GRE English

Skills Required in the English Language

An admission requirement for many business as well as graduate programs around the globe, the revised General Test of GRE is an exam that measures your skills in quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. This general test does not evaluate your knowledge or cognitions in any of the subject areas like Chemistry, Physics, or Literature. However, it is important that you prove your communication skills and the working knowledge of English as required by graduate level programs. Read on to find more on English language test - what is expected and how do you prepare?

English Sections of the GRE revised General Test

Two sections of the revised General Test are designed to measure your skills in English language in the key areas of written expression, reading comprehension, information analysis and critical thinking abilities:

  • Verbal Reasoning: The revised format of this section includes new question types to check your ability at understanding written information and applying reason. The English skills tested in this section include:
    • Ability to analyze and understand a given discourse/passage and draw conclusions, by understanding different levels of meanings, assumptions, and viewpoints present in it.
    • Ability to identify important points in a given text, and summarize the information present.
  • Analytical Writing: This part of the test evaluates your ability to write precisely and effectively in response to the given task or context. Accordingly, the English skills tested in this section include:
    • Ability to verbalize ideas unambiguously, effectively, coherently, and precisely, and whenever required, support your points with relevant examples and rationale.
    • Ability and skills to analyze claims presented in the given text, by looking at accompanying evidences.
    • Ability to use English correctly and as per the accepted standards of usage.

    For more information on the English content of the test, visit the official GRE website (

    Question Types and the Required English Skills

    The question types in the revised General Test Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections are designed to reflect the purpose of assessing your language skills. The English question types include comprehension, text completion, and sentence equivalence types in the Verbal Reasoning part; and analysis type in the Writing part. While some of the questions require you to select the only correct answer from a group of options, some others require that you choose all the correct answers from a given lot of options.

    It is important that you have the right English skills polished to answer the tasks in the test:

    • Excellent active reading skills - which include the ability and skills to understand the meanings of words, phrases, expressions, idioms, and sentences, by way of understanding both their literal and figurative meanings. You also require the ability to grasp the overall meaning and context of the given texts, which may be from different areas like Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Business.
    • Ability to summarize or rewrite given information from different areas, some of which might be unfamiliar to you.
    • Good reading comprehension and analytical skills or the ability to analyze given information and reach conclusions based on it, sometimes based on incomplete data.
    • Ability to develop alternative lines of thoughts or expressions, by questioning, formulating and reflecting on related factors.
    • Excellent vocabulary to understand passages and to write essay answers clearly and coherently.

    Achieving the Required GRE English Skills

    Now that you have an understanding of the kinds of English questions and the skills required to answer them, you should focus on improving your language skills and abilities for the test tasks:

    • As we have seen, an excellent vocabulary can help you in improving your reading comprehension as well as writing clearly. There are many ways in which you can improve your English vocabulary - by using English word lists in the test, flash cards, and mnemonics, by playing word games, and by reading voraciously.
    • You may familiarize yourself with the revised General Test question types, by going through previous question papers, official practice materials, and other reliable sources. This can provide you with an idea of what to expect on the test day and be prepared accordingly.
    • Practice maketh perfect. Practicing is very important for improving your English skills. You may do this by focusing on the relevant English tasks like writing, reading comprehension, analysis, and summarizing.
    • You may also want to join a preparation program for improving your English skills for the test.

    This test being a standardized admission test requires that you prove your English communication skills and abilities within the stipulated time. In addition, improving your English skills can have far-reaching positive effects on your career and personal life. So, why not take GRE as an alibi and change your life now?!