Tag Archive for 'new question types'

New GRE: Changes to the Verbal Reasoning Section, Part 2

Verbal section changes

Here are the rest of the changes to the verbal reasoning section of the new GRE, as promised (though a bit late!). You can read part 1 of this post here.

Change #3
New/more reading comprehension questions.

What It Means
According to the ETS’s website,

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New GRE: Changes to the Verbal Reasoning Section, Part 1

Verbal section changes

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.

Change #1
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.

Change #2
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!

Change #3
(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!

New GRE: Changes to the Quantitative Reasoning Section

What's changing on the math section?

The new GRE begins August 1, 2011. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance the question “should I take the new GRE or the old GRE?” has crossed your mind. There are many factors to consider, and as a primer, take a look at our previous post about which GRE you should take.

In order to make this decision, you need to be informed about exactly what the differences between the new GRE and the old GRE are. This (beautiful, elegant, and efficient) diagram gives both a high-level overview of both tests as well as a more detailed explanation of each question type. In this series of posts, we’ll be going over these points in even greater detail, one section at a time, starting with math.

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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.