GRE: Verbal Section Strategies

This post is in continuation to the series of posts on GRE, contributed by the author of: GRE: How to Start Preparing? The author scored 1510 [Q:800, V:710, A:5.0] in the GRE. This post postulates the important strategies to be followed for each type of questions in the Verbal section.

The verbal section measures the test taker's ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained from it; analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and to recognize relationships between words and concepts. The most important requirement for scoring in the verbal section is by improving your vocabulary. I had discussed details about it in my previous post. Here, I list out the strategies for each type of question in this section, viz. Sentence Completions, Analogies, Antonyms and Reading Comprehensions.

Sentence Completion:
1. Before looking at the answers, try to complete the sentence with words that make sense to you.
2. Don't rush your selection. Consider all the answers to make the best choice.
3. Use the context of nearby words to figure out unknown words.
4. Don't overlook the reversing effect of negative words (like not) or prefixes (like un-).
5. If you're really stuck for the meaning of a word, try to think of other words that have similar prefixes, roots, or suffixes.
6. Eliminate choices in double-blank questions if the first word alone doesn't make sense in the sentence.
7. Let transition words (like although and likewise) help suggest the best answer.

1. First: create a sentence in your mind that uses the two capitalized words.
2. Learn to recognize common types of analogies.
3. Eliminate answer pairs that are clearly wrong.
4. Beware of possibly correct answers that appear in reverse order.
5. If more than one choice appears possible, analyze the words again.
6. Consider alternative meanings of words, as well as alternative parts of speech.
7. If you don't know the meaning a word, try to recall if you've ever heard it in an expression. The context of the expression may suggest the meaning of the word.
8. Beware of obvious answers! They may be there only to mislead you.

1. Use word parts (prefixes, roots, suffixes) to figure out the probable meaning of unknown words.
2. Be aware of secondary meanings of words. For example, 'appreciation' can just as readily mean 'increase' as it does 'gratitude'. When no answer seems correct, look for an alternative (or 'secondary') meaning for your antonym/opposite choice.
3. Consider the 'feel' of the word. It may create a sense in you of its meaning, such as a word like 'grandiose'. It may have a positive or negative connotation, which may help you to eliminate some choices.
4. Try to think of similarly constructed words that you may recognize and that may give you a clue as to the meaning of an otherwise unknown word.
5. Think of a recognizable context for a word you don't recognize. Let the context of the word in a phrase or sentence suggest its probable meaning.
6. Think of an opposite meaning for the capitalized word, even before you look at the actual choices.
7. Read all the choices before selecting your answer.

Reading Comprehension:
1. You should base your answers to the questions solely on what is stated or implied in the passages.
2. Read the italicized introductory text.
3. Skip questions you don't know. Return to them after answering other easier questions.
4. First and last sentences of each paragraph are critical.
5. Find the right spot in a passage by using any line reference numbers that appear in the questions.
6. Answer questions on familiar topics before unfamiliar topics.
7. Read the passages before reading the questions.
8. Don't waste time memorizing details.



September 13, 2008 at 8:20 PM

Hey, can we actually skip questions? Is that possible? To my knowledge, u needa answer a question before you move on to the next, and once you did, u can't change the answer..Isn't that so?

  US Calling

October 4, 2008 at 11:26 PM

Yes, you are right. You can't skip questions. But you should not waste time if you don't know a question, just mark anything.

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