Ace GRE’s Verbal Section With These Simple Strategies

Written by Shefali Onawale

Someone, somewhere said a thing...and now we remember it because they probably wrote it down! She used to write for herself and now writes to help others. Writing has brought her a long way and she wishes to walk some more, preferably making sojourns along the way.

April 9, 2021

Why Is It Difficult To Ace GRE’s Verbal Section? 

The GRE’s verbal section is considered tough ice to break even by the toppers of GRE. Whether you know the complete syllabus of GRE for the year 2021 or not, if you plan on giving GRE this year, you should have already started preparing for the test in the previous years. The GRE is one of the toughest exams to crack and is a measure of your application while applying to universities in Europe and other countries such as the USA. 

What makes it even tougher to crack how to ace GRE’s verbal section is an adaptive test. This means that your greatest competitor on the test is you, yourself. The difficulty level of the questions increases with every correct answer you feed. Your performance in the previous sections determines the difficulty level of the next set of questions. 

To crack the various levels of difficulty offered by this section, students are suggested to strategise their learning and practice times.  This can be done if you understand the GRE verbal section breakdown, which will be elaborated on below.

The difficulty levels of GRE’s Verbal section can be divided into 5 levels. While Levels 1&2 consists of easy questions, the medium-level questions are incorporated in the 3rd Level. Once you are able to cross the mark of medium difficulty, the hardest levels are levels 4&5. 

How To Ace GRE’s Verbal Section? 

Before I share with you how to ace GRE’s Verbal Section, let’s first see what is the GRE pattern. There are two types of GRE tests that you can give. The first is the GRE General Test and the second is the GRE Subject Test. While you can give the general test in both paper-based and computer-based formats, depending on availability, the GRE subject test is only available in paper-based format. 

The following is a rough breakdown of the test pattern. 

GRE SubjectComputer-BasedPaper-Based
Verbal ReasoningTime: 30 mins
No. of Questions: 20
Time: 35 mins
No. of Questions: 25
Quantitative ReasoningTime: 35 mins
No. of Questions: 20
Time: 40 mins
No. of Questions: 25
Analytical WritingTime: 60 mins
No. of Questions: 2
Time: 30 mins
No. of Questions: 2
Research Variable Variable
Total Time: 3 Hours 45 Mins
No. of Questions: 82
Time: 3 Hours 30 Mins
No. of Questions: 102

It is important to note that the paper-based GRE test will not have a research section. Additionally, for the computer-based tests, an online calculator will be provided and an ETS calculator will be given for the paper-based test. 

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Insights and Tips To Crack GRE’s Verbal Strategies 

To help you improve your GRE’s Verbal score, let’s first see what are the demands of this section. 

Here’s the GRE verbal section breakdown for you –  

Sentence Equivalence: The questions consist of a single sentence with a single blank. You will choose from a bucket of options to create a meaningful sentence. You are to find two words that, without compromising,  create complete and coherent sentences with the different words. This section consists of 4 questions and demands a whole of 6 minutes in total. 

Text Completion: You will have to fill a brief paragraph with 5 blanks. The GRE question paper will offer you multiple choices to help you fill the blanks in order to create meaningful sentences and a sensible paragraph. 

Reading Comprehension: This is the most significant language practice in the Verbal section of  GRE. you can expect at least 5 passages in the section with 5 multiple choice questions to test your understanding of the passage. 

Reading comprehension is the toughest and the longest part of the exam and if you want to ace GRE’s Verbal Section, you need to create a strategy for yourself. All passages on the test will have one thing in common and that is, the building blocks of the passage. 

Each reading comprehension passage is made of four elements:

  • The main point. This is usually the main idea the author is trying to convey.
  • The background of the subject and story. 
  • Some incidents to support the idea and the theme
  • And lastly, the implications of each link of the story. 

You’ll come across 8 types of questions in reading comprehension. This means that the reading comprehension questions can broadly be categorised into one of the following: 

  • Questions relating to the idea of the story. This includes the author’s main point and the primary purpose behind the passage. 
  • Factual questions that have direct answers. You need to be able to differentiate between the most relevant and closely relevant answers to such questions. 
  • Interpretation of the Author’s tone is also tested within the limits of the comprehension. This means you will have to reflect, through your answers, the best way to describe the author’s mood, intention, attitude and idea. 
  • Questions that check your understanding by asking you implied questions. This goes beyond asking factual questions. While a certain part of the question will be based on the actual facts, the rest of the question will measure your understanding of the passage. 
  • There are questions related to the structure of the passage. This means, you will have to identify the technique, method and writing style of the author. 
  • Conclusive or extrapolation questions are not very frequently asked; they are, however, common. These questions test your ability to draw conclusions of the events described in the passage. For example a typical extrapolation question looks like this: which event between lines 23 and 31 can you best describe as an irony? 
  • Another common type of question asked is the definition of words or terms. This can include phrases, idioms and definitions. This really can only be answered if you either know the meaning of the term being asked or you are able to guess the context under which the word was used. 
  • Testing negatives and positives. This means that you will have to argue whether you agree with the author or not. This can only be answered if you understand and interpret the author’s attitude, mode and tone. 


1. Is the verbal section of GRE hard?

GRE’s verbal section is considered to be quite difficult by GRE’s many test-takers. What makes the section tough to crack is an excellent ability to understand, analyse and evaluate the written material based upon which you are further questioned, which many candidates lack.

2. What is asked in GRE verbal?

The verbal section in GRE consists of questions based on reading comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence. Some of the question types include reading a passage and answering questions on those passages, analysing and completing sentences and other questions which test your understanding and reasoning regarding the English language.

3. How is verbal section divided in GRE?

The verbal section in GRE tests you on reading comprehension, sentence equivalence and test completion. You are required to complete 20 questions in 30 minutes. Along with carefully analysing and evaluating the questions and their respective answers, the candidate needs to be mindful of the time and efficiently manage their time to answer all the questions in a timely fashion.

4. What is a good score on GRE verbal?

A good score in the verbal reasoning section of GRE ranges from 150 to 158. A score in this range ensures you are above the 70th percentile signifying that you have outperformed your fellow test-takers!

Thanks for reading this blog on Ace GRE’s Verbal Section With These Simple Strategies. If you’re interested in learning about scholarships, test preparations, and other information relating to study abroad, the following may be of interest to you: 

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