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Verbal Section

The verbal section consists of analogies, completions, and reading comprehension passages. Multiple-choice response sections are graded on a scale of 200-800, in 10-point increments. This section primarily tests vocabulary, and average scores in this section are substantially lower than those in the quantitative section. In a typical examination, this section may consist of 30 questions, and 30 minutes may be allotted for it.

Practice Questions:

Analogies
This GRE Verbal review consists of 10 GRE Analogy practice questions. (Analogy questions will account for 9 of the 30 questions on your actual GRE Verbal section, and they’ll be mixed with Reading Comprehension sets, Sentence Completion questions, and Antonym questions.)

Here are some tips for tackling GRE Analogies (The Analogy format is one of four basic formats used for GRE Verbal questions):

  • Create a sentence that includes the two capitalized words. Ideally, the sentence should reveal the essence of the relationship between the two words, and should not be so specific that none of the answer choices will fit, or so general that several fit. Here are two examples of the types of sentences that might zero in on the correct choice:
    1. One possible function of a [first word] is to [second word].
    2. [First word] is a condition that is necessary in order for [second word] to occur.
  • Eliminate any answer choice in which the two words are unrelated to each other. Typically, at least one answer choice will fit this description. You can eliminate all such choices without even considering the original pair!
  • If you know only one of the two words in an answer choice, you can always take an educated guess, even with just one of the words. You can often eliminate an answer choice by knowing just one of the two words.
  • If one of the original words has either a negative or positive connotation, the corresponding word in the correct answer choice will be similarly “charged.” But if the original word is neutral, the corresponding word in the correct answer choice must be neutral as well.
  • You can often guess the meaning of unfamiliar words. Any of the following might provide a clue about what a word means:
    1. Another word that resembles the word in any way
    2. The word’s root or prefix
    3. The meaning of the other word in the pair
  • Look out for the sucker-bait answer choice that involve the same subject as the original pair. More often than not, this sort of answer choice is wrong.

Antonyms
This GRE Verbal review consists of 10 GRE Antonym practice questions. (Antonym questions will account for 7 of the 30 questions on your actual GRE Verbal section, and they’ll be mixed with Reading Comprehension sets, Sentence Completion questions, and Analogy questions.)

Here are some tips for tackling GRE Antonyms (The Antonym format is one of four basic formats used for GRE Verbal questions)

  • In most Antonym questions, the best answer isn’t a perfect antonym. The test-makers can’t resist hiding the ball from you; so don’t expect to find an exact opposite among the answer choices.
  • If you encounter an unfamiliar word, don’t give up; ask yourself whether the word resembles a familiar one in any way. Perhaps the two words have the same root. If so, the two words are likely to have related meanings.
  • Try working backward — from an answer choice to the capitalized word — to help gain insight if your stuck. Try to think of a single word (not a phrase) that expresses the opposite of the answer choice. Ask yourself whether your antonym for the answer choice is a good synonym for the headword? If not, you can eliminate the answer choice.
  • If an answer choice stumps you, resort to intuition by asking yourself two questions:
    1. Can you express the opposite idea using only one word (as opposed to a phrase)? If not, the answer is probably wrong.
    2. Can you imagine hearing the headword used in connection with the answer choice’s antonyms? If not, go with your hunch an eliminate that answer choice.
  • If you’re stuck, try converting a word to another part of speech. Many GRE words are difficult to deal with simply because their part of speech (noun, verb, or adjective) is not commonly used. Turning the word into a more familiar form can help.
  • Be sure to look for an antonym, not a synonym! This might seem like obvious advice, yet it’s amazingly easy to get everything backwards during the pressure of the actual exam. The slightest lapse in concentration can result in your carelessly choosing a synonym instead of an antonym. Avoid “synonym syndrome” by always verifying your choice before you move on.
  • Resolve close judgment calls in favor of the more specific antonym. This is another one of the test-makers’ common ploys, and it is sometimes the key to distinguishing a best response from a second-best one. Always be on the lookout for this ploy!

Passages
The Reading Comprehension format is one of four basic ones used for GRE Verbal questions. This page lists key features of GRE Reading Comprehension questions. It also provides the test directions for this question format, a sample question (along with a tip for answering it), and a detailed analysis of the sample.

Sentence Completions
Here are some tips for tackling GRE Sentence Completion questions (one of four basic question types, or formats, on the GRE Verbal section):

  • Look for key words and phrases in the sentence that tell you where the sentence is going. Is it continuing along one line of thought? If so, you’re looking for a word that supports that thought. Is it changing direction in midstream? If so, you’re looking for a word that sets up a contrast between the thoughts in the sentence.
    Words signal blanks that shift gears:
    but, yet, although, on the other hand, in contrast, however, nevertheless
    Words signal blanks that go with the flow:
    and, also, consequently, as a result, thus, hence, so
  • To get your mental wheels turning and help you to “get into” the question, first think of your own words that complete the sentence at hand. Although you shouldn’t expect to find your words verbatim among the answer choices (most GRE Sentence Completion questions aren’t that easy), determining up front what sort of words you’re looking for will help you zero in on the best answer choice.
  • Don’t choose an answer to a dual-blank question just because one of the words is a perfect fit. As often as not, one word that fits perfectly is paired with another word that doesn’t fit well at all. This is the test-makers’ most common Sentence Completion ploy; don’t fall for it!
  • Check for usage and idiom problems if you’re having trouble homing in on the best answer. Sentence Completion questions cover not just overall sentence sense but also word usage and idiom (how ideas are expressed as phrases). So eliminate any answer choice that makes any part of the sentence confusing, awkward, or sound wrong to your ear.
  • In dual-blank questions, if you can eliminate just one of the words, the whole choice won’t work, so you can toss it out and go on.
  • Don’t confirm your response until you’ve considered each and every one of the five answer choices. Remember: The qualitative difference between the best and second-best answer choice can be subtle.
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