GRE Premier 2017 with 6 Practice Tests


Chapter 8. Verbal Reasoning Practice Sets

In this section, you will take three practice sections consisting of 20 questions each. This section has been divided into two parts to allow you to check your answers at the halfway mark. You will use a diagnostic tool at that point to help you learn from your mistakes and continue on to the second set with more awareness of the traps you may encounter.

Review of the Kaplan Methods for Verbal Reasoning Question Types

Review the steps and strategies you have studied for answering each type of question quickly, efficiently, and correctly before starting your Practice Sets.

The Kaplan Method for Text Completion (One-Blank)

1.    STEP 1Read the sentence, looking for clues.

2.    STEP 2Predict an answer.

3.    STEP 3Select the choice that most closely matches your prediction.

4.    STEP 4Check your answer.

The Kaplan Method for Text Completion (Two-Blank and Three-Blank)

1.    STEP 1Read the sentence, looking for clues.

2.    STEP 2Predict an answer for the easier/easiest blank.

3.    STEP 3Select the choice that most closely matches your prediction.

4.    STEP 4Predict and select for the remaining blanks.

5.    STEP 5Check your answers.

The Kaplan Method for Sentence Equivalence

1.    STEP 1Read the sentence, looking for clues.

2.    STEP 2Predict an answer.

3.    STEP 3Select the two choices that most closely match your prediction.

4.    STEP 4Check your answers to see if the sentence retains the same meaning.

The Kaplan Method for Reading Comprehension

1.    STEP 1Read the passage strategically.

2.    STEP 2Analyze the question stem.

3.    STEP 3Research the relevant text in the passage.

4.    STEP 4Make a prediction.

5.    STEP 5Evaluate the answer choices.

Verbal Reasoning Practice Set 1


2.       Directions

Each sentence below has one or more blanks, each blank indicating that something has been omitted. Beneath the sentence are five words for one-blank questions and sets of three words for each blank for two- and three-blank questions. Choose the word or set of words for each blank that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.



1.    The patterns of the stock market seem  to many beginners, but they can be decoded with dedication and patience.

1.    unwelcoming

2.    arcane

3.    harmonious

4.    shocking

5.    lucid

2.    In spite of its popularity, The Merchant of Venice remains a (i)  play, with many critics (ii)  the extent of Shakespeare’s anti-Semitism.

1.      controversial

2.      celebrated

3.      histrionic

4.      assuaging

5.      augmenting

6.      debating

3.    Considered one of his most (i)  works, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor has a certain (ii)  in Western culture because of its incomplete status at the time of his death, and many (iii)  stories have arisen surrounding it; unfortunately, the truth is lost to us.

1.      ignominious

2.      inconspicuous

3.      famous

4.      obscurity

5.      indifference

6.      mystique

7.      fraudulent

8.      apocryphal

9.      verified

4.    Although Thomas Paine was most (i)  his political pamphlets, he was in fact (ii)  writer on many different subjects.

1.      inimical to

2.      condemned for

3.      famous for

4.      an abstruse

5.      a prolific

6.      a terrible

5.    Because he was convinced of his own , Adam never acknowledged his mistakes.

1.    genius

2.    acclamation

3.    shrewdness

4.    infallibility

5.    popularity

6.    St. Elmo’s fire is a weather phenomenon that, (i)  it has been documented since ancient times, was not (ii)  until recently.

1.      because

2.      since

3.      although

4.      incinerated

5.      reported

6.      understood

4.    Questions 7–10 are based on the passage below.

5.    It has been commonly accepted for some time now that certain scenes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth are interpolations from the writing of another author; act III, scene 5, and parts of act IV, scene 1, have been determined to be the writing of one of his contemporaries, Thomas Middleton. This can be regarded as both illuminating and problematic, depending upon how the play is being studied. It allows us to infer a great deal about the conventions and practices of writing for the stage at the time. For example, playwriting may have been more collaborative than previously thought, or perhaps Elizabethan notions of plagiarism were different from ours. While historically significant, this does complicate our interpretation of the characters in the play. It is more difficult to assess authorial intention with regard to a character’s motives if the text has been redacted by multiple authors.



7.    Select the statement or statements that are correct according to the passage.

1.    The author feels that Shakespeare is guilty of plagiarism.

2.    The interpolations found in plays such as Macbeth make the assessment of authorial intention more straightforward.

3.    Our current understanding of plagiarism may have arisen after Shakespeare’s time.

8.    Consider the following choices and select all that apply. Which of the following could aid in the further study of the interpolations discussed in the above passage?

1.    an investigation into the existence and prevalence of collaborative writing partnerships during Shakespeare’s time

2.    an examination of the themes and techniques of other writers contemporary with Shakespeare

3.    a search through legal documents of Shakespeare’s time for references to plagiarism or intellectual property rights

9.    Consider the following choices and select all that apply. Which CANNOT be inferred from the passage?

1.    The example of interpolation discussed in the passage would be illegal today.

2.    Authors and playwrights in Shakespeare’s time might have recruited assistance when composing their works.

3.    Shakespeare used Middleton’s writing without his consent.

10.In the passage, the two highlighted statements play which of the following roles?

1.    The first explains a concept, and the second presents an example of that concept.

2.    The first presents an example of the main subject of the passage, and the second is a conclusion based on that example. 

3.    The first states the conclusion of the argument as a whole, and the second provides support for that conclusion.

4.    The first provides evidence for a conclusion that the passage as a whole opposes, and the second presents the objection to that conclusion.

5.    The first states the primary conclusion of the passage, and the second states the secondary conclusion. 


8.       Directions

For the following questions, select the two answer choices that, when inserted into the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and yield complete sentences that are similar in meaning.


11.Known to all as having a silver tongue, the orator easily distracts audiences from the meaning of his words with his  speech.

1.    mellifluous

2.    concise

3.    stumbling

4.    laconic

5.    euphonic

6.    strident

12.When the underdogs so soundly beat the team favored to win, their victory  the entire sports world.

1.    horrified

2.    estranged

3.    shook

4.    bored

5.    alienated

6.    stunned

13.Despite the efforts made by the municipal government to increase public transportation usage, many people of the city continued to drive their own vehicles, complaining that the bus schedules were too  to be relied upon.

1.    irregular

2.    exacting

3.    circuitous

4.    rigid

5.    isolated

6.    erratic

14.Word painting is a musical technique in which the progression of the notes  the meaning of the lyrics; a famous example of this can be found in Handel’s Messiah, in which the notes rise with the mention of “mountains” and fall with the mention of “low.”

1.    affects

2.    mimics

3.    contrasts

4.    reflects

5.    opposes

6.    renounces

10. Directions

Each passage in this group is followed by questions based on its content. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.



15.          Questions 15 and 16 are based on the passage below.

16.          In the decades leading up to the 1970s, the primarily French-speaking Canadian province of Québec saw its proportion of native French speakers diminish from year to year. The attrition of French was attributed to the preeminence of English in the workplace, particularly in affluent, “white-collar” jobs. The French-speaking majority was economically marginalized within its own province, as it was left with the choice of either working in lower-paying jobs or teaching its children English as a first language. The latter option would further erase Québec’s cultural autonomy and singularity within a country that primarily spoke English. Facing the risk of linguistic extinction, the province passed Loi 101 (Law 101): The Charter of the French Language. It established French as the only official language of the province, established the primacy of French in the workplace, and led to more economic equity. Since its passage in 1977, the percentage of people in Québec who speak French as a first language has begun to rise.



15.Which of the following is suggested in the passage as a reason for the decline of French in Québec?

1.    the disparity of economic opportunities available to French and English speakers

2.    an influx of English-speaking immigrants

3.    efforts of French Canadians to further integrate themselves with Canadian culture

4.    the emigration of French Canadians

5.    the outlawing of French in the other provinces

16.According to the passage, Loi 101 was significant in that it

1.    was a final, unsuccessful attempt at enforcing the usage of French in Québec

2.    curtailed the economic supremacy of English

3.    restricted the teaching of English in schools

4.    highlighted the distinctiveness of the cultural identity of Québec from that of the rest of Canada

5.    provided for bilingual education

18.          Questions 17–19 are based on the paragraph below.

19.          The advent of online education in the first decade of the 21st century was the result of and a response to a number of factors that were both internal and external to the field of higher education. Traditional tertiary institutions, especially those that were privately endowed, raised tuition rates far in excess of the rate of inflation. This, in concert with a larger demand for postsecondary education for working adults, helped facilitate the introduction of online learning. However, it should be acknowledged that the relative simplicity of using the Internet as a platform, as well as its cost-effectiveness, was seized upon by entrepreneurs in the private sector. Online education is largely in the hands of for-profit companies. The question now becomes whether the democratization of higher education is worth the price of removing it from nonprofit, research-based universities.



17.The passage is concerned primarily with

1.    the advent of online education

2.    adult-oriented educational systems

3.    the usefulness of the Internet in postsecondary education

4.    economic and technological factors that influenced the development and current state of online education

5.    the advantages and disadvantages of online education

18.The author’s use of the term “seized upon” evokes an image of  on the part of the entrepreneurs.

