4 Methods to Learn GRE Vocabulary

Learn GRE Vocabulary with these 4 methods
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The GRE Verbal section is a killer. Not only do you need to master the reading comprehension questions, you need to knock the sentence equivalence questions and text completions out of the ballpark. The key to doing the latter? Practice the Verbal section, of course, but also learn GRE vocabulary. Although you'll never have to find the antonym of synonym  of a word out of context, you will need to be able to determine the meaning of vocabulary words in context, which can get really tricky if you want to know the truth.


4 Ways to Learn GRE Vocabulary

So what's the very best way to learn GRE Vocabulary? There's actually a few different things you can do to ensure your mastery of new vocabulary words, but all require that you use repetition, time, and application for . 

  1. Memorize GRE Vocabulary Word ListsIf your memory is impeccable and you have a lot of time before the test, just go for the whole kit and caboodle – memorize a GRE vocabulary word list. Grockit's list of the top 52 GRE vocabulary words is a great place to start. Now how you memorize that list including the definitions and usage in context is up to you. Personal favorite techniques include things like making flashcards either on an app or (gasp!) with real 3x5 cards; bumming some quiz sessions off a really good friend; posting up the list and definitions and repeating the words ten times a day until quiz time; or a dozen other methods that can help sink those suckers into your brain. Just make sure you understand the words in context, too. No vocabulary words is an island. 

  1. Memorize GRE Vocabulary Word Groups: If your memory is good, but you don't have the time to devote to learning a zillion words or so, then try memorizing word groups. What's a word group? It's a small list of words (10 or so) arranged by theme into subcategories. So instead of memorizing words like acclaim, accolade and venerate in isolation, you'd remember that they all fall under the theme of "praise," and suddenly, they're easier to remember. Kaplan's list is pretty amazing and can help you learn GRE vocabulary in no time flat. 

  1. Memorize Greek and Latin RootsHere, you're getting the most bang for your buck. Learning one root means learning 5-10 words or more in one shot. For example, if you can remember that the root "ambul" means "to go", then you also know that words like amble, ambulatory, perambulator, and somnambulist have something to do with going somewhere. Get it?

    On the GRE, you don't necessarily have to know the entire definition of the word. You simply have to be able to rule out an answer choice. If you know even part of an unfamiliar word, you'll have a much better chance of getting the answer right. Genius.

  2. Play Vocabulary GamesAlthough playing online vocabulary games isn't the most efficient way to learn GRE vocabulary words, the games are fun and they'll help your score more than playing on Facebook will. Give a GRE vocabulary app or online game a try. Some of them, like FreeRice.com, even offer humanitarian aid the longer you play. If you go to FreeRice.com, though, be sure to select a difficult level. No cheating!


  1. Make vocabulary flashcards the right way, the first time.
  2. Use mnemonic devices to help you memorize word groups.
  3. Set your word group to music to help you learn it faster.
  4. Set up a mental "memory house": Mentally, assign one word and its definition to various rooms and objects in your house. (The mirror is monastic. Picture a monk standing in front of the mirror. The stove is stupefying. Imagine yourself standing amazed in front of a perfect dinner.) Then, mentally walk through the rooms, one by one, and visualize the words and their definitions.
  1. Create a picture page for the words that keep eluding you.
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Roell, Kelly. "4 Methods to Learn GRE Vocabulary." ThoughtCo, Jan. 12, 2018, thoughtco.com/gre-vocabulary-learning-methods-3211980. Roell, Kelly. (2018, January 12). 4 Methods to Learn GRE Vocabulary. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/gre-vocabulary-learning-methods-3211980 Roell, Kelly. "4 Methods to Learn GRE Vocabulary." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/gre-vocabulary-learning-methods-3211980 (accessed January 22, 2018).