GRE Verbal Reasoning


The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a very popular analytical and reasoning test that is accepted for college admissions, scholarships, Ph.D. programs, and numerous other purposes all around the world. Given the range of skills this exam tests, verbal reasoning is a key area of the exam. This article aims to help you in understanding the GRE verbal exam as best as anybody can.

Firstly, GRE verbal has two section. Along with these verbal reasoning sections, you will have AWA (Analytical writing assessment) at the beginning of the exam. AWA is also considered to be Verbal because the skill set you use in verbal reasoning is identical to what you will need in the AWA. Hence, being able to crack verbal reasoning will help you to get points in the AWA too. That’s a bonus right there!

Secondly, there are 12 questions and 15 questions in each of the verbal sections respectively, and these sections have to be solved in a time frame of 18 minutes and 23 minutes each respectively.

Overall, the verbal section is a crucial section that can give you good output if given enough amount of time and practice.

Different sections on the Verbal Reasoning

The GRE (Graduate Record examination) has two sections: Verbal and Quantitative aptitude. It is easier to tackle the quant part because it has specific chapters and topics to be prepared with formulas that are set in stone. But, verbal is a bit tricky, in fact, there is no syllabus for verbal aptitude. We do not have topics, we have question types. We do not have sacrosanct formulas, we have adaptable techniques that are employed at will with changes that are necessary.

There are three broad question types with some sub-types. Those are Sentence Equivalence, Text Completion and Reading comprehension.

Sentence Equivalence looks like the Fill in the blank question type from your childhood. There will be a statement with a missing word and your job is to choose TWO options for that single blank, from a list of words.

Text completion is similar to sentence equivalence, in that, you have to choose words suitable for a blank based on meaning and context. But, the only difference is that in text completion you have to choose one option per blank. There can be one, two, or three blanks in a single question.

Reading comprehension on the other hand is not a single type of question. These are short and long passages followed by different types of questions like Argument based questions, Vocabulary in context questions, Main Idea, Primary purpose and inference questions.

Knowing the question types will give you an idea of the exam, like knowing the syllabus.

GRE Verbal Reasoning Scoring Pattern

The GRE (Graduate record examination) has a very interesting scoring pattern. Unlike your school or university qualifying exams, there is no pass mark and there is no absolute zero mark too. One can be assured of a minimum score while attempting the exam and that cannot be equated to your regular zero marking as one does.

Firstly, the score range is between 130 – 170 on each section with a 1 point increment, the exam has two or three verbal sections, depending on the experimental section. All the questions and question types are equally rewarding. But, there is a catch! All the sections though are not equally rewarding. Let me clarify, GRE is a section-level adaptive exam which essentially means that the first section determines your subsequent sections and your score is capped at a particular range based on your performance in the first section.

So, imagine if you do well in the first section, like really well, then you will definitely get a section that is harder than your first section. In this case, you are set for a minimum score (which is > 149) and you can reach the maximum score of 170 based on your performance in the second section. But, if you do not do that well, then the GRE caps you to a score range wherein your maximum score, despite getting all  questions correct in the second section, is fixated to a particular score ( <151). And if unfortunately, you do not do well in the first section then you are capped at an ever lower score range and it is possible for you to get 130 (the least score possible).

Hence, one must be very careful and make sure that you fall into the harder sections to get a guaranteed good score or at least have the possibility of getting the highest score.

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Verbal Reasoning Comparison

Reading Comprehension Question GRE MCQ-1
Sentence Equivalence Question GRE MCQ-2
Text Completion Question GRE MCQ-3

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About the GRE Exam


How many words should one learn for GRE verbal part?

One cannot be very sure of the number. But, one has to be good with the list of frequently repeated words and also the material provided by the coaching institute.

What are the standard sources for GRE verbal questions?

The Official guide to the GRE is the one source of previous questions. This is the good way to start on questions. This should be supplemented with any standard coaching institute material.

What is the qualifying mark for verbal?

There is no specific cut off for the verbal or the quant section. The minimum anybody can get is 130 and the maximum is 170.

How much time should one allocate as per the question type?

With good vocabulary, one should be able to solve Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions very soon, and this should leave enough time for long and short Reading comprehension.

What is a good score to target for the GRE verbal?

It completely depends on the Universities that the student is targetting. But, as a rule anything above 160+ should be a good target.

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