Verbal Section Strategies

Text Completion Questions:

  1. Before looking at the answers, try to complete the sentence with words that make sense to you.
  2. Pay attention to clues from the paragraph the words are in
  3. Don't rush your selection. Consider all the answers to make the best choice.
  4. Use the context of nearby words to figure out unknown words.
  5. Don't overlook the reversing effect of negative words (like not) or prefixes (like un-).
  6. If you're really stuck for the meaning of a word, try to think of other words that have similar prefixes, roots, or suffixes.
  7. Eliminate choices in double-blank questions if the first word alone doesn't make sense in the sentence.
  8. Let transition words (although, however and likewise) help suggest the best answer.
  9. Make sure your answer choices work with the sentence. Two words with similar meanings may not be the best choice for the context

Sentence Equivalence Questions:

  1. First: create a sentence in your mind that uses the two capitalized words.
  2. Learn to recognize common types of analogies.
  3. Eliminate answer pairs that are clearly wrong.
  4. Beware of possibly correct answers that appear in reverse order.
  5. If more than one choice appears possible, analyze the words again.
  6. Consider alternative meanings of words, as well as alternative parts of speech.
  7. If you don't know the meaning a word, try to recall if you've ever heard it in an expression. The context of the expression may suggest the meaning of the word.
  8. Beware of obvious answers! They may be there only to mislead you.


  1. Use word parts (prefixes, roots, suffixes) to figure out the probable meaning of unknown words.
  2. Be aware of secondary meanings of words. For example, 'appreciation' can just as readily mean 'increase' as it does 'gratitude'. When no answer seems correct, look for an alternative (or 'secondary') meaning for your word choices.
  3. Consider the 'feel' of the word. It may create a sense in you of its meaning, such as a word like 'grandiose'. It may have a positive or negative connotation, which may help you to eliminate some choices.
  4. Try to think of similarly constructed words that you may recognize and that may give you a clue as to the meaning of an otherwise unknown word.
  5. Think of a recognizable context for a word you don't recognize. Let the context of the word in a phrase or sentence suggest its probable meaning.
  6. Confirm that the sentence means the same thing even if the words themselves do not.
  7. Read all the choices before selecting your answer.

Reading Comprehension:

  1. You should base your answers to the questions solely on what is stated or implied in the passages.
  2. Read the italicized introductory text.
  3. Skip questions you don't know. Return to them after answering other easier questions.
  4. First and last sentences of each paragraph are critical.
  5. Find the right spot in a passage by using any line reference numbers that appear in the questions.
  6. Answer questions on familiar topics before unfamiliar topics.
  7. Read the passages before reading the questions.
  8. Don't waste time memorizing details.