How to Improve Your GRE Verbal  

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How to Improve Your GRE Verbal  

The first university to request the graduate record examination for their candidates was the University of Wisconsin in 1938. It started as a consortium of just four universities and a foundation. And over time, the GRE, as many people call it, is a requirement for many universities. Almost all universities in the USA and Canada require their potential candidates to take this exam.

The Educational Testing Service is the primary organizer of the Graduate Record Examination. This GRE test has recognition by almost all schools around the world. This recognition gives you a clear indication of the quality of the GRE tests. The exam is one of the few exams around the world that tests you based on skills and reality.

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The organizers of the GRE want to test your reasoning verbally and quantitatively, alongside your analytical writing skills. Therefore, the exam has three sections, which are; analytical writing, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. Each one of these sections has its peculiarities and rules to follow. Once you understand these specifications, the almighty GRE becomes easy for you.

Over the years, I’ve seen many cases of people who complain about the verbal reasoning section. Honestly, it’s not as simple as GRE wants to test your vocabulary far and wide. As a result, several questions may seem very confusing. In this article, I’ll be showing you some tips on How to Improve Verbal GRE.

Prepare with GRE Guide

When you have a physics test, you would primarily read physics text. In the same way, you have to study GRE materials if you want to write the GRE. Like any other exam, GRE has quality materials that you should check. The authors of this material are mostly the organizers of the Graduate Record Examination. Therefore, when you study the materials endorsed by GRE, you have an edge. Likewise, you have the opportunity to test your time management for this section. Also, you have hands-on experience and can notice and fix your mistakes.

Know Your Strengths

The same way the whole exam has sections, the verbal reasoning section has sub-sections. If you find vocabulary tough to complete, you can put more focus on the completion of texts or sentence problems. When you practice your substantial subsection regularly, you’ll take less time to complete it when you face similar questions when you open the verbal questions. Now, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the subsections that seem harsh for you. It would be best if you worked on your weaknesses sturdily, but practising your strengths well will buy you more time for the other section.

Forget Your Dictionary

One common and funny mistake many people make that leaves me shocked is reading dictionaries for a GRE test. Not that learning new words are not good, but a dictionary isn’t just the right. Reading dictionaries is common amongst most international students. Let’s assume you need to write a Chinese vocabulary exam. You cannot possibly learn and understand the Chinese language from a Chinese dictionary.

I am not undermining the importance of dictionaries. Dictionaries have almost all the words that GRE requires. However, what is the essence of knowing those words out of context? Before you can say you see a vocabulary, you must be comfortable using the word in a sentence. The dictionary should be a support material you use when you need to know the meaning of a word.

Read Far and Wide

If you want to blast the verbal reasoning section of your GRE, reading is a habit you may want to build. One way to find new words and understand sentence structures is by reading well. Now, reading for the verbal reasoning section doesn’t mean you should read every story that comes your way. It will help if you read meaningful write-ups, articles and topics.

One great way to learn new words that relate to the GRE is by reading research journals. There are several journals to peruse on the internet. But instead of reading any journal, read research journals from recognized educational organizations such as Harvard, MIT, ETS, and many others.

Not only recognized journals help your vocabulary, newspapers, stories, novels, and books can also help. News reports from recognized magazines like the New York Times, The Economist, CNN, among others help you understand several words and their usage in different contexts. On the other hand, novels may seem like you’re unserious with your GRE preparations. However, there are a lot of words in those novels, and you can always read stories during your leisure and rest periods.

When you combine all of these reading habits, you learn the meaning of several words. Not only the purpose but how to use those words effectively in a sentence. Likewise, you understand how to read different stories and topics as fast as possible. As a result, your reading comprehension section of the verbal reasoning test becomes easy. Many people consider this section as the toughest under verbal reasoning!

See English-Speaking Movies

I know you may already be furious at me for suggesting reading the novels above. Well, this time, I’m offering something more “unserious.” Yes, movies are mostly distractions when you need to study for exams. But in the case of vocabularies for GRE tests, movies can help a lot.

One way or the other, we learn subconsciously every day. And some people know better when they listen than reading. So, if you’re in this category, learning new words is more accessible through movies. Since the exam tests for new English words, you should watch English speaking movies or movies with matching subtitles.

Now, you and I know that movies are a huge distraction when you’re preparing for any exams. So, if you want to learn a new vocabulary from the film, you should do that when you have enough time before the scheduled GRE.

