All About GRE Verbal Section:

GRE general test:

GRE stands for Graduate Record Examinations. In order to enter a master�s degree course, GRE is considered mandatory. It basically tests a candidate�slogical thinking, writing skills, his ability to understand and analyze concepts, verbal reasoning abilities,which the student would have acquired over the course of schooling days.

GRE general test consists of three parts. The major parts being,

Quantitative reasoning:

Quantitative reasoning part tests one�s perceiving capacity of basic mathematical concepts and his ability towards the logical application of the concepts to solve various problems. This part of GRE general test is considered to be the lightest as it tests the candidate�s excellence, not above high school level.

Verbal Reasoning:

Verbal Reasoning part tests one�s ability to understand, analyze and evaluate concepts from a written source. GRE considers this quality to be very essential to students, when it comes to graduate level to go through their course. Verbal reasoning part is considered to be tougher when compared to the quantitative part of the GRE general test because this part tests the overall excellence of a person�s potentiality concerned with the language. This makes this part tougher to native English speakers and toughest to non-native speakers.

Score valuation:

Verbal 130 to 170 One point increment.
Quantitative reasoning 130 to 170 One point increment.
Analytical writing 0 to 6 score scale Half point increments.

GRE verbal reasoning part:

The verbal part of GRE appears in two separate sections each with 20 questions and 30 minutes of time allocation. Like the quantitative part, the verbal part of GRE also tends to be adaptive in nature when taken as computer based test. That is the difficulty level of the second section is based on the analysis of one�s potentiality in the first section. Regardless of the sections, GRE verbal part consists of same pattern and structure.

Only GRE general test has verbal reasoning section and this is not a part of GRE subject test. GRE subject tests actually test the capability and potentiality aspects of the student's skill in the specified subject.

Structure of GRE Verbal Reasoning:

The structure of GRE verbal reasoning is classified into three main parts:

  1. Reading comprehension.
  2. Text completion.
  3. Sentence Equivalence.

Reading comprehension:

Reading comprehension stands distinct in the overall GRE verbal section for two reasons. One reason is the weightage of the portion it occupies in the verbal section. That is, out of 40 verbal questions of GRE exam around 20 questions are expected to be from Reading comprehension. The other reason being its high level of difficulty for a candidate to get through it. So with these two reasons, getting through Reading comprehension part, makes one crack half the GRE verbal section.

The complications of Reading comprehension lies in the complexity of its passage structure, difficulty in revealing the information concealed within the passage, in understanding and finding the meaning of the high-grade vocabulary used and lastly choosing the right answer from a group of deceptive choices.

On the whole, the Reading Comprehension part comprises of around 10 passages, each varying from one to several paragraphs in length, from a vast spectrum of topics such as business, arts, physical science, biological science, chemical science, social science, humanities and so on. Each passage will consist 1-6 questions that may test the candidate's potential skills varying from his capacity to understand vocabulary, ability to conclude from the provided information, aptitude to explore the situation, assumptions and perceptiveness in the passage and lot more.

The questions of the Reading Comprehension part fall into three distinct types. They are

Multiple Choice Questions (select one answer type)

Multiple Choice Questions (select one or more choices type)

Select in passage questions

Multiple Choice Questions (select one answer type)

These are generally multiple choice questions where the candidate has to select one choice out of the given choices.

Multiple Choice Questions (select one or more choices type)

These question types may have one or several right answers and the candidate is supposed to select all the possible correct answers. There is no credit for partially correct answers.

Select in passage questions

In this type of question, the candidate is supposed to select a phrase or a sentence from the passage that exactly answers to the question. The candidate should click the sentence which he believes to be appropriate and that sentence will get highlighted concluding that the question has been answered.

