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How to Learn GRE Vocabulary

The GRE Verbal section is killer. There isn’t a specific GRE Vocabulary section – vocabulary is a part of everything. The four types of questions, (antonyms, reading comprehension, analogies and sentence completions) are chock full of vocabulary words, ones you just don’t typically use in every day life.

So how do you prepare? Take practice GRE Verbal tests and learn as many GRE vocabulary words as is humanly possible before the test. Your GRE score will thank you. Here’s how:

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 3-6 months
Here’s How:

Memorize GRE Vocabulary Word Lists.

If 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. How you do that is, of course, up to you. You could make flashcards, have someone quiz you, print sheets and repeat ten a day up until quiz time. Just make sure you understand the words in context, too.

Memorize GRE Vocabulary Word Groups:

If your memory is good, but you don’t have the time to devote to learning 1,500 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.

Memorize Greek and Latin Roots:

Here, 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.

Play Vocabulary Games

Although 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 the following sites a try. Some of them, like, even offer humanitarian aid the longer you play.


Make vocabulary flashcards the right way, the first time.
Use mnemonic devices to help you memorize word groups.
Set your word group to music to help you learn it faster.
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. The stove is stupefying) Then, mentally walk through the rooms, one by one, and visualize the words and their definitions.
Create a picture page for the words that keep eluding you.
What You Need:

GRE word lists
Lists of Greek and Latin Roots
GRE Word Groups
3 X 5 Cards