How Text Completion/Sentence Equivalence Questions Work on the GRE

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

On the GRE, Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions hold all the clues you need to answer them correctly. By using key strategies and avoiding common mistakes, you can breeze through these questions and rack up points in a hurry.

Because Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions are so similar, the strategy is the same for both:

  • Text Completion. A Text Completion question consists of a sentence or paragraph with one, two, or three blank spaces for a missing word(s) or phrase(s). Following the sentence or paragraph are choices for filling in the blank(s): five choices if the sentence has only one blank or three choices for each blank if the sentence has two or three blanks. Your job is to choose the most suitable word or words. Although all the answers may sound okay in the sentence, only one is correct for each blank. If the text contains more than one blank, you don’t get partial credit for choosing only one correct word.

  • Sentence Equivalence. A Sentence Equivalence question 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, and, as with the Text Completion questions, you don’t get partial credit for choosing only one of the correct words.

The following at-a-glance table shows you what to expect from the variations of Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence questions. Don’t worry about mixing this up: On the GRE, the numbers of blanks and choices for the Text Completion questions are obvious, and Sentence Equivalence questions with too few or too many answers selected are marked “Incomplete” in the review screen following the Verbal section, which means you can go back and correct them with the time remaining on the section.

Question Type Blanks Choices per Blank Choose Total
Text Completion 3 3 3
2 3 2
1 5 1
Sentence Equivalence 1 6 2

The questions are always preceded by directions, such as “For each blank, select one entry” or “Select two answer choices.” Also, the one-answer questions allow you to select only one answer, and the two-answer questions allow you to select more than one.