GRE Practice Questions

The Verbal Reasoning Section in the GRE is primarily subdivided into the following three categories:
1. Reading Comprehension
2. Sentence Equivalence
3. Text Completion

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension questions comprise roughly 50-55 percent of the GRE Verbal Section, which means that it is a section that cannot be taken lightly at any cost. In Reading Comprehension, students are required to read a passage, which usually ranges between 150-500 words in length. GRE RC passages draw content from a myriad variety of topics, ranging from technology, general awareness, sports & entertainment to literature, mythology, and socio-cultural practices. As a test-taker, you will be analyzed on how well you can understand the passage and mark out important points. You have to be able to draw relatable references between the sentences in the text. You may have to analyze a substantial amount of data and draw inferences even from what is not stated in the passage, but might be implied by the author.

There are three types of questions, which you can expect in the Reading Comprehension section. These are :

  • Multiple Choice Question – Select One Answer Choice
    These question types will have only one correct answer out of the given alternatives. You have to select the option that accurately answers the question. Marking any choice other than correct one fetches you no score.

  • Multiple Choice Question – Select One or More Answer Choices
    These questions provide you multiple correct answer choices. You have to select all the answers that are correct. Answering only the correct option choices will fetch you full score for the question. There are no partial or negative marking system for these type of questions.

  • Select-In-Passage
    You will be provided with a description or a statement and you will be required to mark a sentence or portion from within the passage that best fits the description. There is only one right answer in these type of questions and your ability to understand and relate words and sentences will be tested. A correct selection will fetch you a full score while any incorrect selection will not yield any score.

You can expect atleast 1-5 passages from Reading Comprehension section. Let us now see and understand some typical Reading Comprehension question patterns.
Sample Question-
Some scientists claim that mankind's brain power has reached its peak. Simon Laughlin, professor of neurobiology, has said that the brain must consume energy to function and that these requirements are sufficiently demanding to limit our performance. Far-reaching powers of deduction demand a lot of energy because, for the brain to search out new relationships, it must constantly correlate information from different sources. Such energy demands mean there is a limit to the information we can process. The cleverest people have the best wiring, with messages carried very quickly between different parts of the brain.

According to the passage, which of the following are true?
1. Environmental impulses travel slower in smarter people and faster in those who are less intelligent
2. The formation of efficient networks within the brain seems to be associated with a high IQ.
3. Becoming smarter means improving connections between different brain areas, but meeting energy needs could still pose a limit

Approach and Solution -
From this passage, you gather that the brain requires energy to process information. To stretch its ability in deducing a correlation or in identifying a relationship, a tremendous amount of energy is required. This requirement, most of the times, can become an unmatched demand. Only the smartest in the set with excellent neuron networks can possess a good deducing ability while the rest are left with a limit on the amount of information one can process. This leads us to option B and option C which means improving connections between the various areas of the brain, while at the same time meeting energy needs, could pose a limit to the brain's capabilities. Hence, the correct options are Option B and Option C.

Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence questions assess your ability to reach a relevant conclusion of a sentence or a passage based on partial information. On a whole, it focuses on the complete meaning of the sentence by providing answer choices. Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence or a passage with single or multiple blanks. You will be provided with 6 answer choices out of which you will have to select any two choices, both of which form a complete and meaningful sentence within the paragraph. It may seem like looking out for words or synonyms, but once again, the key to scoring in this section is by working on a strong vocabulary.

You can expect at least 12 questions of Text Completion, 6 out of 20 questions from each Section 1 and Section 2, including both single and multiple correct answer questions.

Let us go through one typical Text Completion question.

Sample Question-
Fans of P. G. Wodehouse do not respond well when he is criticized: With such lighthearted approach to life, his books are ________ to frustration and are like tonic to those suffering from the heaviness of soul.