Cracking reading comprehension:
  1. Try to explore the right information that the passage tries to reveal. Don�t spend your time in analyzing all the facts the passage deals with.
  2. Believe that, no specialized knowledge is needed regardless the topic the passage focus. The answer is within the passage.
  3. Be sure you find authentication to your answer in the given passage. Never mind how relevant or close the choice is to the question, unless you find evidence in the passage to support it. Assumptions may mislead you.
  4. Try removing the options that could be eliminated. This can take you close to the right answer
  5. Lastly, read the passage once again and double check whether the chosen answer is the right one.

Each question carries one point.

Sample Questions:
Questions 1 to 3 are based on this passage.

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.

Select only one answer choice.

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

  1. How it is regarded by listeners who prefer rock to the classics
  2. How it has affected the commercial success of Glass's music
  3. Whether it has contributed to a revival of interest among other composers in using popular elements in their compositions
  4. Whether it has had a detrimental effect on Glass's reputation as a composer of classical music
  5. Whether it has caused certain of Glass's works to be derivative in quality

Consider each of the three choices separately and select all that apply.

2. The passage suggests that Glass's work displays which of the following qualities?

  1. A return to the use of popular music in classical compositions
  2. An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating that of classical music
  3. A long-standing tendency to incorporate elements from two apparently disparate musical styles

3. Select the sentence that distinguishes two ways of integrating rock and classical music.


The passage describes in general terms how Philip Glass uses popular music in his classical compositions and explores how Glass can do this without being imitative. Note that there are no opposing views discussed; the author is simply presenting his or her views.

Question 1: One of the important points that the passage makes is that when Glass uses popular elements in his music, the result is very much his own creation (it is �distinctively his�). In other words, the music is far from being derivative. Thus one issue that the passage addresses is the one referred to in answer choice E � it answers it in the negative. The passage does not discuss the impact of Glass's use of popular elements on listeners, on the commercial success of his music, on other composers or on Glass's reputation, so none of Choices A through D is correct. The correct answer is Choice E.

Question 2: To answer this question, it is important to assess each answer choice independently. Since the passage says that Glass revived the use of popular music in classical compositions, answer choice A is clearly correct. On the other hand, the passage also denies that Glass composes popular music or packages it in a way to elevate its status, so answer choice B is incorrect. Finally, since Glass's style has always mixed elements of rock with classical elements, answer Choice C is correct. Thus the correct answer is Choice A and Choice C.

Question 3: Almost every sentence in the passage refers to incorporating rock music in classical compositions, but only the last sentence distinguishes two ways of doing so. It distinguishes between writing rock music in a way that will make it attractive to classical listeners and writing classical music that will be attractive to listeners familiar with rock. Thus the correct answer is the last sentence of the passage.

Text completion:

Text completion plays its vital part by occupying 30% of the GRE verbal section. Text completion part checks the potentiality of the candidate to comprehend and break down complex sentences and also inspects his knowledge of vocabulary. Most difficult part of text completion is accessing a vast spectrum of vocabulary and their meanings. Apart from that, the challenge arises in deciding right answer from a group of delusive choices.

Text completion as the name suggests is basically completing the given passage by filling the blanks with the appropriate vocabulary choosing from the choices given. Text completion passages usually consist sentences varying from one to five in number. And there are two types in it. Single blank and multi blank text completion questions.

Single blank questions:

In this question type, the passage will contain one single blank with five options to fill it.

Multi blank questions:

In this question type, the passage will contain minimum two blanks to maximum three blanks with three choices to fill each blank. There is no credit for partially correct answers.

The choices for each blank are provided separately and are independent. They do not have any impact on one another.

Overall, there will be around 12 text completion questions in GRE verbal section.

Cracking text completion sentences:
  1. The first and foremost step would be to understand the passage by reading it carefully.
  2. Then fill your own comfortable word in the blank which you think would be most suitable one.
  3. Then check every option from the choice list that suits to be the closest synonym to your chosen own word.
  4. Now insert the suitable synonym in the blank and check whether the sentence is meaningful.
  5. There is no hard and fast rule that the filling of the options must go in the order of the blanks. Blanks can be chosen randomly concerned with the priority of its difficulty.
  6. Finally, read again to check whether the sentences are grammatically and meaningfully correct.
Sample text completion passage:

It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow facts to be (i)__________ by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them to (ii)__________ his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He emphasizes the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations, and the (iii)__________, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the condition of our planet.

