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How to study for GRE verbal

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How to study for GRE verbal [#permalink] New post 31 Jul 2014, 09:44
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How to study for GRE Verbal

Preparing for the New GRE Verbal section can be daunting. First off, the verbal section has undergone major changes: antonyms and analogies have been replaced with paragraph long fill-in-the-blank question known as Text Completions; Reading Comprehension questions have been given the treatment as well.

Then there is the simple fact that the GRE Verbal Section has always entailed learning thousands of words and reading passages that, for many, is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Below, I am going to cover how to study for the GRE verbal section without losing your mind. Indeed, if you follow the five guidelines below, you will, in a sense, gain a mind: one full of academic-level words and esoteric facts regarding the life of phytoplankton.

Use the best GRE prep materials

With the proliferation of the web and ubiquity of smart phones, hundreds of newcomers have flooded the GRE market. Some promise perfect scores – but are little more than a sham. Others promote the New GRE – but use content for the old test.

Then there are the usual suspects, popular brand name prep companies that quality-wise run the gamut from jaw-droppingly awful to pretty decent.

Ultimately, the prep sources you choose are going to significantly affect your score, so don’t waste time with junk. Try to use the best GRE book you can find.

Read our new GRE book reviews here.

Read beyond the Verbal section of the prep book

Here is the perhaps the biggest readjustment in thinking you will need: In prepping for the new GRE, you are not simply learning a few rules. You essentially have to to prove your ability to understand words in an academic context.

The best way to do this is to read. And by read, I don’t mean comic books, or the latest pulp thriller (I also am not implying that you have to read academic papers on the proliferation of phytoplankton in the North Sea).

Instead, choose a publication such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, or The Economist. Read something that interests, taking notes of what you read. For more specifics: ... ew-yorker/

Learn words – not definitions

A common preconception—though not necessarily a misconception—is that one only needs to study a set list of high-frequency words and he or she is ready to ace the test. As somebody who has tutored the GRE for many years, I’ve never met a person for whom that method worked.

First off there is no one magic list. Secondly, learning from a list is very unproductive. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you do not know a word just because you can cough up some word-for-word definition, as in:

Belie – fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict. -New Oxford Dictionary

The real question is this: can you use the word in a sentence, and can you identify when the word is being correctly used in a sentence? For instance, if I said the children belied themselves as ninjas during Halloween, you could very well look at the part of the sentence that says ‘disguise’ and think, hey, that’s right.

The only way to understand a complex word like belie is to understand how the word functions in context. Reading from newspapers and magazines (such as the ones quoted above) is a perfect way to do so.

Targeted practice

Don’t just prep at random. Take a look at these excellent study plans.

Get involved – Find a GRE Verbal Study Buddy

“No man is an island” is an expression that can be applied to the GRE aspirant. So do not barricade yourself behind a mountain of GRE prep books (especially bad ones). Instead find a study partner. You can quiz each other on words. If you don’t know anybody prepping for the GRE, then ask a family member to quiz use with flashcards (make sure you give them convincing example sentences).

Finally, there always the forums. allows you to help the community out by answer GRE questions posed in the forums. And if you are stuck yourself, then feel free to ask your question on the forums. All these forms of interaction will help strengthen your GRE skills.

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Re: How to study for GRE verbal [#permalink] New post 26 May 2016, 01:10
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Cultivate a habit of reading extensively. Any book (my personal recommendation are the classics), magazines – The Economist, Reader’s Digest,newspapers – NewYork Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian(the best content lies in the editorials, and definitely not in the Page-3/entertainment section), websites and news sites (BBC has some of the finest content).
For the common people like us, we need to read them once, twice, thrice,and many more times. A general thumb rule is that you have to get exposed to the word 4-7 times (tend to the higher side for the more complex words), distributed over 15 days. That drills the word into your sub-conscious mind. Make it a habit to recall these new words regularly. As you read any website or newspaper, try replacing the words with the new set of words you've learnt.Last,and perhaps the best thing you can do is use this newly gained vocabulary as often as possible. You might, at times, sound outlandish; that's fine. Remember, vocabulary is like Siri, the more you use, the better it gets.

