Let's be honest: No one can memorize all the vocabulary you might encounter on the GRE. There are lists of words everywhere, so much so that it's become a cliché, "SAT words." Most of the lists of "GRE words" are just "SAT words" on steroids, and prep books frequently instruct students to keep a vocabulary diary, make flash cards, or do a lot of reading to expand your working vocabulary and familiarity with the scholarly or academic jargon and style of the GRE. All that is great advice! By all means, read more and keep track of words you learn. It will serve you well on the GRE, in grad school, and in life in general.
Fortunately for those of us who struggle with difficult vocabulary, the GRE has become less vocabulary intensive than it used to be. When I first started teaching GRE preparation, the test included Antonyms and Analogies problems, both of which were pretty much make-or-break vocab questions. If you didn't know the definition of the words, you could employ some ingenious strategies and logical deduction to improve your odds of getting the answers right, but you could never really be sure.
While the test now includes fewer problems that are outright vocabulary questions, Sentence Completion and Sentence Equivalence problems still require a strong working vocabulary. So does Reading Comprehension but in more of a passive sense. A great knowledge of the definitions of difficult words still helps a lot, but let's discuss what to do when you're stuck on unfamiliar language.Read More