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GRE - Verbal Guide for Beginners


GRE Verbal – Guide for Beginners

To master GRE verbal section, you need to make sure you have a good command on reading complex sentences, which is possible If you are an avid reader of US newspapers, good vocabulary and most importantly understand the English sentence structures. After taking the GRE diagnostic Test (refer to GRE step-wise guide), if your scores in the range of 130-150 and your target score are +155, then you need to first focus on building vocabulary + understanding the English structure, without even referring to the GRE books. Many students could not improve their GRE verbal section as they mainly focus on learning vocabulary and spent the rest of time on practicing 500+ questions without focussing on the foundational concepts. However, GRE preparation should mainly focus on understanding basic English skills along with learning vocabulary (less percentage of overall preparation). The main emphasizesshould be on understanding reading, which is only possible if you understand complex sentence structure and general reading.

One of the best-recommended approach is to learn English sentence structure. GMAT SC foundational book is a good resource to start off with and to understand complex english structure. Moreover, you should spend more time in general reading and reading vast topic of articles, so your brain can start accepting those boring topics which were making you sleepy and lack of interact. Meanwhile, learning vocabulary is also important, but that is just a very small portion of your preparation We have mentioned the following strategies that can help you to prepare for GRE Verbal Section, considering you have already covered foundational concepts as mentioned above. 

Verbal section comprises of 3 main sub-sections:

  • Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Questions (Vocabulary + Meaning)

  • Passages (Reading Comprehension + Critical/Logical Reasoning)

  • AWA

Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Section:

Note: If your vocabulary is weak, you need to learn at least 650 words from Magoosh Mobile App (Common and Basic Words Sets) – this will cover 80% of the GRE exam vocabulary.

Concept Building:

To improve vocabulary, download Magoosh Flash Card App on your IPhone / Android Phone. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can download flash card from their website on your computer.

Make flash cards – hard copies (Word on one side of the card and meaning + Mnemonics on the other side of the card).

  • Learn 15 – 50 words per day (depends on your level of understanding/time) – Don’t cram (No Ratta).

  • The best way to learn words – write a word on one side of the flash card and its meaning + Mnemonics. You can check it’s meaning on Magoosh app or along with sentences. Write words in a way that would help you to remember them. Most importantly use a Mnemonics. It is a powerful tool to remember words ( For example: Burgeon (means grow or flourish) – mnemonic can be “Burger” -> by eating burger, you become fat and then grow. Burger => Fat => Grow

  • Learn and revise those words on a daily basis. Let’s suppose you learn 15 words on day 1, 2nd day you would have 30 words…. so when you revise you will also go through new words + all previous words.


The key to improve accuracy is to understand the meaning of the sentence and look for keywords in sentence to understand which word would fit in the blanks or answer choices. To understand SE + TC strategies, watch Magoosh (paid subscription) videos and read Manhattan book.

In addition, be an avid reader of American Newspaper (details are mentioned at the bottom of this articles).


Practicing questions is equally important as learning words. After you have memorized words and learnt the strategies from Manhattan/Magoosh, you need to solve questions from ETS and Magoosh (Vocabulary Builder) only. Those who have Magoosh Premium (Paid Account) can use Vocabulary Builder Software.

Note: Manhattan practice questions are not Good for SE and TC. Passages (Reading Comprehension + Critical Reasoning) Section:

Concept Building:

Watch Ron’s Manhattan Instructor (GMAT) = Main Idea and Long Passages + Inferences topics Videos Read Gin’s Guide to Reading Comprehension.


The key is to understand the passage and paraphrase (repeat it in your own words). Apply the same paraphrasing approach to each sentence and even paragraph.– Don’t make detailed notes- don’t skip lines or paragraphs- don’t read fast beyond your capacity of understanding the passage/sentences


Practice these skills mentioned above and strategies mentioned by Ron + Gin or at least go through 10 passages so that you get into the habit of improving comprehension. Then start practising them on up to 100 passages so you could master them. If you have time, more than 1.5 months, practice LSAT questions; they are tough but prepare you well for the exam!

Critical Reasoning:

For concepts – you can read Critical Reasoning GMAT Guide by Manhattan (uploaded on Google Drive) There are 7 main topics of Critical Reasoning:

The key is to identify the Conclusion + Premise for the 5 types.

  •   Assumption
    Hidden assumption that author is trying to say but is not specified. The correct answer choices link the premises with conclusion.
    Premise <-> Assumption <-> Conclusion

  • Strengthen
    The correct answer will strengthen conclusion. You need to learn + practice, how to identify premise + conclusion.

  • Weaken
    The correct answer will strengthen conclusion. You need to learn + practice, how to identify premise + conclusion.

  • Evaluate
    The correct answer choice is neutral in context and by changing the sentence a little bit, you can either strengthen or weaken the argument.

  • Boldface
    You need to learn, how to identify the structure of the passage – building block of a passage or an argument. Once you know the overall context and each sentence separately, then you can identify Bold Faced questions

  • Inference
    Inference means “must be true” and correct answer is something that is specified in the passage, don’t imply any meaning from outside. This question type does not have Conclusion!
    Premise – Premise

  • Paradox
    Conflicting opinion and you need to find the answer that will logically answer the contradictory opinion between two statements. This type of question doesn’t have a conclusion.
    Premise – Premise


While attempting a question, follow 4 Steps Strategy:

  • Read the question stem first2) Identify the conclusion and premise + Most important = understand the overall context3) Eliminate wrong answers choices first and keep the ones you think can be the correct answer4) Choose the answer and move on – don’t spend more than 2 minutes on CR questions.

  • For further details: Refer to Manhattan Critical Reasoning Guide for GMAT.


Practice ETS Official Guide Questions. For additional practice questions, those who have Magoosh, they can practice verbal questions from there too.


Have a look at the Manhattan Strategy guide Essay part (Book Reading Comprehension). It also has argument task 14 points that weaken an argument. More or less you will always find any of the points mentioned from the 14 points listed in any argument task. See Princeton review as well. It has a good template for writing an Argument task. Issue task is also covered comprehensively in Manhattan.

Read sample ETS essays given in the ETS official guide. If you are very weak in writing then Google ETS issue pool.

Overall Resources for Verbal

ETS Books (Most authentic and accurate) = Concept + Practice Magoosh (Paid Subscription) = Concept + Practice Questions Manhattan Guides = Concept only (for Practice its not recommended). Magoosh Flash App = VocabularyPre4GRE App = Overall Preparation

Ron Reading Comprehension Videos (GMAT)

Improving General Reading:

Regular reading from good sources is very important. You should be a regular reader of the following newspaper pages for at least 3-6 months. Some of the newspaper websites have paid subscription.

We only recommend American newspapers – reading Novels, Dawn or British magazines will not really help in a short period of time.