Roshan Sunthar

Updated on 01-04-2023


What is GRE Verbal Reasoning?

What is GRE Verbal Reasoning?

GRE Verbal Reasoning is one of the sections in the GRE General Test that measures your ability to analyse and evaluate written text, synthesize information, analyse relationships between sentences and recognize connections among words and concepts. ETS included verbal reasoning in the GRE exam to evaluate test takers ability to understand the meanings of words and phrases, perceive the author’s point of view to show universities that you are ready for master’s.

Similar to GRE Quant and GRE Analytical Writing (AWA), the GRE Verbal section also has different question types: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence. Nevertheless, Verbal Reasoning is different from Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing for its skill requirements like English vocabulary and comprehension. To tackle this section, you need to master all question types exclusively. And here, you will see how to do it and attain a better score in the GRE Verbal Reasoning, including its syllabus, skills required, etc.

What is the GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus?

what is the gre verbal reasoning syllabus?

The GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus covers three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence, in addition to the topics given below.

  1. Verb Tense
  2. Subject-Verb Agreement
  3. Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions
  4. Modifiers and Parallelism
  5. Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives and Adverbs
  6. Pronoun Agreement

By completing these topics in GRE Verbal Reasoning Syllabus, you will be able to make specific analyses and draw conclusions from the entire text. Moreover, by understanding the meanings of words and sentences such as figurative, literal and the author’s intent, you can get a perfect GRE score in this section. 

What are the question types in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

There are three different question types in GRE Verbal Reasoning: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. In this, you need to read, comprehend and answer half of the questions, while for the other half,  you need to read and interpret the passage in order to complete sentences or paragraphs.

  • Reading Comprehension - The reading comprehension questions come with one to five paragraphs, based on three different subjects - humanities, natural science, and social science (Business). It tests your ability to understand and analyse the passage.
  • Text Completion - The text completion questions generally have a passage of one to five sentences, with unfilled blanks. For each blank space, select the correct answer from given choices. It measures your ability to interpret and evaluate the text and fill the blanks that create a coherent, meaningful answer.
  • Sentence Equivalence - The sentence equivalence questions consist of a single sentence, a blank space, and six answer choices. Here, you need to select two of the given choices. This question type is to test your ability to complete the sentence, making sure it is grammatically correct.  

What is Reading Comprehension in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

The Reading Comprehension in GRE Verbal Reasoning is a type of question that measures a wide range of abilities from you, including understanding the meaning of words and sentences, summarising a passage, drawing conclusions, evaluating the author’s assumptions and perspective, etc.

Sample Topics for Reading Comprehension in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

ETS provides a set of sample topics for reading comprehension in GRE Verbal Reasoning as follows:

Questions 1 to 3 are based on this passage.

Reviving the practice of making use of elements of popular music in the classical composition, an approach that had been kept in hibernation in the United States of America (USA) during the 1960s period, composer Philip Glass (born 1937) embraced the ethos of most popular music in his compositions. Glass based on two symphonies on music recorded by rock musicians David Bowie and Brian Eno, however the symphonies' sound is apparently his. Popular components do not display out of place in Glass's classical music place, which from its age-old days has shared some harmonies and rhythms using rock music. But this use of popular elements did not make Glass a composer of popular music. His music journey is not a version of popular music filled to attract classical music-lovers; it is high art for listeners steeped in rock rather than the classics.

Select only one answer choice.

1. The passage addresses which of the following issues related to Glass's use of popular elements in his classical compositions?

  1. How it is regarded by listeners who prefer rock to the classics
  2. How it has affected the commercial success of Glass's music
  3. Whether it has contributed to a revival of interest among other composers in using popular elements in their compositions
  4. Whether it has had a detrimental effect on Glass's reputation as a composer of classical music
  5. Whether it has caused certain of Glass's works to be derivative in quality

Consider each of the three choices separately and select all that apply. 

2. The passage suggests that Glass's work displays which of the following qualities?

  1. A return to the use of popular music in classical compositions
  2. An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating that of classical music
  3. A long-standing tendency to incorporate elements from two apparently disparate musical styles

3. Select the sentence that distinguishes two ways of integrating rock and classical music.

The passage narrates a thesis-like in general terms how Philip Glass uses popular music in his classical compositions and explores how Glass can do this without being imitative. Also note that there are no opposing views mentioned; the author is simply presenting his or her views.

