The Importance of Argumentation on the GRE

GRE prep | Verbal | Webinar | GRE | Studying


Importance of Argumentation on the GRE

GRE Verbal comprises three distinct question types:

  1. Text Completion
  2. Sentence Equivalence
  3. Reading Comprehension

Preparation for Text Completion and Sentence Correction problems tends to be centered on studying vocabulary and on learning how to extract context clues and predict the meanings of the blanks accurately. 

However, you might wonder how to effectively prepare for Reading Comp. On the GRE, Reading Comp is an umbrella term that covers a range of question types that test different skills. Passages fall into three categories:

  1. Long form reading comprehension: a 300-400 word passage followed by 4 questions
  2. Medium length reading comprehension: a 150-300 word passage followed by 2-3 questions
  3. Short form reading comprehension: a passage of fewer than 150 words followed by 1 question

On the GRE, the short- and medium- length passages frequently test principles of argumentation. Argumentation on the GRE refers to the task of supporting a claim (conclusion) with facts provided to back it up (premises). It is essential that students master the fundamentals of argumentation to succeed on the GRE, both on the Verbal sections and on the Analytical Writing Measure.


Overview of Families and Question Types

These GRE short- and medium- form reading comprehension questions, which test argumentation, also follow set patterns. At PowerScore, we group them into four families based on task and flow of information. 

Four Question Families (2)

On the GRE, the "Prove" family is the most common, followed by the "Help" and "Hurt" families. "Disprove" questions are rare.


Examples of GRE Argument Question Tasks

Must Be True (Family #1)

  • "It can be inferred from the passage that the beneficial nematodes perform which of the following functions? Select all that apply."
  • "The passage suggests which of the following about the effects of cardiovascular exercise?"

Main Point (Family #1)

  • "Which of the following best expresses the main point of the passage?"
  • "Which one of the following best expresses the main conclusion of the author's argument?"

Resolve the Paradox (Family #2)

  • "Which of the following would best contribute to an explanation of the difficulty proponents of a more activist judiciary encounter when campaigning for office?"

Strengthen (Family #2)

  • "Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?"
  • "Which of the following would be most helpful to bolstering the author's predictions about the future of neuroscience?"

Weaken (Family #3)

  • "Which one of the following, if true, most undermines the argument?"

Method of Reasoning (Family #1)

  • "In the passage, the two highlighted statements serve which of the following purposes?"
  • "Select the sentence that serves to bolster a claim made in the passage."

In addition, on recent GRE tests another question type, Evaluate the Argument, has become more common. This question combines features of the Help and Hurt families. We discuss it in depth here.


Elements of Argumentation Webinar

To help get your GRE Verbal preparation off to a great start, PowerScore has developed an Elements of Argumentation Webinar to introduce you to key concepts you must grasp to succeed on this portion of the exam. Registration is free! All who attend will receive a recording of the seminar along with a discount code good for our GRE courses. We hope you will join us!

GRE Argumentation Webinar

If you have more questions about GRE preparation, we encourage you to register for and visit our free GRE forum, where you can receive expert advice and answers to your GRE questions.