GRE Text Completion

On text completion questions on the GRE, you will be provided with either a single sentence or up to five sentences with one, two, or three words omitted, and you'll need to select from the answer choices the word or set of words that best fit the overall meaning of the text.

All of the answer choices are independent of one another. In other words, if there are three blanks, you will be offered three columns with three answer choices in each column. Each column corresponds to a specific blank. This way, your answer choice for blank one will not affect your answer choice for blank two or blank three.

The goal of these types of questions is to test your abilities to reason and evaluate context and meaning. If you are given a passage with multiple sentences, and you are asked to select the "best" word or set of words from among the word choices, you need to be able to have a sense of the passage’s underlying meaning and claims. Thus, having a strong handle on vocabulary is not enough; you need to be able to interpret meaning from the words given, attempting to formulate a specific message. At times this can be tricky because the answer choices may all seem irrelevant or not as good a fit as you might imagine.

Luckily, there are certain tactics that you can employ to help you weed out poor answer choices. Such tactics include:

  • Try to arrive at the answer BEFORE you look at the answer choices.
  • Look for key words that indicate a shift or a continuation or support of a certain idea.
  • When dealing with a passage with more than one blank, try to get a sense of the overall passage and then focus on each blank individually.

To help you prepare for the text completion questions on the GRE test, the following tactics are discussed in this section:

Brief Overview of the Structure of Text Completion Question Types

A text completion question will include a passage made up of one to five sentences with one to three blanks. If there is more than one blank, each blank will have three answer choices (the blanks have individual columns and answer choices, and do not interfere with each other); if the passage contains only one blank, there will be five answer choices.