Page 2 Verbal Reasoning Study Guide for the GRE

Text Completion

Text Completion questions present you with a passage of one sentence or longer containing one to three blanks where a missing word should appear. When attempting this type of question, certain strategies will be helpful. Be sure to:

Read the Passage

Read the passage carefully and form an overall impression of its meaning. The passage will contain enough information for you to determine what it is saying, despite the missing words.

Find Significant Words

Certain words in the passage will be crucial to finding the correct answer because they will be either similar to, or contrasted with, the concept that the missing word should convey. For instance, in the sentence “Despite his subordinates’ reverence for him, Damon remains ____”, the word despite alerts you to the fact that two ideas are in contrast. And the word reverence suggests that the quality indicated by the missing word is unexpected in someone others revere.

Think of Possible Answers

Rather than looking at the answer choices first and trying to choose among them, you will have better results by forming your own guess of the correct answer, then looking through the answer choices for words that are similar to your guess. In the given example, since we are looking for a trait that contrasts with being admired, you might think of words like modest or unpretentious. Search for these words, or a synonym like humble in the answer choices.

Try Various Blanks First

If the passage in question has multiple blanks, filling in the first blank first is not necessarily the best strategy. Instead, using the techniques described above, look for the blank that is easiest to fill in or for which you are most certain of the answer. When you find the correct answer choice, use that word as additional information to fill in the remaining blanks and complete the sentence.

Review the Completed Sentence

When you have selected answer choices for all blanks in the passage, review your work by reading over the sentence with all your answer choices filled in. Remember, you are looking for the answers that result in a logical sentence that expresses a clear idea. In the example above, if the complete sentence read, “Despite his subordinates’ reverence for him, Damon remains egotistical,” that would be an illogical result because the word despite would not make sense in context. If your complete sentence does not seem logical, repeat the process of thinking of possible answers.

Sentence Equivalence

This type of question requires similar strategies to the ones used for Text Completion. The trick is to maintain the same meaning as stated in the example sentence. Here is what you should do.

Read the Sentence

You will be presented with a sentence with one missing word and asked to find two words among the existing choices that produce the same meaning when inserted into the sentence. As with Completion questions, read the sentence and try to form a guess as to what it means overall and what information the missing word should provide.

Find Significant Words

Look for words in the sentence that have a significant relationship to the missing word. These will include logic words and conjunctions that convey the relationship of different ideas within the sentence (such as although and even more), as well as nouns, adjectives, and verbs that may be similar or opposed in meaning to the words you are trying to identify.

Think of Possible Answers

Based on the overall meaning of the sentence and the words you have identified, make a few guesses as to what the missing word might be. Then look over the answer choices for two words that are similar in meaning to your guesses. It is a good idea to make guesses before you look at the answer choices because, if you simply scan the answers for two words that mean the same thing, you may produce sentences that do not make sense.

Review and Compare the Two Sentences

The meaning of a word often depends on its context. For instance, direction can mean the course along which something moves, or management and guidance of a project. Since your goal is to create two sentences that mean the same thing, you will have to read over the sentence with each of your selected words inserted. If the resulting sentences have different meanings, repeat the process of thinking of possible answers.

Tips and Tricks

  • Good reading skills will enable you to answer all the questions without having any previous knowledge about the subject of the passage.

  • Knowing the difference between fact and opinion can help you identify the author’s purpose.

  • Additionally, reading carefully and analyzing the ideas as you read will assist you in answering the questions.

Practice doing all of these things while reading lots of fiction and non-fiction material prior to the test.