GRE Sentence Equivalence Format

دوره: GRE Test- Practice & Study Guide / فصل: GRE Verbal Reasoning- About the Verbal Reasoning Section / درس 5

GRE Test- Practice & Study Guide

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GRE Sentence Equivalence Format

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Sentence equivalence questions on the GRE revised General Test have a weird and confusing format. But don't let that hold you back from doing your best! Here's what you'll see and how to tackle it.

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Sentence Equivalence

On the most basic level, sentence equivalence questions test your reading comprehension with fill-in-the-blank vocab questions. You’ll have to use both your reading comprehension skills and your vocab knowledge to answer the questions correctly. But there’s also another challenge: the format of the questions can be tricky all by itself.

Okay, it’s not quite that bad. But it’s still helpful to get to know the format in advance. In this lesson, we’ll go through the sentence equivalence question format step by step, with illustrations, so you can actually figure out what you’re supposed to be trying to do. Even if it seems completely impossible at first, don’t give up: it gets a lot easier once you start doing practice questions of your own.

The Rules

Before digging into an example question, we’ll just walk you through the question format so you have a basic idea of what you’re trying to do. On each sentence equivalence question, this is what you’ll get:

‘Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a(n) campaign to dissolve their credibility.

A. Clandestine B. Empirical C. Improvident D. Surreptitious E. Censorious F. Spurious’

Each question gives you one sentence, with one blank and six possible words to go in the blank. Of those six answer choices, there are two that you could plug into the sentence to make the sentence as a whole mean the same thing. Those two are the correct answers, and your job is to identify both of them. You don’t get any partial credit; you have to correctly identify both of the words.

Example Question

Now let’s walk through this question to see how you can approach that format strategically. When you tackle sentence equivalence questions, everyone’s first instinct is to do something like this:

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a clandestine campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched an empirical campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched an improvident campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a surreptitious campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a censorious campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a spurious campaign to dissolve their credibility.

That’s a natural instinct, but it’s not actually the most strategic way to go about answering sentence equivalence questions. For one thing, it takes forever: you’ll have to compare every possible answer to every other possible answer. For the math nerds in the audience, that gives you 15 different combinations of sentences that you have to compare, which is way more sentences than you have time to deal with. A better strategy is to mine the sentence for clues and start by eliminating answer choices that way.

‘Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a(n) campaign to dissolve their credibility.’

This sentence is contrasting the ‘ campaign’ to ‘openly denouncing.’ ‘Clandestine’ means ‘hidden,’ so we’ll keep that. So does ‘surreptitious,’ so we’ll keep that too. But ‘empirical,’ ‘improvident,’ ‘censorious’ and ‘spurious’ don’t fit with the clues in the sentence (if you don’t know what those words mean, look them up yourself and add them to your vocab list).

That tells us right away that the two most likely answers are A and D, because those are the two that fit best into the sentence. But remember that it’s not about which two words mean the same thing; it’s about which two words make the sentence mean the same thing. So, we’ll plug our answers into the sentence to check.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a clandestine campaign to dissolve their credibility.

Rather than openly denouncing his opponents, the mayor launched a surreptitious campaign to dissolve their credibility.

These sentences both make sense, and they both mean the same thing, so these two are our answers - answers we found without going through all six words and plugging them in. You might argue that the campaign could also be ‘spurious,’ or false. That’s true, and ‘spurious’ plausibly works in the sentence, but there isn’t any other word in the answer choices that would fit with ‘spurious’ to create a sentence equivalent in meaning. And besides, there are no clues in the sentence to suggest ‘spurious’ as the answer, so surreptitious and clandestine fit better.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you learned how to tackle the format of sentence equivalence questions on the GRE. In these questions, you’ll get one question with one blank and six answer choices. Your job is to pick two of the answer choices so that you create two sentences that both make sense and both mean the same thing.

When you’re working on these questions, don’t try to plug in all six answer choices and then compare them all to each other. That takes way too long, and it’s not necessary. Instead, look for clues in the sentence that tell you what the blank will mean, and cross off answer choices that don’t make sense. This will narrow down your potential answer choices, and you’ll have a much easier time deciding among the remaining answers.

How well do you really know the sentence equivalence format? Are you ready to start practicing? Now test your knowledge on the quiz.

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