GRE Premier 2017 with 6 Practice Tests


Chapter 3. Introduction to Verbal Reasoning


The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE tests complex reasoning skills and your ability to analyze the relationships between words and sentences. Vocabulary will be tested contextually, and the reading passages are both dense and written with a sophisticated level of diction. The goal of the test’s content, with its emphasis on analytical skills, is to make the test an accurate indicator of your ability to understand what you’re reading and apply reasoning skills to the various question types. These skills will translate directly to study at the graduate level.

In this section of the book, we’ll take you through all the types of Verbal Reasoning questions you’ll see on the GRE and give you the strategies you'll need to answer them quickly and correctly. Also, the vocabulary words you’ll most frequently encounter on the test are included in Appendices A–C in the “GRE Resources” section at the back of this book. Think of the glossary and word lists there as building blocks for the questions you will see on the test.

Verbal Reasoning Question Types

The GRE contains two Verbal Reasoning sections with approximately 20 questions each. Each section will last 30 minutes and be composed of a consistent, predictable selection of the following question types:

·        Text Completion

·        Reading Comprehension

·        Sentence Equivalence

The Verbal Reasoning portion of the GRE draws heavily upon your vocabulary and assesses your comprehension of written material. Specifically, it evaluates your ability to do the following:

·        Analyze sentences and paragraphs

·        Derive a word’s meaning based upon its context

·        Detect relationships among words

·        Understand the logic of sentences and paragraphs

·        Draw inferences

·        Recognize major, minor, and irrelevant points

·        Summarize ideas

·        Understand passage structure

·        Recognize an author’s tone, purpose, and perspective

Within each section of Verbal Reasoning questions on the GRE, you will see an assortment of question types.

Pacing Strategy

The GRE allows you to move freely backward and forward within each section, which can be a big advantage on Test Day. If you get stuck on a particular question, you can flag it and come back to it later when you have time. You only score points for correct answers, so you don’t want to get bogged down on one problem and lose time you could have used to answer several other questions correctly.  You also are not penalized for incorrect answers, so never leave a question blank.

You will have 30 minutes to work on each Verbal Reasoning section. The approximately 20 questions in each section will be an assortment of Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension items. However, these types of questions are not distributed equally. The chart below shows how many questions you can expect of each type, as well as the average amount of time you should spend per question type.


Text Completion

Sentence Equivalence

Reading Comprehension

Number of Questions

approx. 6

approx. 4

approx. 10

Time per Question

1–1.5 minutes, depending on the number of blanks

1 minute

1–3 minutes, depending on the length, to read the passage and 1 minute to answer each question

Use these timing estimates as you work on practice questions and exams.  With repetition, you will become comfortable keeping to the same amounts of time on Test Day. Additionally, you will be prepared to use the Mark and Review buttons to your advantage while taking the actual test.

Navigating the Verbal Reasoning Section of This Book

The next chapter, Verbal Foundations and Content Review, will review the classic verbal concepts and topics that you will encounter on the GRE. This section of the book also includes individual chapters on Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence, and Reading Comprehension questions. Each of those chapters includes an introduction and definition of the relevant question types, followed by a review and examples of the strategies to follow to answer those questions quickly and correctly. In addition, you’ll find a practice set with answers and explanations for each of the question types you’ll encounter on the GRE.

Finally, at the end of this section, you’ll find the Verbal Reasoning Practice Sets, which include not only practice questions but also answers and explanations. Use the Verbal Reasoning Practice Sets to test your skills and pinpoint areas for more focused study. When you are finished with this section of the book, you will have prepared for every question type you might encounter on the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE.