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GRE verbal is one of the essential parts of your GRE preparation. If prepared well, one can easily score well in the GRE and receive admits from premier colleges. One of the most common aspects amongst all gre Vocabulary preparators is their reliance on vocabulary preparation tools.

How to Learn GRE Vocabulary

These tools primarily work on the concept of rote learning. Such tools continuously display similar words to assist your learning. Else they provide you with a list of words and asks you to learn them by heart.

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English Language

For many of us, the method seems correct because you need to remember the vocabulary words for using them. However, this rote memorization is the biggest reason behind the inability of innumerable students to score well in the vocab section.

So the question is, if not rote memorization, then how you should tackle your GRE vocabulary preparation?

Read along to know how you can strategically handle your GRE ace the GRE vocab section by strategically handling your GRE vocab preparation.

How to study for GRE vocabulary?

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Understand Your Vocabulary Baseline


The very first step towards developing GRE vocabulary is to evaluate your standing in terms of the examination. In other words, you must gauge the level at which your vocabulary understanding stands in terms of GRE requirements.

In general, there are three different levels of GRE vocabulary terms that are used as a reference by the GRE aspirants. Please go through them to determine your level of proficiency and strategize accordingly.

For instance, if you know the meaning of abate, acumen, coffer, droll etc., but have no idea what repast, redress, or paean means, then you need to learn more or less 1000 words to enhance your vocabulary.

Read Every Day from Sources that Use GRE Vocabulary

When it comes to learning vocabulary, there are no shortcuts. Reading is the best way to learn and memorize GRE vocabulary.

Reading allows students to know the word and understands its usage. To maximize your productivity while reading, train yourself to notice unknown words. Once noticed, jot down these words and find their meaning.

Keep practising these words till you can easily integrate these words into your daily life.

Which book/channels you should look out for?

Would you need a dictionary?


When it comes to GRE, one thing we are sure about is that GRE will not randomly throw words on your way.

Most GRE words are present in specific novels or books. The test also includes words mentioned in popular news channels such as the New York Times and The Atlantic. Further, you can also read from magazines, journals and newspapers.

Mere reading these words would not assist you in clearing your GRE vocabulary section. GRE gauges the candidate’s ability to understand the context in which words are used to test a candidate’s vocabulary.

Preparing vocabulary from these sources allows this form of learning, which thereby assists your preparation.

Vocabulary building is a continuous exercise. Knowing and understanding the meaning of unknown words can enhance your vocabulary.

A dictionary may not help you learn new words. Instead, it will allow you to understand their meaning.

Dictionary also allows you to understand the root words and secondary definitions of the terms.

Focus on Developing Smart Test-Taking Skills for GRE Vocabulary

Definition English

Taking tests or self-evaluation is one of the best ways to judge preparation’s level. GRE does not ask direct and to the point questions. Instead, they set a series of traps in their question paper.

In such cases, candidates need innovative test-taking skills to go through GRE preparation and GRE test with ease. Some steps which one can follow to develop these skills include the following:

  1. Read all questions carefully – At times, examiners examine the attentiveness of candidates by using tricky questions. Although these may seem challenging, in reality, candidates can efficiently deal with them by using attentiveness and reasoning skills.
  2. Understanding context – Learn words by understanding the context in which they are generally used. Regular reading would allow you to learn this skill and build enough confidence for using them.
  3. Do not choose an option because they ‘feel correct’ – When candidates are unsure what answer they must choose, they choose the option that feels correct. The strategy mostly backfires as there are multiple terms in the English language that seem the same but have entirely different meanings.

Focus on High-Frequency Words In GRE Vocabulary


It is highly recommended is practice previous years exam papers. Like any other exam, GRE examiners also have certain favourite words that they repeatedly ask.

Just by focusing on these words, one can cover over one-fourth of the GRE vocabulary preparation.

Integrate Words Into Daily Use

The best manner to practice any term or word is to integrate it into your daily life. If you use the words you have learnt in your daily conversations or write-ups, you will remember them in a much better manner.

Integrating words in such a manner will save you from the trouble of rote memorization. The best approach here would be to ask your family or friend’s help. Thinking and using these words properly is the proper way to go about it.

Else you can use these words by writing essays, stories, journals, reviews etc. You can also use these words in your social media statuses, blog posts, or other informal situations.

What to avoid while studying for GRE vocabulary?

Randomly using these words in conversations would confuse your friends, and it would also not help you with learning these words.

Professional usage – Do not integrate GRE vocabulary with professional matters, including meetings, emails, and presentations. GRE words are not common vocabulary words. Thus, there may be some situations when you get misunderstood, which can be bad for your professional image.

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Memorize Words Using Different Strategies

Various methods can help you with memorizing words. Some of them are:

Spaced repetition

Repetition is a popular technique that helps store knowledge. The human mind often forgets, and spaced repetition assists candidates in retaining the information.

Spaced repetition does not mean mindless memorization, instead of keeping matter fresh in mind.

For example – You have learned a new word, and you relearn it after, say, 10 minutes, and then after a few years, then after a few days, and it goes on.

The concept primarily revolves around training your mind and memorizing words without rote memorization.

