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The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the GRE Verbal Section

Are you looking for techniques and material to crack the GRE with a 160+ GRE Verbal

Are you looking for a no-nonsense approach to get your dream GRE Verbal score?

Are you getting overwhelmed with all the advice and looking for simple GRE Verbal

If your answer was a “yes” to any of the above questions, you have come to the right
page! Let me guess! You said “yes” to all the three questions!

In this comprehensive article, we provide you with all the information required for
you to prepare for the GRE Verbal section.

The GRE Syllabus includes the following three sections:

1) Reading Comprehension
2) Sentence Equivalence
3) Text Completion

In this article, we will explore each of the three sections, and provide you with the
right tools and materials to solve them.
Reading Comprehension (RC)

Students typically fall into two categories:

1. The ones who worry too much about RC

2. The ones who don’t care much about RC

In either case you are wrong.

RC need not be feared; at the same time it is important to understand this section
well. The biggest mistake GRE test-takers make on the RC is that they approach the
passages as they would approach reading in daily life. They end up spending way too
much time reading the passage, and then end up getting rushed while answering the

Reading Comprehension need not
be feared; at the same time it is
important to understand this
section well.
This is what a typical GRE RC question looks like:

If you want to practice GRE RC questions, head over here <link to GRE practice

Here are a few articles that explain the basic rules to follow while solving the Reading
Comprehension section on the GRE:

5 Commandments of Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Sentence Equivalence (SE)

Let us understand this section by actually solving a question:

Most young children are often ______ to old stories.

1) indifferent
2) empathetic
3) impertinent
4) sympathetic
5) apathetic
6) resistant

Can there be two definite answers here?


Children could be either “indifferent” or “apathetic” (both meaning lack of

emotion) towards the old stories as they cannot relate to them.

Children could be either “empathic” or “sympathetic” (both meaning ability to

understand the meaning of others) because children are able to relate well to old

What’s the problem ? Well, there is no context to fix on one correct response.

What about this one?

Most young children are often ______ to old stories as they are unable to relate to
the characters and lifestyles of olden times.

1) Indifferent
2) Empathetic
3) Impertinent
4) Sympathetic
5) Apathetic
6) Resistant

This though has! And the answer is definitely indifferent and apathetic

Why? Because the sentence qualified exactly what CAN and CANNOT fit the context
of the blank.

This is true ALL The time. Remember that the answer to what can fill the blank WILL
BE PROVIDED in the sentence itself. Your job is as simple as finding out what this
information is!

Remember that the answer to what
can fill the blank WILL BE PROVIDED
in the sentence itself.

Text Completion (TC)

Text Completion tests you on two things, your ability to comprehend short passages,
and your ability to use vocabulary in context. Let us look at these individually:
a) Your ability to comprehend short passages

You will be given a sentence or two, with blanks, and you need to understand what
the sentence is trying to say. A lot of processing happens in your brain when you
read sentences with the keywords. When the keywords are missing, your brain will
find it hard to process the sentences.

Moreover, the sentences in the GRE Text Completion section are typically
very heavy. This makes the task even harder.
Here is a blog on Text Completion to get you started:
Understanding Text Completion on the GRE

Sample this:

It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow
facts to be BLANK by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects
of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them
to BLANK his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He
emphasizes the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our
observations, and the BLANK, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary
evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the
condition of our planet.

This isn’t the stuff you read on a nice Sunday morning.

This isn’t stuff you would be reading any time!

And the GRE knows that!

Text Completion tests you on two
things, your ability to comprehend
short passages, and your ability to
use vocabulary in context.
b) Your ability to use Vocabulary in context

Let us take the word “flag”.

Think of what comes to your mind!


Did you think of the national flag of India?

Let me give you a few alternative meanings to the same word:

– Mark (an item) for attention or treatment in a specified way.

Example: “the spellcheck program flags any words that are not in its dictionary”

– Draw attention to.

Example: “cancer was flagged up as a priority area for research”

– Signal to a vehicle or driver to stop, especially by waving one’s arm.

Example: “she flagged down a police patrol car”

Get the idea?

The GRE will give you a sentence, and you need to pick a meaning of “flag” that is
most appropriate in that particular context.

The blanks come in three flavours: Single, Double and Triple blanks.
Single blanks have five answer options while Double and Triple blanks have three
answer options for each blank.

