3 Rules to Master the GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence

If I had prepared better for it, I’d have scored better.”
– A cliched statement from most students after an exam?

Well, as Rohan (an MS Aspirant like you) stepped out of the test center after his GRE general test, he said this with a heavy heart.

He aspired to get a Master’s admission in one of the top business schools in the United States, but now he knew his dreams were crushed. A small problematic pit during his GRE prep had turned into a huge roadblock, indefinitely delaying his dreams.

Can you guess what it was?

Well, during his preparation he could see that GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence Questions (TC & SE) were giving him some trouble. Sadly, he didn’t pay much attention to this. The chief reason for this was that he did not know how to read or practice properly for these sections. 

He just looked at some sample questions and thought they would be enough.


But it was not Rohan’s fault. He didn’t know where he was going wrong or how he could correct himself.

This is a typical situation that many of the test-takers practicing on their own face.

So, how do you master the GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence questions?

This blog will show you how in three easy steps. And hey, if you want to know more about Verbal Prep, Check this out!

Before we look at the steps, let’s find out who is scoring low in the GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence?

Who scores low in TC & SE?

To answer this, we have to look at the big picture first – for this, we have to start with GRE Verbal. 

In GRE Verbal, a score of 155 out of 170 is considered good.

US citizen152.6
Non-US citizen147.5
Indian Test Takers145.6

Source: GRE Worldwide Test-Taker Report, July 2013–June 2018 by ETS.

However, the latest data by ETS clearly shows that Indian test-takers on an average are scoring 145.6 – this score is 10 to 15 points less than what you should be aiming for. 

But which section of test-takers are scoring low? Is it confined to aspirants of a particular graduate level? Technically, a test-taker coming from an engineering, business, or academic background should be scoring high, as they are frequently in touch with the English language. Is that the case?

Let’s find that out too.

Engineering 149.3
Physical Sciences150.8

Source: GRE Worldwide Test-Taker Report, July 2013–June 2018 by ETS.

So, clearly, in the race for getting a high GRE Verbal score, you are not alone. It’s evident, the problem is not with aspirants in a particular field – it’s with everyone.

We wanted to find out WHY!

Why Are Test-Takers Scoring Low (in GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence)?

Student Facilitator & Analyst - GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence
Student Facilitator & Analyst

We consulted the GRE Verbal SFAs at AdmitEDGE to get to the roots of the matter. They guide students throughout their preparation, clear all their doubts and help students get the best scores possible.

With their help, we dug deep and found out the exact problem that every GRE test-taker is facing.

Everyone, regardless of their level of preparation— advanced, intermediate, or beginner—faces the same hurdles, always.

These are divided broadly into two types:

  1. Not being able to comprehend the question and
  2. Inability to weed out the wrong answers due to weak vocabulary.

(Do you face any other problems other than these? Let us know in the Comments section below.)

These problems are why GRE aspirants are scoring low in GRE Verbal, in general, and in GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence Questions, in particular. Don’t worry, each of these can be tackled easily – just by following the 3 steps.

Master GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence – The 3 Steps!

The Verbal section is considered the hardest in GRE – Indian aspirants see this as the Goliath. If they underestimate it, they get squished; if they fear it, they fail to slay it.

In the two sections of Verbal – GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence questions – you will have to solve six Text Completion questions and four Sentence Equivalence questions in each.

Don’t make this mistake:

Students tend to confuse Sentence Equivalence questions of GRE Verbal with the Sentence Completion questions of GMAT.

They are as different as chalk and cheese.

Both sections require you to fill in the blanks. GRE Sentence Equivalence questions will only have one blank while the number of blanks may reach up to three in the Text Completion questions. 

If you’re asking, how hard can that be,

check out this Text Completion question:

While Knapp’s research (i) __________ the fact that traditional houses are (ii) __________ under assault from the market economy, rapid urbanization, and declining craft skills, it fails to address the scope of (iii) __________ tradition within modernity―the fusion of which is the right way to progress―thus portraying a picture of a losing battle.

A. DenigratesD. RestructuredG. Replacing
B. Epitomizes E. RefurbishedH. Incorporating
C. DistortsF. BeleagueredI. Dissociating

Try and solve it on your own first.

Ans: (i) A. denigrates (ii) F. beleaguered (iii) H. incorporating

Did you get it right?

Kudos to you if you did—if you didn’t, don’t worry.

Follow the three steps and see how to solve questions like these.

STEP 1. Investigate!

Always Investigate - GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence
Always Investigate!

Before solving the question, the first step is to find the clue in the question or statement given to you.

In the given question, pay attention to this phrase:

“…the fact that traditional houses are (ii) __________ under assault from the market…”

From the phrase “under assault”, we infer that the answers will be “negative words”. Such words express disagreement or rejection. 

