GRE Verbal Reasoning Section

student studying for the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE

Along with the ability to read through and understand dense academic material, graduate school students need to learn how to summarize the main themes of a text and relate the information to others in their own words. Completing the Verbal Reasoning portion of the GRE is an essential step in developing this skill as you embark on your graduate, business, or law school journey.


What Does the Verbal Reasoning Section Measure?

Essentially, the GRE Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to review written material, understand the text, and offer a thorough yet concise summary of the information you read about.

Scores for this portion of the Graduate Record Examination showcase your skill level in the following areas:

  • Analyzing text and drawing logical conclusions
  • Recognizing central ideas or concepts
  • Summarizing text
  • Identifying the author's intent and point of view
  • Understanding figurative and literal language
  • Analyzing text structure
  • Identifying significant details
  • Understanding relationships between different text sections
  • Evaluating incomplete information
  • Defining unfamiliar words and words with multiple meanings


How Is the GRE Verbal Reasoning Portion Structured?

The Verbal Reasoning GRE includes two separate sections with 20 questions each. Both parts of the exam have a mix of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and select-in-passage questions.

Students can spend up to 30 minutes completing each portion of the test but must answer all 40 questions in one hour.


GRE Verbal Reasoning Test Question Categories

Questions on the Verbal Reasoning portion of the GRE fall into one of three primary categories:

  1. Sentence Equivalence:
    For these questions, students must choose which two terms from a list of six words work best in a provided sentence. Each section of the Verbal Reasoning GRE has four sentence equivalence questions.

  2. Reading Comprehension:
    Half the questions on this portion of the GRE evaluate a student's reading comprehension skills. After reading a short passage, students must answer comprehensive questions about the text. There are 10 reading comprehension questions on each part of the exam.

  3. Text Completion:
    Students must answer a total of six text completion questions per section for the Verbal Reasoning GRE. These questions include a short paragraph with one to three blanks. After reading the passage, students must consult a list of answer choices and fill in each blank with the terms and phrases that make the most sense.


GRE Verbal Reasoning Practice & Preparation

Wondering how to study for the Verbal Reasoning GRE? Memorizing GRE Verbal Reasoning vocabulary terms is a good place to start.

Use a test prep guide that includes a list of common Verbal Reasoning vocab words and jot down all the unfamiliar terms you see. From there, you can learn the definitions of each term, commit them to memory using flashcards or an online study plan, and even try to work them into conversation whenever possible.


As you study the GRE Verbal Reasoning word list, it's also important to recognize the distinct tone that each word carries. For example, the terms shout and scream both indicate loud communication. However, the word scream has more of an angry connotation.

Depending on the intense or mild tone of a Verbal Reasoning GRE question, one of these words may be a better option than the other.


When sharpening their reading comprehension skills, some students find it helpful to read articles from the New Yorker, the Economist, Scientific American, and other publications that use similar prose to the GRE.

After reading these articles, try and come up with brief answers to the following questions:

  • Topic: What is the article about?
  • Scope: What are the key points that the author addressed?
  • Purpose: What was the author's intent when writing this article ? Were they trying to persuade the reader to take a stance, inform them about specific details, or engage them in an informal discussion on the topic?

Using these GRE Verbal Reasoning tips is a smart way to learn how the exam will look and what topics the test will cover.

Consider our GRE test preparation plan to test your skills further and gain a deeper understanding of what to expect when you take the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE.

Practice Tests & Study Resources

Online GRE Test Prep

Sentence Equivalent Question Tips

Text Completion Question Tips

Reading Comprehension Tips

GRE Vocabulary