Unlike the math section of the new GRE, the verbal reasoning section is undergoing numerous changes (most of which are pretty significant), so I’ll have to split this post into two parts to make it a bit more digestible.
No analogies or antonyms on the new GRE.
What It Means
There is a decreased focus on vocabulary on the new GRE. Analogies and antonyms are notoriously vocabulary-oriented questions. Both of these types of questions test not only your knowledge of definitions but also test your ability to understand words conceptually and identify relationships between two words or phrases. Just knowing a definition isn’t always enough — you have to have a solid understanding of the concept that the word represents. On the current test, the vocabulary can get pretty hard pretty quickly, so spending a significant amount of time studying vocabulary is an absolute must. On the new GRE, you will still need to have a decent vocabulary for the text completion questions, but there will be no questions that ask you vocabulary without context.
New question type: sentence equivalence
What It Means
Sentence equivalence questions are pretty similar to text/sentence completion problems. Basically, you are given a sentence in which a word is left out, and you have to choose the two answer choices that will give the sentence the same meaning. Vocabulary is important here, but it’s in context, so you’ll have some help figuring out what words do and don’t work. Most of the time, this basically means that you’re looking for two words that have the same definition, but more difficult problems will probably be less straightforward than that. The important thing to remember is that there must be two answer choices that give the sentence the same meaning — regardless of how apposite one answer choice might be or how perfectly it seems to fit, if there isn’t a corresponding answer choice, then it’s not right!
(Sort of) new question type: text completion
What It Means
Text completion is the new sentence completion. The idea behind the question hasn’t changed much — you are given between one and five sentences with up to three words left out, and you must glean from the context which of the answer choices would fit best in the blanks. What has changed is how the question is presented. Problems that only have one blank will give you five answer choices to choose from, just like on the old test; however, problems that have two or three blanks will give you three answer choices for each blank, and you must choose one answer choice for each blank that fits best with the text. For questions with three blanks (three answer choices per blank), this means that you now have 27 possible combinations of answers to choose from. Guessing just got a lot harder! Plus, since the words aren’t already paired together (as they are on the current GRE), you have to be able to figure out each blank individually, which is more difficult.
Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!