1.    accidental realization

2.    opportunistic tactics

3.    violent appropriation

4.    collusive behavior

5.    market manipulation

19.The highlighted section refers to

1.    the cost of online education

2.    the popularity of online courses

3.    making education available to a wider range of students

4.    the role of voting in class selection

5.    whether or not a democratic society should have online education

21.          Question 20 is based on the passage below.

22.          Thermodynamics is concerned with changes in the properties of matter when we alter the external conditions. An example of this is a gas being compressed by the motion of a piston. The final outcome depends on how the change is made—if the piston is moved in slowly, we say that the compression is “reversible.” This means that if we pull the piston back out, we retrace the same sequence of properties but in the reverse order; hence, the temperature of the gas will be the same when the piston has been pulled out as it was before the piston was pushed in. However, if the piston is moved in and out quickly, then the initial state (and temperature) will not be recovered—the gas will always be hotter than it was at the beginning. This is a manifestation, although not a statement, of the second law of thermodynamics. It also makes a difference whether there is a transfer of heat between the cylinder of gas and the external surroundings. If the cylinder is insulated, then the gas will heat on compression and cool on expansion (refrigeration uses this principle). On the other hand, if the cylinder can exchange heat with the surroundings, it will remain at the same temperature if the compression is slow enough.



20.This passage is primarily concerned with 

1.    describing the motion of a piston to demonstrate the laws of thermodynamics

2.    explaining the conservation of heat during the motion of a piston

3.    demonstrating how the second law of thermodynamics applies to pistons

4.    explaining how thermodynamics function

5.    discussing reversible compression

Answer Key


1.    B

2.    AF

3.    CFH

4.    CE

5.    D

6.    CF

7.    C

8.    ABC

9.    AC












Answers and Explanations


1.    BThe road sign here is “but,” which is a detour. The key words “can be decoded” indicate that the contrasting word in the blank means something like “mysterious” or “hard to understand.” With that prediction in mind, look for an answer that suggests something incomprehensible, which rules out choices (C) harmonious(D) shocking, and (E) lucid. Choice (A) unwelcoming is a possibility, but it refers more to a sense of unpleasantness than to perplexity. Answer choice (B) arcane is a perfect fit for the sense of something that cannot be easily understood.

2.    AFBegin by taking note of the phrase “in spite of,” which suggests that there will be an opposing idea in the sentence. The sentence describes the play as popular, so you can rule out choices (B) celebrated and (C) histrionic for the first blank because you are looking for a word contrasting with popularity. Based on the remaining option, (A) controversial, you are looking for a solution to the second blank that connotes uncertainty. Choices (D) assuaging and (E) augmenting are not possible, since neither means uncertainty. It is therefore answer choice (F) debating for the second blank. Read the sentence with the blanks filled in: if the play is controversial, it is not universally popular, and it makes sense that critics would debate some aspect of it.

3.    CFH

When there are so many missing parts, it is often best to begin with whatever complete clause you can find; in this case, the final one. This will allow you to fill in the third blank. You are told that we do not know the truth, which allows you to eliminate both choices (G) fraudulent and (I) verified, because both indicate that concrete knowledge exists on the matter. Answer choice (H) apocryphal is the only possible answer. If you know that many apocryphal stories arose surrounding the work, you can make headway into both of the other blanks.

For the first blank, assume that if many stories are made up about something, it is widely talked about—this eliminates choice (B) inconspicuous without a doubt, and between choices (A) ignominious and (C) famous, the choice is fairly straightforward. When you know something is much talked about because it is “incomplete,” you can suppose that a neutral synonym of “well-known” is going to be much more likely than a negative synonym of “shameful.”

Finally, for the second blank, you can reject choices (D) obscurity and (E) indifference because you know the composition is well-known, so answer choice (F) mystique is the only logical choice (and is supported by the mention of apocryphal stories). Let’s check our answer: “Considered one of his most famous works, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor has a certain mystique in Western culture, and many apocryphal stories have arisen surrounding it; unfortunately, the truth is lost to us.” Everything fits in perfectly when you read back the sentence with the correct words filled in.

4.    CE

“Although,” a detour road sign, starts off the sentence, indicating that the ideas of the first and second clause will be opposites. While external knowledge might tell you that Paine was, in fact, a famous writer, it is important to remember that the correct answer will be derived from clues in the sentence alone. Also, the key words “political pamphlets” and “many different subjects” tell us what is being contrasted here: one subject (politics) versus many subjects. You might predict that Paine was well-known for his political writing but was actually a good writer on many subjects.

For the first blank, (C) famous for is a perfect match for your prediction. Choices (A) inimical to and (B) condemned for are both negative and, therefore, incorrect. Then for the second blank, neither (D) abstruse nor (F) terrible indicate that Paine wrote well. However, (E) prolific author writes a lot, and it can be presumed that writing comes easily to him. Therefore, (E) is the correct answer for the second blank.

Choices (D) abstruse and (E) terrible could work in a different sentence, but there is no choice for the first blank that will allow the resulting sentence to make sense. The answer will always be clear and definite—choices (C) famous for and (E) prolific create a sentence that makes sense without requiring any other knowledge or qualifications.

5.    DSince Adam “never acknowledged his mistakes," you can assume that Adam does not want to admit to being wrong. Choices (B) acclamation and (E) popularity can be immediately discounted because they have nothing to do with being right or wrong. Choices (A) genius and (C) shrewdness might work in this sentence (they are both related to mental quickness, and someone convinced of his own intelligence might not want to admit to being wrong). However, answer choice (D) infallibility directly opposes the notion of being wrong and is, therefore, the correct answer.

6.    CF

Based on the choices, you know that there will be a conjunction between the clauses of the first and second blanks. The contrast of “ancient times” and “recently” tells you to predict a word for the first blank that suggests contrast, which eliminates choices (A) because and (B) since, leaving you with answer choice (C) although.

You know St. Elmo’s fire has been documented for a long time, so discount choice (E) reported for the second blank. Choice (D) may be tempting, because incineration is related to fire, but it does not make sense in this sentence. That leaves (F) understood, which does make sense as a contrast with the phenomenon’s having been documented.

7.    CThis type of question gives you three statements and asks you to select which ones are true. Break it down statement by statement. Statement (A) is untrue because the term “plagiarism” is used in the passage in the phrase “perhaps Elizabethan notions of plagiarism were different from ours”—which indicates that one cannot be certain of what might have constituted plagiarism at the time. Statement (B) is a 180: the passage does refer to the assessment of authorial intention if the text has been redacted by several authors, but the passage states the exact opposite of statement (B). Statement (C) is correct because you are told that our current notion of plagiarism might be different from the notion of plagiarism in Shakespeare’s time.

8.    ABCThis Inference question asks you to consider possibilities based on what is in the text but not necessarily stated within it. (A) The passage raises the question of how collaborative writing for the stage may have been during Shakespeare’s time. Conducting an investigation into the existence of collaborative writing partnerships would be a good way to determine an answer for this question. (B) Familiarizing yourself with the style of other writers who might have helped write or had their work used in the writing of Shakespeare’s plays would help in the determination of the actual authorship of passages in Macbeth (and other plays), as well as provide insight into authorial intention. Finally, (C) is an interesting alternative to a strictly literary study and would help to solve the question posed in the text of what constituted plagiarism in the Elizabethan era. All three are good choices for further study.

9.    ACThis is an Inference EXCEPT question: you must select the statements that you cannot infer from the passage. (A), that this example of interpolation would be illegal today, is impossible to tell as the passage does not address issues of legality and we do not even know whether Middleton was a willing collaborator. (B) is suggested within the passage in the supposition that writing such as Macbeth might have, in fact, been collaborative—this allows you to eliminate choice (B)(C) you know to be also a correct response for the same reason you specified for (A)—you do not know precisely Middleton’s role in the composition. Answer choices (A) and (C) are both correct.


In this question, you are asked to determine the rhetorical roles of the two highlighted statements. The first highlighted statement is used as an example of the interpolations that the first clause in the sentence mentions. The highlighted portion states that parts of Shakespeare’s work were in fact written by his peer Middleton. So the first highlighted portion appears to be an example.

The second highlighted statement presents an opinion regarding the impact of interpolations on literary analysis. According to this statement, because others wrote certain parts of Shakespeare’s work,  it is more difficult to determine a character’s motives. Your prediction should be that the first statement is an example, and the second is an opinion or conclusion (remember that in arguments, the words “opinion” and “conclusion” will often be used interchangeably). Answer choice (B) matches this prediction perfectly.

The other choices miss the mark completely. For instance, choice (A) incorrectly states that the second highlighted portion is the example. Similarly, choice (C) indicates that the first statement is the opinion and the second is the evidence, the exact opposite of our prediction. (D) states that the passage opposes an argument, but there is no conflict addressed in the passage. Finally, choice (E) identifies both statements as conclusions, which is not correct.

