How to Study for the Verbal Reasoning Section of the GRE

The Verbal section of the GRE is actually quite simple in terms of what to expect. When you first take a look at a set of practice questions, you’ll most likely be reminded of elementary school English tests because of the high volume of fill-in-the-blanks. Yes, a big part of the section is choosing which words will fill in the blanks of sentences most logically. Sounds easy, but it actually requires more preparation than you’d think.

The reason for this is that the options of words given to you are not going to be every-day vocabulary. Most of them won’t even be close to every-day vocabulary. This section is going to throw a ton of incredibly obscure words at you that you are not used to seeing or hearing in a casual sentence. Needless to say, this will initially leave you staring at the blanks with absolutely no idea how to fill them. That is why it is crucial you spend an extensive amount of time studying up on endless vocabulary. Take a few hours early on and make a giant stack of vocab flashcards you can consistently study until test day.

You will not be asked to directly define any vocabulary words, but comprehending what they mean is essential to recognizing when to put them in a sentence. Another helpful tactic is to study up on what common suffixes and prefixes mean. This will ensure that if you come across a word you did not study, you will be able to make an educated guess on its meaning by recognizing what a part of it means. This is an easy way to narrow down if a word correlates to something good, bad, big, small, etc.

When you’re not filling in blanks, you’ll be tested on reading comprehension – again, something you’ve seen in school many times before. With that being said, this shouldn’t be too foreign to you, but it’s still worth warming up for. You can’t predict what the passages will be about and the questions that will be aligned with them, but you can practice the art of quick and focused reading. This is absolutely necessary for completing this part of the Verbal section successfully. You will not have enough time to re-read the passages too many times, so you must develop the skill to grasp the main concepts efficiently. Train yourself to process those during the first read-through so you will have a strong foundation when you look back for specific points after reading the questions. This will guarantee you to be able to answer the questions faster. Really, the best preparation for this part of the Verbal section is solidifying your ability to focus.

Overall, the majority of your time spent preparing for this particular section of the GRE should be focused on studying vocabulary. Throw in a few tests of speed-reading/comprehension and Verbal Reasoning will be yours to conquer.