Sentence Equivalence on the New GRE: The New Kid on the Block

Awesome handwriting won't help you on the GRE (but it's still cool).

Sentence equivalence problems are a new type of question on the Verbal Reasoning section of the new GRE (aka the revised GRE, coming August 2011).  In this type of question, you will be given a sentence with an omitted word.  You will choose two answers from a list of six answer choices that will give the sentence the same (or as close to the same as possible) meaning.  No partial credit is given for partially correct answers.

Sentence equivalence may be new to the block, but actually, they’re a lot like another type of question with which you’re probably already familiar — sentence completion.  You can (and will) use pretty much the same strategies to solve these problems.  The most important of these strategies is context clues, which is using other words in the sentence to help you figure out what word should go in the blank.  Of course, having a strong vocabulary is also key to performing well on sentence equivalence questions.

Let’s look at an example.

Given the existence of so many factions in the field, it was unrealistic of Anna Freud to expect any kind of ——- of opinion.
(A) freedom
(B) homogeneity
(C) reassessment
(D) uniformity
(E) expression
(F) formation

In this problem, the most important piece of context is in the beginning of the sentence: “the existence of so many factions in the field.”  The existence of many factions implies the existence of many opinions — therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to say that it would be unrealistic of Anna Freud to expect all these opinions to be exactly the same?  Using this logic, we can identify (B) and (D) as the correct answer choices, because “homogeneity” and “uniformity” both mean “the same.”

It’s also important to remember with this type of question that, while another answer choice may fit well, there must be another answer choice that gives the sentence the same meaning.  Even if you find an answer choice extremely attractive, if no other answer choice means the same thing, then it can’t be right.

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One Response to Sentence Equivalence on the New GRE: The New Kid on the Block

  1. Jean says:

    I’d take the old one just because there are study matireals out there. Plus I wouldnt want to be the guinea pig for the new test format.Took the first new SAT, it wasnt fun.

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