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GRE Verbal Reasoning

You can reason, right? I mean, you thought far enough ahead to match your socks to your pants. Reasoning isn’t all that difficult.

But did you pay attention to the other half of the title? Verbal. It isn’t quite the same. Read below for the GRE Verbal Reasoning breakdown, and don’t even think about moving out of that seat. Think you know it all already? Take a practice GRE Verbal test and match your wits against the test-givers.

GRE Verbal Basics

First of all, you have to first determine which type of the GRE General Test you’ll be taking – the Paper-Based GRE or the Computer-Based GRE, because they are two entirely different pots of assessment stew, my friends.

Paper-Based Verbal Reasoning:

2 sections
38 questions per section
30 minutes section
Computer-Based Verbal Reasoning:

1 section
30 questions
30 minutes
GRE Verbal Questions

The questions you’re going to see will be taken from areas like the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The four types of questions in which you’ll have to show your expertise are these: analogies, antonyms, sentence completions, and reading comprehension questions. Most of these will look very familiar to you, since analogies used to be offered on the SAT, and sentence completions and reading comprehension questions still are.

GRE Verbal Analogies

Basically, you will be given two words separated by a colon, and you’ll have to determine the relationship between the two words. Are they alike in kind, size, spatial contiguity, degree? Once you’ve determined that relationship, you’ll have to find a pair of words below the example that has the same relationship as the first pair.

GRE Analogy Example

Hint: Form a very specific sentence with the example words: PARQUET is a design made of WOOD. Determine which two words best fits into the same sentence.


A. color: painting
B. mosaic : glass
C. potpourri : medley
D. collage : tapestry
E. linoleum : marble
Correct Answer: B

GRE Verbal Antonyms

Sure – you remember what “antonym” means: opposite. But, the antonym section tests both your vocabulary knowledge and your ability to reason. (That nasty “Verbal Reasoning” thing again.) These questions generally stick to nouns, verbs, and adjectives, but the multiple-choice answers may be either single words or phrases.

GRE Antonym Example

Hint: Remember the definitions of your Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. “Re-“ means again/back and “cant” is a root that means to speak or sing. So what’s the clearest opposite in the list below it?


A. entangle
B. rescue
C. fail
D. assert
E. predict
Correct Answer: D.

GRE Verbal Sentence Completions

These test your vocabulary skills (again), but also your ability to best determine appropriate syntax, grammar, and word choice in a sentence. Each question is a sentence with one or more blanks in it. You have to choose words from a multiple-choice selection that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

GRE Verbal Sentence Completion Example:

Solving sentence completions can be tough, but if you cover up the answers and insert words in the blanks you think would fit, often, you’ll find synonyms of your guesses in the answer choices.

The novel’s protagonist, a pearl diver, naïvely expects that the buyers will compete among themselves to pay him the best price for his pearl, but instead they ____________ to ____________ him.

A. venture…reward
B. pretend…praise
C. collude…swindle
D. refuse…cheat
E. conspire…reimburse
Correct Answer: C.

GRE Verbal Reading Comprehension Questions

You’ll be given one reading passage or two related passages with anywhere from about 100 words up to approximately 850 words. (A typical double-spaced page is about 250 words.) Afterward, you’ll have to answer one or several multiple-choice questions related to the reading selection.

GRE Verbal Reading Comprehension Example:

Hint: Read through the questions before you read the passage so you know what information you’ll need to remember.

Disequilibrium at the interface of water and air is a factor on which the transfer of heat and water vapor from the ocean to the air depends. The air within about a millimeter of the water is almost saturated with water vapor and the temperature of the air is close to that of the surface water. Irrespective of how small these differences might be, they are crucial, and the disequilibrium is maintained by air near the surface mixing with air higher up, which is typically appreciably cooler and lower in water vapor content. The turbulence, which takes its energy from the wind mixes the air. As the speed of wind increases, so does the turbulence, and consequently the rate of heat and moisture transfer. We can arrive at a detailed understanding of this phenomenon after further study. The transfer of momentum from wind to water, which occurs when waves are formed is an interacting-and complicated phenomenon. When waves are made by the wind, it transfers important amounts of energy-energy, which is consequently not available for the production of turbulence.

This passage principally intends to:

A. resolve a controversy
B. attempt a description of a phenomenon
C. sketch a theory
D. reinforce certain research findings
E. tabulate various observations
Correct Answer: B.

Just so you don’t feel completely overwhelmed, the average score for the Verbal Reasoning section on the GRE is a 462 – about half right/half wrong.