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How Can I Improve GRE® Vocabulary?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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The vocabulary section of the Graduate Records Examination® (GRE®) can be fairly intimidating for many testers, but there are some ways in which you can improve your GRE® vocabulary. In general, to improve your vocabulary you should try to read a great deal of different types of materials, including books, newspapers, and magazines. You should try to find material that is challenging for you, such as professional news outlets that are prestigious and written in a vernacular similar to what you might find on the GRE®. There are also a number of books and Internet websites that can help you improve your GRE® vocabulary through lists of words and practice questions.

GRE® vocabulary typically refers to the language and vocabulary section of the GRE®, as well as those words commonly found in this section. While a comprehensive list of these words and the associations between them cannot be provided, since the GRE® tests are kept secret to protect its validity, there are some ways in which you can improve your overall GRE® vocabulary. Many of these methods are ways in which you can improve your vocabulary in general, and you should begin working on these methods months, or even years, before you take the GRE®.

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One of the best ways to learn new words and develop your GRE® vocabulary is to read a great deal of different materials. This means you should read both “deep” and “wide.” Deep reading usually indicates works that are difficult in nature and cover ideas and use language that can require more attention and work on your part to read effectively. You should be sure to keep a dictionary near you and look up words as needed to better understand this type of writing and develop a stronger vocabulary.

Wide reading, on the other hand, refers to reading a variety of different types of works on many different subjects. You should read magazines, newspapers, textbooks, and literature to help develop a stronger GRE® vocabulary. This can take a great deal of time, however, which is why it is often best to begin working on this during your first or second year in undergraduate school.

You can also build and enhance your GRE® vocabulary by studying lists of words specifically taken from previous GRE® exams or often seen on the GRE®. There are many books and websites that provide these word lists, and you can use these to study words and have a better sense of what to expect on the test. These resources commonly have practice tests as well, which you can use to improve your GRE® vocabulary and see how these words are often used on the actual test.

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