A Guide to Skipping Questions on the GRE: Part 2

Part 2: Identifying the Skippers


As I discussed in Part 1 of this blog post, skipping is probably the single most important strategy you can use on the GRE. While it’s easy to recognize some questions as “skippers,” in other cases, it’s not easy to know when to skip. Here’s a guide to help you decide when to skip. There are three types of GRE questions that you should consider skipping.

Important note: On this blog, every time I say skip, I mean guess, mark the question, and move on.

Data Questions

Data questions usually come in one set of 3 questions on a single data set.  Of all the questions on the GRE, the last 1 or 2 of this set often (but not always) take the longest amount of time to solve. This is because you first have to figure out what the question is asking. Then, in many cases, you have to sort through lots of data to find the information you need, often synthesizing elements from different parts of the data set. And finally, when you solve the question, you sometimes find that you haven’t actually answered the question—the question is actually asking for a percent change from a different base number than you have calculated. If you’ve been prepping for the GRE for a while, you’ve almost certainly been through this process and seen this type of question. Skip it fast and come back to it!

Reading Questions

In most cases, Reading Comprehension questions take longer than vocabulary questions, even three-blank vocabulary questions, so I always skip the Reading questions and do them last. If you’ve done well on the first Verbal section, the passages you see on the second one are likely to be challenging and difficult to understand. The questions are more involved. If you’ve thoroughly prepped your vocabulary words with our vocab app (as our students no doubt have!) you can do the vocabulary questions much more quickly.

Three-blank Sentence Equivalence Questions

Three-blank sentence equivalence questions, the ones where the answer choices are in boxes and multiple answers can be correct, also usually take a long time. Consider skipping these questions and doing them last.

Difficult Questions

Skipping hard questions seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually the hardest strategy to follow because, in many cases, you don’t know a question is difficult until you have actually worked at it for a while. And when you’ve worked on a difficult Math question for a while, you’re invested in it. Part of you knows you can crack that question. This is where the 2-minute hard stop rule comes in. If you haven’t cracked a difficult question in 2 minutes, and you are not almost done, you need to move on! Yes, you could probably solve that question. But, if you’re in the middle of the section, there are almost certainly several easier questions to come, ones that you could do more quickly. Guess quickly, mark the question and circle your work on your scratch paper, and move on.

Feel Good While Skipping – skipping means you take charge of your test.

Remember: The ability to skip questions is the biggest gift the GRE gives you. A GMAT test taker would give up a pinkie fingers for this gift. Use your gift early and often, and every time you skip a question, especially after you’ve spent 2 minutes on it before skipping, give yourself a pat on the back!


Contact Marks Education for a free 30-minute consultation to discuss the GRE, your study plan, and how we can help you improve your scores.

Latest Posts