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Strategies for Success

Decoding the GRE Verbal Reasoning Section: Strategies for Success

Preparing for the GRE® Verbal Reasoning section can pose unique challenges. Unlike the quantitative section, the syllabus for GRE® Verbal is not finite. You could encounter questions on any of the myriad words in the English language or various topics from around the world. It’s essential to remember that GRE® Vocabulary is just one aspect of GRE® Verbal practice. This section also evaluates your proficiency in:

1. English grammar
2. Reading comprehension
3. Critical reading

The verbal reasoning section aims to assess your ability to:

Extract pertinent information from presented written data Identify relationships among different sentence components Recognize connections between words and concepts

Structure of the GRE® Verbal Reasoning Section

1. The GRE® Verbal section is divided into two subsections, comprising 12 and 15 questions respectively.
2. It operates on a computer-adaptive format, meaning the difficulty level and potential score of the second subsection are influenced by your performance in the first.
3. You are allotted 18 minutes for the first subsection and 23 minutes for the second subsection.
4. Each subsection includes the following question types:
Subsection 1

– Text completion: 3 questions
– Sentence equivalence: 4 questions
– Reading comprehension: 5 questions

Subsection 2

– Text completion: 3 to 5 questions
– Sentence equivalence: 3 to 4 questions
– Reading comprehension: 7 to 8 questions
Now, let’s delve into the specifics of each Verbal question type.

Text Completion

The Text Completion section of GRE® Verbal Reasoning evaluates your ability to comprehend the overall meaning of a passage, even when not every word is read. This portion assesses your capacity to fill in essential words that are missing from the provided text. Here’s what to expect:

1. Question statements comprising one to five sentences.
2. Each question statement may contain one, two, or three blanks.
3. Single-blank questions offer five options, while two- and three-blank questions provide three options each.

Your goal is not only to select words that maintain grammatical correctness but also to ensure the passage remains logical and cohesive.

Answering Strategies for Text Completion:
1. Begin by reading the entire question statement to grasp its overall meaning.
2. Identify keywords that highlight the sentence structure or are pivotal for understanding the context.
3. Fill in the blank(s) with your own words before examining the provided options for suitable choices.
4. You can fill in the blanks in any order that makes sense, not necessarily in the order they appear. For instance, starting with the third blank may be easier for a question with three blanks.
5. Verify your chosen options by reviewing the completed question statement to confirm coherence in grammar, logic, and style.

Sentence Equivalence

The Sentence Equivalence segment of GRE® Verbal Reasoning evaluates your skill in concluding incomplete sentences. Here’s what you’ll encounter:

1. A single sentence with one blank.
2. Six options, from which you must select two.
3. Both chosen options must be synonymous, maintaining the sentence’s meaning regardless of which one fills the blank. Both correct answers must be selected to earn credit, as no partial credit is awarded for selecting only one correct answer.

Answering Strategies for Sentence Equivalence
1. Keep in mind that the correct answer choices don’t necessarily need to contain words with the same meaning. What matters is that the completed sentences convey the same meaning, even if the words differ.
2. Take the time to review all options provided before making your decision.
3. Utilize root words, prefixes, and suffixes to understand the meanings of unfamiliar words.
4. Attempt to fill in the blank with your own words before examining the provided options.
5. Always double-check by reading the entire sentence with your selected option to ensure coherence and grammatical correctness.
6. Also, consider slight variations in the meanings of each word.

Answering Strategies for Reading Comprehension
1. Begin by reading the questions to prepare your mind to identify answers while reading the passage.
2. Determine the topic, scope, and purpose of the passage as you read it. Highlight topic words when possible.
3. Differentiate between factual details and opinions presented in the text.
4. Paraphrase when necessary to better understand the text, including the questions and answer choices.
5. Evaluate all presented options before making your selection.
6. Avoid letting personal opinions or external knowledge influence your interpretation of the text. Stay within the context provided.

Scoring Tips for GRE® Verbal Reasoning

1. Scores range from 130 to 170 points, with 1-point increments.
2. No partial credit is awarded for any question.
3. Remember, the percentile score holds more significance than the raw score, as it reflects your performance relative to other test-takers.
4. For instance, a 90-percentile score indicates that you’ve outperformed more than 90% of test-takers, placing you in the top 10%.
5. Average verbal scores corresponding to various percentiles can vary based on recent trends.
Percentile GRE® Verbal scaled score
The upper decile of all test takers (top 10%) 162
The upper quartile of all test takers (top 25%) 157
The upper half of all test takers (top 50%) 151
Below the median percentile of all test takers (below the 50% mark) 150
6. The average score for the GRE® Verbal Reasoning section stands at 151.

Verbal Score of GRE® Verbal Reasoning

Target GRE® scores vary depending on the program you’re applying to. To gauge competitiveness, review the average scores of admitted applicants in your desired program.

Typically, a score exceeding 160 is deemed ideal for many GRE® candidates. However, even scores above 150 can secure admission to reputable universities. Scores below 150 are considered below average and might diminish your chances of acceptance.

For insight, here are the average GRE® Verbal scores of accepted candidates at select universities:
University Approximate GRE® Verbal score
San Diego State University 150
University of Arizona 152
NYU 153
Arizona State University 155
University of Buffalo 157
University of North Carolina 159
University of Florida 163
Georgia Institute of Technology 165
University of Utah 165
Keep in mind that the specific score accepted by a university hinges on the scoring trends for that particular year. Consequently, the exact score holds less significance than the percentile score. A reliable method to determine your target score is to examine the average score over the past five years for your desired program. This approach accommodates fluctuations in accepted scores each admissions cycle. It’s widely acknowledged that consistent practice for the GRE® Verbal Section correlates with improved performance on the final exam.

Keep Practising

Here’s a valuable suggestion we offer to our students: Engage in numerous Verbal practice tests throughout your preparation period. This approach aids in pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses across different topics.
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