Also, look at the following:

“…the scope of (iii) __________ tradition within modernity―the fusion …“

The word “fusion” instructs us to scout for words hinting at “joining” or “coming together” 

These are clues we have to investigate and find out. To obtain clues, look for phrases or words that give the tone of the message. Once you understand where the question is pointing, you are one step closer to the answer.

Great, we now have “The Clue”—look for negative words.

Let’s proceed to the next step.

STEP 2. Break them apart & interpret them!

Break & Interpret- GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence
Break & Interpret!

Before proceeding, let’s look at the whole question again:

While Knapp’s research (i) __________ the fact that traditional houses are (ii) __________ under assault from the market economy, rapid urbanization, and declining craft skills, it fails to address the scope of (iii) __________ tradition within modernity―the fusion of which is the right way to progress―thus portraying a picture of a losing battle.

The statement as a whole is hard to understand. 

Roadblock alert! A majority of students fail here owing to the tough language used. Let’s clear this hurdle.

In the exam, when faced with such a question, break the question into parts and analyze them. 

Let’s break our question into two parts:

Consider the first two blanks:

“While Knapp’s research (i) __________ the fact that traditional houses are (ii) __________ under assault from the market economy, rapid urbanization, and declining craft skills,”

Here, the question is talking about a researcher called Knapp. His finding has come under fire due to his opinions about the plight of traditional houses. So our clue is confirmed—we have to look for “negative words”

Now concentrate on this part: 

“…it fails to address the scope of (iii) __________ tradition within modernity―the fusion of which is the right way to progress―thus portraying a picture of a losing battle…”

Here, we understand that Knapp has failed to look at traditionality and modernity together. This cements our second clue. So by breaking the sentence into two parts, we can comprehend what the question is really about and confirm what type of words we need to find.


Now that we know what words we need, let’s find out what those words are.

STEP 3. Solve the puzzle!

Every Problem is Solvable - GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence
Every Problem is Solvable!

Look at the options with their meanings:

A. denigrates— criticize unfairly   
B. epitomizes—be a perfect example of
C. distorts—give a misleading or false account
D. restructured—organize differently
E. refurbished—renovate and redecorate
F. beleaguered—put in a very difficult situation
G. replacing—take the place of
H. incorporating—include with something 
I. dissociating—disconnect or separate

From the above steps and the meanings of the words, it is crystal clear that 

the answers will be―denigrates, beleaguered, and incorporating. 

After that, the only thing you have to do is put the words in the right place.

And there you have it. You have just solved one of the hard Text Completion questions in GRE Verbal. For Sentence Equivalence questions,  you just have to follow the same steps. The only thing you have to remember is―be very clear in STEP 2, i.e., understand the question. Your whole answer will depend on this. Understanding the context and knowing the meanings of the words is paramount to answering these GRE Verbal questions.

BONUS STEP: Scan & Confirm

Remember, in these types of GRE Verbal questions having multiple blanks―all blanks must be filled correctly. There is no partial marking―it’s All in or Out.

Always read the statements again and check if you have plugged in the answers to confirm its correctness.

Get Every GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence Question Right—What to Do?

Now that you know the three steps, you need to start implementing them in your GRE practice tests. But, if you are not trained appropriately, it can be quite tough to implement them—especially in a time-constrained environment like you will face in the GRE test center. The language used is very difficult and they are designed to throw students off their feet. 

So, how do you train yourself?

The SFAs have the answer, and they have given two easy tips to hone your GRE Verbal skills. Commit them to memory and practice them earnestly

Upgrade Your Vocabulary

This may sound simple, but doing it is quite tough. To upgrade your GRE vocabulary, you need to master the words and not just learn them. Learning the words with the help of visuals is the ideal way. The “WordBot” App by AdmitEDGE is perfect for learning in this manner. It helps you learn important GRE words with visuals and has numerous practice tests that help you evaluate your learning. Learn 20 to 30 words every day. Take practice tests, but not right after learning the words. Take them after a day or two; this will ensure you remember the GRE Verbal words you have learned. If you don’t, revise them again. Revision of the words learned is also very vital for improving your vocabulary. 

To know what words to prioritize, check out this ebook on “High priority GRE Words

Enhance Your Comprehension

Read the newspaper editorial to familiarize yourself with the tough language used in GRE Verbal. Publications like The Hindu, The Times of India, etc. are suggested as they use similar language and vocabulary to the GRE Verbal test. This will make sure that you get used to the level of language and vocabulary used in various questions of GRE Verbal. 

In Conclusion

If you utilize these two tips and implement the three steps in your practice and exam, you will gradually see yourself finding the GRE Text Completion & Sentence Equivalence hurdles vanishing. 

If Rohan knew these steps and tips he could have got his dream-admit.

It may be too late for Rohan, but if you follow these, it is not so for you!

Training yourself for the main stage or test day is the need of the hour. 

Remember your GRE prep will be a marathon and not a sprint.

And, if you have any doubts, leave a comment below and we will surely get back to you.

Happy Learning 🙂

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