Spaced repetition calendar

Flashcards/ Flashcard apps

Flashcards are an age-old memorization technique. Earlier, students used to make paper flashcards to memorize essential terms and concepts. Today, developers have introduced flashcard applications such as Anki, Brainscape, Quizlet, Cram, and IDoRecall.

These apps work on the same concepts as paper flashcards. However, they will display words that you have stuck upon more frequently. Thus, assisting your GRE preparation.

The only drawback of flashcards is that it works only when the learner has more than one month to complete their preparation. The longer the time, the better will be your memorization.


Reading and writing are some of the best strategies to improve memorization. Today, there are very few people who write and learn. From recording our journey to making our projects, we do everything on laptop and phones.

Since childhood, we are taught to write more as jotting down things is helpful in our memory. Writing down things usually require in-depth processing of information. Thus, allowing you to remember information for a long time.

Before writing down anything, one needs to read and understand the information. Then the writer tends to summarize it down in his own words. All this interaction allows one to retain information. Moreover, organizing, highlighting, and summarizing information also highlights information in our brain.

Visual memorization

Visual memorization

Humans are visual learners. We readily absorb more than 80% of the information visually. Visual learning is by far one of the most productive methods of memorization. Additionally, it will assist you with your GRE vocabulary preparation.

Learning by visualization does not simply means looking at the images. It means to use all five senses for learning new words.

One way to use this strategy is to relate words to an image. For example – if you are trying to learn the word camouflage, relate it with an image. Try imagining or search online an image of a bird-watcher trying to blend themselves into the environment so as not to startle the bird.

Another method is to relate words with similar words in your language. For example – if you are trying to learn the word ‘exquisite’, you can relate it with a similar word in your language.

To simplify, you need to relate the word with an image, sound, or emotion so that your memory can connect and remember better.

Sharing and Teaching

‘Docendo Discimus’ is a Latin saying by Frank Oppenheimer, which means “the best method to learn is to teach.”

We learn by interacting with others. Teaching is also a method of interacting with our peers. Thus, by teaching, we share our knowledge with others in meaningful ways. By this method, we are not only helping others but also solidify our memory.

Additionally, while teaching, you can also learn from your peers. By answering their questions, you can enhance your knowledge. The method works even with beginners.

Teaching is sharing
Brain Memorization

Kinesthetic memorization

The Kinesthetic technique works by memorizing words or sentences using various motions. The technique is primarily utilized for teaching young children. However, it also helps in boosting your GRE vocabulary preparation.

Although, this technique may not be helpful for everyone. You can combine different techniques with a kinesthetic method to increase memorization capabilities.


Mnemonics or mnemonic devices are one of the many techniques for storing information in your memory. These devices meaningfully associate words with memorable phrases, images, and poems.

The concept of mnemonic devices depends on connecting words. The stronger the connection is, the better you will remember the information.

Goldlist Method

The Goldlist Method

Another full-proof method of enhancing your GRE vocabulary is the Goldlist Method. This method also works on the concept of spatial repetition.

It asks you to jot down some words on a page and close it for two weeks. After you reopen the list, you will realize that you remember about 30% of the words without even learning them.

Magic right?

Now you have to keep repeating this method till the time you remember the meanings of all words.

Learn Word Roots and Secondary Definitions

Root Words

Almost all languages are made using root words. Like every other language, English also consists of prefix and suffixes. They are used to create full words.

Understanding common root words will enable you to learn and understand words quickly. These root words will also help you to guess the words’ meaning more easily.

Focusing on root words is a smart way to strengthen your vocabulary. It would enable you to cover a substantial way forward with finalizing your preparation.

Another essential factor you must consider is to look out for is how to implement these words in multiple parts of speech. Understanding this would allow you to develop your GRE vocabulary.

A word of caution

Although root words can be helpful for your preparation, however, it does not mean that you stop learning new words. Several GRE vocabulary words cannot be deciphered with the help of learning root words.

There have been situations where guessing words via their roots can cause problems. Therefore, before implementing root words in your vocabulary preparation, make sure that you know and understand its rules.

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Focus on making progress

Make progress by learning English

Distraction and inability to focus is a common problem faced by GRE aspirants worldwide. The only way to reduce this issue is to eliminate distractions and focus on making progress.

Try to cut out all the distractions you are facing.

If you are studying at home, inform your family members about the same. Ask for their cooperation. If you are studying or practising vocabulary at a public place, try to buy noise-cancelling earphones or headphones. Another alternative is to register yourself at the local Library.

Smartphones, and social media, distracts students, whereas notifications cause them to lose focus. Put your cell phone away, and inform your friends not to disturb you during your study hours.

In contrast, if you are studying via any mobile application, you can switch to night mode to turn off your notifications.

Focus is one of the essential aspects of studying. If you are focused, then you will remember everything you have studied without using any external techniques.


Get Set and go

We are sure that after religiously following all these steps, you will boost your GRE vocabulary preparation. Active learning and integrating your learnings in daily life will surely increase your chances of scoring higher.

Although, some techniques may be hard to understand or develop. The more you use them in regular life, the more you will get used to them. Remember that you don’t need to follow every step mentioned in this list. The best approach is to try all of them and keep repeating the ones which work for you.

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