11.AEThe key here is that the sentence tells us that his “silver tongue” makes it hard to concentrate on the meaning of his words. To have a silver tongue is to be noted for the pleasantness of one’s speech, so you are looking for a pair of answers that mean “pleasing.” (C) stumbling(D) laconic, and (F) strident all are unrelated to the pleasantness of his tone, and while (B) concise language may be an attribute of a skilled orator, it will not create a similar sentence to one created by either of the other two possible answers. (A)mellifluous and (E) euphonic both mean “to be sweet or pleasing,” and both are often used in reference to speech.

12.CFFor the favorite to lose is a surprise, so you are looking for choices that are synonyms of “surprised.” Choice (A) horrified has a negative connotation not implied in the sentence. Likewise, the emotions conveyed in choices (B) estranged and (E) alienated would require more information than you are given to be considered as possible answers. (D) bored is the opposite of what you are looking for; something surprising is not boring. Answer choice (C) shook is often used in a metaphorical sense when a surprising event occurs, as is answer choice (F) stunned, and the two are synonyms of each another and of “surprised.”

13.AFThis is a good example of a sentence in which you are given more information than you need. In fact, the only clue you need lies in the final phrase “to be relied upon.” Your answers will be antonyms of “reliable,” which eliminates choices (B) exacting(C) circuitous (a tempting choice because of the relationship between bus routes and the root word “circuit,” but the meaning is not related to the sentence), (D) rigid, and (E) isolated(A) irregular and (F) erratic both suggest that the buses are unreliable and, as is often (but not necessarily) the case with these questions, they are synonyms of each other.

14.BDWhile you might have no background in musical techniques, you never need information from outside the sentence to deduce the correct answer. The example given tells you that the progression of notes in the music seems to imitate the words of the lyrics. So, you need a word that gives the meaning “the progression of the notes mirrors the meaning of the lyrics.” Choices (C) contrasts(E) opposes, and (F) renounces are antonyms of the desired answer. While (A) affects could work in the sentence, it lacks a synonym and does not properly refer to the desired meaning of “mirrors.”  Answer choices (B) mimics and (D) reflects do, however, and thus you know that they are your desired choices.


You are asked why the use of the French language declined in Québec. Researching the passage, you see this mentioned in the first few lines. Specifically, you are told that the “preeminence” of the English language in the best jobs forced people to switch. This indicates that in order to take advantage of the best economic opportunities, one had to speak English. The passage suggests that French became an economically unviable language, stating that “the French-speaking majority was economically marginalized.” Thus, the two groups had access to significantly different economic and professional opportunities. This is reflected in answer choice (A).

Choices (B) and (D) are out of scope, as immigrant and emigrant populations are not mentioned. Furthermore, choice (E) is also beyond the scope of the passage, which does not mention the outlawing of French in other provinces. Finally, choice (C) is a 180, as the passage states the French sought to maintain their autonomy, not integrate themselves into other cultures.

16.BThis question asks you to summarize the significance of the law mentioned in the latter part of the passage. Based on the final sentence of the passage (which mentions the rise in French as the primary language), (A) is untrue—it was not an unsuccessful attempt. (B) is true because the passage specifies that the law “established the primacy of French in the workplace.” No mention is made of language in schools, so you can dismiss options (C) and (E). Finally, while the cultural identity of Québec is mentioned in the passage, the only results of Loi 101 specified are the economic equity of the languages and the rise in the usage of French, so you can also reject (D) as a possible answer. Answer choice (B) is the only option that is based on the information in the passage.

17.DYou must be careful here. Just because (A) is a direct quotation of the opening of the passage does not make it the correct answer, and, indeed, the passage moves away from the origins of online education and into other facets of its expansion. (B) is not discussed in the passage, even though the author makes note that the demand for adult-oriented education was one of the contributing factors to the rise of online learning. Neither (C) nor (E) properly describes the entire scope of the passage. Only answer choice (D) can be said to encompass the entirety of the passage.

18.BHere you are called to define a phrase based on its context. What you are looking for is an answer that accurately reflects what is described in the passage: the entrepreneurs saw an untapped potential for profit in the unanswered demand for online learning and “seized upon” it. (A) is a poor choice because it implies that their success in capitalizing on the demand was unintentional. (B) is a much better solution because it evokes the image of the entrepreneurs taking the opportunity available. (C) is highly unlikely because no mention of violence is made in the passage (and, indeed, in reference to online education this would be an unlikely choice to begin with). (D) can be eliminated as there is no mention of collusion on the part of for-profit education companies; similarly, (E) can be eliminated because those companies are never said to have manipulated the market in order to gain control of the online education market. Answer choice (B) is the only possible answer.

19.CThis type of question asks you to define the highlighted phrase based on the context. The key word here is “democratization.” While the cost-effectiveness of online education is mentioned earlier in the passage, it is unlikely that (A) the cost of online education is the correct answer because the sense of the final sentence is that “it remains to be seen whether making higher education more widely available through online institutions is worth the price of removing it from nonprofit, research-based universities.” Based on this, you can also discount (B) the popularity of online courses and (D) the role of voting in class selection because while they may be linked conceptually to the term “democracy,” the context tells us this is not what the phrase here concerns. Answer choice (C) making education available to a wider range of students matches our prediction and properly clarifies the usage of the highlighted phrase in the passage. You can discount (E) because it goes well beyond the scope of the passage.

20.AIn a Global question such as this one, the correct answer will reflect the scope and purpose you noted while reading the passage. While the broad topic of the passage is thermodynamics, the bulk of the passage describes the motion of a piston and how the effects of that motion demonstrate the laws of thermodynamics. (A) expresses this idea exactly. (D) may be tempting since “thermodynamics” is the first word of the passage, but (D) is too broad and leaves out any mention of the piston, which plays a key role in the passage as a whole. Choices (B), (C), and (E) refer to specific subjects mentioned in the passage but do not refer to the passage as a whole.

Diagnose Your Results

Diagnostic Tool

Tally up your score and write your results below.


Total Correct:  out of 20 correct

By Question Type

·        Text Completions (questions 1–6)  out of 6 correct

·        Sentence Equivalence (questions 11–14)  out of 4 correct

·        Reading Comprehension (questions 7–10, 15–20)  out of 10 correct

Look back at the questions you got wrong and think about your experience answering them.

1.     STEP 1
Find the roadblocks.

If you struggled to answer some questions, then to improve your score, you need to pinpoint exactly what “roadblocks” tripped you up. To do that, ask yourself the following two questions.

Am I weak in the skills being tested? 
The easiest way to determine this is to think in terms of what skills are required for each question type. If you’re having trouble with Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion, you probably need to review your vocabulary word lists. Maybe you need to brush up on using word etymology to your advantage. If Reading Comprehension questions are bothersome, you need to work on your critical reading skills. If you know you need to brush up on your verbal skills, try the Kaplan GRE Verbal Workbook, which contains a focused review of all the verbal reasoning concepts tested on the GRE, as well as practice exercises to build speed and accuracy.

Did the question types throw me off?
Then you need to become more comfortable with them! Sentence Equivalence questions have a unique format, and Reading Comprehension can be daunting with its dense, complex passages. If you struggled, go back to the beginning of this chapter and review the Kaplan principles and methods for the question types you found challenging. Make sure you understand the principles and how to apply the methods. These strategies will help you improve your speed and efficiency on Test Day. Remember, it’s not a reading or vocabulary test; it’s a critical-reasoning test (even though your reading habits and command of vocabulary are indispensable tools that will help you earn a high score).

Also, get as much practice as you can so that you grow more at ease with the question type formats. For even more practice, try the Kaplan GRE Verbal Workbook, which includes practice sets for each question type.

2.     STEP 2
Find the blind spots.

Did you answer some questions quickly and confidently but get them wrong anyway?

When you come across wrong answers like these, you need to figure out what you thought you were doing right, what it turns out you were doing wrong, and why that happened. The best way to do that is to read the answer explanations!

The explanations give you a detailed breakdown of why the correct answer is correct and why all the other answer choices are incorrect. This helps to reinforce the Kaplan principles and methods for each question type and helps you figure out what blindsided you so it doesn’t happen again. Also, just as with your “roadblocks,” try to get in as much practice as you can.

3.     STEP 3
Reinforce your strengths.

Now read through all the answer explanations for the ones you got right. You should check every answer because if you guessed correctly without actually knowing how to get the right answer, reading the explanations will make sure that whatever needs fixing gets fixed. Work through them one more time. Again, this helps to reinforce the Kaplan principles and methods for each question type, which in turn helps you work more efficiently so you can get the score you want. Keep your skills sharp with more practice.

As soon as you are comfortable with all the GRE question types and Kaplan methods, complete a full-length practice test under timed conditions. In this way, practice tests serve as milestones; they help you to chart your progress. So don’t save them all for the final weeks! For even more practice, you can also try the Kaplan GRE Quiz Bank. You get more than 2,500 questions that you can access 24/7 from any Internet browser, each with comprehensive explanations. You can even customize your quizzes based on question type, content, and difficulty level. Take quizzes in Timed Mode to test your stamina or in Tutor Mode to see explanations as you work. Best of all, you also get detailed reports to track your progress.

