This post is written by Aditi Sharma ( New HSB Contributor) – How to Improve GRE Verbal Score.
Most of the Indian students taking GRE score a perfect Quant, the Verbal section gives them jitters!!
In this post I will share some tips that helped me score 163 in verbal.
The GRE verbal section consists of three major areas:
- Reading Comprehension: It consists of passages which are followed by questions and answer options. Type of questions asked are:
- Select one correct answer
- Select multiple correct answers (The killer!!)
- Select a sentence form the passage
- Sentence completion: It consists of a single sentence, one blank and six options out of which two correct choices are to be selected.
- Text Completion: A short passage is given and words are omitted. One to three blanks may be given and one option is to be selected for each blank. No marks are awarded for partially correct answer.
So, what is required to master these three forms of question? Of course you need a killer vocabulary along with understanding the author’s perspective and drawing conclusions from it.
Building Your Vocabulary for GRE
The first step in starting your verbal preparation is building an amazing vocabulary. The questions asked in GRE contain words which are not used in our common conversations or even our text books!
- New GRE Math and Verbal Strategies (Scored 1510)
How is can an average student supposed to know the meaning of words like curmudgeon, excoriation, peccadillo etc etc etc….?
There are two ways to build your vocab:
- Read Newspapers , Magazines , Novels and whatever good reading material you can get your hands on-to. However, it will take years to master vocab through this method. So unless you were a sucker for newspapers and novels write from your childhood, You better look at option no. 2
- If you are a lazy person like me who would rather watch the movie than read the novel, you better start learning the word list. The barrons word list (the one with 3500 words) is what I am talking about.
I know its sounds crazy. Learning 3500 words? She must be nuts! Well I am not asking you to simply gulp down the whole word list. Relax. But yes the more words you’ll know, the better you‘ll score in verbal!
Ok tell me, how on earth are you supposed to answer the questions or fill up a blank if you don’t know the meaning of the word! In medium to hard questions, you’ll find about 4-5 words per sentence whose meaning you wouldn’t know, unless you have gone through the word list.
You can find the word list in Barron’s old book (18th edition) however I fail to understand why the word list is not given in Barron’s New GRE (19th edition). You need the word list to prepare for verbal. Period.
Now, the question comes how to learn the words. Well, there are many ways – Flash cards, word root method, Pictionary or simply mugging up. I will explain these in detail in another post.
Reading Between the Lines – Build Comprehension
Once you understand the meaning of words, you can string a sentence and infer meaning out of it.
The verbal sections checks abilities like:
- understanding meanings of words and sentences
- differentiating between minor and major points given in the passage
- concluding and summarizing the information provided
- reasoning and developing considering alternative explanations
- identifying the relation between the pair of words given as options
This can be developed with practice. Do your word list and alongside practice GRE questions from standard books like Barron’s, Kaplan, Princeton, ETS official guide. All these are well known books.
The more you practice the better you’ll get. You will be able to understand how a word is used in a sentence because many words have quite different meanings in different context. I know it all sounds absurd but you’ll know once you start to practice.
Expose yourself to various topics
Reading passages are drawn from many different disciplines. Trust me they can pick up material from anything under the sun! Passages can be about biological sciences, History of music in US , the American culture, arts, humanities, famous personalities anything!
Do not be discouraged. Every bit of information required to answer the questions is there in the paragraph, you just have to see it. You are not expected to rely on any outside knowledge.
The best way to prepare is to expose yourself to variety of topics.
Read Scientific American, New York Times, The Hindu. Read articles even if you find them boring.
Another small tip here- read everything online because the Final test will be on the computer screen. You must be comfortable reading on the screen. Most of the people prepare through books. Even I used to keep a pencil in my hand and just go though the passage underlining important info in between. Avoid it.
- Improve vocabulary
- Practice Practice!!
- Read diverse topics
- VOILAA! Superb GRE verbal!
These are the basic things you must follow to crack the verbal section.
I prepared for about 3 months and scored 163. Please let me know if you want me to write anything else related to GRE prep.