Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Strategies for New Verbal Question Types on Revised GRE

The GRE has recently gotten a facelift that included a complimentary nose job on its verbal section. There are 5 different verbal question types you now need to know, and man are they fancy.
Below is an explanation of each question type along with some general pointers on attacking them. Sample questions come from the official ETS website.

1) Select a Single Answer
Example Question

Question 1 is based on this passage.
Reviving the practice of using elements of popular music in classical composition, an approach that had been in hibernation in the United States during the 1960s, composer Philip Glass (born 1937) embraced the ethos of popular music without imitating it. Glass based two symphonies on music by rock musicians David Bowie and Brian Eno, but the symphonies' sound is distinctively his. Popular elements do not appear out of place in Glass's classical music, which from its early days has shared certain harmonies and rhythms with rock music. Yet this use of popular elements has not made Glass a composer of popular music. His music is not a version of popular music packaged to attract classical listeners; it is high art for listeners steeped in rock rather than the classics.
Select only one answer choice.
  1. The passage addresses which of the following issues related to Glass's use of popular elements in his classical compositions?
    1. How it is regarded by listeners who prefer rock to the classics
    2. How it has affected the commercial success of Glass's music
    3. Whether it has contributed to a revival of interest among other composers in using popular elements in their compositions
    4. Whether it has had a detrimental effect on Glass's reputation as a composer of classical music
    5. Whether it has caused certain of Glass's works to be derivative in quality
  • Read the entire passage first, then take a second to summarize the topic and tone before moving to the questions.
  • When the question asks about the meaning of a word in the passage, be aware that words can take on different meanings in different contexts.
  • Be careful not to be misled by answer choices that are only partially true or that only partially answer the question.
  • Be careful not to pick an answer choice simply because it is a true statement.

2) Select Multiple Answers
Example Question

Question 2 is based on the passage above.
Consider each of the three choices separately and select all that apply.
  1. The passage suggests that Glass's work displays which of the following qualities?
    1. A return to the use of popular music in classical compositions
    2. An attempt to elevate rock music to an artistic status more closely approximating that of classical music
    3. A long-standing tendency to incorporate elements from two apparently disparate musical styles

  • Evaluate each answer choice separately on its own merits; when evaluating one answer choice, do not take the others into account.
  • Do not be disturbed if you think all three answer choices are correct, since questions of this type can have up to three correct answer choices.

3) Select-in-Passage
Example Question

Question 2 is based on the passage above.
Select the sentence that distinguishes two ways of integrating rock and classical music.
**Answer Choices will be sentences from the passage**

  • Evaluate each of the relevant sentences in the passage separately before selecting your answer.
  • Do not evaluate any sentences that are outside the paragraphs under consideration.
  • Do not select a sentence if any part of the description does not apply to it. However, note that the question need not fully describe all aspects of the sentence.

4) Text Completion
Example Question

For each blank select one entry from the corresponding column of choices.
Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text.

Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his (i)__________ as an artist increased, the more (ii)__________ his life became.
Sample Question 3 Answers.
Blank (i)Blank (ii)
(A) temperance(D) tumultuous
(B) notoriety(E) providential
(C) eminence(F) dispassionate
  • Read through the passage to get an overall sense of it.
  • Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant (words like although or moreover)
  • Without looking at the answers, try to fill in the blanks with words or phrases that seem to complete the sentence. Then see if similar words are offered among the answer choices.
  • Do not assume that the first blank is the one that should be filled first; perhaps one of the other blanks is easier.
  • When you have made your selection for each blank, check to make sure the passage is logically, grammatically and stylistically coherent.

5) Sentence Equivalence
Example Question

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

It was her view that the country's problems had been _______ by foreign technocrats, so that to ask for such assistance again would be counterproductive.
  1. ameliorated
  2. ascertained
  3. diagnosed
  4. exacerbated
  5. overlooked
  6. worsened


  • Read the sentence to get an overall sense of it.
  • Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant (words like although or moreover).
  • Without looking at the answers, try to fill in the blank with a word that seems appropriate to you and then see if two similar words are offered among the answer choices.
  • Always read the sentence back with your answer choice, does it sounds right?


  1. Could you provide the answers?

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