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What Is Included on the GRE® Verbal Test?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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The verbal section of the Graduate Record Examination® (GRE®) includes three types of questions. Many of the questions on the test are presented as "sentence equivalence" problems that provide a sentence that is missing a word, and the test-taker must choose two words that can both complete it in the same way. This test is meant to gauge someone's reading comprehension through longer passages that are read and then used to answer several questions. The GRE® verbal test also includes "text completion" questions in which one or more sentences are provided with missing words, which must be chosen by the tested person.

"Sentence equivalence" questions on the GRE® verbal test can be fairly complicated and require excellent vocabulary skills. These problems are often presented as a sentence that is missing a single word. A list of possible answers is provided, which typically consists of six possible words that can be used in the open section of the sentence. The person taking the GRE® verbal test must choose two words from the list that can each be used to make the sentence complete and accurate. Typically, these are similar words that give the complete sentence the same overall meaning and structure.

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The GRE® verbal test also contains numerous questions designed to evaluate the "reading comprehension" of the person taking it. This section is typically presented as a fairly long selection of writing that must be read carefully and thoroughly. Following this reading sample, there are a number of questions about the selection, often asking about themes present in it or the purpose of the work.

Someone taking the test answers these questions to demonstrate understanding of the selection. Many of these questions are multiple choice, though there may also be interactive elements to this section of the GRE® verbal test. These problems are answered by selecting a particular sentence within the passage that illustrates an idea or supports the overall argument of the selection.

There are also "text completion" questions present on the GRE® verbal test; which are similar to the "sentence equivalent" problems, but present a longer passage. Within this selection, one or more words are missing among multiple sentences. Numerous options are presented for each gap in the selection, and the person taking the test must choose the correct word from each list. There is only one right answer for each missing word in this section of the GRE® verbal test. All of the missing sections for each question must be answered correctly for credit to be given.

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