Visit for more details on our Quiz Bank and for more information on our other online and classroom-based options.

Verbal Reasoning Practice Set 2




1.    Because she was so , Mary was uncomfortable speaking to large groups of people.

1.    reticent

2.    congenial

3.    brusque

4.    gregarious

5.    scurrilous

2.    The band’s new album was universally panned by critics, with many  their change to a simpler sound.

1.    lauding

2.    ignorant of

3.    tolerating

4.    deriding

5.    apathetic to

3.    The cotton gin played a (i)  role in advancing the textile industry, (ii)  its negative effects can be seen in the rapid development of slavery as the economic base of the American South.

1.      negligible

2.      crucial

3.      trivial

4.      although

5.      so

6.      plus

4.    Although he  an image of anti-authoritarianism, Johnny Cash was a frequent visitor to the White House and friends with several presidents during his life.

1.    advocated

2.    cultivated

3.    patronized

4.    supported

5.    snubbed

5.    (i)  mushrooms are popular in many cuisines, it is (ii)  to eat those found in the wild, as many frequently found mushrooms resemble edible mushrooms but are, in fact, (iii) .

1.      Considering

2.      While

3.      Because

4.      imprudent

5.      cheaper

6.      ingenuous

7.      poisonous

8.      bland

9.      toothsome

6.    Though the poet’s work was praised highly by critics, sales of his anthologies were (i) ; it is possible the poor sales were due to his language being too (ii)  to be readily understood.

1.      scanty

2.      robust

3.      singular

4.      lucid

5.      prosaic

6.      abstruse

3.    Question 7 is based on the passage below.

4.    Criticisms of the automaticity model of reading acquisition include a lack of focus on comprehension as the ultimate goal of reading. Too much focus on fluency to the neglect of comprehension is a correlative criticism. Miscue analysis, tracking students’ errors or “miscues,” has demonstrated that even early readers use prediction as well as translation into dialect as they read, thereby using tools outside of those described in the automaticity model. A third criticism is that dyslexic readers, because of the inherent decoding problems they face, necessarily have trouble following the model and sustaining the reading rates recommended for fluency.



7.    The passage suggests that all the following are flaws in the automaticity model of reading acquisition EXCEPT

1.    failure to consider all the methods commonly used by developing readers

2.    measuring reading ability by fluency

3.    prioritizing efficiency in reading over understanding

4.    insufficient research

5.    its application in groups of readers who have difficulties decoding reading material

6.    Questions 8–10 are based on the passage below.

7.    Toward the end of the 19th century, many scientists thought that all the great scientific discoveries had already been made and that there was not much left to do beyond some “tidying up.” Max Planck, born in 1858, turned this notion upside down with his study of black-body radiation. Even in a vacuum, a hot body will tend to come to thermal equilibrium with a colder body by radiative heat transfer. This is the principle by which we derive energy from the sun. However, measurement of black-body radiation frequencies across a range of temperatures resulted in a parabolic curve, which theory in Planck’s time could not explain. After many years of work devoted to this problem, Planck succeeded in quantitatively explaining the experimental data; his key insight was that energy comes in small, discrete packets, called quanta.His theory was the birth of what is called quantum mechanics, the revolutionary theory of matter that is fundamental to the modern understanding of physics, chemistry, and molecular biology.



8.    Select the sentence that best describes the importance of Max Planck’s work to modern science, as described in the passage.

9.    Which of the following would best paraphrase the opening sentence?

1.    By the late 1800s, much of the scientific community felt it had completed the majority of its work and minor revisions were its only remaining task.

2.    By 1900, few scientists were still making significant discoveries, and most projects were revising current theories.

3.    At the end of the 19th century, scientists were concerned that they had run out of discoveries to make and could only perfect already proven theories.

4.    By 1900, the scientific community had declared that it had come to understand the natural laws of the universe.

5.    At the end of the 19th century, scientists ceased trying to formulate new theories.

10.Which of the following best describes the relationship between the highlighted portions of the passage?

1.    topic and scope

2.    theory and debunking

3.    problem and solution

4.    hypothesis and analysis

5.    thesis and synthesis

11.After naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated, the World Health Organization chose to  the remaining samples of the virus in hopes that they might be later used in developing the means to combat other viruses.

1.    eliminate

2.    duplicate

3.    preserve

4.    retain

5.    extirpate

6.    cultivate

12.The Magna Carta was one of the most  political declarations of the Middle Ages because it declared the monarch’s powers to be limited by the law; although its practical effects were not immediate, it is commonly seen as the genesis of constitutional law in England.

1.    remarkable

2.    immense

3.    pivotal

4.    recondite

5.    ancient

6.    momentous

13.Though  filled the streets, people seemed unconcerned with the appearance of their city.

1.    detritus

2.    refuge

3.    gaudiness

4.    bedlam

5.    refuse

6.    barrenness

14.G. K. Chesterton’s sense of humor is exemplified in his often  responses to his friend and rival George Bernard Shaw.

1.    punctilious

2.    vociferous

3.    waggish

4.    vicious

5.    scathing

6.    witty

15. Directions

Each passage in this group is followed by questions based on its content. After reading a passage, choose the best answer(s) to each question. Answer all questions following a passage on the basis of what is stated or implied in that passage.



2.    Questions 15–18 are based on the passage below.

3.    There is an anthropological theory that states that societies may be divided into one of two broad categories by their cultural motivators: shame or guilt. In a shame-based society, the ethical motivations are primarily external; one’s behavior is governed based on potential effects on the social group (such as dishonoring one’s family). By contrast, guilt-based societies rely more heavily on internal motivations; one’s behavior is governed based on a set of internal guidelines. There is no society where one or the other is entirely absent, but the distinction lies in that, based on the accepted values of the society, one will come to be dominant over the other. It would seem that early Medieval Europe was primarily a shame-based society; indeed, the forms of shame-based motivators in courtly society were extremely highly developed, with express social laws governing various behaviors. This sort of shame may be seen to be divided into many forms, such as positive and negative shame; that is, prospective and retrospective (knowledge of the honor one will accrue or the shame one will avoid through future actions, and humiliation or other punishment after something harmful has been done, respectively), ethical and nonethical (dealing with higher, such as theological and abstract, concepts, and quotidian matters, respectively), and so on. These social structures may also be found in the contemporary tales of the chivalric world. An example of such may be seen in the frequent plot device of the knight committing adultery with the wife of his lord. Adultery with the wife of one’s lord is a matter of treason and an explicit moral wrong, and yet the condemnation in these stories seems to focus on the perpetrator’s violation of social norms (treason) rather than moral standards (adultery).



15.Read the following statements and select all that apply. Which of the following CANNOT be inferred from the passage?

1.    Early Medieval Europe was unconcerned with moral codes.

2.    Some cultures are neither shame-based nor guilt-based.

3.    Guilt-based societies have few laws.

16.Select the sentence that describes the scope of the passage.

17.Consider the following choices and select all that apply. What can we infer about a society that focuses primarily upon a moral code of right and wrong?

1.    It would be guilt-based.

2.    It would tolerate adultery.

3.    It would not have laws governing behavior.

18.Based on the passage, a society that prizes the harmony of the social group would most likely be

1.    guilt-based

2.    shame-based

3.    extremely permissive

4.    governed by a chivalric order

5.    bereft of citizens with an internal code of moral right and wrong 

5.    Questions 19 and 20 are based on the passage below.

6.    At the atomic scale, all matter exhibits properties commonly associated with both waves and particles. The classic experiment that demonstrates wavelike properties is the double-slit experiment, first performed by Thomas Young at the beginning of the 19th century. If a beam of light passes through two narrow slits and is projected onto a screen behind the slits, a pattern of light and dark fringes can be observed. The explanation for this is based on an analogy with ripples in water. If we drop two stones some distance apart, the ripples start to interfere with each other, sometimes amplifying when two crests or troughs meet, sometimes canceling when a crest meets a trough. A similar explanation holds for interference effects with visible light; the two slits act as independent sources in the same way as do the stones in water. This experiment provided convincing evidence in support of Christian Huygen’s wave theory of light, which eventually supplanted the older particle theory of Isaac Newton. However, in the 20th century, Einstein showed that Newton was not entirely wrong. His analysis of the photoelectric effect showed that light could behave as a particle as well as a wave. Surprisingly, electrons, which we tend to think of as particles, also demonstrate interference effects, showing that they too are waves as well as particles.



19.Which of the following best summarizes the findings of Young’s experiment, as described in the passage?

1.    The waves from independent light sources interact with one another in predictable patterns. 

2.    Two light sources can cancel each other out, creating the observed dark fringes.

3.    Light exhibits properties of both particles and waves.

4.    Newton’s theory was permanently debunked.

5.    Newton’s theory was correct all along.

20.Based on the passage, what would we expect the light fringes in Young’s experiment to represent?

