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28 September 2023

5 minutes read

Mastering GRE Reading Comprehension: Tips and Practice

Are you preparing for the GRE and looking to enhance your reading comprehension skills? You’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of GRE reading comprehension, providing you with valuable insights, practice tips, and resources to help you excel in this essential section of the GRE exam.

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Understanding GRE Reading Comprehension

What to Expect in GRE Reading Comprehension

The GRE reading comprehension section evaluates your ability to understand and analyze complex written passages. To excel, you must comprehend the main ideas, author’s tone, and underlying arguments within these passages. This section typically consists of 4-5 passages, each followed by a set of questions.

Types of Questions in GRE Reading Comprehension

There are various question types in GRE reading comprehension, including:

  • Main Idea Questions: These ask about the central theme of the passage.
  • Inference Questions: You’ll need to draw conclusions based on information in the passage.
  • Detail-Oriented Questions: These focus on specific details within the passage.
  • Vocabulary Questions: You may be asked to define words in context.
  • Author’s Attitude Questions: Assess the author’s tone or perspective.

Approaching GRE Reading Comprehension

To tackle GRE reading comprehension effectively:

  1. Active Reading: Engage with the text actively. Highlight key points and take notes as you read.
  2. Time Management: Allocate a specific amount of time to each passage and its questions.
  3. Practice Regularly: Consistent practice with GRE-level passages is essential.
  4. Build Vocabulary: Enhance your vocabulary to understand passages better.

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Tips to Improve Your GRE Reading Comprehension Skills

Develop Active Reading Strategies

Active reading involves interacting with the text as you read. It includes:

  • Highlighting: Mark key information, such as main ideas, supporting details, and the author’s argument.
  • Note-Taking: Jot down important points, summaries of paragraphs, and your reactions to the text.
  • Question Prediction: Before reading questions, predict what they might ask based on the passage.

Time Management Techniques

Time is precious during the GRE. To manage it effectively:

  • Set Time Limits: Assign a specific time frame for each passage and its questions.
  • Prioritize Questions: Start with questions you find easier to answer.
  • Skip and Return: If a question seems too challenging, skip it and return later if time allows.

Consistent Practice

Practice is the key to success in GRE reading comprehension. Resources to consider include:

  • Official GRE Material: ETS provides official GRE practice tests and questions.
  • GRE Prep Books: Many books focus specifically on GRE verbal, including reading comprehension.
  • Online Platforms: Utilize websites and apps that offer GRE reading comprehension exercises.

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Building Your GRE Vocabulary

Vocabulary’s Role in Reading Comprehension

A strong vocabulary is crucial for understanding passages accurately. You can improve your vocabulary by:

  • Reading Widely: Explore various types of written material, including literature, academic articles, and news.
  • Context Clues: Learn to infer word meanings from the context in which they appear.
  • Flashcards: Create flashcards with new words and their definitions.

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The GRE Verbal Section: A Closer Look

The GRE Verbal Section is a critical component of the GRE exam, and within it lies the challenging domain of Reading Comprehension. Let’s take a closer look at this section to understand its structure, significance, and how it contributes to your overall GRE score.

Structure of the GRE Verbal Section

The GRE Verbal Section is divided into three distinct parts:

1. Reading Comprehension

As we’ve explored in detail earlier, the Reading Comprehension component assesses your ability to understand and interpret complex written passages.

You must grasp the main ideas, the author’s tone, and the underlying arguments presented in these passages. This section typically consists of multiple passages, each followed by a set of questions that gauge your comprehension skills.

2. Text Completion

Text Completion questions test your understanding of sentence structure and vocabulary. In these questions, you’ll encounter sentences with one, two, or three blanks, and you must choose the most appropriate word or phrase to fill each blank. Text Completion challenges your ability to discern contextual meaning and sentence logic.