Needless to say, the lengthier the paragraph, and more the number of blanks, the
more challenging it gets!

The GRE will give you a word within
a sentence, and you need to pick a
meaning of the word that is most
appropriate in that particular
But wait! That’s not all.

A point is awarded only if ALL the blanks are filled correctly.

No marks for partially correct answers!

This means that you might have spent a minute reading the paragraph multiple
times and gotten two of the three blanks right, but if you missed out on just ONE
blank, you will end up getting ZERO for that question.

That’s right: Nada!

Let us try solving this by looking at an example:

i) Single-blank Text Completion Question

Emma Puntington writes across generational boundaries, making the past so

__________ that our belief that the present is the true locus of experience seems



What about the past could make you question if you are really in the present?

Maybe something about the past that is so believable that makes the present

If the past were to be complex or remote (distant/far off) then wouldn’t the present
be more believable?

Also if it is mundane (boring) or mysterious (hard to understand), wouldn’t we want

the present to be believable?

Hence the right answer is vivid.

Let’s see what the word means:

Does this makes sense?

Yes, it does, because the author made the past look so believable that the present
looks almost unbelievable.

ii) Double-blank Text Completion Question:

Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his
__________ as an artist increased, the more __________ his life became.

Blank I Blank II
temperance tumultuous
notoriety providential
eminence dispassionate
So Caravaggio was not a good guy: Vain and prone to violence.

Now, we need to understand which one to begin with, between the two blanks. Let
us start with the second one (there are reasons behind it – which we will get into, a
little later).

So would something in his life be positive? Like providential (favourable / auspicious)

or dispassionate (impartial / rational).

Or would it be negative? Like the word “tumultuous” (confused / disorderly).

If you picked the latter, you are right.

Let us now move to the first blank. Remember you are given another clue: he could
not handle his success. So, do you want to pick something that says he stopped
drinking (temperance) or became famous for the wrong reasons (notoriety)?

Or do you want to pick something that says he gained fame for achievement in his
field (eminence)?

If you picked the latter, you got this question correct!

iii) Triple-blank Text Completion Question:

Although the provision of food to wild chimpanzees made them less __________
and easier to study, it was found to __________ their normal social patterns,
thereby rendering the implications of the study __________ .
Blank I Blank II Blank III
interesting promote incontrovertible
bashful disrupt dubious
manageable reinforce corroborative

Again, you need to wisely pick the first blank you would like to begin with.

Let us start with the first blank. Less of WHAT would make these chimpanzees easier
to study?

If you missed out on just ONE blank,
you will end up getting ZERO for
that question.
Interesting, and manageable don’t make sense because both indicate it would be
harder to study if they become less interesting (boring) or less manageable

So the first blank has to be bashful, which means shy. Makes sense? Because if they
are less shy they would be more participative in this experiment.

Note that the sentence starts with the word ALTHOUGH – which is a contrast word.
So we need to see what would be the downside if they are easier to study.
Something negative, right?
So you expect that their normal behavior is neither promoted nor reinforced but
rather disrupted. Hence that is our second blank.

If the behavior is unnatural that would make the study incorrect. The synonym for
that is dubious. Our correct answer!

Here is a great video that teaches you more Text Completion:

Practicing GRE Verbal Questions

So did that whet your appetite?

Kicked about solving more GRE questions? Want to learn more concepts?

Here are a few options:

a) Sign up for a GRE Online Course or GRE Classroom Program

If you liked what you saw on this blog, you can also check our Online GRE
Course that includes ninja strategies to tackle all sections of GRE Verbal.
If you are in Bangalore or Chennai and would like to opt for a more conventional
classroom program, we got you covered there too!

b) Pick up a book

You can pick up a book that contains real (but retired) GRE questions:

If you are wondering what to expect in the book, here is the GRE Official Guide (OG)
review for you.

What’s more? Here is a playlist with explanations for all GRE OG Verbal Questions:

GRE Vocabulary

You can also check our GRE Verbal Strategy book on Amazon:

CrackVerbal GRE Verbal Strategy

I hope you found this e-book useful.

Please spread its value by sharing the e-book on your social media channels, and
letting your friends know about it.

Also, I would love to know if you have any questions about the GRE Verbal section, so
go ahead, and let me know in the Comments section.

That’s all folks!