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GRE Verbal Reasoning

The revised GRE has two verbal sections that consist of a total of 40 questions. These questions fall into two basic types: sentence completion questions and critical reading questions.

Here is how a 20-question verbal section generally breaks down:

  • 10 sentence completion questions
  • 10 critical reading questions (including logical reasoning questions)

Although the amount of time spent on each type of question varies from person to person, in general, sentence completion questions take less time to answer than critical reading questions.

Sentence Completion Questions

In sentence completion questions, you are asked to choose the best way to complete a sentence or short passage from which one, two, or three words have been omitted. These questions test a combination of reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. You must be able to recognize the logic, style, and tone of the sentence so that you will be able to choose the answer that makes sense in context. You must also be able to recognize differences in usage. The sentences cover a wide variety of topics from a number of academic fields. They do not, however, test specific academic knowledge. You may feel more comfortable if you are familiar with the topic the sentence is discussing, but you should be able to handle any of the sentences using your knowledge of the English language.

Click here to view sample sentence completion questions with solutions.

Sentence Equivalence Questions

Sentence Equivalence questions are very similar to Sentence Completion questions, with one exception: you must now choose two answers from six choices instead of one from five.

The number of choices affects the ideal strategy for these questions. If, for whatever reason, a student is unable to decipher the meaning of a blank from the context of the sentence, he or she may still be able to guess effectively by identifying two synonyms in the choices. There are many other strategic elements that may be employed for this question type as well, but for the most part, they are quite similar to Sentence Completions.

Click here to view sample sentence equivalence questions with solutions.

Critical Reading Questions

Critical reading questions test your ability to understand and interpret what you read. This is probably the most important ability that you will need in graduate school and afterward. Although the passages may encompass any subject matter, you do not need to know anything about the subject discussed in the passage in order to answer the questions on that passage. The purpose of the question is to test your reading ability, not your knowledge of history, science, literature, or art.

The revised GRE contains both familiar and unfamiliar question types. Some of the unfamiliar questions involve logical reasoning and argument analysis.

Click here to view sample critical reading questions with solutions.

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