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How to Score Well On the Verbal Reasoning Section of GRE

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The GRE - Graduate Record Exam is a test taken by students in order to get admission to Masters programs in the American University. This test consists of three components: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.

The Verbal Reasoning section on GRE

The GRE has two Verbal Reasoning sections. Each section has 20 Questions and must be completed in 30 minutes. The scores for the Verbal Reasoning section is from 130-170 points. For students attempting the GRE, the Verbal Reasoning section has always been the most daunting. As most Indian students taking the GRE come from either technical or science background, they consider the verbal sections difficult. Here I would like to clarify that the verbal Reasoning is not a test of English language or Vocabulary, rather it is a test of Logic and Reasoning using your language abilities. Students can get a reasonably good score on the Verbal section with the right approach in mastering the skills needed for this section.

What is the university requirement?

Universities expect a student who is going for a technical program to get a score of at least 145 plus on the Verbal Section. Here it must be understood an engineering student’s Quantitative scores are given more weightage while giving admission. A score of 155 plus on Quantitative and a score of 145 plus on Verbal are minimum requirement from most universities for admissions into their program. Students going for Art, Science and Non-Technical programs must score at least 150 points in the Verbal Reasoning section.

What are the types of Questions on Verbal Reasoning?

The Verbal Reasoning questions are broadly divided into 3 types.

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

The Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion are fill-in-the- blank questions. The two skills required to do well in these Questions are:

  1. Critical Reading
  2. Vocabulary

The Reading Comprehension Questions are from both Long and Short Passages. The two skills needed to do well on Reading Comprehension passages are:

  1. Analytical Reasoning
  2. Critical Reading

What is Critical Reading?

A good reading skill is very important to score well on the Verbal Reasoning section. One reads for various reasons.The way one reads depends on the purpose of reading. The way one reads a newspaper is not necessarily the same as the way one reads a text book for an exam. Reading newspapers is casual. One reads superficially, skips some articles, reads some articles. Reading a text book for an exam requires an intense level of concentration in order to understand and grasp the information in order to use that information while answering the questions in the exam. The purpose for reading on the GRE is totally different from the above two. No doubt intense level of concentration is required to read and understand but the purpose is not merely to memorize or grasp information. The purpose for reading is to use the information provided in the Sentence Equivalence, Text Completion and Reading Comprehension passages to solve these problems. This type of reading is Critical Reading and involves the ability to read, understand, analyse, assess, and pinpoint the information in order to get solutions. This is the most important skill in which every student taking the GRE has to train oneself. Practicing from the ETS questions is the best way to train for Critical Reading.

How important is Vocabulary for the Revised GRE test?

Vocabulary continues to play a vital role in scoring well on the Verbal Reasoning section. But one has to understand the Revised GRE lays emphasis on the contextual meaning of the word rather than testing the mere rote memory of the word. Every word that is tested is based on its meaning within the context of the question that is asked.

How to Prepare for GRE Vocabulary?

The best way to prepare would be:

  1. Make reading a regular habit. Read newspapers, magazines, good books on a regular basis. This will automatically increase the vocabulary.
  2. Take a high frequency GRE word list. Learn 30 words daily. Learn their meaning as well as their contextual usage through sentences.
  3. Learn through word clusters. Take a high frequency word – find its meaning in the dictionary – add 3 to 4 words as its synonym from a thesaurus. Multiply your words.
  4.  Spend an hour every day on Learning words
  5. Every third day revise the words picked up in the last 2 days.
  6. Take every unknown word from the GRE practice questions checkout its meaning and learn – revise.

Learning vocabulary is an ongoing process and cannot be mastered in a day or two. Ultimately, one has to understand Verbal Reasoning is not a test of vocabulary. It is a test of Critical Reading plus Vocabulary. The books for practicing the Verbal Reasoning questions are:

ETS- GRE Official Guide – 2nd edition
ETS-Official GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice Questions - Volume 1

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TOEFL SCORE : 107/120
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