GRE Vocabulary building - Tips and Techniques
The Verbal section of GRE comprising the Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence sections requires you to have a strong vocabulary. This is imperative, if you wish to score high in the GRE Verbal section and boost your overall GRE score.
Instead of learning words by rote there are a number of methods that can help you remember them easily and effectively, thus improving your GRE Vocabulary. We have formulated one such highly effective method that has helped thousands of students learn GRE words and master GRE vocabulary to score high in GRE Verbal and improve their overall GRE score.
This following “3 Stages Technique” will help you learn & retain words easily and boost your GRE vocabulary.
The first stage or the stranger stage is when you’re not familiar with the word. You learn the meaning of the word and its usage. Repeated exposure to the word will help you develop familiarity with the word.
The second stage or the acquaintance stage is when you can differentiate the word from similar other words. There are many scenarios when words might seem similar, but there is a difference in the context in which they are employed.
The third stage or the friend stage is when you have learned and added the word to your GRE vocabulary. This means that you can recollect the word and use it in your regular speech or writing.
Why should I learn the word thoroughly instead of learning just the meaning?
To answer this question, let’s have a look at three words, how they differ, and why it is important to know more than just the meaning.
The 3 words are:
So, let’s go into detail starting from the meaning of the words.
Wisdom is the knowledge of an individual, learned from life or of a group, learned collectively. For example, the wisdom of Native American communities in coping with their environment is collective wisdom and the wisdom of a saint is individual wisdom.
Erudition is academic knowledge. For example: Prof. Smith's erudition in Economics makes him a frontrunner for the Nobel Prize.
Acumen is knowledge gained through practice of a profession. For example: Will, a person of a strong literary acumen, has composed many poems.
Now imagine that you get these three words as options in Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence questions. If you are not aware of the subtle differences between these words, they would all seem the same to you. You will not know which word will suit which context best. Only when you know the words well enough, can you distinguish between them and use the right words in the right places.
Wouldn’t you like to take up your GRE exam armed with such knowledge and confidence?
It is possible if you learn and master the GRE Vocabulary the right way.
That brings us to one of the most frequently asked questions:
How do I build a strong vocabulary?
Apart from the above-mentioned 3-stage technique that can aid you in learning, retaining, and mastering GRE Vocabulary, there are some other practices that can maximize your word learning capacity.
Listed here are a number of resources for GRE Vocabulary building.
In the initial stages of your GRE Vocabulary preparation, this exercise might take time. But as your GRE Vocabulary grows, you will develop familiarity with many words and learn words much faster.
Regular reading habit will give you better exposure to GRE words. The more you read the more familiar you will be with the words. We suggest that you read editorials, essays, and opinion pages of prominent newspapers and magazines, many of which are easily available online.
2. Use the words
It is not enough if you just learn the meanings of words and the synonyms/ antonyms. Keep using the words in sentences of your own; use the words in regular conversations with your friends and peers. This practice reinforces your understanding. One of the most effective features of GREedge is that you are allowed to post your sentences and share them with other GRE aspirants, using the theme-based GRE Wordlist. You can also see what other students have written. This will strengthen your vocabulary for GRE in no time.
Most aspirants look at GRE Vocabulary building as a futile and tiring effort and that no good can come out of it. However, it is far from the truth. Vocabulary once developed is a permanent asset. It will be useful for you not only in answering the GRE Verbal section but also in your future endeavors, irrespective of the career option you choose. So stop looking at it as a burden and start enjoying the process!
There are few other frequently asked questions:
a) How long does it take to develop a good GRE vocabulary?
It depends on your current level of preparation, mastery over GRE words, and your reading habits.
If you have a strong exposure to English, 2–3 months of preparation can improve your GRE Vocabulary and help you score very high in the Verbal section.
If you have an average grasp of English, start 6–8 months before your target GRE date to master GRE Vocabulary. We would also recommend the book, Word Power Made Easy, by Norman Lewis, to develop basic vocabulary. You can build on that by reading an article or two every day from a reputed newspaper. This regimen will help you master GRE Vocabulary.
If you have a year, you are at a great advantage. In addition to learning words in the manner described above, develop the habit of reading articles regularly on various topics (politics, history, arts, literature, economics, sociology etc).
b) How do I start?
Start with the GREedge online GRE Vocabulary sessions in the Learning Tracker. When you complete about 10–15 sessions, use the theme-based wordlist to learn more words from themes that you find interesting. Continue to work on your online sessions regularly.
c) How do I retain the words that I have learnt?
If you are not regularly using or revising the new words you've learned, you will eventually forget them. There is no substitute for regular revision. Creating customized flashcards is a good option. You can download wordlists on your mobile phone and learn on the go.
d) Do you need to learn words for the new pattern? It does not contain Antonyms and Analogy questions.
It is true that the new pattern of GRE does not have Antonym and Analogy question types. However, Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions in the new GRE pattern require as much vocabulary, if not more, and that too from an application perspective, that is, how well a word fits in the context provided by a partially complete sentence.
You could try out sample questions at the ETS site and decide the level of preparation that you need.
e) How many words should I learn to get a good score?
It is not just the number of words, but also how well you know them. We would suggest you aim to learn about 2500–3000 words in depth. If you have time, keep adding new words to your vocabulary. Every new word will help.
f) What if I am running out of time?
If you’re running out of time, it’s better to focus on learning the 600–700 high-frequency words. Completing at least 15–20 sessions in the GREedge Learning Tracker, can immensely boost your confidence and help you score high in GRE.
g) Could you give me sample articles/essays that I could read online?
Sure, please find the links below. We suggest you go through them and check out the articles regularly to gain more insight and eventually mastery over GRE Vocabulary.
Now, that you know all the methods and techniques to learn GRE words, you are ready to begin exercise. Stretch those grey cells and start learning.
Happy mastering GRE vocabulary!