GRE Sentence Equivalence

Sentence Equivalence questions are similar to text completion questions in that you are required to complete a sentence by filling in the blank. However, sentence equivalence questions ask that you select two answer choices—two words that "work" in the same blank spot. Essentially, both words, both answer choices, will be similar in meaning and offer the same kind of idea within the sentence.

The goal of sentence equivalence questions is to test your abilities to reason and interpret context and meaning. For these types of questions, 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 within that sentence. What can be difficult is finding two answer choices that fit in the sentence. But remember, like the text completion questions, there are always tactics to help you through each question:

  • Try to arrive at the answer BEFORE you look at the answer choices. For these question types, synonyms are quite helpful.
  • Look for key words that indicate a shift or a continuation or support of a certain idea.
  • Always re-read your sentence with your chosen answer choices. Listen for grammar, style, logic, and fluidity.

To help you prepare for the sentence equivalence questions on the GRE revised General Exam, the following tactics are discussed in this section:

  • Synonyms: Filling in the Gap
  • Using Key Words
  • When All Else Fails

Brief Overview of the Structure of Sentence Equivalence Question Types

Each sentence equivalence question is composed of one sentence with one blank and six answer choices. For every question, you must provide two answers. The key is recognizing two answers that will imply the same overall meaning.