verbal Reasoning section comprises one out of the three sections on the GRE and encompasses three distinct categories of questions:
- Reading Comprehension
- Sentence Completion
- Sentence Equivalence.
In the Reading Comprehension segment, you’ll encounter questions that require you to analyse and comprehend a passage of text. On the other hand, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions are self-contained, featuring passages with missing words that you must fill in from a provided list of vocabulary words or phrases.
Approximately half of the questions in the Verbal Reasoning section will be centred around Reading Comprehension, while the other half will encompass a blend of Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions.
The GRE’s Reading Comprehension segment introduces passages of varying lengths, covering topics from arts and humanities to the sciences. However, it’s important to note that the content of these passages may not always be as thrilling as your favourite leisure reading. This section includes three question formats:
- Multiple Choice (select one answer),
- Multiple Choice (select one or more answers),
- and Select-in-passage.
The latter format is unique, requiring you to identify a specific sentence within the passage that matches the question’s description.
Passage: The concept of natural selection was first proposed by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin observed that organisms within a population vary in their traits, and that some of these traits are more likely to be passed on to the next generation than others. He argued that this is because organisms with traits that are better suited to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce.
One example of natural selection in action is the peppered moth. In the early 19th century, most peppered moths in England were light-coloured. This was because they were able to camouflage themselves against the light-coloured lichen that grew on tree trunks. However, as the Industrial Revolution progressed, the air became polluted and the lichen died off. The tree trunks became dark with soot, and the light-coloured peppered moths were now more visible to predators. As a result, the dark-coloured peppered moths became more common, as they were better able to camouflage themselves.
Question: The main purpose of the passage is to:
- compare and contrast light-coloured and dark-coloured peppered moths
- discuss the importance of camouflage for peppered moths
- describe how the Industrial Revolution affected the peppered moth population
- explain the concept of natural selection
- argue in favour of Darwin’s theory of evolution
Text Completion questions present short passages, usually one to five sentences long, containing one to three blanks. While the format is simple, handling multiple blanks can be tricky as it requires you to consider both individual word choices and their collective impact on the passage’s coherence. It’s a bit like solving a word puzzle that tests your ability to see the bigger picture.
Question: The scientist’s _____ findings were met with scepticism from the scientific community, but she was determined to prove their accuracy.
Question: The artist’s paintings were known for their ____ use of colour and light, which created a sense of _____ and _____.
- bold, drama, intensity
- subtle, tranquillity, serenity
- muted, melancholy, nostalgia
- vibrant, dynamism, movement
- monochromatic, simplicity, austerity
Question: Unlike the performances of his youth, in which he seamlessly inhabited a role, the performances of his later years were ____________, as though he were calling out to audiences, “look how convincingly I can portray my character.”
- A) decrepit
Sentence Equivalence questions feature one sentence, one blank, and six answer choices. Your goal is to pick two answers that complete the sentence in a similar way, focusing on meaning rather than synonyms. Avoid the temptation to rely solely on synonyms from the vocabulary list, as the key is creating equivalent sentence meanings.
Question: The professor’s lecture was _____ and ____, leaving many of the students confused and perplexed.
- obscure, complicated
- clear, concise
- engaging, informative
- irrelevant, tedious
- challenging, thought-provoking
Question: The company’s new CEO is known for her mercurial temperament, which can make her difficult to work with.
Question: The new drug has been shown to ____ the symptoms of the disease, but it does not ____ the disease itself.
Answers: B & D
Tips to Ace GRE Verbal
- Expand your vocabulary: GRE Verbal assesses a broad vocabulary range, so focus on building your word bank through extensive reading, flashcards, and practice tests.
- Know the question types: Familiarise yourself with the three question types – Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension and develop specific strategies for each.
- Practice consistently: Regular practice, including timed tests, helps you adapt to the exam’s pace and pinpoint your areas of strength and improvement.
1. How many questions are in the GRE Verbal section?
The GRE Verbal section consists of a total of 27 questions.
2. What is the duration for the GRE Verbal section?
The GRE Verbal section has a total duration of 41 minutes.
3. What is the GRE Verbal score range?
GRE Verbal score range is from 130 to 170, with a one-point increment.
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