Question 1: One of the important points that the passage makes is that when Glass uses popular elements in his music, the result is very much his own creation (it is “distinctively his”). In other words, the music is far from being derivative. Thus one issue that the passage addresses is the one referred to in answer choice E — it answers it in the negative. The passage does not discuss the impact of Glass's use of popular elements on listeners, on the commercial success of his music, on other composers or on Glass's reputation, so none of Choices A through D is correct. The correct answer is Choice E.

Question 2: To answer this question, it is important to assess each answer choice independently. Since the passage says that Glass revived the use of popular music in classical compositions, answer choice A is clearly correct. On the other hand, the passage also denies that Glass composes popular music or packages it in a way to elevate its status, so answer choice B is incorrect. Finally, since Glass's style has always mixed elements of rock with classical elements, answer Choice C is correct. Thus the correct answer is Choice A and Choice C.

Question 3: Almost every sentence in the passage refers to incorporating rock music in classical compositions, but only the last sentence distinguishes two ways of doing so. It distinguishes between writing rock music in a way that will make it attractive to classical listeners and writing classical music that will be attractive to listeners familiar with rock. Thus the correct answer is the last sentence of the passage.

Source: ETS

Best Strategy for Answering the Reading Comprehension Question Type

Use the best strategy for answering the reading comprehension question type, which requires you to understand the structure of a text and how it connects with one another, identifying an author’s assumptions, reasoning from incomplete information, etc.

  • Start reading the questions before the passage as it helps you locate the answers easily.
  • Differentiate the facts from opinions.
  • Keep all options open as some questions may have more than one correct answer to write.
  • Do not apply your technical knowledge or skills in this question type.

These are the essentials to get a good GRE score.

What is Text Completion in GRE Verbal Reasoning? 

The Text Completion in GRE Verbal Reasoning is one of the question types in the GRE test that measures your ability to form a complete sentence from the text given. To perform well in this question, you must know not only the words but also understand their meanings. This question contains a passage composed of one to five sentences with some blank spaces. To fill those blank spaces, you must choose the correct answers from the choices and then move on to the next question.

Sample Topics for Text Completion in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

To improve your abilities, use the sample topics for text completion in GRE Verbal Reasoning given below.

1.     It is enlightening to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow true facts to be (i)__________ by politics: well known of the political turmoils about the aftermaths of human activities on climate (change), river and biodiversity, this author does not leave them to (ii)__________ his comprehensive description of what we know about our entire biosphere. He signifies the big gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our overwhelming observations, and the (iii)__________, seeking attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that ought to be better understood before we can identify the critical condition of our planet.

Blank (i) Blank (ii) Blank (iii)
(A) overshadowed (D) enhance (G) plausibility of our hypotheses
(B) invalidated (E) obscure (H) certainty of our entitlement
(C) illuminated (F) underscore (I) superficiality of our theories

The overall tone of the passage is clearly complimentary, not a critique. To know and understand what the author of the book is being complimented on, it is useful to focus on the second part of the blank. Here, we must find out what word would tell something that the author is praised for not allowing. The only answer choice that fits the case is "obscure," since enhancing and underscoring are normally good things to do, not things one should refrain from doing. Choosing "obscure" clarifies the choice for the first blank; the only choice that suits well with "obscure" is "overshadowed." Notice that putting effort to fill the first blank before filling the second blank is hard — each choice has at least some initial plausibility. Since the third part of the blank requires a phrase that connects "enormous gaps" and "sparseness of our observations," the best choice would be "superficiality of our theories."
Thus, the correct answer is Choice A (overshadowed), Choice E (obscure) and Choice I (superficiality of our theories).
2.    Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio couldn’t handle his success: the more his (i)__________ as an artist increased, the more (ii)__________ his life became.

