Do you really need a GRE Verbal strategies?
Here’s an actual experience shared by a GRE Test Taker.
It is quite distressing for most readers of this blog to open their emails from Happy Schools and read about how horrific the GRE Verbal Section and Reading Comprehension were in the GRE Test. I was very baffled by the scores that I was seeing here and quite frankly I was quite worried reading about various test takers grievances. I started my GRE Test preparation for my exam scheduled on 28th of this month.I saw an overnight boost of 15 points score increase by figuring out this GRE Reading Comprehension Strategies described below.
Before we get into actual strategy, let’s look at list of GRE Reading Comprehension Strategies.
- Read Passages First then Answer the Questions
- Read the questions first and then read the passage
- Read the passage first for longer Reading Comprehension passage
- Answer Reading Comprehension Passages first
- Read one question, find an answer move to next question.
- Skip Reading Comprehension Passages to last
- Allocate no more than 5 minutes per Passage
- Read only the first and last sentences of a paragraph, then start answering questions
- Take notes as you read the passage
So, that’s 9 different Reading comprehension strategies. Now, le me think like a GRE Test taker and I would ask the following questions after reading the above GRE Strategies
- How do I figure out which one works for me
- Does any of the strategy actually work?
- Hey, just give me one strategy, I will follow that.
- Do you expect me to try all the above and figure out which work? OMG!
- Sweet! This is exactly what I want. I’m going to get started.
The mindset of test taker matters. If you really want to improve your GRE score, you should take your GRE practice seriously.
Your goal should be to figure out what strategy works for you. This has to be done by trial and error.
Now, let’s look at a real example of a Test Taker who saw 15 points GRE Score boost. He used trial and error to figure out the best GRE Reading Comprehension strategies.
First Week: GRE Test Prep
I took quite a few practice tests (section by section) for a week to educate myself and determine where I stand and how far I have to go with my preparation. I observed the following with the GRE Practice test
- Got about 80-70% questions correct in the Verbal section, but Reading Comprehension was my biggest weakness
- Reading Comprehension – About 50% incorrect answers.
Second Week: GRE Prep
In my second week, I started taking full-length GRE practice tests online. In my first practice test scores were
- GRE Verbal Score: 150
- GRE Quantitative Score: 152
I analyzed the entire test and realized that I was reading and understanding the passages very poorly.
Next day I decided to take another full-length test. This time, I decided to concentrate hard with Reading Comprehension Passages. My score from the second GRE Practice tests:
- Verbal Section: 151
- Quantitative Section: 151
I was about to give up. I couldn’t accept the fact that I was being so very average. I could see my mistakes, but the time pressure of the test is taking away my ability to perform.
GRE Verbal Strategies
I took another GRE full-length practice test but this time I decided to try a new strategy for the GRE Verbal section. I split the questions Types into two and allocate time-based on the question types.
- Strategy for Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion
- Strategy for Reading Comprehension
Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion
- Finish all Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions first.
- Set a time limit of a maximum of 10 minutes for all the questions.
I managed to finish those 10 questions in almost 10 minutes.
- For Sentence Equivalence
- Always look for synonyms while answering the blanks.
- Even though some words feel perfect for the blank if they don’t have a supporting word then it’s useless).
- For Text Completion
- Try to make sense of the whole text
- Always try filling in your own words first
Then fill in the words you feel are appropriate and read the whole sentence out loud and check whether the text still makes sense. If it does then more often than not you would have got your answers spot on.
GRE Reading Comprehension Strategies
Coming to the Reading Comprehension question types, there will be around 10 questions. I planned to spend 20 minutes for Reading Comprehension Questions.
- Go to the biggest passage in the section.
- Do not bother reading the question first.
Because by reading the questions, you are limiting your focus and reading only to certain parts of the passage. Eventually, I ended up with incorrect answers by taking Questions first approach.
Now with the longest passage, start analyzing each paragraph.
Start with the first paragraph, note down certain KEYWORDS or important points in that paragraph. Repeat the same for the other paragraphs in the passage.
You may start to feel this is time-consuming and may lead you to run out of time. But put aside this fear and give it a good during your Practice.
It will take you about roughly 4 to 5 minutes to finish analyzing the Reading Comprehension passage. Once you are done, you would have an understanding about this reading comprehension.
This knowledge will help you to answer the questions for the long passage within next 2 to 3 minutes.
- Time Spent: About 7 minutes
- Time Remaining: About 13 Minutes
Here’s how I spent my time on longest reading comprehension pages in my GRE practice test:
- Time Spent: About 9 minutes
- Time Remaining: About 11 Minutes
Now for the Reading Comprehension Passages that are short, follow the same strategy as described for the longer passage.
You should be able to answer most of the questions correctly.
By following this procedure, you will avoid the total brain freeze that happens when trying to comprehend the passage as a whole.
Following this method you should be able to complete the whole verbal section with a minute or so to spare.
The first time I tried this strategy I got a verbal score of 164
A huge leap, all the way from 150. But I wasn’t sure whether this was a fluke. I was apprehensive about it so I tried again the next day. This time did only the verbal section and scored 163.
Now, I was absolutely thrilled. I did this without memorizing 1000’s of GRE Words from the word list.
My vocabulary is not that great but instead of trying to develop my Vocabulary for GRE test, that I attempted at developing my comprehension and a sound GRE Verbal strategies instead; and I am glad to say it worked pretty great. Since then I took. GRE Full-length practice tests every alternative day and since I started using this method my score has never dipped below 160 in the Verbal section.
I would suggest not to try doing RC’s first and then the rest. Because your chances of getting the right answer in a short span of time in SE’s and TC’s are better.
That was a real GRE Reading Comprehension Strategies shared by a GRE Test taker.
- You can learn different strategies for each question type from various GRE Test Prep Book.
As you can see, change in the approach and strategy boosted this student’s score by 15 points in GRE Verbal section. That is Huge Jump.
What does that mean?
It was a matter of figuring out the right strategy and approach to Reading Comprehension. Every GRE book in the market will teach you a specific strategy. You have to figure out by trial and error. You goal during GRE Test Prep is finding strategies for each question type that works for you.
Don’t spend your Test Prep time looking for that one magic book that will boost your score overnight.
Or one simple formula to increase your GRE score. It’s will take time and effort. For this test taker, he figured out the strategy that worked for him within two weeks. It may take two days or 2 months for you. But, the key here is to try. Use the 80/20 Rule boost your GRE Test score
You can find the approach and test taking strategy that works for you by practice. Don’t give up on practice until you sort out the best strategy that works for you.
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