Sample Question 1 Answers.
Blank (i) Blank (ii) Blank (iii)
(A) overshadowed (D) enhance (G) plausibility of our hypotheses
(B) invalidated (E) obscure (H) certainty of our entitlement
(C) illuminated (F) underscore (I) superficiality of our theories

In parts of the Arctic, the land grades into the landfast ice so _______ that you can walk off the coast and not know you are over the hidden sea.

  1. permanently
  2. imperceptibly
  3. irregularly
  4. precariously
  5. slightly

Sentence equivalence:

The Sentence equivalence constitutes the final 20% of the GRE verbal section. Each verbal section will contain four sentence equivalence questions. Sentence equivalence part is also just filling the blank with appropriate vocabulary to complete the sentence meaningfully which is similar to text completion with one major difference.

Sentence equivalence consists of one single sentence provided with one blank which has two right answers to be chosen from six delusive choices. That is, the two answers which you chose will have the same meaning and when fitted in the blank of the sentence will act in the same manner. In brief, the two answers must be synonyms of one another and must fit in the sentence to give the same right meaning.

The real challenge in going through the Sentence equivalence part lies in the candidate's perceptiveness in overcoming the trap or delusion set in the answer choices and aptitude in vocabulary. Do not arrive into any hasty conclusion seeing two synonym words in the choice list. They both may or not fit the blank. Follow a sequential step by step elimination process or the sequential procedure given below.

Cracking Sentence equivalence:
  • The foremost step is to read and understand the sentence carefully.
  • Then fill the blank with your own preferential word you are familiar with which makes the sentence meaningfully complete.
  • Now check the choice list for the word which has the closest relevancy with the word you preferred.
  • Choose that word and check again with the choice list to find a synonym word for the word chosen,
  • Apply both the words separately and check whether they both exactly completes the sentence with the same meaning.
  • Read the sentence once again and recheck it by substituting the chosen words individually.

Regular practice can make a person master sentence equivalence type of questions.
Sample Sentence Equivalence questions
Question 1

Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterize the work as __________.

  1. orthodox
  2. eccentric
  3. original
  4. trifling
  5. conventional
  6. innovative

The word "Although" is a crucial signpost here. The work contains some pioneering ideas, but apparently it is not overall a pioneering work. Thus the two words that could fill the blank appropriately are "original" and "innovative." Note that "orthodox" and "conventional" are two words that are very similar in meaning, but neither one completes the sentence sensibly. Thus the correct answer is Choice C (original) and Choice F (innovative).

Question 2

It was her view that the country's problems had been _______ by foreign technocrats, so that to ask for such assistance again would be counterproductive.

  1. ameliorated
  2. ascertained
  3. diagnosed
  4. exacerbated
  5. overlooked
  6. worsened

The sentence relates a piece of reasoning, as indicated by the presence of "so that": asking for the assistance of foreign technocrats would be counterproductive because of the effects such technocrats have had already. This means that the technocrats must have bad effects; i.e., they must have "exacerbated" or "worsened" the country's problems. Thus the correct answer is Choice D (exacerbated) and Choice F (worsened).

Vital part of Vocabulary:

Though different question types of GRE verbal section, test different set of aptitudes possessed by the test taker from different aspects, you can crack them all with one potential quality. A vast knowledge of vocabulary is that quality which makes you grasp a perfect score in verbal section. So the foremost part in preparing for GRE verbal section is to start acquiring access to wide range of vocabulary. Some tips to boost your perception of vocabulary are listed below.

  • Read newspapers, magazines, books that use high-grade vocabulary regularly.
  • Create word lists, flash cards and often go through them.
  • Every day learn ten to fifteen new words and try framing sentences with them.

