Step By Step GRE Practice Problems


GRE Step By Step Solutions

I taught GRE and LSAT for several years at Pagoda Academy in Seoul, one of the largest test-prep companies in South Korea and during that time. I helped many Korean students who spoke English as a Second Language achieve significant improvements in scores thanks to shortcuts and techniques I developed (after 4 years of studying for the LSAT) to get a 99th percentile on the June 2016 LSAT (my 5th try). 

Below, I’ll provide my shorthand notes for the free GRE Practice Test available in the link below. 

In our tutoring session, you’ll receive much more detailed notes for the questions we cover, including why incorrect answers are wrong (which I don’t cover below).

The GRE can be difficult -- but please remember that if you speak English as a first language, you’re in a much more advantageous position than many GRE test-takers around the world.

C’est la vie?

Download your GRE Practice Test 

You can do so here!

Below you'll find my mental mapping (step-by-step instructions) for section 4 (Verbal) Odd # Question Explanations

Symbol Key


Rectangle         =         Key Clue

Circle               =         Important 



  1. Put a rectangle around “:” and a circle around “not outspoken” and “rather than.”
  2. The colon is the key clue.
  3. What function does a colon serve on GRE?
  4. To expand upon a point.
  5. “not outspoken” and “rather than” tell you that it’s parallel construction.
  6. What question type is this?
  7. Synonym + Parallel Construction
  8. The blank should match “outspoken on political matters.”
  9. (A) precisely matches that definition. 


  1. Put a rectangle around “has grown” and “:”
  2. What question type is this?
  3. Cause and Effect.
  4. Now, put a circle around “critics charge” and the second “_______”
  5. The two should be similar in meaning due to the placement of “:”
  6. Which word comes closest to criticism?
  7. (E), panned, means to criticize harshly.
  8. (D) and (F) don’t work because that’s not what critics do.
  9. When you see “:” rely on the first clause to deduce the meaning of the second.
  10. The first sentence must present a cause for a delay in inspection.
  11. What relationship with “outside” influence would cause such a delay?
  12. If you’re unaware of outside influence, it would have no effect.
  13. If you’re irritated at outside influence, what effect would the influence have?
  14. If you’re susceptible, then that presents a cause for delaying an inspection.
  15. That’s what makes (A) and (E) the correct answers. 


  1. Put a rectangle around “Because” and “:”
  2. What kind of a question type is this?
  3. It is Cause and Effect.
  4. We know this due to “because” in the beginning.
  5. Now, the colon (“:”) should be thought of as extended description.
  6. Circle “as” and “misled” in the second clause.
  7. The second blank should correspond to “misled” due to parallel construction.
  8. “beguile” is the only choice that comes close in meaning.
  9. The first blank must now be a cause for misleading someone.
  10. “quirkiness” and “maladroitness” are similar in connotation (inadequate).
  11. When two words are similar, they’re usually both incorrect.
  12. (B), “preeminence,” here has the connotation of winning over someone.


  1. Put a rectangle around “come to seem”
  2. The first blank is an antonym
  3. “come to seem” on GRE indicates changed impression, usually the opposite.
  4. Circle “profound.”
  5. The first blank should be the opposite of “profound.”
  6. “banal,” meaning boring, is the opposite of profound.
  7. Put a rectangle around “entirely from.”
  8. The second blank is a cause and effect
  9. When you have something come “entirely from” something else, that’s important.
  10. (d) is the only choice that comes close in meaning.
  11. Put a rectangle around “the more” and “the more” in the last clause.
  12. The third blank is another cause and effect
  13. Circle “uncover” – these are new material of great importance that has yet to be studied.
  14. What would be the effect of such fresh new material?
  15. You would know much less about your subject, which is precisely what (g) captures. 


This is a primary purpose question.

  1. Primary purpose is identified by looking at the main point of each paragraph.
  2. The MP of the first paragraph is line 16 – 21.
  3. The MP of the second paragraph is line 28 – 30.
  4. Next, identify the common denominator.
  5. The MPs of the two paragraphs concern what Carnell argues.
  6. Put a rectangle around “one author’s view” in (B).
  7. Remember that the correct answer must be grounded in a particular point in the passage.


This is a fact question.

Expect the passage to say X and the correct answer to say something categorically synonymous.

  1. Look at line 39 – 45.
  2. Carnell believes that Behn “questioned” a view.
  3. That matches with “should not replicate.”
  4. Circle “passive obedience to the nation’s king”
  5. That matches with “the hierarchical order.”
  6. (B) does not repeat verbatim what the passage says.
  7. Instead, it presents categorically synonymous terms.
  8. GRE always does this. Always be on a lookout for categorically synonymous terms.


This is a fact question.

  1. (A) is found in lines 7-8.
  2. (B) is found in lines 2-3. 


This is an assumption question.

Look for a shift in scope/certainty/quantity from premise to conclusion.

The assumption will result from that shift.

  1. Put a circle around “much higher” in the last sentence, the conclusion.
  2. Put a circle around “attracted to” in the second sentence, the premise.
  3. What is the shift?
  4. All we know from the premise is that something attractive to deer will go up.
  5. From that, the argument concludes the number of deaths will go up.
  6. Always keep in mind that the number of assumptions is infinite.
  7. Assumption here is simply any statement that necessarily results from the conclusion.
  8. For the number of deaths to rise “much higher,” these has to be a “significant” population to begin with.
  9. That’s how we know (d) is an assumption – a true statement begotten from the conclusion.
  10. Think of it this way:
  11. Premise: A new skate park targeting teenagers will be built.
  12. Conclusion: The number of teenage skaters injured will significantly increase.
  13. What if teenagers in the area all move to a different neighborhood?
  14. The number of true statements that necessarily result from the conclusion is infinite. 


  1. Put a rectangle around “when in reality.”
  2. This is an antonym question type.
  3. Put a circle around “limited to.”
  4. The blank should be opposite in meaning to “limited to.”
  5. ubiquitous (C) and universal (E) both express expansion and are therefore correct.


  1. Put a rectangle around “:”
  2. This is a synonym question type.
  3. The second clause expands upon the meaning of the first.
  4. Circle “if the other doubted” and “refrained from.”
  5. The two circles define their relationship: check and balance.
  6. (A) and (D) are the only choices that correspond in meaning. 


This is a Fact question.

  1. Put an A and a circle around it next to line 16 – Author’s view.
  2. This short passage is designed to reject a view, as line 16 indicates.
  3. Where does that view first appear?
  4. It appears directly in line 3.
  5. Therefore, (A) is the correct answer. 


This is a Vocabulary question.

Your answer must rely on contextual clues.

  1. Put a rectangle around “but” and replace it with “and”
  2. Put a circle around “misled” and replace it with “persuade”
  3. You’re looking for something that was not credible and also something that was enough to make it persuade people.
  4. “excellent”(C) and “eminent” (D) look like great choices.
  5. But do they go well with “weakly founded”?
  6. If they’re so “excellent” and “eminent,” how can they said to be “weakly founded”?
  7. The only choice that goes along with “weakly founded” and is still enough to persuade people is “dramatic,” (A)


This is a Fact question.

  1. Circle “relentless frequency” in lines 1-2.
  2. Circle “proportion” in (B).
  3. We already know that there are many portraits showing the stance.
  4. Circle “explanation” in the question.
  5. We need an explanation, not another restating of the fact regarding frequency.

(A) and (C) provide possible explanations for the stance

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