GRE Verbal Reasoning

The GRE presumes fluency in English, and the Verbal Reasoning sections are designed to test reading comprehension, vocabulary usage, and critical reasoning. Verbal Reasoning sections consist of three categories of question: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. Sentence Equivalence and Text completion questions are similar in terms of content, and are the main method that the GRE uses to test vocabulary. "Critical Reasoning" is not a separate category, but is tested within Reading Comprehension. There are three question types: Multiple choice (one correct answer from five options), multiple answers (more than one answer is correct, select all the right answers), and "select a sentence in the passage".

Reading Comprehension passages vary in length from one paragraph to four or five, and are drawn from arts and humanities, everyday topics, physical biological and social sciences, and are based on material found in academic and nonacademic books and periodicals. Text completion questions include a passage of 1-5 sentences with 1-3 blanks in it, and a selection of words for each blank with only one correct answer per blank. Sentence Equivalence Questions consist of a single sentence, one blank, and six answer choices. These questions require students to select two correct answers that are equivalent and complete the sentence in the same way.

There are two scored verbal reasoning sections, and possibly an additional unscored research or experimental section. The GRE is adaptive on a section-by-section basis. The first scored Verbal Reasoning section is of average difficulty, with a mix of easy and difficult questions. The difficulty of the second Verbal Reasoning section correlates with performance on the first section, so more proficient test takers can "level up" and take a more difficult test. This increased difficulty is taken into account when the test score is calculated, and more difficult tests have the potential to reach a higher final score.

In 2013, US test takers outperformed non-US test takers in Verbal Reasoning, but non-US test takers outperformed US test takers in Quantitative Reasoning. The Verbal Reasoning sections of the test are intended to evaluate the ability to analyze written material and synthesize information obtained from it, as well as the ability to analyze relationships among components of a sentence, and between words and concepts.