1.    the light particles from both slits landing on the screen

2.    the amplification created by the combination of both sets of waves of light

3.    the projection onto the screen where the light is not blocked out by the object with the slits

4.    the amplification created by light particles

5.    the projection onto the screen where the light is blocked by the object with the slits

Answer Key


1.    A

2.    D

3.    BD

4.    B

5.    BDG

6.    AF

7.    D

8.    His theory was the birth of what is called...

9.    A







16.It would seem that early Medieval Europe was primarily a shame-based society...





Answers and Explanations


1.    A

Mary is quiet when in groups, so you should look to find a related word. You can thus quickly rule out choices (B) congenial and (D) gregarious. Answer choice (A) reticent properly matches the sense of the second clause, whereas choices (C) brusque and (E) scurrilous would require information beyond her being quiet in groups to be good choices.

2.    DThe critics do not approve of the band’s change, and the word “with” is a straight-ahead road sign here, so look for something that suggests criticism or rejection. This eliminates choices (A) lauding and (C) tolerating; furthermore, you know that the reception was strongly negative based on the phrase “universally panned,” so you can eliminate choices (B)ignorant of and (E) apathetic to because both of these indicate a general lack of interest. This leaves answer choice (D) deriding, which provides the sense of a strong, negative reaction.

3.    BD

Looking at the sentence and choices, you know that the second word will be some kind of conjunction that connects the two parts of the sentence. You can see from the second part that there were negative effects, while in the first part of the sentence you see mention of industrial advances, suggesting that a contrasting conjunction is likely.

Thus, for the second blank, answer choice (D) although is an appropriate contrasting conjunction. Choices (E) and (F) are poor choices because they are contingent on the second clause either being a result of the first or building on the first, rather than contrasting with the first clause.

For the first blank, you can safely rule out choices (A) negligible and (C) trivial because we know from the second part of the sentence that the cotton gin had some notable effects. Choice (B) crucial is the only positive option for the first blank.

4.    BWith the road sign “Although,” you are given a contrast in this sentence about the way Johnny Cash presented himself—“an image of anti-authoritarianism” versus being closely connected with various U.S. presidents. Judging by the sentence, you would expect a term akin to “promoted,” so you can remove (E) snubbed from the list; furthermore, you know it refers to his own image, not the image of others. Choices (A) advocated(C) patronized, and (D) supported all imply outward action—to encourage an image of someone or something else. Answer choice (B) cultivated is the correct choice because it most clearly refers to developing his own image.

5.    BDG

Three-blank sentences take a little longer to work out. Looking at the choices for the first blank, you can see that it is a conjunction, but you cannot be sure of which until you solve the rest of the sentence. The best place to begin in this sentence is actually at the end—you are given a very useful hint with the detour road sign “but,” telling you that blank three will be an antonym to “edible.” Looking through the choices, you can see that the correct answer is answer choice (G) poisonous. While you might not want to eat something (H)bland, this is not a direct antonym to “edible.” Choice (I) toothsome means “palatable” or “desirable” and is the opposite of what the blank needs.

From here, work backwards to the second blank. Since you now know that you are talking about eating possibly poisonous mushrooms, you can predict that blank two will say that it is “unwise” to do so. Choice (E) cheaper is irrelevant to the context (and no mention of money is made elsewhere), and choice (F) ingenuous, meaning “innocent” or “sincere,” is unrelated to the sentence. Answer choice (D) imprudent is a synonym of “unwise” and is therefore the answer you need.

Return to the first blank in the sentence. You are told that mushrooms are popular in many cuisines, and you are looking for an answer that connects the two ideas. Predict roughly “although mushrooms are popular in many cuisines, it is imprudent…”; what you are looking for is a conjunction marking this contradicting idea. Answer choice (B) While is the correct choice. For sentences with three blanks, especially, it is important to reread the sentence with all the blanks filled in: “While mushrooms are popular in many cuisines, it is imprudent to eat those found in the wild, as many frequently found mushrooms resemble edible mushrooms but are, in fact, poisonous.” The sentence makes perfect sense.

6.    AF

Within the first half of the sentence, you are given the detour road sign “though” to contrast the high praise with the sales. Thus, choices (B) robust and (C) singular cannot be correct because they are too positive. Answer choice (A) scanty, on the other hand, contrasts appropriately with high praise, and it fits perfectly with “poor sales” later in the sentence.

The second half of the sentence offers a possible explanation for why the sales were poor, suggesting that it was too hard to understand the poet’s language, which immediately removes choice (D) lucid. Choice (E) prosaic might trip you up; however, answer choice (F) abstruse is clearly the better choice for the second blank—it is an adjective indicating that the prose is difficult to understand.

7.    DReading through the passage, you can determine answer choice (D) to be the correct answer, because there is no mention of the amount of research done or needed concerning the automaticity model. Research is out of scope. Choices (A)(B), and (C) are explicitly stated in the passage: (A) may be found in the description of early readers, and (B) and (C)may be found in the criticism of focusing on fluency over understanding. Choice (E) can be derived from the third criticism about dyslexia, which is that the automaticity model does not account for differences in decoding ability.

8.    His theory was the birth of what is called...

This sentence provides a summary of the importance of his work.

9.    AWhile reading the paragraph, paraphrase the text in your head to make sure you understand it. The key aspect of this sentence is that, at the time, there were a number of scientists who believed that the major discoveries had been made and the remaining scientific work was to tweak and perfect current theories. With that in mind, you can look through the options to see which best fits this idea. Answer choice (A) is an excellent paraphrase of the sentence. (B) is problematic because there is a fundamental difference between scientists believing all the great discoveries to have been made and scientists making few new significant discoveries. You can also reject choices (C)(D), and (E)because their description of “scientists” and the “scientific community” as a whole is too broad. The original sentence only states “many scientists,” suggesting that there were dissenters, such as Planck.

10.CWhat you must keep in mind here is that you are asked for the relationship between the two highlighted phrases, not their relationship to the passage as a whole. A good way to attack this sort of question is to paraphrase each of the phrases and identify what it is saying on its own. The first phrase states an issue: that the current theory could not explain the parabolic curve scientists observed. The second phrase tells us of Planck’s breakthrough discovery of quanta. Thus, you can predict that the answer will tell us the relationship is between the limitations of the current theory and Planck’s solution. (A) is a trap because it uses words you frequently see elsewhere and are admonished to remember when considering any Reading Comprehension passage. However, topic and scope are irrelevant to this question, and choice (A) can be dismissed. (B) may be tempting because the first highlighted portion does contain the word “theory. However, based on the wording of the first phrase, it is clear that the issue with the current theory was recognized by the scientific community; thus, Planck’s solution was not a challenge to a widely accepted belief, and “debunking” is not appropriate. In answer choice (C), you are given problem and solution, which matches your prediction and is the correct answer. (D) is out of scope; a hypothesis is not brought up here, nor is that hypothesis being explained further. (E) is incorrect since the first highlighted sentence is not a thesis, or summary, of the paragraph, but rather an issue that needs to be addressed.

11.CDWhile you might be tempted to stray toward the answers meaning “destroy” due to the previous mention of eradication and due to the danger of the material (smallpox), you must carefully read through the sentence. It informs us that there is hope that the samples may have further uses, so you know they must be preserved. You can thus reject (A)eliminate and (E) extirpate. You are left with two pairs of synonyms, choices (B) duplicate and (F) cultivate as well as (C) preserve and (D) retain, so you must choose one of the sets. You are able to do this by focusing on what is in the sentence alone—the word “later” suggests saving the samples, not working with them immediately, so answer choices (C)and (D) are correct.

12.CFWith strong words like “most,” “declarations,” and “genesis,” the answer will be likewise a word of emphatic meaning. Furthermore, the sentence tells us of the importance of the Magna Carta, so you can predict synonyms of “significant” or “revolutionary.” Choices (D) recondite and (E) ancient are both meaningless in the sentence, and you can eliminate them. Choice (B) immense can likewise be dismissed because nowhere is the size of the Magna Carta described, nor are there any synonyms among the other options. While choice (A) remarkable may be tempting, both answer choices (C) pivotal and (F) momentous connote a significant turning point, which (A) does not.

13.AEThe key here is that the appearance of the city seems to be lacking, so you are looking for words that imply a deficiency in charm or physical beauty. Choice (D) bedlam could only make sense without the second clause, and choice (F) barrenness is a lack of something, so it could not fill the streets; furthermore, both are lacking synonyms in the other options. Choice (C) gaudiness does imply a lack of taste, but it is without a synonym as well. (A) detritus means “waste” or “debris,” which is an excellent option for the blank, and with further investigation you can see it has a synonym in (E) refuse(B) refuge is a trap for the careless, resembling refuse and being right below a synonym of refuse—be careful when you read the answers!