Blank (i) Blank (ii)
(A) temperance (D) tumultuous
(B) notoriety (E) providential
(C) eminence (F) dispassionate

In this sentence, what typing follows the colon must explain or spell out what precedes it. So, roughly, what the second half of the part must say is that as Caravaggio became more successful, his life became out of control. When one looks for words to fill the blanks, it becomes obvious that "tumultuous" is the best fit for the second blank, since neither of the other choices suggests being out of control. And for the first blank, the perfect choice is "eminence," since to increase in eminence is the cost of becoming more successful. It is true that Caravaggio might also increase in notoriety, however an increase in notoriety as an artist is not as clear a sign of success as an increase in eminence.
Thus, the correct answer is Choice C (eminence) and Choice D (tumultuous).
3.   In parts of the Arctic region, the land grades into the landfast ice so _______ that you can walk off the coast and not be sure you’re over the hidden sea.

(A) permanently
(B) imperceptibly
(C) irregularly
(D) precariously
(E) relentlessly

The word that fills the blank has to characterize how the land grades into the ice in a way that explains how you can walk off the coast and over the sea without knowing it. The word that describes that is "imperceptibly"; if the land grades imperceptibly into the ice, you would never know that you are living without the land. Explaining the shift from land to ice as permanent, irregular, precarious, or relentless would not assist to explain how you would fail to know.
Thus, the correct answer is Choice B (imperceptibly).

Source: ETS 

Best Strategy for Answering the Text Completion Question Type

For the text completion question type, follow the best strategy for answering them correctly.

  • First, read the whole passage to get an understanding and what it is all about. Use a scratch paper if needed.
  • If you find any adverbs/adjectives that emphasize a place, person or action, then note them down.
  • Here, apply all options available given to the question and see which suits best to the overall situation.
  • After answering all the questions, double-check to make sure the answers are grammatically correct and sound logical.

What is Sentence Equivalence in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

Sentence Equivalence type of question tests your ability to find a conclusion based on the available information, provided that the whole passage is meaningful. As per the official ETS website, this question type in GRE Verbal Reasoning comes with a single sentence with one blank. You need to choose the correct response to fill that blank space which gives a complete, coherent sentence in the end.

Sample Topics for Sentence Equivalence in GRE Verbal Reasoning?

Sample topics for sentence equivalence in GRE Verbal Reasoning is a go-to source for beginners and advanced learners. Since it gives the ‘GRE like’ questions, it ensures a clear understanding of what this question type is asking.

1. Although it does contain some pioneering ideas and thoughts, one would hardly characterize the work as __________.

  1. orthodox
  2. eccentric
  3. original
  4. trifling
  5. conventional
  6. innovative

The word "Although" is a crucial signpost here. The work contains some pioneering ideas and thoughts, but apparently it is not overall a pioneering work based on the statistics. Thus the two words that could fill the blank appropriately are "original" and "innovative." Note that "orthodox" and "conventional" are two words that are very similar in meaning, but neither one completes the sentence sensibly.
Thus, the correct answer is Choice C (original) and Choice F (innovative).
2. It was her point of view that the country's problems had been _______ by foreign technocrats, so that to ask for such assistance again would be counterproductive.

  1. ameliorated
  2. ascertained
  3. diagnosed
  4. exacerbated
  5. overlooked
  6. worsened

The sentence pertains to a piece of reasoning, as described by the presence of "so that": asking for the assistance of foreign technocrats would be counterproductive because of the effects such technocrats have had already. This means that the technocrats with their critical thinking must have bad effects; i.e., they must have "exacerbated" or "worsened" the country's problems.
Thus, the correct answer is Choice D (exacerbated) and Choice F (worsened).
Source: ETS 

Best Strategy for Answering the Sentence Equivalence Question Type

Unlike other questions, this question is tricky to understand and answer. So, to do it correctly, you must make use of the best strategy (given below) for answering the sentence equivalence question type.

  1. First, read the incomplete sentence and the options given before answering.
  2. If you know the answer, then go for it without wasting time.
  3. If you are not sure, give your own words to the sentence and then look for the similar word from the options.
  4. Finally, cross-check all the answers before submitting to ensure no questions are left. 

Topics and Concepts covered under GRE Verbal Reasoning?

The main topics and concepts covered under GRE Verbal Reasoning includes the following:

  1. Verb Tense
  2. Subject-Verb Agreement
  3. Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions
  4. Modifiers and Parallelism
  5. Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives and Adverbs
  6. Pronoun Agreement

Since the GRE Verbal section contains three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence, these topics above will help you in analyzing relationships among words and concepts and tackling the questions efficiently.