1. instigative
2. anodyne
3. assuagement
4. soporific
5. conducive
6. dreary

Approach and Solution –
The blank expresses the effect of P.G. Wodehouse’s books on those who feel frustrated.
The statement also suggests that Wodehouse’s approach to life is lighthearted.
tonics for those suffering from the heaviness of soul – this phrase suggests that Wodehouse’s writings are of help to its target readers.

Therefore, option 2 and option 3 are the correct answers. Why not the other options? That’s because none of the other words match up to the tone of the word “tonic” which is the essential word that creates a relation between Wodehouse’s books and frustrated souls. Note that words like 'anodyne' and 'assuagement' are typical advanced GRE words that we don't normally use in day-to-day speech. Building a great vocabulary is one of your biggest keys to acing the Verbal section and will help you immensely in answering all 3 question types. Get started with learning the top 1000 high priority GRE words today - Download the free GREedge ultimate word-list eBook for fast & effective vocabulary building!

Text Completion

The Text Completion section not only assesses your ability to reason with the information provided, but it also evaluates your ability to interpret and form meaningful sentences or complete text by filling in the blanks from some given answer choices. The section also tests for the candidate’s vocabulary by selecting words or short phrases to fill the blanks to form a coherent and meaningful sentence or passage. While the structure of these questions may look like simple Fill in the blank type questions, you will be provided with an almost identical set of answer choices which might really complicate matters.

You can expect at least 8 questions from Text Completion with approximately a minute and a half to answer each. Let us now go through some typical questions of this type:

Sample Question 1-
One could understand Schumann's _________ state of mind when he failed miserably to connect to anything that the antiquated copy of The Backpacker's Guide to India was taking about.

1. stymied
2. analytical
3. disappointed
4. cynical
5. melancholic
6. dispirited

Approach and Solution -
You understand Schumann is a traveler/tourist/backpacker from the title of the book that he refers to for his travel. The book seems to be an outdated copy (antiquated copy) and Schumann is not able to relate to the things that are mentioned in the book with what he sees in reality. So he becomes _______.

The blank describes Schumann’s state of mind.

when he failed miserably to connect to anything that the antiquated copy of:

From this clue, you understand that Schumann is not able to relate to things he sees since he had referred to an outdated tourist guide. He should be feeling let down. This leads you to answer choices C, disappointed and F, dispirited.

Therefore, the correct answers are Options C and F.


Sample Question 2 -
Humans too, like all (i) ______________creatures who bond together, such as the crows and bees, have their (ii)_____________. Sometimes, the petty differences end up having fatal consequences.


Approach and Solution-
The first blank must include a term that describes the kind of creatures crows, bees, and humans are, and indicate a social bonding between the species. This leads us to option B. Gregarious which refers to the quality of being sociable, or choosing to exist in groups

The phrase "Sometimes the petty differences end up fatally" is a clue that indicates that though the bonding is strong, they are also prone to quarreling among each other at times. These quarrels, however petty, can sometimes lead to loss of life. This leads us to option E. Quibbles, a word that is closest in meaning to 'Quarrels'.

Therefore, the correct answers are option B and option E.

Sample Question 3 -
It is no surprise that the Mongol rulers of the 13th century sent out an ultimatum to monarchs who (i)________ their rule, in belief of a divine mandate that awarded them (ii)________ the entire world. By way of subjugation, most contemporary rulers were subject to (iii) ________, and where persuasion as a tool failed to work, threats were used to bring everyone under the Mongol yoke.

Approach and Solution–
The first question that presents itself is what the Mongols really wanted from the monarchs.
The second sentence hints that the Mongols tried all possible means to bring the monarchs under their control.
"Ultimatums would be sent out if the opponent did not obey rules". This leads us to Option B. Defied.
Since the Mongols wanted the monarchs under their control, Option D. Dominion over.
seems to make the most sense. Since the Mongols resorted to threats to bring the monarchs under their control, the clue-word persuasion leads us to the word Blandishment, meaning gentle persuasion, for our 3rd blank.

Hence the correct option choices are defied, dominion over and blandishment.

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