Free GRE Tips on Preparing for the Verbal Section

Guiding Principles

I. First Techniques, Then Timing

When working on your practice material, first get comfortable with the techniques and start focusing on timing only when you have reached a high level of accuracy and confidence with the techniques. If you try to push yourself to do the questions faster, without first getting a good grasp of the techniques, you will end up making more mistakes and losing confidence. So,start by getting accurate and confident with the techniques first.

II. Integrate Vocabulary Learning and Practice

  1. Read the vocabulary before you do the exercise – it does not matter whether the exercise is a Reading Comprehension or Discrete Question (Sentence Completion) one. If you are an Oak’s Academy student, remember that in Book 2 the vocabulary is given before the exercise, in the other books the vocabulary is given in the explanatory answers material. If you are not an Oak’s Academy student, quickly glance through the exercise, looking for any unfamiliar words and then look up any words you don’t know on a site like
    1. Knowing the words before you do the exercise, will ensure that doing the exercise is meaningful: you can’t do the exercise if you don’t know the words.
    2. Also, since all the words in the exercise are GRE words, going through the vocabulary for the exercise will help you cover the word list. (This will be your first exposure to the words.)
  2. Then do the exercise. Here you will automatically revise the words as you go through the question. This will be your second exposure to the words. (Note: once in a while, do exercises without first looking up the words. This will give you some practice in working on questions where you don’t know the vocabulary.)
  3. Then read the explanatory answers making sure that you go over the vocabulary once more. (This will be your third exposure to the words.)


  • You will learn GRE words – remember that all the vocabulary that you come across in the practice material is part of the GRE word list.
  • Doing the exercises will become meaningful – if you don’t know the meaning of the words in the passages, sentences and questions in the exercise, doing the exercise becomes meaningless and frustrating. Doing separate vocabulary learning side-by-side does not necessarily solve the problem since the vocabulary that you learn may not be the vocabulary that you need in the exercise. (This is why the Oak’s material contains extensive word lists covering the vocabulary in the exercises.)

III. Integrate CBT and Paper-based Practice

  • When you are going through your paper-based practice material (Home Work packet) reserve a third or a quarter of the material (or mark out the difficult questions) to come back to when you begin doing the CBTs.
  • When you start doing your CBTs, identify which questions you are weak on and go back to those questions in the paper-based HW material you have reserved or marked out as difficult.

IV. Carry out Remedial Work

  • Error Analysis: Whenever you do any practice material, whether paper- or computer-based, Note the mistakes that you make, especially those you make repeatedly. Oak’s students, meet the faculty to discuss your errors and find out how to prevent them – but do this well before your exam date, not at the last minute, so that you have time to practice and eliminate your errors.
  • Vocabulary Work: The most common cause of wrong answers in Sentence Completion type questions is unknown vocabulary. Look up all the vocabulary that you do not know. If you get a Sentence Completion question wrong, look up the vocabulary even if you think you already know the meaning of the words – there might be a secondary meaning that you have not come across before.

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