Cracking the Verbal Section 2: Turning Verbal Debility into Verbal Ability

Cracking the GRE Verbal Section

(Note: debility means weakness or disability; verbal debility here means a weakness or disability relating to the verbal section. Also, check out the other difficult words in this post. To get the meaning, just hover your mouse over them.)

How to Improve Vocabulary

1. Get those Vocab Lists, Look up those Dictionaries

As we said in our previous post, a good grasp of vocabulary is instrumental to achieving success in the Verbal Section. To improve your vocabulary, start by learning word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms. In order to do this you will need to find a good GRE list on the net – there are several available – and look up the synonyms and antonyms on a good online dictionary e.g.

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Cracking the GRE®: Verbal Reasoning 1 – the GRE exam’s Toughest Nut to Crack

Vocabulary tough nuts

First, here’s some basic orientation for GRE® rookies. The GRE exam incorporates 3 types of section:

  • Analytical Writing (the essay writing section which is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (which tests Maths skills)
  • Verbal Reasoning (which tests English skills – both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments)

Typically, cracking the GRE requires 4-12 weeks of preparation. A major chunk of this time will inevitably be invested in preparing for the Verbal section. Why is this so? Firstly, a lot of Indian students taking the GRE are engineers or others for whom the Quantitative Reasoning section is not a major problem. But Verbal reasoning includes questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence which require good reading skills and an extensive vocabulary. However, most Indian students don’t tend to read much and, as a result, these are precisely the skills and knowledge that they lack. So, the Verbal Reasoning section is a tough nut to crack. What difficulties does it throw up?

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GRE Prep: Verbal Study Plan Overview

Here from Dilip Oak’s Academy are the GRE Prep highlights. As the graphic above indicates the basic plan for verbal preparation for the GRE is as follows:

  • at least 3-5 months before your GRE, begin vocabulary preparation and preliminary reading practice
  • 2 months before your GRE, begin going through the practice material
  • 1 month before your GRE, begin your practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTS)

This is explained below: As you can see there are four aspects of preparation that you have to cover:

  1. Vocabulary Learning and Revision
  2. Preliminary Reading Practice
  3. Covering the Practice Material
  4. Practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTs)

Each of the sections below gives you a brief idea of how to handle one aspect of preparation. Each section also contains links (in red) which give you further important details about the aspect of preparation that it deals with. Before you read through the sections below read through the post on ‘some principles’ for GRE Preparation. This will give you important guidelines on how to work through the material described in each of the sections.

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Cracking the GRE Test – Debanjana Nayak (GRE Score 330/340) – Tips for Quantitative,Verbal and Analytical Writing


Here’s the next part of Debanjana’s tips – this time with lots of specifics for each section of the test!


Before starting with this set of tips specifically for the Quantitative, Verbal and AW sections, I must mention that I took classes from Dilip Oak’s Academy and I will be talking a lot about the Academy’s classes and materials because I found them extremely useful in preparing for these sections. In giving these tips, I am also assuming that you too are a student of Dilip Oak’s Academy. Of course, you will have your own experience and perspective, but here’s what I would suggest.

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Cracking the GRE: Tips from Tanmay – GRE Score 335

Here are some more hot tips from one of our students who is a star performer on the GRE. This time it’s Tanmay Gurjar. As you can see, his performance has won him another of our ‘gold medals’! First here is a brief ‘bio’.


Name: Tanmay Gurjar
Stream/College: Bachelor’s, Mechanical Engineering, COEP (currently in final year)
GRE Score: 335
Break up – Quant – 169, Verbal – 166

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GRE Test Prep: Reading Comprehension and Discrete Questions: Challenges & Tips

So, you are preparing for the GRE test. You know that the Verbal section is going to be demanding. What are the big challenges in the Verbal section of the Revised General GRE?

Challenge #1: Reading Comprehension Passages

Screenshot of a Reading Comprehension question in the Revised General GRE
Reading Comprehension Question

First, a bit of good bit of news: the Reading Comprehension passages on the Revised GRE test are short. A Verbal section generally contains 5 Reading Comprehension passages, most which are 20-25 lines long; and one of them may be as short as 3-5 lines. The longest passages are of about 40 lines or so. (See ETS’s introduction to reading comprehension, sample questions and tips)

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The Challenges in the Verbal Section of the Revised GRE Test (Hint: It has Gotten Tougher)

Verbal ReasoningWhen the Revised General GRE test was launched (way back on 1 August 2011), a whole host of changes was introduced. One consequence was a revamped Verbal Reasoning part in which there are now:

  • two Verbal sections in the test with a total of 40 questions, instead of one section with a total of 30 questions
  • no Antonyms and Analogy questions – these have been replaced by more Reading Comprehension passages.
  • Text Completion questions (which require you to fill up to 3 blanks in a passage which can contain up to five sentences) and
  • Sentence Equivalence questions (which require you to select two correct synonyms to fill in the blank in the sentence out of the 6 options given)
  • Sentence Completion questions with single- and double-blanks

To sum up, Reading Comprehension is now more important, the Sentence Completion type questions got a little harder to get right and Vocabulary is more or less just as important as it was earlier – so, you still have to learn that GRE word list!). As a result of those two changes, students also find the Verbal section harder to complete on time. So, how do you handle that difficulty?

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