14.CFThe words in the blank will describe Chesterton’s particular style of humor. You are given a further clue to the answer in the description of Shaw as his “friend and rival.” With this description in mind, you can dismiss choices (B) vociferous(D) vicious, and (E) scathing as behavior unlikely to be shown toward a friend—remember, if the solution would demand further qualification such as “Chesterton was known to be as harsh to his friends as to his critics,” then it is highly unlikely to be the correct answer. (A) punctilious is not a synonym of the remaining two answer choices, (C) waggish and (F) witty.

15.ABCYou are looking for statements that go beyond what can reasonably be inferred in the passage. (A) is a good choice, because while the passage mentions that it was “primarily a shame-based society,” there is no mention of a lack of concern with moral codes; further, the passage notes that neither classification of societies is without some influence of the other. (B) also cannot be inferred; in fact, it is contradicted in the fourth sentence. As for (C), while the passage mentions the complexity of the social guidelines of shame-based societies, there is no way you can infer that guilt-based societies have few laws. All three of the answers are correct.

16.It would seem that early Medieval Europe was primarily a shame-based society...

This sentence provides us with the particular focus of the passage on Medieval Europe, narrowed down from the topic of shame- and guilt-based societies in general.

17.AThe difference between the two kinds of societies, according to the author, is a matter of internal (guilt) and external (shame) motivators. What you must consider, then, is where a moral code might be placed. You are given one particularly useful clue in the phrase “internal guidelines” in sentence 3, which, even if it lacks the strength of a sense of moral right and wrong, still allows us to classify the society in the question as guilt based. Furthermore, in the example at the end of the passage, it is suggested that “moral standards” are an example of a trait of a guilt-based society. The answer is (A). Choice (B) is incorrect; don’t be distracted by the description at the end of the passage that describes how medieval Europe, a shame-based society, dealt with adultery. Choice (C) is beyond the scope of the passage.


For this question, you must consider the description of the society in the question compared to what you are given in the passage. Early in the passage, you see mention of dishonoring one’s family as an example of a damaging effect on the social group. This indicates that the society in the question would be a shame-based society as in the example, and the correct answer is (B). Choice (C) is incorrect because there are certainly rules in a shame-based society. Similarly, you can reject (E); it goes beyond the scope of the passage, which does not offer any evidence to suggest that individuals within a society that emphasizes social cohesion do not have an internally regulated morality. (D) is incorrect because there is insufficient information to support such an assertion.


The key to this question lies in the analogy of the ripples in the water, where two troughs or crests amplify each other but one trough and one crest negate each other. Likewise, with the light waves, the two separate light sources produce waves that interact with one another and, like the crests and troughs of the water, have predictable results: the light and dark fringes. Choice (B) describes a part of Young’s findings, but you must reject it because it does not adequately describe the whole of his findings. Choice (C) cannot be the correct answer either, because the passage notes that it was not until Einstein that particle theory was returned to the theory of light. And likewise for choice (D); you are told Einstein proved that Newton’s theory was not entirely accurate and so it was not permanently debunked. Similarly, you cannot claim he was entirely correct, so (E) is out as well. This leaves choice (A), which matches your prediction.

20.BThe answer, again, comes from the ripple analogy, where two meeting crests are amplified.  Thus, choice (B) is likely to be the correct answer.  You can dismiss (A) since Young’s experiment is concerned solely with light as a wave, not as a particle, and answer choice (C) fails to take into account the purpose of his experiment: separating a single light source into two streams and recombining them on the screen. As for choice (D), amplification of light particles is mentioned as a possibility, but this is out of the scope of the question. Choice (E) refers to Huygen’s wave theory of light but not Young’s experiment.  You have a clear answer in choice (B).

Diagnose Your Results

Diagnostic Tool

Tally up your score and write your results below.


Total Correct:  out of 20 correct

By Question Type


·        Text Completions (questions 1–6)  out of 6 correct

·        Sentence Equivalence (questions 11–14)  out of 4 correct

·        Reading Comprehension (questions 7–10, 15–20)  out of 10 correct


Repeat the steps outlined on the Diagnose Your Results page that follows the Verbal Reasoning Practice Set 1 answer key.

Verbal Reasoning Practice Set 3




1.    Veteran technical support staff members feel that their services are  by the use of computer programs to do the same work; they claim that technical support can’t be provided procedurally but rather is a case-by-case effort that requires a skill set built upon training and experience.

1.    devalued

2.    tarnished

3.    ridiculed

4.    vituperated

5.    impaired

2.    The spice saffron is made from the stigma of the Crocus sativus plant; the (i)  number of blossoms required to produce saffron and the (ii)  of the flower makes the spice the most expensive in the world.

1.      vast

2.      meager

3.      unique

4.      color

5.      hardiness

6.      delicacy

3.    The field of cryptozoology is the search for animals unknown to science and those for which we have no scientific attestation; (i)  physical evidence, it relies upon (ii)  sightings for proof of creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster.

1.      ignoring

2.      lacking

3.      needing

4.      anecdotal

5.      imagined

6.      nominal

4.    The humor of Oscar Wilde remains a classic example of  wit; his terse remarks and deadpan delivery belied an acerbic sarcasm and brilliant insight into the world around him.

1.    ostentatious

2.    pointed

3.    brazen

4.    orotund

5.    laconic

5.    The neglect of the old theater was (i)  in the extreme (ii)  of the building, which was no longer safe to enter.

1.      hinted at

2.      suggested

3.      manifest

4.      dilapidation

5.      depilation

6.      radiance

6.    The countless (i)  days left everyone (ii)  for the sudden downpour; the deluge brought traffic to a halt as it (iii)  the roads.

1.      arid

2.      calm

3.      humid

4.      waiting

5.      unprepared

6.      anxious

7.      inundated

8.      soaked

9.      sprayed

3.    Questions 7–10 are based on the passage below.

4.    The origins of the English language can be traced back to the Saxon and other Germanic settlers in Britain beginning in the 5th century CE. The English language’s unusual nature can be attributed to the diverse linguistic origins of the groups that contributed to its development and their role in English society. Although English belongs to the Germanic language family and its grammatical and syntactical rules reflect this, English vocabulary can be seen to be from multiple origins. In fact, a large part of the vocabulary was not derived from the Germanic languages at all but is rather of Latin origin. This can be explained by the influence on Old English of Old French and Latin during the Norman Invasion in the 11th century. By the time of the Norman Invasion, Old English was already a language, with both its grammar and vocabulary based in the Germanic language family. However, the establishment of a ruling class who spoke a Romance language caused significant changes in the indigenous tongue. It is also interesting to note that there is a distinct correlation between the length of a word and its origin—most of the shorter words in the English language are derived from the Germanic languages, whereas the longer words are from a Latin background. One theory to explain this is that these more elaborate and complex words were primarily used by the elite after the Norman Invasion—who would have favored a Latin-based (or Romance) vocabulary—whereas words with the same meaning in the Old English were used primarily by the lower classes and thus fell into disuse. Modern English words, then, concerning more complex and theoretical rather than utilitarian ideas (astronomy, poetry, and epistemology), can generally be found to be of Romance origin, whereas more mundane words, such as pronouns and auxiliary verbs, can be traced back to a Germanic origin.



7.    Which of the following is implied by the passage?

1.    English was more heavily influenced by Germanic languages than by Romance languages.

2.    In the 11th century, English speakers of the lower classes did not discuss abstract, theoretical topics.

3.    No auxiliary verbs in English can be traced back to a Latin-based origin.

4.    English owes some of its abnormality to the Norman Invasion.

5.    Fewer words in English are derived from Latin than from the Germanic languages.

8.    Read the following answer choices and select all that apply. The passage suggests that the word “they,” a pronoun, would most likely have which of the following origins?

1.    Germanic

2.    Romance

3.    Norse

9.    Based on the passage, what is a likely reason why English has not been reclassified as a Romance language?

1.    It developed as a Germanic language in its first incarnation, Old English.

2.    The core of the language, its grammar and syntax, is still Germanic.

3.    A larger portion of the English vocabulary is Germanic rather than Romance.

4.    The Normans felt an affinity for the local tongue, which was Germanic.

5.    Neither linguistic heritage has a claim to preeminence.

10.Read the following choices and select all that apply. Which of the following can be inferred from the passage?

1.    Searching for meaning based on the Latin root of a word is less likely to be useful in shorter words.

2.    The language spoken by the Saxon and Germanic settlers entirely supplanted the indigenous tongue of 5th-century Britain.

3.    The discussion of complex ideas during the Norman era in England was primarily the domain of the ruling class.



11.As modern scholarship continues to dim the possibility that Homer was a single historic figure, the question of authorship of his works has been raised; although we might never know who wrote them, scholars still need some way to refer to the author or authors of the Iliad and Odyssey, so the term “Homeric tradition” has been  as a possible new terminology.

1.    selected

2.    established

3.    appropriated

4.    bestowed

5.    suggested

6.    proposed

12. commercial arsenic usage has diminished, its ongoing presence in water and soil continues to be a major public health concern, given the extremely high toxicity of the substance.

