GRE Verbal Section
Posted on
Jan 2022

GRE Verbal Section – All You Need To Know

The business world is dominated by numbers, charts, and graphs. Thus, most business school hopefuls understandably focus on developing their analytical thinking and math skills when preparing for the GRE exam. But it’s a mistake to neglect the GRE verbal section. Effective GRE test prep requires a balanced, well-rounded approach.

Here’s what you need to know about the GRE verbal reasoning section. 

What is the GRE verbal section and what does it test for?

The verbal section of GRE primarily evaluates the test taker’s overall command of standard written English, their ability to analyze and evaluate arguments, and critical reading skills. As such, the verbal section is made up of three types of problems: reading comprehension, text correction, and sentence equivalence

The 3 sections have a total of 36 questions, with a time limit of 65 minutes. This leaves, on average, 1 minute and 50 seconds per question.

How Is GRE Verbal Section Scored?

The verbal section of GRE, like the quantitative section, is evaluated on a scale of 130 to 170 in one point increments. A 162 on Verbal and a 166 on Quant is considered an excellent score – it is a 90th percentile score that will be competitive for most graduate programs. 

“What are GRE percentiles?” you may ask. Basically, the GRE ranks test takers by percentile. The percentile system uses GRE scores from the previous three years to calculate how applicants performed compared to their peers. For example, if an applicant scores in the 80th percentile, it means he or she performed better than 80% of test takers over the last three years. 

Although the GRE scaled scores don’t change over time, the percentiles do. Graduate schools assess both the scaled and percentile scores to get an adequate understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Language on the GRE Verbal Section

The language on the verbal section is more sophisticated and academic than what is used in everyday vocabulary. If you aren’t accustomed to reading formal English, your verbal prep might require some extra time and energy. 

It will be easier to identify errors, main points, and bias statements once you’ve trained your ear to formal English. Practice reading formal texts efficiently and effectively, and avoid vernacular texts. Instead, choose sources that are known for using elevated writing styles, such as The New Yorker or The New York Times. 

GRE Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension subsection of GRE evaluates not only the candidate’s understanding of words and statements, but more importantly, the underlying logic behind them.
In this subsection, you’ll find passages of texts followed by several questions about the text’s details and implications. Some passages draw from various disciplines, such as the physical, biological, or social sciences, while others refer to business-related fields. 

Here are some tips to make the process less tedious and more efficient:

  1. Read the whole passage without taking too much time to memorize details
  2. Analyze the logical structure of the passage
  3. Ask yourself:
  • What’s the main argument?
  • What does the author state explicitly? What is implied?
  • How would you describe the author’s tone and attitude?

Keep an eye out for opinionated words–for example, “clearly,” “obviously,” or “apparently”–these words hint at the author’s attitudes, and they’ll help you suss out the main point. 

GRE Text Completion

Text Completion is another subsection of GRE consisting of questions designed to test candidates’ abilities to build coherent and meaningful sentences. What test-takers should do is to read short passages that miss crucial words in them. Then, based on the remaining information, they need to choose the word or short phrase that would best fit the blank and thus, construct clear and logical texts.

Here are a few tips to nail the GRE Text Completion subsection: 

  • Don’t focus only on the sentence with the blank space, read through the whole passage to learn the context.
  • Don’t waste too much time on the first blank – if you can’t think of anything at the moment, continue filling the rest and then come back to it.
  • Keep an eye on words like although, therefore, as they are connective words setting the direction of the passages.

GRE Sentence Equivalence

Similarly, the sentence equivalence subsection of the GRE aims at assessing a candidate’s ability to formulate a meaningful “whole” by choosing the proper way to fill in the blank spaces. Test-takers will have to complete a sentence by choosing two of the six answer options to fit one blank. The two words must be synonyms and lead to the constructing of a sentence with, more or less, the same meaning. No credit is provided for partially correct answers. 

Here are some tips to consider while doing the GRE sentence equivalence subsection:

  • First and foremost, you need to equip yourself with rich vocabulary, as you need to identify perfect synonyms. 
  • As there may be more than one set of synonyms among the answers, make sure that the words chosen by you are appropriate for filling in the blank.
  • After you’ve made your choice, make sure to read the sentence again in order to ensure it is grammatically and logically coherent.


