How to Ace the GRE Verbal Section?Aishwarya Pandey
How to Ace the GRE Verbal Section?
If you’re dreaming about graduate school in the USA, Canada, Australia, or almost any other country in the English-speaking world, the GRE score is a non-negotiable for admissions. Testing capability across the GRE Verbal section and Quantitative section, a high GRE general test score is like opening new doors and easing out the journey to your dream university. In this blog, we discuss the every part of the GRE Verbal section, and how to ace it. One of the important factors for studying abroad is a high GRE Verbal score which indicates your ability to speak and understand English well. Admission personnel wants to rest assured that you are capable of following and responding to classes without any difficulty.
Syllabus for GRE Verbal Section
First, let’s know about the GRE Verbal syllabus. The GRE score is split equally between the GRE Verbal section and GRE Quant, which means that each section carries a maximum score of 160. Out of the forty questions on the Verbal, around 50% is the Reading Comprehension (or RCs), which means overall, 25% of your GRE score hook on your performance in the RCs. The other 50% of the GRE Verbal section is based on Text Completion questions (TCs) and sentence equivalence. Coming to RCs, Read, understand and analyze often complex essays in order to figure out the author’s intention and viewpoint, infer information from the paragraph and grasp how one part of the essay relates to the others.
While in Text Completion, you must provide the missing phrase or word in the passage after taking a look of the overall sense and context of the essay, and then exhibiting GRE vocabulary and ability to comprehend the text at hand.
At last, with sentence equivalence, you need to fill in the blanks with the appropriate word, and then select a synonymous word from a choice of six. You must be quick with unpacking the overall context, and work out which two words are the best suited.
Now, we will move on to discussing the two most important Verbal practice question types: the RC and the TC & SE, and how you can score 0n all the three GRE verbal section.
GRE Verbal Section – RC tips
Both of the two sections on the Verbal component will have about five RC passages, which could range from short (1 paragraph) to long (5 paragraphs). The questions per section will be anywhere between one to five paragraphs, making up a total of ten reading comprehension questions per section and twenty reading comprehension questions in total. Also, understand how to Get the Central Idea of the Passage in your first read.
There are three types of RC questions:
1) The usual Multiple-Choice questions, where you must pick one right answer choices out of the available five.
2) Multiple-Choice questions where you will have three answers, and you’ll have to choose every correct answer choice.
3) Select-in-passages, a relatively new type of question, where you have to click on a sentence in the passage to answer the question asked.
Common difficulties that candidates face while taking the RC:
Of course, you don’t have to be Expert to ace the GRE, but it certainly helps if you organically build your vocabulary over time.
GRE RCS are deliberately designed complex and esoteric simply to intimidate the candidate on the test day and slow them down. Don’t fall for this! Make your mind cool and read carefully.
Not making notes:
When you’re reading, make notes of whatever catches your eye, whether they be facts, figures, or statistics. It will certainly come in handy later. Students end up not putting their scratchpad to good use.
Spending too much time:
Don’t spend too much time fixating on anyone’s essay or paragraph. We should complete a short RC within 3 minutes and long RC’S not more than 5 minutes.
Reading with a biased mind will cloud your judgments and will mislead you into the wrong answers. Tackle the RCs without bringing in any outside knowledge: inferences are fine, not assumptions.
Here are some tips to ace the RCs:
- Read Actively: We’d recommend you pick up the daily newspaper, or even your favorite magazine right this second! Organically building your vocabulary is the best way to go about acing the GRE verbal section: start reading widely and actively, note down words that are new or strange, and then commit them to your memory.
- Try to know the tone and intent: Is the author critical? Are they perhaps complementary and laudatory? Or are they just neutral? Figuring out intent from the outset can help you approach the RC passage in a more organized fashion, and will aid in figuring out the meanings of unfamiliar words/phrases. A good idea is to look for descriptions and make a ‘happy face’ or ‘sad face’ near that paragraph to indicate the mood of the author.
- The devil is in the details and this is even more true for the GRE RCs. As we said earlier, these passages are usually packed with all kinds of details designed to slow you down. As a discerning reader and test-taker, it is important to remember that more often than not, these details are simply there to daunt you. Begin by skim-reading the paragraph to grasp the overall summary, and then go back to the details when the answer demands it.
- Save the most difficult or daunting passage for the last. Remember, all the questions on the GRE verbal section carry the same marks, so reach for the easy first. Tackle the passages you find easy and approachable. The RCs are taken from a wide range of subjects- from history to mathematics and ecology, so find the ones you are familiar with.
Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence
GRE Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence
The remaining questions on the GRE Verbal section are Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence, both of which are similar, yet different. Both are essentially predicated on your ability to unpack context and insert the appropriate words to complete them. With Text Completion, they are multiple sentences, or even a paragraph, with up to 3 blanks, which you will then have to fill in. Each blank only has 3 possible answers, but in order to get the question right, you must fill in all 3 of them correctly.
Generally, there are three types of GRE TC questions:
- Single blank: Here, you will be given a single blank, and a choice of five answers, from which you have to pick one. There will be a total of four single blank questions.
- Double blank: In this one, there will be two blanks to fill, with 3 options for each blank. You can expect a total of four-five double blank questions.
- Triple blank: With 3 options for each blank, you need to fill in three different blanks to complete the sentence. Watch out for a total of three or four triple blank questions in total.
Let us now go over some of the difficulties that students face while attempting the Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence sections, and how you can overcome them.
- Looking for relationships, and not synonyms: The common mistake of the candidates is they seek an agreement between words, and not the synonyms of the words. Remember, your sole objective is to find synonyms, not cause-and-effect relationships.
- Not reading the entire sentence: With longer sentences, especially, there is a temptation to stop reading once you figure out the missing word. More often than not, the second part of the sentence contains a complete reversal in tone and intent, so be watchful.
- Being intimidated by unfamiliar words: You may be daunted with some words you don’t know but that doesn’t really matter. You are often given major hints so there is no need to be bogged down by fear of the unknown.
- Ignoring the context: With GRE TC and SEs, context is king. Understand the tone of the sentence first, figure out if it is negative, positive, or neutral, and then go about figuring out the words to fill in. Ignoring the context is the gravest error you can make.
Now, here are some effective tips to conquer the Text Equivalence and Sentence Completion questions of GRE Verbal Section:
- Process of elimination: Too many choices can be quite confusing. So if possible, try and eliminate the obviously wrong or incompatible answers to make your task a little easier.
- Once you’ve chosen your answers, read the paragraph again and plug in the words you’ve picked to see if it still makes sense. If it doesn’t, you can go back to it if time permits, and edit it accordingly.
- Another great idea is to insert your own words in the sentence. And then looking through the answers for words that are similar. Start by writing a simple word that you are familiar with, and think fits in well, and then seek out synonyms.
- Practice, and then practice some more: Work on as many TC and SE questions as possible to get a handle on the style and format of the questions. Who knows, maybe one of your practice questions may just turn up on your official GRE exam!
We hope you found this blog helpful, and wish you all the best on your graduation journey.