Speak English Subconsciously

GRE is an exam required by top universities that accept both indigenous and international students. Mostly, these international students speak their native languages. And the ones who understand English only do so sparingly.

Whether you’re in this category or not, you need to make English your primary language for everything. By everything, I mean you should learn how to even think in the English language. Doing this makes it simple to understand English words simply and quickly.

If you notice, foreign English speakers tend to speak very carefully. That is because they process what they hear and what they want to say in their language. Of course, speaking your native language isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t help your English.

When you chat with your close pals, try to use English consciously. Make sure you incorporate the new words you’re learning in conversations. Likewise, you have to learn to speak English as much as possible.

To correctly understand any language, you need to be free speaking, reading, and hearing the language. Therefore, you can consciously make efforts to think in English. Doing this effectively makes you understand, read and understand verbal reasoning questions very quickly.

Start Small, Then Build

You cannot start reading GRE materials today and expect that you understand so many words in a short period. Learning the terms of a new language and its usage may take time. It takes conscious effort, zeal, and patience to learn English quickly. It would help if you started small and scale up regularly.

Of course, you want to learn a lot of words, but you need to remember one at a time. You can begin by learning about 15 words daily. In this context, learning a word means knowing it’s meaning and vocabulary usage.

It would be best if you learned these words with enough accountability. That means, no day should pass without you mastering fifteen new words. When you do this, by the end of the month, you should know about 450 words per month. And if you study for six months, you have a pool of 2,700 new words. With these new words, vocabulary in verbal reasoning is no longer a barrier.

Study GRE Words

In the English language, there are words with different meanings and usage. And every year, new words keep joining the pack of words. It’s almost impossible for GRE to test all of these words. Therefore, a smart move will be studying words that GRE may use.

Essentially, there are many GRE words you can study in preparation for the test. Several people and organizations have created word lists that have a high chance of being set. Analyzing these lists will help you to learn new words and give you direction in vocabulary.

However, many companies and organizations create these word lists regularly. Therefore, as much as they help you, it’s great to make sure you study words from trusted sources. Of course, you don’t want to take precious time to explore a word list that was just guessed out by certain people. To prevent time-wasting, it is best to confirm the source of your wordlist before studying.

Improve Your Mistakes

Before you can say you know a particular word, you should use the word in sentences and conversations effortlessly. Now, even after all of these practices, you may still make mistakes when you practise GRE tests. Now, don’t just correct these mistakes immediately, check for the root cause of the error.

When you do that, you know the reason why you made the error. After that, it becomes easy to correct these mistakes and prevent future occurrences. For example, if you were given a passage and questions to fill in the gap in the past tense. Some words in the present tense may work correctly with the gaps, but that doesn’t make them correct. Now, an easy solution to that mistake is switching all answers to past tense. Whereas if you analyze the error, you’ll notice the instruction that says answers should be in the past tense. Always trace the source of your mistakes, not just the solution.

Learn Through Other Channels

We live in a generation where many people spend the most time on their phones. Using your mobile device has its advantages and disadvantages. And if you’re taking the GRE test, you can use your phone as an advantage.

The GRE test is one that requires you to study and learn at any possible moment. And with the improvement of innovations and technology, even studying is easy. You can explore new words on your device while standing in a bus queue.

Likewise, there several mobile applications and platforms to learn online. Some of these platforms have a specific purpose for teaching new English words. Again, there are many applications and online websites that give some support for GRE candidates. When you utilize these platforms well, it’ll surprise you with the amount of information you have.

Fight Your Anxiety

Of course, you don’t want to waste the money, time and energy you have put into the GRE test. But, if you’re going to prepare effectively, you need to be as calm as possible. For example, let’s assume your scheduled period for your GRE is in seven days. It’s normal for pressure to pile up, and you feel like you are not doing enough work and preparation. However, it would help if you beat that thought immediately, to allow you to focus on your study.

Likewise, when you want to learn new words, you need to keep calm all the time. Just because I recommended fifteen words daily does not mean if you do five, you are in trouble. Of course, you need to know as many words as possible. However, if you don’t find learning new words easy, you do not have to beat yourself over. Scolding yourself too much won’t help you learn new words, it’ll only reduce your zeal to learn. So, whatever happens in your preparation, remember to keep calm.


The verbal reasoning contained in the Graduate Record Examination may not be so easy to pass. However, this article will show you How to Improve Your GRE Verbal of course, for any exam, reading well is the best option. More so for the GRE test. It would help if you read as many relating words as possible. Please remember, studying smart is almost always better than studying hard.

About the author

Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.