Apart from usual Barron’s and Kalpan’s materials for GRE, I found Vocabsmith app useful to score better in verbal.
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Re: How to study for GRE verbal [#permalink] New post 13 Apr 2018, 22:55
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Cracking the verbal section of GRE takes a certain level of effort and dedication. A lot of blogs and other people might give you a list of 1000-1500 words and claim that if these words are remembered, you’ll be able to score well. Others might ask you to download an app which is adaptive according to your answers and will give you questions based on your previous answers. But this is not the effective method to learn. The problem with this approach is that there is nothing to relate to in your memory.
There are just plain words which you’ve never heard with difficult spelling and odd pronunciation. You might just by-heart them but in order to store them in your memory and remember them, you need to source to go by, you need a reference point.

So the best way to learn the new words (according to me) is to relate them with stories because stories are easy to remember and can be recalled easily. This is easier than you think, because in case of GRE, these stories are provided by the questions itself. There are two kinds of question related to meanings in GRE – one is sentence completion and other is words equivalent in which you have to select two options which are synonyms.

This is how I did during my preparation for the GRE: Gather all the material you need to study – all the books which you are comfortable with – Princeton, Manhattan and other study material whatever you can find. Now instead of memorizing the words go through the sample questions and the practice questions of the verbal question word by word. You’ll see that a small story is developed there. Now look at all the options. If you know the meanings of any words in the options then good, otherwise take a dictionary and track down the meanings of all the options and write them on a piece of paper. For each blank, there are three options, so now you have three new words. Now after writing down the meanings of these words again read the question and try to find the best match for the match among the options and verify your answer. Keep a dictionary by your side -don’t look at the answers or used google to search for the meanings, have an actual hard copy of dictionary and search the meanings using it. The advantage of doing this is that you are spending more time on each word and each story which is not the case with memorizing just the words and their meanings. With the list of words, you’ll repeat the word and the meaning few times and then go to the next meaning. It’s easy because the meaning is right beside the word which does not allow you spend much time on it. But when you use a dictionary to track the meanings, you are giving the words more time to sink in which means that it can be easily remembered and can be recalled easily in stressed situation. So by following this activity you are more likely to recall meaning easily in lesser time which means that you can spend more time on the Reading Comprehension section which demands a lot of attentiveness and time.

Do this for as many questions as you can each day and record all the meanings on a piece of paper of that day. The next day when you get up, just revise using this paper with just the words and the meanings. You’ll see that as you go through the words and the meanings you can easily relate to the questions – stories from previous day and by doing this you’ll be more confident and thorough in your memory.

Follow the same course of action for every question – read the question carefully, look at the options, track the meanings using dictionary, write the meanings on the paper, go back to the question and try to fill in the answer and then verify it with the solution, revise the words and the meanings first thing in the morning the next day. It seems a lot of work at first, but if you do it continuously you’ll get used to it and after 3-4 weeks, you’ll automatically see the words repeating in other questions so you use the dictionary less often which will save you time and help you cover more questions. This is certainly a good approach which I’ve used and found it very helpful and during my practice tests and the actual tests, I realized that I was able to recall the meanings quickly which saved me a lot of time.

As for the Reading comprehension, I suggest you to practice as much as you can. First make a habit of reading a lot of material – and not just simply reading but processing and understanding all the information as you read. This requires a lot of practice because the text in GRE is complex and is not easily understood. So, first make a habit of reading a lot material on the computer screen (not book) and understand the matter as you read it. By practicing, you’ll be able to increase your processing pace and will be able to cover a lot of material in a short time which is needed in the exam. First attempt the questions on your own. And then try to analyze the solution provided in the books and understand the logic behind it. As you keep practicing, you’ll start noticing some patterns in the type of question being asked and the respective answers for that which makes it easier for you. Another thing which I found useful is to first read the question and then start reading the passage. Doing this makes it easier to answer because then you know what you need to answer or what you are looking for in the complete write up. You don’t need to understand the whole passage to answer the questions. First reading the passage, processing all the information and then reading the questions will not automatically give you answer. You again have to go back to the passage to look for answers. So why waste time in reading it the first time. Just read the first question and then start reading the passage, that way you know what to look for and when you arrive at the matter relating to the question, read carefully and then try to answer the question. Then read the next question and continue reading the passage from where you left for the first question.
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Re: How to study for GRE verbal [#permalink] New post 05 Sep 2019, 21:37
Thanks for sharing.
Re: How to study for GRE verbal   [#permalink] 05 Sep 2019, 21:37
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How to study for GRE verbal

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