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.

On every handy piece of software to download and install on your laptop, phones, tablets, PCs etc is wordweb (http://wordweb.info/free/): it will give you words, meanings, sample sentences etc. for every word you hover your cursor over.

(Note to Dilip Oak’s Academy students: you already have VaiVocabulary – this gives you the word list along with synonyms, antonyms, easily confused words and a whole lot of revision features.)

2. Learn, Revise, Repeat

Developing an effective vocabulary also means consistent learning and revision so, start learning well before the exam – at least three months is recommended – and set up a learning and revision schedule. Make regular revision an integral part of your schedule: unless you revise regularly and repeatedly, you won’t remember any of that difficult vocabulary you are learning.

4. Target the Tough Ones

When you revise, mark out any words that you tend to forget: they need extra revision. The more you tend to forget them, the more they need to be revised; and the more you revise them, the better you will remember them!

5. Start Small

Doing all the learning and revision required can be an arduous task so, start with a good 500 high frequency GRE® word list. A short list like this will be a good stepping stone to the longer ones; and learning it will help you in overcoming the mental blocks associated with vocabulary learning.

6. Put it in Context

Keep in mind that simply memorizing words by rote is not enough, however; and developing a good vocabulary is not merely a matter of memorizing meanings of thousands of words. Often students notice that simply knowing the meaning of an obscure GRE word does not guarantee selecting the right answer in the exam. A proper understanding of exactly how to use vocabulary is necessary. It is this knowledge of usage that helps you to choose the right word for the given context. It is therefore advisable that, along with all your efforts to increase your vocabulary, you focus on getting a clear understanding of how to use these GRE words and which words fit in a particular context.

 

Developing Good Reading Habits

Apart from going through word lists, developing good reading habits is also crucial. One way in which this helps is getting an understanding of usage and context as we saw above. Secondly, though the GRE® is not a test of general knowledge, the reading comprehension passages in the verbal section cover a variety of topics and areas. Some background knowledge of the subjects being discussed in the passage you are reading is always useful since it is always easier to understand something that is at least somewhat familiar than something that is completely unfamiliar. For both these reasons it is imperative that you read a variety of articles from newspapers, magazines, and the web. Sites like the ones below give you access to an eclectic collection of very high quality writings.

http://thebrowser.com/ (easier but nevertheless intriguing reading – good to start with: it stimulates your interest and gets you reading without bogging you down with difficult words or convoluted sentences)

http://www.aldaily.com/ (more complex stuff, really long articles – get into this slowly)

Reading through this material at random can ensure both plenty of practice for comprehension and exposure to vocabulary in context.

(Note for Oak’s students: check out this link)

 

 

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?

Doing well in reading comprehension entails, among other things, an ability to read challenging unseen passages on unfamiliar topics, locate relevant information within the mass of details given in the passage, understand assumptions and implications and, get the main point. Choosing the right options from among several close alternatives requires insight, and discrimination, and the ability to recognize correct restatements and inferences.

 

In Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion questions, a proper understanding of the logic and reasoning of the sentences plays an important role: without it you won’t find the correct approach. Then, there are the vocabulary challenges. We all know that word meanings in the English language can be quite tricky. The GRE exam makes this problem even trickier by offering you close choices in Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions – ones which require you to understand the nuances of meaning and usage of words. Understanding usage and context therefore play a very important role in eliminating the wrong answers. Further, the wide variety of sub-question types and the high difficulty level of the questions is a challenge to most students.

Given the difficulties verbal questions pose, preparation for the Verbal section means developing a thorough mastery of vocabulary, reading skills and the strategies for tackle them successfully. Naturally, doing well in the Verbal section takes intensive preparation and practice for all students. You have to start well in advance, have the right resources and a good study plan. Our next blog will give you a few tips on how to move closer to attaining prowess in this difficult section.

 

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

Tips

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

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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’.

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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)

But Reading Comprehension is never very easy. Firstly, the passages cover a wide variety of topics, most of which are very unfamiliar. Here are some topics that have appeared in the past:

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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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