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The Prior GRE Verbal Reasoning Format

Antonyms, Analogies, Sentence Completions and Reading Comprehension Questions


The Prior GRE Verbal Reasoning Format

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Revised GRE Verbal Reasoning Section

If you're interested in checking out what the GRE Verbal section of the past looked like, then see what you used to be required to do below:

GRE Verbal Basics

In the past, you would have to first determine which version of the GRE you’d be taking – the Paper-Based GRE or the Computer-Based GRE, because they were two entirely different pots of assessment stew, my friends.

Paper-Based Verbal Reasoning:

  • 2 sections
  • 38 questions per section
  • 30 minutes section

Computer-Based Verbal Reasoning:

  • 1 section
  • 30 questions
  • 30 minutes

GRE Verbal Questions

The questions you would have seen would be taken from areas like the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The four types of questions were analogies, antonyms, sentence completions, and reading comprehension questions. Most of these will look very familiar to you, since analogies used to be offered on the SAT, and sentence completions and reading comprehension questions still are.

GRE Verbal Analogies

The old analogies were simply two words separated by a colon. Your job was to determine the relationship between the two words. Are they alike in kind, size, spatial contiguity, degree? Once you’d determined the relationship, you would have had to find a pair of words below the example that had the same relationship as the first pair.

GRE Analogy Example

Hint: Form a very specific sentence with the example words: PARQUET is a design made of WOOD. Determine which two words best fits into the same sentence.


A. color: painting
B. mosaic : glass
C. potpourri : medley
D. collage : tapestry
E. linoleum : marble

Correct Answer: B

GRE Verbal Antonyms

Sure – you remember what “antonym” means: opposite. But, the antonym section tested both vocabulary knowledge and ability to reason. These questions generally stuck to nouns, verbs, and adjectives, but the multiple-choice answers may be either single words or phrases.

GRE Antonym Example

Hint: Remember the definitions of your Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. “Re-“ means again/back and “cant” is a root that means to speak or sing. So what’s the clearest opposite in the list below it?


A. entangle
B. rescue
C. fail
D. assert
E. predict

Correct Answer: D.

GRE Verbal Sentence Completions

Sentence completions tested your vocabulary skills, but also your ability to best determine appropriate syntax, grammar, and word choice in a sentence. Each question was a sentence with one or more blanks in it. You had to choose words from a multiple-choice selection that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

GRE Verbal Sentence Completion Example:

Solving sentence completions can be tough, but if you cover up the answers and insert words in the blanks you think would fit, often, you’ll find synonyms of your guesses in the answer choices.

The novel's protagonist, a pearl diver, naïvely expects that the buyers will compete among themselves to pay him the best price for his pearl, but instead they ____________ to ____________ him.

A. venture…reward
B. pretend…praise
C. collude…swindle
D. refuse…cheat
E. conspire…reimburse

Correct Answer: C.

GRE Verbal Reading Comprehension Questions

You’d be given one reading passage or two related passages with anywhere from about 100 words up to approximately 850 words. (A typical double-spaced page is about 250 words.) Afterward, you’d have to answer one or several multiple-choice questions related to the reading selection.

GRE Verbal Reading Comprehension Example:

Hint: Read through the questions before you read the passage so you know what information you’ll need to remember.

Disequilibrium at the interface of water and air is a factor on which the transfer of heat and water vapor from the ocean to the air depends. The air within about a millimeter of the water is almost saturated with water vapor and the temperature of the air is close to that of the surface water. Irrespective of how small these differences might be, they are crucial, and the disequilibrium is maintained by air near the surface mixing with air higher up, which is typically appreciably cooler and lower in water vapor content. The turbulence, which takes its energy from the wind mixes the air. As the speed of wind increases, so does the turbulence, and consequently the rate of heat and moisture transfer. We can arrive at a detailed understanding of this phenomenon after further study. The transfer of momentum from wind to water, which occurs when waves are formed is an interacting-and complicated phenomenon. When waves are made by the wind, it transfers important amounts of energy-energy, which is consequently not available for the production of turbulence.

This passage principally intends to:

A. resolve a controversy
B. attempt a description of a phenomenon
C. sketch a theory
D. reinforce certain research findings
E. tabulate various observations

Correct Answer: B.

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