Cracking overall GRE verbal section:

  1. The foremost part of preparation is choosing the right materials. Analyze and choose the right materials that can boost your vocabulary strength.
  2. Prepare a schedule chart to cover the entire materials within the time period you possess. Do not be hasty. Plan it in a way that you improve yourself slowly and steadily.
  3. Always have wordlists or flashcards with you and go through it whenever possible.
  4. Add reading high-quality newspapers, journals, books to your schedule chart and allocate considerable time for it.
  5. Always use spaced repetition technique to check your vocabulary strength.
  6. Go through as many as sample question papers to get familiar with the type of questions asked in the real exam.One of the best online sample question paper is the one that is being offered by ETS.
  7. Take practice tests quite often and frequently.

Practice tests:

There are various GRE practice tests available online both free and paid. Practice always makes a person perfect, therefore, taking more number of practice tests regularly will definitelybring about a marvellous change in the GRE scores.

Practice tests actually bring light to a student's plus and weak areas and this analysis of the candidate�s potential does wonders to the score. Thus, in many cases, practice scores are accurate with the real GRE general test scores, provided the practice test papers aredesigned by experienced and knowledgeable tutors.

In order to interpret the practice score, the best way would be to find out the percentile ranks. This rank actually highlights where the student stands among other test takers. But this may not be in tune with the original GRE general test percentiles. Still, a student will get an idea about his/her levels of capability.

There is a saying, �Hard work always pays�. So putting one�s best efforts in practising will surely pay and definitely, the practice scores will get translated to real scores.

Practice more and more, and definitely, the scores will rise higher and higher.

Practising with test papers that resemble the GRE general test is like working with virtual reality. A good practice session under the guidance of good tutors is very much important to win the race of GRE general test.

GRE POWERPREP Practice tests:

ETS has opened up a new user interface for the students who have registered after July 30, 2017, called POWERPREP practice tests.It makes sense to utilize these tests of the maker of the GRE examination because it is no surprise that their tests will be the closest and the most accurate to the original examination.

  • POWERPREP Online - Free
  • POWERPREP Plus Online -Paid

POWERPREP practice tests areconsidered to be one of the best practice tests available online.POWERPREP practice tests help the students to understand their strength and weaknesses in GRE verbalquestions and prepare accordingly because POWERPREP verbal questions resemble actual GRE questions in all aspects.

So do not miss this link on practice tests,

Free practice test links:

  1. The first free practice session link to top all would be the one offered by the ETS. Since they are the people who are conducting the test, it would be a smart decision to try out the practice test session created by them. The questions that appear are actually from previous GRE original test papers. Therefore, a student who takes up this practice test would be able to figure out how the real test would be.
  2. Next interesting link is
  3. The duration of this test from is 3 h and 30 minutes. It is available free on the internet. There is no need for the student to download any software in order to take up the test.
  4. This test from Kaptest can be taken in two ways. In the first, an instructor guides the person through the test and in the other, the person who takes the test has to manage himself. But for both,one needs to register to access the practice test links.
  5. Here the test can be taken with a timer or without one. There is no option of saving the test scores for future reference.
  6. Here there are 15 analytical questions, 23 quantitative and 22 verbal questions available free on the net. No downloading of software is required. Just open the link and click the button which says start the exam.

Paid GRE practice links:


Score calculation

Score increases in one point increment per question, irrespective of its question type.

Check out this link for a detailed explanation on GRE verbal:

Time management:

Time management plays a vital role in any exam.The total time allotted for GRE verbal section is one hour which is split into two sections. Therefore, a candidate has to answer 20 questions in a time period of 30 minutes in each section.So, the maximum time that a student can spend on one question would be around one and a half minutes. If that can be fast paced to one minute per question, the candidate would get four to five minutes of additional time to recheck the answers.

The fast pacing of dealing with the questions comes only with enough and regular practice.

A comprehensive overview of GRE verbal section:

Even though GRE verbal part seems to be the toughest of the GRE exam, with determination, dedication and sincere efforts one can definitely crack GRE verbal section.