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Complete Guide On GRE Verbal Reasoning

Updated on 25 October, 2023

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

gre verbal reasoning

Before understanding the GRE verbal reasoning section, here are some important pieces of information about the examination. The GRE examination is globally accepted at most universities for admission into graduate-school programs, encompassing degrees in both business/management and law courses. The GRE test comprises of four sections - Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Unscored or Research Section. The verbal reasoning GRE section is only a single part of the test, and measures the candidates' abilities in terms of text completion, sentence equivalence, and reading comprehension. 

GRE Verbal Reasoning Overview

The Verbal Reasoning section analyzes the capabilities of candidates regarding the evaluation and analysis of written content and their powers of information synthesis. It also examines their abilities to understand relationships between component aspects of sentences and identify the inherent connections between concepts and words. The GRE verbal reasoning questions come in several types and formats. 

About 50% of the examination requires candidates to read passages and then answer questions related to the same. The other part requires reading, interpreting, and completing existing sentences, groups, or even paragraphs. It is a 40-question test that is split into two parts, and each of the subsections is scored on a scale of 130-170 in one-point increments. 

In the GRE exam pattern, the verbal section is section-adaptive, which means that the way you perform in the first 20 questions would determine the nature of difficulty in the next set of 20 questions. In order to score towards the higher end of the scale in the GRE verbal section, students must be able to access the more difficult subsections. 

GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus

The syllabus comprises the following types of questions:

1. Reading Comprehension

2. Sentence Equivalence

3. Text Completion

The syllabus ideally includes verbs, tenses, adjectives, nouns, pronouns, sentence structures, pronoun agreements, idioms, and modifiers, along with idiomatic expressions, verb-subject agreements, and parallelism. These play a vital role when candidates start solving GRE verbal reasoning practice questions.

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Types of Questions for Gre Verbal Reasoning

Reading Comprehension

These questions are tailored to examine the abilities of candidates concerning reading and understanding the passage along with ensuring the following:

1. Understanding individual sentences and words and their meanings.

2. Understanding paragraph meanings and also more significant text portions.

3. Providing summaries of passages.

4. Demarcating between major and minor aspects.

5. Reasoning and finding missing data.

6. Understanding textual structure and relationships.

7. Drawing conclusions from given information.

8. Textual analysis and conclusions.

9. Recognizing any position and its inherent advantages/disadvantages.

10. Creating alternative positions/explanations.

There are three types of questions in reading comprehension- multiple choice, select-in passage, and multiple-answer multiple choice. Every question may be based on a passage which could be a single paragraph or even multiple paragraphs. There are 10 passages usually for the examination, most of which have one paragraph each in terms of their length. Passages come from subjects that are both non-academic and academic. They cover disciplines like humanities, daily aspects, periodicals, books, social sciences, biological sciences, physical sciences, arts, and business.

Approximately 50% of the questions in the test will be based on given passages, and the question count could be 1-6 for any given passage. Questions may include providing word meanings to analyzing evidence for strengthening or weakening any position/point in the passages, and so on. Many are multiple-choice queries, in which candidates might have to choose either a single or multiple answers.

Text Completion

The question structure is the following:

1. 1-5 sentences in passages.

2. 1-3 blanks.

3. Three answer options for every blank.

4. Answer options for various blanks independently function.

5. The single correct answer, comprising one choice for every blank and zero credit for partially correct answers

The questions test the ability of aspirants by removing vital words from shorter passages and asking aspirants to use the information that remains in the passage as a foundation for choosing phrases/words for filling up the blanks and creating a meaningful passage in all.

Sentence Equivalence

These questions cover the capabilities of aspirants to achieve conclusions on how the passage should be finished based on partly-available information and also emphasize the meaning of the completed whole portion. There will be a single sentence with only a blank, and you will have to discover two choices that ensure a full and coherent sentence while generating sentences with the same meaning. The structure of the question is the following:

1. Single sentence.

2. One Blank.

3. Six answer options.

You will have to choose two out of the available choices for answers without any credits for answers which are partly correct.

GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions

Reading Comprehension

Landscapes nourish the human spirit and create special memories in us they are sanctified by remarkable natural merits. Natural parks such as Kruger and Yellowstone in the United States of America are wild, magnificent, and large. On the other hand, the neighborhood of Paris is warmly local as it has Buttes-Chaumont. However, natural parks are depleting quickly to accommodate the needs of the burgeoning population in the urban environment. While there is no denying the fact that human needs will prevail, yet, shouldn't a line be drawn between the most imperative needs of human beings and the hunger for more?

What is the main purpose of the passage?


  1. To drive home the message that human needs are never-ending
  2. To convey the role played by parks in ushering human emotions
  3. To emphasize the fact that human greed is limitless
  4. To convey the importance of preserving natural parks in urban as well as non-urban settings
  5. To highlight how only countries like the U.S. and France have natural parks while none others have

Correct answer would be Option E. 

Text Completion 

While the chief of the police does not agree, the press has __ the failure of the police in curbing the mugging menace in the downtown area, claiming that the problem has actually ___.

  1. Aggrandized
  2. Noted
  3. Aggravated
  4. Appreciated
  5. Deprecated
  6. Mollified


Deprecated, Aggravated

Sentence Equivalence

The last year's Olympic games would have gone down in history as one of the most well-organized Olympic Games ever; if it had not been _____ by the stampede during the closing ceremony.


  1. elevated
  2. blighted
  3. demeaned
  4. depraved
  5. marred
  6. slighted


Marred, blighted

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Tips for GRE Verbal Reasoning

  • Here are a few GRE verbal reasoning tips for aspirants to perform well in the examination. 
  • Understand the format of the verbal section of GRE as it prepares candidates well for the type of questions they would face in the examination
  • Take a GRE verbal reasoning practice test with answers, and determine the average scores they want to target for each of the institutions they are applying to
  • After determining the target score, make a study plan for the same as candidates are able to make the most of their time and track their progress
  • They should identify their strengths and weaknesses by noticing their patterns of incorrect answers, and find out ways to improve them
  • Always skim through the entire passage to absorb its essence and avoid trying to factor various answer combinations. It will only take up your time.
  • Recognize and mark words/phrases which seem more important.
  • Attempt to fill up the blanks with words/phrases that may complete the same and then check whether any similar words are in the choices.
  • Do not blindly seek two words with the same meaning in the Sentence Equivalence questions. They may not always be the right fit for the given passage. The pair of words that make up the answer may not always have the same meaning.
  • Every choice of yours should lead to a grammatically correct and logically understandable sentence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the verbal section in GRE?

The verbal reasoning section tracks the ability of candidates to understand and analyze written text and then identify relationships among concepts and words. It also tests their abilities to analyze the intricate relationships among the components and portions of sentences while also evaluating their powers of information synthesis.

Is the verbal section of the GRE hard?

Many aspirants consider this portion the hardest in the GRE examination. This could also be comparatively easier for candidates with a good vocabulary and grasp of grammar, words, sentences, and passages.

How long is the verbal section GRE?

You will have to complete the section within a maximum duration of 30 minutes.

How do you prepare for GRE verbal reasoning?

The best ways to prepare for the GRE verbal section are by focusing on the vocabulary, reading as much as possible, taking mock tests, and solving practice questions, and generally, candidates should start preparing for the test 4-20 weeks before the test date. 

How is GRE verbal reasoning marked?

Every question in GRE verbal reasoning carries one point, and for each correct, the score will get added to a raw score of 0-40, then converted on a scale of 130-170. 

How to answer GRE reading comprehension in verbal reasoning?

Answering a GRE reading comprehension question requires a passive understanding of the words and sentences contained in the passage. In order to answer the question, candidates should engage with the text actively, ask questions, formulate and evaluate hypotheses, and find the common link between a particular text to other texts and information. 

What are some good sources for GRE (verbal) practice questions?

One of the good sources for GRE (verbal) practice questions is the official study guide by ETS. Candidates can also refer to Kaplan’s GRE Verbal Workbook, Barron’s GRE verbal book, and Manhattan Prep GRE Verbal Strategies. 

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Mrinal Mandal

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