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  • no Antonyms and Analogy questions – these have been replaced by more Reading Comprehension passages.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?

Verbal Reasoning

Tips for Handling the Verbal Section

  • Get plenty of practice with computer-based tests: no matter how much practice you have done on paper, a whole computer-based test is a very different thing – and take at least a few tests along with the essay (Analytical Writing) section.The Analytical Writing section puts a heavy drain on your time, energy and concentration, and you should not encounter that for the first time in your actual GRE test!
  • Focus on the easier questions first – don’t get stuck on the difficult ones and waste time on them in the beginning. Start by quickly answering the questions that you find easiest.
  • On the other hand, don’t leave questions unanswered – you may not have time to come back to unanswered questions in the Verbal section So, even if you are not very sure about the answer to a question, mark in your best guess and if there is time come back to it.

But, beyond that what are the specific challenges involved in the Verbal section of the Revised General GRE and more important how do we gear up to meet them? Read more on our next posts on the difficulties in the Reading Comprehension and Sentence Completion, and how to get an edge in cracking them?

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Online Revised GRE Test Screenshot
Revised Online GRE Test (Screenshot of Dilip Oak’s Academy Online Test)

The GRE test, conducted by ETS, is one of the world’s most widely used tests for admission to universities both in America and worldwide. On 1 August 2011, the ETS introduced the Revised GRE test. This exam lasts for about 4 hours and consists of 3 major of section types:

The Structure of the Revised General GRE

Section Type

No. of Sections

No. of Questions per Section

Time Allotted

Order in Exam

Score Scale

Analytical Writing


2 essay topics

30 min per essay; 1 hour totally

Always first

0 – 6

Verbal Reasoning



30 min per section; 1 hour totally

Not fixed; randomly decided

130 – 170

Quantitative Reasoning



35 min per section; 1 hour totally

Not fixed; randomly decided

130 – 170

Unscored and Research Sections

In addition to the regular sections there may also be a 30 or 35-minute ‘Unscored’ section, which may come at any point after the Analytical Writing Section. Sometimes in place of the Unscored section there may be a 30 or 35-minute ‘Research’ section, which always comes at the end of the test. Both the Unscored and Research sections usually consist of an extra Quantitative or Verbal Reasoning section.

The ETS uses the Research section for testing new kinds of questions. The Unscored section is also used to make sure that the level of difficulty and the scoring in different editions of the test and in individual tests is the same. Neither the Unscored or Research sections contributes to a test-taker’s actual score.

If an unscored section appears in the test, there is usually no way of identifying which section is unscored – all that the test-taker will know is that there are 3 Verbal or 3 Quantitative sections instead of 2. So, all sections have to be attempted equally seriously. The Research section however, always comes at the end and therefore can be easily identified and skipped.

There will be a break of 10 minutes after the second section and breaks of 1 minute between the other sections, bringing the total testing time to about 4 hours.

The Section-Level Adaptive Format

The revised general GRE has a section-level adaptive format in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections (but not in the Analytical Writing section which has only one topic in the Issue Task and one topic in the Argument Task). This means, that the computer selects questions for the second Verbal or Quantitative section according to your performance in the first section of that type. So, if you have done well in the first section of a particular type, in the next section of the type you will get a greater number of hard questions which will allow you to score more since your score depends on both the number of questions you get right and their difficulty level.

In this format of the exam you can:

  • see all the questions in a section once you have entered a section
  • choose which questions you want to solve first and which ones you want to solve last and
  • go back, review and change your answers

A more detailed discussion of the various sections and question-types follows in later blogs, which you will be able to read soon on this site.

Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Score Scales

The scores for both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are on a scale of 130-170 with 1-point increments. Your scores in these sections depend on your performance on the questions given and on the number of questions answered in the time allotted. Within each section, all questions contribute equally to the final score.

Information on the score scale for Analytical writing will be given in our soon-to-come blog on Analytical Writing .

But if you really want to know what the Revised General GRE test is like, try out our free full-length online GRE Tests. Also sign up for our 15-day trial for loads of top-notch practice!

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