Types of Verbal Questions Asked

Verbal Reasoning contains three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence. If you go one step deeper, you will get the following type of questions.  

  • Analogies - To increase complexity and argument, questions will be filled with analogies. However, if you understand the word relationship, you can easily get through.
  • Antonyms - These types of questions are used to make the test interesting. It looks simple, but it’s not. Once you learn more vocabulary, you can understand the meaning of a word and answer correctly. 

Skills Required for GRE Verbal Reasoning

skills required for gre verbal reasoning

The necessary skills required for GRE Verbal Reasoning are the following:

  • analyze and draw a conclusion from the written text
  • identify reasons for incomplete information 
  • understand the author’s assumptions and/or perspective
  • understand multiple types of meaning like literal, figurative and finally, the author’s intent.

While preparing for the GRE General Test, take the above points into consideration. It helps you understand the GRE Verbal section quite easily and know how to approach each question type.

Computer Adaptive Test in GRE

GRE is a CAT - Computer-Adaptive Test but not exactly as other standardised tests like GMAT. Unlike GMAT, GRE is not adaptive at the question level but at the section level. As we know, GRE contains three sections: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing. Here, for GRE quant and GRE Verbal sections, the first section will come with moderate difficulty. Based on your performance in this first section, you will either see an easy, medium or hard second section. 

So, if you get a hard second section, it’s good because you’ve scored more in the first section, and you’re on a safer side, score-wise! If you get an easy second section, you need to take each question seriously and try to get maximum scores in the second section.

Can I get sample topics for GRE Verbal Reasoning?

Yes. You can gain access to many online and offline sources for sample topics for GRE Verbal Reasoning, including examples. For GRE practice questions, sample essays and explanations, use the best books for GRE Verbal that take you gradually from easy to the difficulty level of questions. It’s available in both PDF and hard copies. For effective tips and strategies, follow the online classes from various publishers where you can find GRE tutors and toppers sharing their secrets to ace this test.

What is the GRE Verbal Reasoning exam pattern?

As you know, the GRE Verbal Reasoning section contains three different question types:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Text Completion
  3. Sentence Equivalence

The GRE Verbal Reasoning exam pattern is designed in such a way to cover all the above questions. In this section, you will be given twenty questions. Here, based on a survey half of the questions are from text completion and sentence equivalence, while the other half is reading comprehension. Similarly, half of the measure wants you to read passages and answer questions accordingly. Whereas the other half requires you to read, interpret and fill in the blanks of the existing sentences.

GRE Verbal Score and how it is calculated?

ETS sets a standardized format for calculating the GRE Verbal Score, and not a calculator or any other technology. To know how it is calculated, look into the following table.

S No. GRE Verbal Score GRE Verbal Score Percentile GRE Raw Score GRE Raw Score
Number of Correct Answers
1 170 99 35 - 40 35 - 40
2 165 96 30 - 35 30 - 35
3 160 86 25 - 30 25 - 30
4 155 69 20 - 25 20 - 25
5 150 48 15 - 20 15 - 20
6 145 27 10 - 15 10 - 15
7 140 12 5 - 10 5 - 10
8 135 3 0 - 5 0 - 5
9 130 <1 0 0

Here, the GRE Verbal Score reported from 130 - 170 is given in 1-point increments. 130 is the lowest, while 170 is the highest score.  

What is the average GRE verbal score?

“According to ETS, the average GRE verbal score ranges from 150 to 153”. While taking the GRE Verbal Reasoning questions, students end up getting 140, 147, 155 or 156 on the test. This average (mean) GRE score in Verbal Reasoning also applies to the GRE Quants section. This average score from the total GRE Verbal Reasoning measure is subject to changes based on the student’s response.

Refer to the table below to know the average score for different master’s degree courses

S No Top Graduate Major GRE Verbal Score (Mean) GRE Verbal Score (SD)
1 Education 151 8
2 Mechanical Engineering 149 9
3 Business 151 8
4 Computer Science 149 9
5 Humanities and Arts 156 8
6 Life Sciences 151 7
7 Physical Sciences 151 9
8 Social Sciences 153 8
9 Law 155 9
10 Other Fields 151 8

How to prepare for GRE Verbal Reasoning?

