GRE Verbal Preparation – Where to Start and How to Conquer the Vocabulary

GRE Preparation

So we know the strength of the enemy, and our own strength. We know that a poor vocabulary truly makes life miserable and we know the questions accompanying the reading passages are demonic. What next?

We still need to know what is important in the verbal section and what role each question type plays. That is a good place to start – knowing what is important, and what is each question type like.

Let us begin by reiterating the types of questions you will see in the verbal section.


Types of Questions in Verbal Section

1. Reading Comprehension- 10 questions per section
2. Text Completion Sentences – 5 questions per section
3. Sentence Equivalence- 5 questions per section
Every section has 20 questions, so it is glaringly obvious that Reading Comprehension is at the crux of every verbal section.

Naturally, you may want to start with this and work your way to TCs and SEs. As for the terrible vocabulary we have heard so much about which, for many, is almost synonymous with GRE verbal preparation itself, read on.


Winning the Vocabulary:

A strong foothold on vocab is required to tackle the TC and SE sentences, which are fancy words for ‘fill in the blank’ sentences, and not required for reading comprehension passages.

For instance, look at the sentence below:
Gina had a/an —————– day; all she wanted to do was sleep and not wake up till she felt rested.

Options: A. Tiring B. Beautiful C. Common D. Fruitful E. Sorrowful

The answer of course is obvious and is A. Tiring (since she really wants to rest). Now, let us change it a little bit.
Gina had a/an ———— day; all she wanted to do was sleep and not wake up till she felt rested.

Options: A. Invidious B. Enervating C. Insightful D. Feckless E. Inveterate

Oops, now we are stuck! We know we are looking for something that means ‘tiring’, but which one of these words really means tiring?
Hence, vocabulary is as important as the sentences themselves which are laden with abstruse vocabulary at times. Answer choices will contain plenty of such specimens.
It is important therefore, to practice a little bit of vocabulary everyday so as to complement your preparation of question types.

Incidentally, reading comprehension should be a priority. Also, the answer in the above sentence is B. Enervating, which means “to drain energy and vitality from”.

For more GRE Preparation Tips, Click Here.

GRE Test Prep Tips for Verbal Section

GRE Preparation

Several people find the verbal section of the GRE extremely daunting. A common reason is the seemingly insurmountable, endless vocabulary. A slightly less common problem are the questions themselves – the strategies involved and the twisted nature of questions.

Here are some GRE prep tips on cracking the verbal sections on the GRE?

Let us start at the beginning. Before we head off to war, we need to know the strength of our enemy. Are we dealing with a hundred ogres with spiked chains or a thousand lilliputian that you can easily trample upon?

Who are we tackling? What weapons do they have, and what weapons should we load in our arsenal? There is one way to find that out.

1.Take a MOCK TEST

The importance of taking a mock test cannot be emphasized enough. Take a full length ETS mock test , not to see how good you are but to see how bad the test could get. Chances are, you may realize it is not a monster after all. This diagnostic test will give you a preview into what ETS tests are like and is also the most accurate mock test when it comes to resembling the actual GRE.

You will also be able to experience the exact pattern of the test, the question types and the kind of words you will encounter. You should learn the pattern of the test and know it well enough to ‘deep-sleep talk’ it if asked.

So now we have gauged our enemy and can prepare for battle accordingly. What next?

2.DO NOT prepare blindly without knowing your own skills.

ETS gives you either 2 or 3 verbal sections in the test. Each section contains 20 questions and you have 30 minutes to answer them in any order. (You are free to flip back and forth).

Every section has only three types of questions – Reading comprehension, which we have all done in school by answering questions based on a passage.

What are the other two? Simply put, they are fundamentally ‘ Fill in the blank’ questions called ‘ Sentence equivalence’ and ‘Text completion’.

So determining your weak and strong areas is easier after you have taken the test. How many RC questions did you get right? Did you find the TC’s super- easy? What problems did you face? Was it the horrendous vocabulary in the TC’s and SE’s? Did you have enough time? What do you really,really need to work on ?

There is no point in honing an already sharpened sword. Now that you know what was holding you back, you are ready to start without being in the dark and floundering about aimlessly to prepare yourself. Instead, with these practice tests and after accounting for your own skills, you will have effectively prepared yourself for what’s to come.

3. Give yourself TIME.

GRE preparation is not a skill to achieve overnight. It is a long arduous task, a bumpy ride with rewards and disappointments. You may find yourself getting frustrated when you get 10 /20 questions wrong after weeks of turmoil.

Just when you think you know how to answer text completions, the diabolical fiend deceives you. It is an uphill climb, and prepare to trudge it assiduously, but also prepare to enjoy the ride.

I promise you, you will learn so much by the end of your exam, not just about the GRE but also about yourself, that you will truly appreciate the journey to graduate studies.

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

To KNOW MORE about GRE Test Takers’ experiences, also read THIS article.

Should I Take GRE or GMAT for Business Schools?

gre or gmat business schoolYou’ve probably heard that most b-schools these days are accepting GRE scores. What is probably not so clear is which test you should take: the GMAT or the GRE?

To answer this question you should figure out what your strengths are.

For instance, have you always been strong at grammar (maybe your boss is persnickety about the quality of emails you send), but weak at vocabulary (most bosses don’t care for words like persnickety!). Whatever the case may be, you want to take the test that you feel will best allow you to shine.

