GRE Verbal Practice: Questions & Explanations

Know what to expect on the GRE Verbal Section and take the test with confidence.

GRE Verbal ReasoningOur GRE verbal practice questions come with explanations so you can see how to crack them! We pulled these practice questions from our book Cracking the GRE and from our GRE prep course materials.

Text Completion Practice

Text Completion questions include a passage composed of one to five sentences with one to three blanks. There are three answer choices per blank, or five answer choices if there is a single blank. There is a single correct answer, consisting of one choice for each blank. You receive no credit for partially correct answers.

1. Upon visiting the Middle East in 1850, Gustave Flaubert was so belly dancing that he wrote, in a letter to his mother, that the dancers alone made his trip worthwhile.

(A) overwhelmed by
(B) enamored by
(C) taken aback by
(D) beseeched by
(E) flustered by

Answer: (B) enamored by

Text completion practiceChoose carefully here. The clue is “the dancers alone made his trip worthwhile.” Thus, Flaubert was impressed by them. Enamored by is the only choice that captures such a feeling. Overwhelmed by is extreme, and implies that Flaubert got more than he could handle. Taken aback by, in contrast, merely suggests that our traveler was surprised by the dancers; we cannot be sure that his surprise was pleasant. Meanwhile, beseeched by does not indicate how Flaubert felt, whereas if he were flustered by the performers, he would not likely have found his encounter with them worthwhile.

2. Increasingly, the boundaries of congressional seats are drawn in order to protect incumbents, as legislators engineer the demographics of each district such that those already in office can coast to (i)  victory. Of course, there is always the possibility that the incumbent will face a challenge from within his or her own party. Nevertheless, once the primary is over, the general election is (ii)

BLANK (I) BLANK (II)
(A) an ineluctable (B) seldom nugatory
(C) an invidious (D) remarkably contentious
(E) a plangent (F) merely denouement

Answer: (A) an ineluctable and (F) merely denouement

If district boundaries are designed to protect incumbents —that is, those already in office—then victory for those incumbents should be close to assured or inevitable. Ineluctable is synonymous with these words. Invidious means “causing envy” and plangent means “full of lamentation,” neither of which is as well supported as the credited response. The second blank comes after a couple of transition words. The first is of course, which might sound like the passage is continuing in the same direction, but here indicates a change of direction: The author is conceding that sometimes incumbents face challenges. The second, Nevertheless, also changes direction, meaning that the passage has returned to where it started, arguing that elections are essentially decided before they begin. That is what merely denouement means. Seldom nugatory means rarely inconsequential, which is the opposite of what the passage calls for; remarkably contentious is wrong for the same reason, as that phrase would indicate that the general election is fiercely contested.

Sentence Equivalence Practice

Sentence Equivalence questions consist of one sentence with six answer choices. Your job is to choose the two GRE Sentence Equivalance Practiceanswer choices that logically complete the sentence.

3. Possessed of an insatiable sweet tooth, Jim enjoyed all kinds of candy, but he had a special for gumdrops, his absolute favorite.

(A) container
(B) affinity
(C) odium
(D) nature
(E) disregard
(F) predilection

Answer: (B) affinity and (F) predilection

The word in the blank is used to describe Jim’s feelings for gumdrops. The clues “enjoyed all kinds of candy” and “his absolute favorite” dictates that the blank means liking. Both affinity and predilection mean liking. Odium and disregard go in the wrong direction. The container might sound right, but it is not related to the clue. Nature does not mean liking.

4. The twins’ heredity and upbringing were identical in nearly every respect, yet one child remained unfailingly sanguine even in times of stress while her sister was prone to angry outbursts that indicated an exceptionally choleric
(A) genotype
(B) environment
(C) physiognomy
(D) incarnation
(E) incarnation
(E) temperament
(F) humor

Answer: (E) temperament and (F) humor

GRE VocabularyThe main clues are that one twin is described as sanguine, the other choleric; even if you don’t know these words, the phrases “even in times of stress” and “angry outbursts” suggest that words are used to describe personality. Temperament is a good synonym for personality. While it is frequently used to mean comedy, humor can also mean personality, especially in conjunction with the words such as sanguine and choleric, which derive from the ancient belief that temperament was shaped by the levels of different fluids or humor, in a person’s body. The remaining choices don’t fit. Environment means one’s surroundings while the other three words are concerned with the physical rather than the mental.

Source: The Princeton Review

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