The best way to prepare for GRE Verbal Reasoning is enhancing your vocabulary and incorporating them into your thoughts and writing. By practising this, you can understand and develop strategies on your own for all three question types: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence. Apart from that, to ensure strict time management you can follow the useful tips from the best books for GRE Verbal Reasoning. 

Top 8 GRE Verbal Reasoning Tips

top 8 gre verbal reasoning tips

Speed up your preparation without reducing the number of GRE verbal reasoning mock tests. To do it effectively, follow our successful tips given below before you reach your test day. These top 8 GRE Verbal Reasoning tips are used by GRE toppers and experienced good results.

  1. Collect all resources (books and online resources) required for your preparation, including GRE Verbal Reasoning sample questions.
  2. Have a clear understanding of the concepts and skills required for the GRE Verbal section.
  3. In the ‘Reading Comprehension’ type of question don’t leave questions with partial information.  
  4. In the ‘Text Completion’ type of question, the answer must be not only logical but also coherent.
  5. In the ‘Sentence Equivalence’ question type, after completing the question, make sure it is grammatically correct.
  6. Practise for at least 2 to 3 months to clear this GRE Verbal section effortlessly.
  7. Evaluate your progress daily, count your minutes and plan your preparation accordingly. 
  8. Finally, get guidance from a GRE expert or tutor like many people do to keep you motivated throughout the process.

How do I practice for GRE Verbal Reasoning?

Experts say that 2 - 3 hours a day for at least two months is good enough to practice for GRE Verbal Reasoning. In this section, ETS expects your mind to know the grammar like synonyms, antonyms, subject-verb agreement, and many more. So, whether you’re preparing for the first time or not, always keep a deadline and complete all practice questions. It guarantees you the perfect score in GRE on the first attempt.


GRE General Test is a standardized exam conducted by ETS. Here, GRE Verbal Reasoning is one of the trickiest sections, where you can score the highest or the least GRE final score based on your preparation. To get the best GRE score take the GRE Verbal Reasoning preparation seriously. Cover all topics on time, follow a mentor’s advice and become a GRE topper.


1.  How do I study for GRE Verbal Reasoning?
It’s quite simple to study for GRE Verbal Reasoning. You need to increase your vocabulary and take the sample tests simultaneously. These two will improve your skills exponentially. After this, you need to build a perfect strategy and follow it correctly. Later, you can see the evidence.

2.  What is the Verbal Reasoning section in GRE?
The Verbal Reasoning section is one of the sections in GRE. It measures your ability to evaluate the given material, synthesize information, analyse relationships among words and concepts. It has three subsections or question types: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence.

3.   Is the Verbal Reasoning section hard in GRE?
Compared to the GRE Quants and GRE Analytical Writing (awa) section, the GRE Verbal Reasoning section is not that hard. Does not have many multiple-choice questions. Since half of the questions test your grasp of English, you can tackle the questions easily by improving vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure.

4.   What is the good Verbal Reasoning score in GRE?
A good score of Verbal Reasoning in GRE is 157 and above, which equals a 75th percentile score. Similarly, an excellent score is 162 and above (90th percentile). Please remember that the GRE score has a validity of 5 years.

5.   How do I get a 160 - 170 score in GRE Verbal Reasoning?
To get a 160 - 170 score in GRE Verbal Reasoning, first you need to understand the syllabus, concepts and the skills required. Then, start solving the GRE Verbal Reasoning sample questions. Once you become confident, go with ETS sample questions with answers. If you pass on those tests, you are ready for the actual GRE General Test.

6.   What is the evaluation criteria for GRE Verbal Reasoning?
The evaluation criteria for GRE Verbal Reasoning are the grammar, coherence, and logic. If you prove to the evaluators that you are good in these key areas, you can gain a maximum score in GRE Verbal Reasoning. 


About Author Roshan Sunthar

Roshan Sunthar is a study abroad expert as well as a renowned writer and author in international education. His academic excellence and 5+ years of work experience give him in-depth knowledge of international standardised exams and test preparation in IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, PTE, SAT, etc. The study materials he prepares incorporate exam-like questions. He’s also an expert in writing Statement of Purposes (SOPs) and Letter of Recommendations (LORs) for college admissions. He usually spends his leisure time watching English classics and documentaries, travelling, etc.

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Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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