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GRE Verbal Reasoning Section

On the GRE, you will encounter two Verbal Reasoning sections. (There may be a third Verbal Reasoning section that is experimental, however, you will not be able to tell that it is an experimental section. If you are taking the computer-based GRE, each Verbal Reasoning section will include 20 questions to be answered in 30 minutes. However, on the paper-based GRE, these sections will have 25 questions to be answered in a 35-minute timeframe.

According to ETS, the Verbal Reasoning sections measure your ability to:

  • Analyze and draw conclusions from discourse; reason from incomplete data; identify author's assumptions and/or perspective; understand multiple levels of meaning, such as literal, figurative and author's intent
  • Select important points; distinguish major from minor or relevant points; summarize text; understand the structure of a text
  • Understand the meanings of words, sentences and entire texts; understand relationships among words and among concepts

Overall, the Verbal Reasoning sections are used to measure your ability to understand what you read and how you apply your reasoning skills.

There are three different question types that you will encounter on the Verbal Reasoning sections. They are Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence Questions.

Reading Comprehension questions will appear in sets and are associated with a aprticular passage. These passages are drawn from a variety of topics, and are based on material found in books and periodicals. The passages can range in length from one paragraph to four or five. Reading comprehension questions may be Multiple-Choice - Select One Answer Choice, Multiple-Choice - Select One or More Answer Choices, or Select-In Passage. A select-in passage question will ask you to click on the sentence in the passage that meets the description in the question statement.

The second type of Verbal Reasoning questions are known as Text Completion questions. These questions consist of a passage of one to five sentences with one to three blanks, and each blank has three answer options. However, if there is only one blank in a sentence, you will be given five answer options. The goal is to select the word that fulfills the context of the passage the most coherently. You cannot receive partial credit for Text Completion questions. Therefore, you will need to get all the blanks correct to get points for these questions.

The last type of Verbal Reasoning questions are Sentence Equivalence questions. Sentence Equivalence questions have one sentence with a single blank. There are six answer choices for the blank. From these answer choices, you must select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fir the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

Finally, the Verbal Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 130-170, in one point increments. To learn more about GRE scoring, you can reference our GRE Scores page, or read about what a good GRE score is on our blog.

If you are looking for more information on the GRE Exam or details about the other GRE sections, please visit our GRE information pages.


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