1.    After

2.    Although

3.    Inasmuch as

4.    Considering

5.    While

6.    Because

13.Early sewing machines were poorly received by textile workers, who feared the technology would  the demand for their skills; despite their protests, the sewing machine became popular both in the factory and in the home.

1.    overwhelm

2.    diminish

3.    obviate

4.    mitigate

5.    eliminate

6.    belittle

14.The protest march quickly turned into a riot, and in the response by police, several people on either side were killed and dozens more wounded; it would later be  remembered by both sides as a tragic accident, and no blame would be assigned.

1.    indignantly

2.    mournfully

3.    spitefully

4.    bitterly

5.    soberly

6.    melancholically



15.          Questions 15–17 are based on the passage below.

16.          The term teleology refers to the doctrine that things in nature have a final purpose. Thus, an eye is for seeing, a walk for health, a house for shelter, and a book for reading. Little t teleology so conceived, though, mustn’t be confused with big t Teleology, according to which the whole of nature is either progressing, by virtue of some world-historical or cosmic force, toward some overarching purpose or is already the embodiment of some divine plan.

That teleology needn’t entail Teleology is a cornerstone of evolutionary theory. From the moment that organic life first appeared on Earth some 4.5 billion years ago, natural selection has been an inexorable, unceasing, and entirely mindless process of winnowing and sifting through a set of design plans. The geological record is littered with plant and animal species falling extinct under the pressures of climatic and geographical changes. Only those designs that natural selection has blindly hit upon and that have worked, designs that are well adapted to the specific environment and that therefore confer upon certain organisms or certain species some ostensible advantage, will be inheritable by their progeny. This implies that there is no Higher End, no Higher Purpose that governs the actions of intelligent and unintelligent life, only local purposes fitting into the materialist picture of “selfish genes” seeking to pass on genetic information to their descendants ad infinitum. There is therefore no Teleology from on high, only teleology all the way down.

15.According to the passage, the principal difference between teleology and Teleology could be understood in terms of the difference between

1.    quality and quantity

2.    example and concept

3.    property and object

4.    cause and effect

5.    part and whole

16.The primary purpose of the passage is to show how

1.    new species come into being through a process called natural selection

2.    evolution represents a change in our comprehension of all forms of life

3.    evolution through a set of randomly generated, rather than intentional, procedures is possible

4.    intelligent and sentient creatures are the inevitable results of natural selection

5.    absolute ignorance works to create living beings much in the same way that absolute wisdom does

17.Read the following choices and select all that apply. Which of the following does the passage cite as a component of evolutionary theory?

1.    the fact that Teleology is not necessary for teleology

2.    the extinctions of many species

3.    the lack of a Higher Purpose for living organisms’ behavior


19.          Questions 18–20 are based on the passage below.

20.          John Finnis developed his theory of natural law based on the structure that Thomas Aquinas provided, filling in areas where he felt that Aquinas’s theory was lacking; he also amended other aspects of the theory to respond to a world much more culturally diverse than the one in which Aquinas lived. Unlike Aquinas, who gives only a vague account of the first precepts of the natural law, Finnis locates a specific number of basic human goods. Finnis avoids the charge that his theory falls into the “naturalistic fallacy” by asserting that these goods are not moral in themselves but become moral through human participation in them. In addition, these goods are not hierarchical, which allows a much greater range of freedom in choosing actions. Finally, Finnis’s theory does not require the presence of God. Though curiosity about the nature of the universe is one of his basic human goods, the actual existence of God is not required by his theory.

Finnis’s theory raises as many questions as it answers. While formulating an interesting answer to the “is/ought” problem and giving a much more robust definition of human volition than Aquinas, his solutions create their own problems. His account of the goods is stripped of any method for evaluation. The boundaries of each good are difficult to discern. Further, by asserting that each good is self-evident and equal to all the others, Finnis makes any action taken in furtherance of any of them equivalent morally. Finally, by removing the precepts of natural law from our natural habits and inclinations, placing them instead in self-evident goods, Finnis seems not to be describing our nature at all.

18.Based on the passage, what is the most likely meaning of “good” according to Finnis?

1.    a physical object, such as foodstuffs or textiles

2.    morally correct action as determined by God

3.    an action that helps us achieve a desirable, material end

4.    something self-evident that we ought to strive to embrace

5.    something that is naturally occurring

19.Based on the passage, the existence of which of the following would most likely undermine Finnis’s definition of “goods”?

1.    proof of the existence of God

2.    goods that demand opposing actions

3.    the demands of our natural desires

4.    the definition of additional goods

5.    a method for evaluating goods

20.Read the following answer choices carefully and select all that apply. According to the passage, which of the following is NOT an improvement of Finnis’s theory of natural law over Aquinas’s?

1.    avoiding the “naturalistic fallacy”

2.    removing the necessity of God in his definition of “good”

3.    curtailing freedom in human actions

Answer Key


1.    A

2.    AF

3.    BD

4.    E

5.    CD

6.    AEG

7.    D

8.    A

9.    B












Answers and Explanations


1.    AThe increase in automated support suggests a decline in demand for technical support workers, and the second half of the sentence tells you that you are looking for an answer that indicates that their services are being undervalued. (B) tarnished(C) ridiculed, and (D) vituperated all suggest, beyond a negative image, a directly hostile one, which is not indicated by the sentence. (E) impaired might be acceptable from the first part of the sentence alone, but the value of their services implied by the second half can only support (A)devalued.

2.    AF

The first half of the sentence is just background, so it is from the second half that you must take your clues. It tells us that producing saffron is very costly, so you can anticipate that the number of blossoms required is a large rather than small number. Based on this, you can reject (C) unique and (B) meager for the first blank, leaving (A) vast.

The second blank implies a quality of the flower that makes it rare. The correct choice for the second blank is (F) delicacy(D) color is irrelevant, and (E) hardiness is the opposite of your prediction.

3.    BD

The hint you are given is that cryptozoology lacks “scientific attestation”; that is, it has no scientific reason to be supported. So for the first blank, you are looking for a word that means “without.” (A) ignoring would mean an intentional rejection of scientific evidence, rather than an absence thereof. (C) needing would work, but there is no choice for blank (ii) that has to do with physical evidence. Furthermore, “relies upon” points us to a limitation of their evidence. Therefore, (B) lacking makes the most sense for the first blank.

With regard, again, to scientific attestation, you can infer that the second blank implies that the sightings are not backed by scientific data, so you are looking for a solution that means “unscientific” or “unreliable.” (E) imagined makes little sense, because it implies the sightings are not just inadequate but fictitious. (D) anecdotal provides us with the sense of unverifiable sightings and completes the first blank with “lacking” for the sense of being without. (F) nominal does not fit at all, as it means negligible, or in name only.

4.    EBased on the semicolon, you know that the second half of the sentence directly supports the statement made in the first, so you are looking for a word that implies the usage of few words and a dry delivery of his wit. (A) ostentatious and (D) orotund can be rejected on the grounds of the terseness and “deadpan delivery” of Wilde’s remarks, and the fact that the biting nature of his wit is not readily apparent can allow us to discount (B) pointed and (C) brusque. Checking the remaining option, (E) laconic, you find that it fits the meaning of the sentence.

5.    CD

The key word here is “extreme,” which indicates that you are looking for a word with very strong meaning for the first blank. Furthermore, you know that the building is “no longer safe to enter,” so the second blank must refer to some sense of structural decay. Thus, you can expect the full sentence to be something like “The neglect of the old theater was apparent in the extreme deterioration of the building.” For the first blank, (A) hinted at and (B) suggested can both be eliminated because they are too weak in meaning for “extreme.” Furthermore, both words mean the same thing, so neither could be the single correct answer for the first blank. (C) manifest makes the most sense.

Out of the options for the second blank, (D) and (E) are very similar-looking words, but only (D) dilapidation refers to buildings—(E) depilation refers to hair removal. Always study the words carefully! (F) radiance is the opposite of what you need.

6.    AEG

While you expect the final clause, which is preceded by a semicolon, to be related thematically to the rest of the sentence, grammatically it stands on its own. You can therefore figure out the third blank first without needing the other two. The key here is the word “deluge”—you know this is a major rainstorm. Hence, for the third blank, you can reject both (H) soaked and (I) sprayed because both are much weaker words than (G) inundated.

For the second blank, the key clue is “sudden.” If it was sudden, then you can assume people were not expecting it—you can thus predict a word synonymous with “not expecting.”(D) waiting and (F) anxious would both imply people were expecting the downpour; thus, (E) unprepared is clearly the correct choice.

Finally, for the first blank, this word will be the reason that people were not expecting a sudden storm. (C) humid doesn’t work here, but between (A) arid and (B) calm, you may need to pause for a moment. (B) calm might work—it certainly contrasts with the eventfulness of the weather that followed—but (A) arid is a better answer because it implies that the weather was specifically very dry—the antithesis of the wetness of the storm. Plugging it all in, “The countless arid days left everyone unprepared for the sudden downpour; the deluge brought traffic to a halt as it inundated the roads.” You can see that everything agrees.

