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GRE Vocabulary

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GRE Vocabulary [#permalink] New post 30 Oct 2017, 16:42
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GRE Vocabulary

"How many vocab words should I learn in my GRE prep?" This is an excellent question, but one without a definitive or simple answer.
You need to know words and their contextual usage in order to score well in GRE. However, there is a tonne of resources available online and it is extremely difficult to navigate the plethora of material without being lost. But we are here to the rescue! We went through the gruelling task of analysing days of content available online so you don't have to waste precious preparation time.

In this post we have classified all the materials available freely online in small medium and large sets. Furthermore we have divided up the resource into audio, video, and lists and apps.

Is vocabulary tested on GRE?
The GRE verbal reasoning section is most difficult and requires maximum preparation (Good vocabulary is key to success). GRE Verbal exam has questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, Sentence Equivalence. Each of these questions require you to have certain amount of grasp over the meaning of tough words.

For example:

Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterize the work as __________.

A. orthodox
B. eccentric
C. original
D. trifling
E. conventional
F. innovative


The word "Although" is a crucial signpost here. The work contains some pioneering ideas, but apparently it is not overall a pioneering work. Thus the two words that could fill the blank appropriately are "original" and "innovative." Note that "orthodox" and "conventional" are two words that are very similar in meaning, but neither one completes the sentence sensibly.

Thus the correct answer is Choice C (original) and Choice F (innovative).

In this case, you would need to know the meanings and contextual usage of the words "orthodox" and "conventional" in order to complete the task.

How to best prepare vocabulary for the GRE?

Know where you are starting from.(Take a GRE Practice test)
Beginning your test prep without knowing where your starting point is, and knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, is less than ideal. Taking a smple GRE test helps because a tangible benchmark helps to put things into perspective, especially as the GRE uses words that are not normally used on an everyday basis. Do you need a little vocab work or do you need a lot?

Context matters!
GRE questions come in two forms namely, simple words with complex sentences, and tricky words in straightforward sentences. Just knowing the proper definition of a word does not guarantee a right answer! The test-makers enjoy presenting students with deceptive syntax without the ability to parse the sentence as a whole, no amount of flashcard time or high scores on vocab apps would be of any significant help. Practicing actual GRE questions is just as important as learning vocabulary

Club the synonyms and antonyms together
In the example question above "orthodox" and "conventional" have similar meaning. Now clubbing them together and studying them would help us identify possible options faster (or eleminate as in the example above).Surely, each synonym has its own specific shade of meaning, but you can—and should—group words together that mean the same thing.As we also tend to think in opposites too, it may be easier to remember words in terms of synonyms AND antonyms. We always remember hot with cold, black with white, good with bad, so even with more complex words it may be easier to remember both synonyms and antonyms.

Learning roots

Learning roots of words speeds up the learnig process as they help with the understanding of structure of words.
Take the root "path." It's from Greek, and it means "feelings." Once we know this, we can attach almost any affix in the language to create larger concepts.
Pathos - Full of feelings
Apathy - Without feelings (a means not or without)
Antipathy - To have feelings against something (anti means versus/against)
Empathy - To share feelings with another (em means in)

What are some of the mistakes people make with learning vocabulary?

  • Memorizing words with no context: More than the words itself the usage and the context matters! Memorizing vast lists of words won't help unless we know the appropriate usage!
  • Starting to use words before you understand it: We need to understand the explanation before we start using the word in sentences. Practicing will definitely increase our understanding, but if we practice with no idea behind it, its of limited use.
  • Size does not matter: While it is important to learn as many words as possible that alone would not be sufficient! Rather than focusing on size we need to look at the quality of our understanding. Obsessing over size of our word list is counter productive!

How long does it take to prepare vocabulary?
It is a good question, but without a concrete answer. We need to stop counting our flashcards and looking at the clock, and concentrate on working smarter, not harder. Vocabulary preparation is in tandem with standard verbal preparation and hence we need not allocate separate time for the same. Furthermore, it is very important to reinforce the learning from the word list with practice of GRE Verbal questions.

Building vocabulary is the most basic thing in learning any new language. This is the foundation all your English knowledge rests upon! In the following sections we discuss some good resources for learning GRE vocabulary. The list has been divided into LARGE (500+), MEDIUM (100 to 500) AND SMALL (Less than 100)

Audio Resources

  • Another good option is Magooshes GRE wordlist from
    Magoosh brings out an excellent list of GRE words based on the frequency of their appearance on the tests! At 1000 odd words, this is hands down one of the strongest list with audio avilable online!

    You need to invest serious time to go through the entire list and unsuitable for last minute brush ups!
    If you like a large interactive discussion to stimulate learning then video resources are the way to go!
  • Well if listening is your thing then you have to check out the GROCKIT GRE Vocab list from youtube! (SMALL)
    The best feature of this list is the fact that the words are classified by meaning as opposed to alphabetical order that makes them easier to memorize. Most of the words are adjectives and verbs. There are only 50 odd words in the list Best way to use this is either at the very beginning of the prep to built a foundation quickly or at the very last as a hail merry! The main purpose of this list is understanding how to contextually group words by meaning and or usage.

Video Resources

  • MAGOOSH GRE Wordlist videos from Youtube! (LARGE)
    Probably the best GRE vocabulary video resource available online! Engaging content Magoosh faculty members.

    The list is very large and it would take a long time to finish all the videos! Careful planning is necessary for using this resource to the fullest!
  • Other Video Lists on Youtube!
    There are many such videos list and some of them have engaging content! However most of them are rather old and their content has not been updated for afew years!
    It would be wise not to use such lists recklessly!


There are a very large number of GRE APPs on the Market most of them are free. Here are a selection of top used Apps!


1. GRE Daily Vocabulary: Every day, they will provide you with an Economist passage that features a common GRE vocabulary word, plus its synonyms and definition. Reading vocabulary in context rather than cramming definitions, and The Economist is one of the publications most frequently cited for doing so. We can save words to review later and flip through our archive to see words from past days.

2. Manhattan Prep — GRE: Complete GRE App rather than a word meaning app! Has 500 most frequent GRE words but the best feature is the ability to practice newly learned words directly on the same app.

3. GRE Flashcards by Magoosh:This app gives us free access to all of Magoosh’s GRE flash cards. We can sign in with a Magoosh account (or create a new one) to save your progress to the web. 1000 most important GRE words with our highly rated free flashcards for our Android phone.

4. GRE® Flashcards by Kaplan: They can create customized card sets, see statistics on your performance, and more as you get ready for test day. Cards include vocabulary words, definitions, synonyms, sample sentences, and pronunciation help.

5. Barron's 1100 for GRE

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Re: GRE Vocabulary [#permalink] New post 31 Oct 2017, 08:24
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Bumping up the post so would be easy to find :-)

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Re: GRE Vocabulary [#permalink] New post 05 Nov 2017, 10:47
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Great as it looks.


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Re: GRE Vocabulary [#permalink] New post 22 Jul 2018, 02:59
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Re: GRE Vocabulary [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2019, 18:37
Great post
Re: GRE Vocabulary   [#permalink] 20 Jan 2019, 18:37
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GRE Vocabulary

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