GRE vs GMAT : Quantitative

If math is not your strong suit, taking the GMAT may not be the right path for you.

It’s not that the GRE math is easy—it’s not. But the GMAT quant can be fiendishly difficult. You don’t so much have to know your basic math rules, as to apply them to convoluted questions. These questions usually are packaged in paragraph-long word problems.

The GRE, by contrast, wants to make sure that you understand the basic quantitative questions. There will be some difficult questions, of course. But the good news is you’ll be competing against the graduate-school pool—a group that typically has not had as much math background as the typical GMAT-taker.

On the math side even the typical Princeton GRE scores for computer science majors is around 160 out of 170. That’s quite a prestigious institution with less-than-perfect averages.

Vocabulary vs. grammar

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, if you struggle with vocabulary the GRE may not be right for you. If, on the other hand, you love big words but don’t care much for the niceties of grammar, the GRE is waiting for you.

If you struggle with both grammar and vocabulary, I’d recommend that you consider the GMAT.

See, it is easier to learn grammar rules and to apply them than it is to memorize the 1,000+ words you’ll need to for the GRE (a number that increases the worse your vocabulary is).

GRE or GMAT for Business Schools?

There is only one way to find out… Besides taking the actual GMAT and GRE. Instead, you can take the Powerprep II test to gauge your GRE score and the GMATprep test to gauge your GMAT score.

Your GRE and GMAT score percentiles—i.e., where you rank compared to other students, should give you a pretty good indication which test you should take. If the scores are very close, then consider whether you’d spend your time with a deck of vocab flashcards or books filled with nail-bitingly challenging questions.

This post was written by Chris Lele, resident GRE expert at Magoosh. For more advice on taking the GRE, check out Magoosh’s GRE blog.

See Alos : Watch Magosh GRE Test Prep webinar by Chris

Waiting for GRE Score Report? ETS Stopped Mailing GRE Score Report to Test Takers

ETS GREDid you take GRE Test in July  2013 and haven’t received your GRE Score report in Mail (or post)?

Wait not. You are not going to receive the Hard Copy of GRE Score Report in Mail (post) any longer. Why? Keep reading.

Sweta Asks : I gave my GRE in August, but I didn’t get my GRE official score card yet. When I tried contacting ETS, I got a mailed response saying “Please be informed that effective from July 1, 2013 hard copy to the candidate address are not being processed. Therefore, we have uploaded all the candidates score reports in their respective GRE profile in a PDF format. Therefore, you may print your score report from your GRE profile using your Login credentials.”  Wat does this exactly mean, will the GRE test takers post july1, get the official hard copies?

Rahul Asks: Even I wrote my GRE in August and still not received my hard copy of score card. My friend who wrote GRE with me also haven’t received his GRE score card. Will there be any problem while visa interview if we take the printed score card? coz they ask for original GRE score report.

Here is the official News from ETS

Paperless Score Reporting: GRE test-taker score reports are now paperless! Effective July 2013, test takers have access to view their official Examinee Score Report online.
About 10 to 15 days after their computer-based test (and about six weeks after their paper-based test), test takers are notified via email that their scores are ready online.

They simply access their My GRE Account to view their scores. Test takers can also use the new on-demand, print-friendly functionality to print an official Examinee Score Report for free.

ETS will continue to send official Institution Reports, directly from ETS, in a secure fashion to institutions in their preferred format.

Sample GRE Score Report

This is how your print version of GRE Score Report will look like.  (Partial Report listed below).

gre score report printout

You can take the printed version of GRE Score report when attending F1 Visa interview. When ETS isn’t issuing official copy, there isn’t anything you can do about it.

GRE Practice Question : Quantitative Section

magoosh gre reviewGRE Practice Quantitative Section from Magoosh GRE.

Which of the following is sufficient to determine the area of isosceles right triangle XYZ (not shown)?

I. The height of the triangle
II. The perimeter of the triangle
III. Any one side of the triangle

  • (A) I only
  • (B) I & III
  • (C) II & III
  • (D) II only
  • (E) I, II, and III


Even though we don’t have a figure, we have been given a lot of information. Triangle XYZ is an isosceles right triangle. To translate that into simple terms: two sides are equal, and these two sides are the shortest sides. The longest side, the hypotenuse, will be opposite from the 90 degree angle. This type of triangle is known as a 45-45-90 triangle. The ratio of its sides is x: x: x?2, in which ‘x’ stands for the two equal sides and x?2 is the longest side (remember that ?2 equals roughly 1.4). So the longest side is 1.4 times the two shortest sides.

Let’s deal with the (I) first. If we know the height of the triangle, we know ‘x.’ The area of the triangle is (x)(x)/2, or x^2/2. Remember that height and base meet at a right angle, as do the two equal sides of a 45-45-90 triangle. If we know the height, we can solve for ‘x’, so (1) is sufficient.

For (II), we can simply add up the perimeter in terms of x, which gives us 2x + x?2. If we know the perimeter, we can solve for ‘x’. Once we know ‘x’, we can find the area. Therefore (II) is sufficient.

Finally, (III) is also sufficient, because by knowing any one side of the triangle, we can solve for ‘x’. For instance, if we know that the hypotenuse is equal to 4, we just solve for ‘x’: x?2 = 4, x = 2?2. Now that we know ‘x’, we can find the area. Therefore, the answer is (E).

This question was written by Chris Lele, resident GRE expert at Magoosh. Sign up for your free trial now to access to even more questions!