Test Hacks for GRE Verbal

College students taking test at desks in classroom

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Some testers think the GRE Verbal section is the toughest one out there. After all, it has two sections and three question types: text completions, sentence equivalence questions, and the famous reading comprehension questions that make everyone crazy.

But I say, the Verbal section isn't difficult at all if you have the test hacks.

Sure, you can memorize test strategies and practice with the best GRE prep out there to get an amazing GRE score, but if you're like most of 'Merica, you're probably going to study Verbal for a week and then wing it. Sound like you?

Yep. Better read these test hacks on your phone at the red lights on your way to the testing center. 

01
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Guess First

For both the Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion sections, fill in the blank yourself before even looking at the answer choices. Don't peek! You'll figure out three things you need to know about your answer.

  1. The part of speech for the correct choice/s.
  2. Whether the word or words you're looking for is/are negative, positive or neutral.
  3. A general synonym for the correct answer choice/s.

Those three things give you a leg up before you ever even look at the answers. 

02
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Get Stylish

If a sentence is complex with rich, imaginative language, then perhaps stuffy or "bookish" words wouldn't be the best choices. Choose answers that fit the sentence stylistically, not just grammatically. The choices you select should sound like they've come from the brain of the writer who wrote the question, not her delinquent cousin.

03
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Feel It

For Text Completions, read the passage to get an overall feel for it before you plunge into the answer choices. What's the tone of the passage? Dreary? Complimentary? Angry? Satiric? You can figure out a lot about the words you need to select if you just take a second to breeze through the passage. When you're done with your walk-through, go back and try to fill in the blanks yourself. 

04
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Get Out of Line

It's ingrained in us to go in order, but on the Text Completion passages, the first answer blank may not be the best one to fill in first. Why? Because test writers are savvy. They're going to throw really good distractor questions in that first blank so you select them and mess up the entire paragraph. Ignore the first blank and try to fill in the second one, first. Then, you can work your way backward and forward from there. 

05
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Blank Slate It

For the Reading Comprehension passages, you'll run into controversial material. Some of it will be the exact opposite of what you believe. It doesn't matter. Turn your brain into a blank slate. Assume that nothing you know has any relevance to the passage you're reading. You have to be dispassionate, so you can accurately answer questions about whatever it is you're reading without adding information that isn't there. That kind of behavior trips testers up all the time.

06
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Dodge the Partials

Test writers are really great at writing distracting questions. On the Reading Comprehension section, watch out for answer choices that are half right. Perhaps the first part of the answer choice fulfills the question, but the last half is wrong. If it's half right, it's all wrong, all the time. 

07
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Truth Means Nothing

The GRE writers will sometimes toss in a true statement as one of the answer choices on the Reading Comprehension portion just to throw you off. Don't be fooled by this sorcery. A true statement is not necessarily a good choice. The choice MUST answer the question posed and nothing else. 

08
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Stay in the Box

When you're asked one of the Select-in-passage questions, do not take into consideration any evidence offered by other parts of the passage. If the question is about paragraph three, then focus only on paragraph three. Information presented in paragraphs one and two do not matter.