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GRE Sentence Equivalence


Sentence Equivalence questions have vague instructions (“select exactly two words that best complete the sentence and produce sentences that are alike in meaning”): even though the Revised GRE has debuted, many are still scratching their heads, wondering what the difference is between synonymous sentences and synonyms.

Even if a Sentence Equivalence question is straightforward, you may suddenly find yourself  unsure of how to proceed. What if three answer choices work? Two of them are synonyms, and one of them isn’t. You feel, however, that one of the synonyms somewhat works in the sentence, but the one lone word that does not have a synonym amongst the answer choices works even better. What, then, is the answer?

Here are some good strategies for dealing with Sentence Equivalence questions:

  • Always look for synonyms.
  • If you can’t find any synonyms amongst the answer choices, given you know the definition of every word, then the correct answers will be non-synonyms.
  • If you do not know a few of the words, do not just pick two words because they create synonymous sentences.
  • Choose a word you do not know, and match it with one of the answer choices that work.
  • If the above sounds like a gamble, that’s because approaching Sentence Equivalence, in terms of guessing, is so complex, at least compared to the old GRE’s one in five answer choices. Essentially, you will want to do anything to increase the odds of guessing correctly. And, to do so, the steps above will be your most helpful strategy.
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