Taking the GRE quantitative section into account, there are a number of score combinations that will lead to the same overall score, which leaves plenty of room to maneuver. However, given the rise in GRE quantitative scores in recent years, total scores and percentile rankings have shifted. This gives candidates an opportunity to boost their overall scores by mastering the verbal section of the GRE.


Contributor: Bilhen Sali

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How To GRE Verbal Like An Expert
Posted on
Nov 2021

How To GRE Verbal Like An Expert

If you are interested in attending graduate school, it may be mandatory to take the GRE. This standardized exam tests your capabilities as a student and lets prospective schools know how well you may function during your graduate studies. The GRE is split up into numerous sections: Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing. Often, test takers tend to spend the most time on the Quantitative Section, as proficient quant skills are more difficult to establish than verbal skills. However, it is important not to overlook the benefit of studying for the verbal section of the GRE exam. In order to Verbal Like an Expert, you need to fully understand the sections, question types, and layout of the GRE Verbal section. 

GRE Verbal Section

The Verbal section of the GRE has three questions types. These include:

    • Reading Comprehension
    • Text Completion 
    • Sentence Equivalence 

These three sections have been meticulously designed to measure your ability to analyze and break down written data while synthesizing the information garnered from the passages/sentences/paragraphs. The aspects of the GRE verbal sections are meant to imitate the types of verbal work often confronted in graduate-level work. Showing prospective graduate schools that you are proficient in the verbal portion of the GRE shows admissions committees that you can handle the difficult and strenuous nature of the graduate school workload. This includes thinking ‘outside the box’ while drawing conclusions and interpreting information from the given material. 

Reading Comprehension

During graduate school students are confronted with words and phrases not common in the English vocabulary. From reading scholarly works to writing academic essays many pages in length, being able to use archaic and uncommon words in the correct way is essential to doing well not only on the GRE but also in graduate school and the professional world. 

The structure of the reading comprehension section contains around 10 different passages varying in length and topic. Including passages ranging from a paragraph in length to numerous sections. The content of these written passages encompass topics ranging from biology to humanities. The verbal comprehension tests your ability to: 

    • Understand and interpret words, sentences, paragraphs, and passages
    • Summarize texts and differentiate their main points
    • Drawing conclusions, reasoning, and inferring missing information
    • Analyze the assumptions and perspectives from authors 
    • Interpret strengths and weaknesses of an argument 
    • Consider various explanation 

These skills are tested through a number of questions based on the passages. The majority of these questions are multiple-choice questions. At times the questions are asked in a format where you are required to select multiple correct answers out of a list of potential answers or where you have to select a particular sentence from a given passage. 

Text Completion

As the title suggests, in the text completion section test takers are asked to complete a portion of a sentence or passage with the correct word. This assesses your ability to create a coherent sentence using uncommon words or phrases. The question structure of this section uses a passage template of one to five sentences each composed of one to three blanks. Per each blank, test takers have five different answer choices to choose from. 

When answering text completion sentences remember that credit is given per each blank. These blanks are scored independently of each other meaning an answer given in the first section of the passage does not affect the answer of the last portion. Tips for completing the text completion section include:

    • Answer the blanks as a complete set as opposed to answering each blank individually 
    • Make sure to pay attention to the grammar and style of the passage when deciding on your selection. 

Sentence Equivalence

On the sentence equivalency section test takers should be able to properly draw conclusions from given information. The structure of the section includes a sentence with a single blank and six potential answers where you need to select two proper answers. Test takers need to be able to discern the correct choice so that they formulate a sentence that is coherent and complete. When completing a sentence equivalence question be sure to read the sentence all the way through. Fill in the blank with a word that you believe fits best, basing the second answer off of the first answer choice you have chosen. Often, the GRE has question pairs as part of the potential answer in an effort to throw the test taker off. Once you have selected the potential answers, be sure to read through the sentence one last time to be sure the words fit properly. 

To Conclude

Excelling on the verbal reasoning portion of the GRE may appear as less of a challenge than the Quant portion of the exam. However, it is vital to do your due diligence when studying for the GRE. The Verbal Section is important for all future graduate students. Applicants must be able to show admissions committees that they can interpret the works of scholars and draw unique conclusions. This is especially true for anyone hoping to enter into the social science and humanity fields. We offer help with future GRE test takers at any point of their studying timeline. To learn more about how we can help you excel on the GRE and obtain admission to a top graduate program, visit us at our website.


Contributor: Dana Coggio

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