3. Sentence Equivalence

In Sentence Equivalence questions, you’re presented with a sentence with a single blank. Your task is to select two words or phrases from a list that, when inserted into the sentence, make it grammatically and contextually coherent. This section evaluates your understanding of vocabulary and how words interact within sentences.

Significance of the GRE Verbal Section

The GRE Verbal Section holds considerable weight in your overall GRE score. Scoring well in this section can significantly boost your chances of gaining admission to competitive graduate programs. It not only showcases your language proficiency but also your analytical and critical thinking skills.

While the Quantitative section assesses your mathematical prowess, the Verbal section examines your ability to comprehend and analyze complex written material—a skill crucial in various academic and professional contexts.

Moreover, a strong performance in the Verbal section can offset a lower score in the Quantitative section or vice versa, providing a balanced profile to admissions committees.

Strategies for Success in GRE Verbal

To excel in the GRE Verbal Section, a multifaceted approach is necessary. While Reading Comprehension is a pivotal part, don’t underestimate the importance of Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence.

  1. Balanced Preparation: Dedicate time to each subsection—Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence—during your study sessions. Allocate practice time proportionately to your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Vocabulary Enhancement: Building a robust vocabulary is not limited to Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence; it’s a valuable asset for comprehending passages in Reading Comprehension. Utilize vocabulary-building resources and strategies consistently.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice: Regular practice with official GRE materials, prep books, and online resources will familiarize you with the question types and help you develop efficient strategies.
  4. Simulated Testing: Mimic the test environment by taking full-length GRE practice tests. This will improve your time management skills and overall test-taking stamina.

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Mastering Text Completion Questions

Understanding Text Completion

Text completion questions assess your ability to understand sentence structure and vocabulary. You’ll need to fill in the blanks with the most suitable words or phrases.

Strategies for Text Completion

To excel in text completion questions:

  • Read the Entire Sentence: Understand the sentence’s context before filling in the blanks.
  • Use Context Clues: Identify words or phrases that provide hints about the missing words.
  • Eliminate Wrong Choices: Rule out options that don’t fit the context.

Practicing GRE Reading Comprehension

Accessing GRE-Level Passages

To practice effectively, you need access to GRE-level reading comprehension passages. Consider these resources:

  • Official GRE Materials: ETS provides sample passages and questions.
  • GRE Prep Courses: Many test prep companies offer comprehensive GRE courses.
  • Online Forums: Join GRE discussion boards to exchange practice materials.


As you conclude this journey, remember that progress takes time and dedication. With diligence and these strategies, you’re well-prepared to excel in GRE Reading Comprehension.

Embrace your practice sessions, refine your reading skills, and enter the GRE exam with confidence. Success is not random but a product of your hard work. Good luck on your GRE journey!

FAQs: Your GRE Reading Comprehension Queries Answered

Q1: What should I focus on when reading GRE passages?

When reading GRE passages, focus on the main idea, the author’s attitude, and the author’s main point. These are key elements to understand.

Q2: How do I deal with unfamiliar words in GRE passages?

We’ll provide strategies for handling unfamiliar words, including using context clues and building a strong vocabulary.

Q3: Can you recommend GRE prep materials for reading comprehension?

Yes, we’ll suggest GRE prep materials, including books and online resources, to help you prepare effectively.

Q4: What are some common question types in GRE reading comprehension?

We’ll discuss common question types, such as inference questions, main idea questions, and more, and how to approach them.

Q5: How can I read GRE passages more actively?

Learn techniques to read actively, which involves engaging with the text and understanding it at a deeper level.

Q6: How do I manage my time during the GRE reading comprehension section?

We’ll provide tips on time management strategies specific to the GRE reading comprehension section.

Q7: Are there any recommended GRE reading comprehension exercises for practice?

Discover recommended resources and exercises to hone your GRE reading comprehension skills.

Q8: What are the scoring criteria for GRE reading comprehension?

Learn how GRE reading comprehension is scored and how you can aim for a higher score.

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