7.    DThis question is an Inference question. Therefore, we must eliminate the answer choices that don’t necessarily follow from the passage. (A) is incorrect because we can’t say with certainty that Germanic languages had a greater influence than Romance languages did. Yes, the Germanic influence came first and had a greater influence on grammar, but that does not mean its influence on English as a whole is greater. (B) is out of scope and extreme. Nothing suggests that the lower classes could never discuss abstract theoretical topics. For (C), although we are told most mundane words, like auxiliary verbs, are of Germanic origin, that doesn’t mean that all auxiliary words must be of Germanic origin. (E) is also incorrect because we aren’t given any clues as to how many words are derived from each language family. (D) is correct because it’s directly implied in the passage. The second sentence says that English has an “unusual nature,” and the passage goes on to state that this is due to its vocabulary stemming from multiple origins, such as what was brought over by the Norman Invasion.

8.    AThe question states that ‘they’ is a pronoun, so look in the passage for clues as to where pronouns are likely to be derived. The final sentence explicitly states that English pronouns are of Germanic origin, so you can safely select (A) as your answer. Although Old English and Norse are related, this is not mentioned in the passage, and choice (C) is meant as a distracter.

9.    BTo answer this question, you are required to make a small inference from the text. The third sentence begins with a detour road sign, “Although,” which indicates that the immediately following clause is a fact—in this case that English is a part of the Germanic language family and that the rules governing its structure reflect this. From this you can infer that the structural rules of a language are significant in its classification, which tells you that answer choice (B) is correct. (A) is factually correct, but there is no indication that the language’s first incarnation is related to its current classification, so you cannot accept that as an explanation based on the passage. (C) concerns the balance of vocabulary origins between Germanic and Romance, but while the passage does speak of this at length, no mention of number of words as related to the classification of the language is made. (D) is not an option, as the Normans regarded English as lower class. (E) is incorrect, as the core of the language is noted to be Germanic. (B) is the correct choice.

10.AAs always, you must be careful about what you infer from a passage. For answer choice (A), you would need to find something in the text that would suggest that the shorter the word, the less likely it may be derived from Latin—which you can find in the third-to-last sentence. There is no mention of the indigenous language before the arrival of the Germanic peoples, so you can dismiss (B)(C) might seem tempting because the author notes that the words used for complex ideas today are primarily those that were used by the ruling class. However, while discussing complex ideas might seem more likely to be the habit of those with leisure time and education, the passage does not specify anything that would allow us to draw this conclusion, and (C) must be rejected.

11.EFFrom the sentence, you learn that scholars are in need of a new “way to refer to the author or authors”; furthermore, judging by the tone and topic of the sentence, you can safely assume that the answers you need will have a neutral tone. While it may seem possible for the solutions to render the phrase “the term Homeric tradition has been rejected,” the straight-ahead road sign “so” renders this unlikely. You can predict that the answers will mean “the term has been put forward.” The key to this question is the word “possible” near the end of the sentence. (A) selected and (B) established cannot be correct because that would mean the term has been decided upon. (C) appropriated and (D) bestowed likewise fail to match our prediction, leaving (E) suggested and (F) proposed as the choices that suggest that the term has been offered as an option but no decision has been made. That fits nicely with “possible.”

12.BEFrom the meaning of the sentence, you can see that the correct answer choices will render the meaning “commercial arsenic usage has diminished, but its ongoing presence is a major health concern.” Because the blank is placed at the start of the first clause, you need a sense of contradiction that gives the meaning “even though.” (A) After, (C) Inasmuch as(D) Considering, and (F) Because all lack the contradiction you need, leaving only (B) Although and (E) While, which are synonyms of each other and match the prediction.

13.CEThe key to this sentence is to note that the textile workers feared a negative effect on the demand for their skills as a result of the sewing machine. The answer, then, must be indicative of their displeasure with the technology; furthermore, words like “poorly” and “protests” suggest that they felt very strongly about their fear of a decline in their trade, so you must also find words that reflect the strength of their views. (A) overwhelm is the opposite of what you need and can be rejected. (B) diminish(D) mitigate, and (F) belittleare all possible choices, but none of these words are strong enough to convey the meaning you are looking for. (C) obviate and (E) eliminate suggest an absolute removal of demand for the worker’s skills and match both the meaning and the strength of the prediction.

14.BFYou are told in the final clause that it would be remembered as a “tragic accident” and that no blame was assigned. You are looking for adverbs that reflect this and can expect to find synonyms of “sadly,” but you must be careful not to choose answers that suggest vitriol or blame. Based on this, you can see that (A) indignantly(C) spitefully, and (D)bitterly can all be eliminated. (B) mournfully is an excellent choice because you often hear about mourning of a tragic accident. (E) soberly, meaning in this context “clearly,” does not have any synonyms among the remaining answers. (F) melancholically is a direct synonym of (B) and matches your predicted answer.

15.CThe difference between teleology and Teleology is mentioned in the first paragraph. To paraphrase, Teleology is the idea that nature is progressing toward something, and teleology is the idea that nature progresses by means of something. From here you can begin to look at the options for answers. (A) quality and quantity do not make sense based on your predicted answer—there is no sense of amount in either concept. (B) example and concept and (E) part and whole are both inadequate—it may be tempting based on the phrase “teleology so conceived, though, mustn’t be confused with.” However, this does not suggest that teleology is a type of Teleology. (C) property and object is a good choice—teleology is something possessed within nature, and Teleology is its goal. (D) cause and effect also fails to properly describe the relation between the two, suggesting that teleology is a part of a larger Teleology. The passage describes the two as separate ideas, not one as a type of the other.

16.CAs always, begin by examining the passage’s topic and scope, the latter of which is the subject of this question. The passage discusses how evolutionary theory rejects the notion of Teleology, instead demonstrating the development of species through the process of natural selection. (A) and (B) both are part of the description of how evolutionary theory describes the biological history of the world, but neither is the overall scope of the passage. (C) states that natural selection, a key part of evolutionary theory, obviates the need for Teleology—which is the focus (that is, the scope) of the passage. (D) is an end result but not the overall main argument and thus is incorrect. (E) suggests that teleology and Teleology are nearly equivalent, which, according to the passage, is incorrect.

17.ABCThis is a Detail question, so each correct answer must be cited somewhere in the passage. Choices (A)(B), and (C) are mentioned in the first, fifth, and tenth lines of the second paragraph, respectively, so all three choices are correct.

18.DRemember, even in weighty passages like these, all the information that you need is in the text. (A) a physical object is not the right answer because the passage is talking about natural law and human behavior. You can also eliminate (B) morally correct action as determined by God because the passage specifies that “Finnis’s theory does not require the presence of God.” (C) action that helps us achieve a desirable, material end can be rejected for the same reason as (A). Furthermore, you are given an example of one basic human good, according to Finnis: curiosity about the nature of the universe. (D) something self-evident that we ought to strive to embrace is supported by the text both in the phrase “each good is self-evident” and Finnis’s example of how something is made good by human participation. (E) what is naturally occurring could only be a reasonable possibility based on the repeated usage of the term “natural”; however, “natural law” is a metaphysical concept, and (E) is also incorrect.

19.BThe key to answering this question is to bear in mind Finnis’s definition of “goods” that you considered in the previous question. You can learn from the passage that they are self-evident and all equal, which points us towards (B) goods that demand opposing actions—if they are all equally important, then how can we choose between actions that would each further one good while distancing ourselves from the other? (A) proof of the existence of God is a poor choice, because while his argument does not rely on the existence of God as Aquinas’s did, nowhere does the author imply that Finnis’s theory hinged on the nonexistence of God. (C) the demands of our natural desires is likewise incorrect because of the emphasis on human volition and the notion that some actions are inherently “good” and others are not—to give in to your desires would not undermine his definition but simply fail to follow his admonition. (D) the definition of additional goods would not necessarily weaken his definition so long as the new goods were not in opposition to his already established goods. Similarly, (E) a method for evaluating goods could help fix a weakness in Finnis’s theory rather than undermine it.

20.CThis is a fairly straightforward Reading Comprehension question. It does not require us to make any inferences from the text, just give the text a careful reading to determine whether each answer choice is referred to (and they all are). (A) and (B) are both listed explicitly under the adaptations Finnis made to strengthen Aquinas’s argument, so you can dismiss them. (C), our only remaining option, is correct, as its opposite is one of the adaptations.

Diagnose Your Results

Diagnostic Tool

Tally up your score and write your results below.


Total Correct:  out of 20 correct

By Question Type


·        Text Completions (questions 1–6)  out of 6 correct

·        Sentence Equivalence (questions 11–14)  out of 4 correct

·        Reading Comprehension (questions 7–10, 15–20)  out of 10 correct


Repeat the steps outlined on the Diagnose Your Results page that follows the Verbal Reasoning Practice Set 1 answer key.