GRE Sample Questions: Sentence Equivalence

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

A Sentence Equivalence question on the GRE consists of a single sentence with exactly one word missing and six answer choices. You’re required to select the two words that fit the sentence and mean the same thing. Here are a few examples for you to try.

Sample questions

Directions: Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning as a whole and produce two completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

  1. A successful business-process ________ designed to streamline existing operations will, by its nature, also support the company’s strategic planning.

    (A) reaction

    (B) management

    (C) plan

    (D) initiative

    (E) supply chain

    (F) method

  2. The sea tortoise, though lumbering and slow on land, can move with ________ speed and agility in water.

    (A) surprising

    (B) actual

    (C) according

    (D) defiant

    (E) unexpected

    (F) unequivocal

  3. Dismayed by the ________ evidence available to her, the defense attorney spent her own money to hire a private investigator to acquire additional evidence.

    (A) dearth of

    (B) scanty

    (C) vestigial

    (D) immense

    (E) concrete

    (F) impartial

Answers and explanations

  1. The correct answers are Choices (C) and (D).

    Is this business-process thing a new event or ongoing? That it’s designed to affect “existing operations” tells you that it doesn’t currently exist and is therefore new. Look for words that suggest an early phase of development. Reaction obviously doesn’t fit. Management and supply chain are business-sounding words that don’t suggest anything new. Method also isn’t distinctly new (a method could have been around for a while). The words plan and initiative suggest something in the early stages of development.

  2. The correct answers are Choices (A) and (E).

    If the tortoise is lumbering and slow on land, wouldn’t you expect it to be slow in water, too? The crocodile, for example, is fast and nimble in either environment. In this sentence, however, the transition word though tells you that the tortoise’s speed and agility in water is a surprise. The words actual, according, defiant, and unequivocal (straightforward) don’t suggest any sort of surprise.

  3. The correct answers are Choices (A) and (B).

    Predict words to fit in the blanks. If the attorney is dismayed by the evidence and hires an investigator to get more evidence, she must not have had much evidence to begin with. You can predict that the first word means not very much. Scanty means barely sufficient, and a dearth of is a lack of, which are the only two choices that fit the blank.

    As for the remaining words, vestigial means functionless after much of the original has disappeared; for example, the tailbone of humans is a vestigial tail. Immense means large, just the opposite of what you want. Concrete, in this context, means irrefutable; again, the opposite of what you want. Impartial evidence is neutral, neither good nor bad, which has nothing to do with the amount of evidence.