Arcane!  Esoteric!  Abstruse!  Baffling!  Insane!

Such words may come in handy for a novice GRE aspirant who has had his/her first shocking encounter with the vocabulary tested in the GRE and is at a loss of words to express his/her sentiments…

As much as ETS (makers of the GRE) claims that the GRE places minimal emphasis on the knowledge of vocabulary, the simple fact remains that expanding your vocabulary will ease your way through the test, which is not devoid of difficult vocabulary, and substantially increase your score in the GRE.

The million-dollar question that now arises is “How do I memorize 1000+ words and remember them?!

As much as we may hope for an over-night capsule to solve this conundrum, the truth is that no one way may prove to be an all-encompassing, efficient way to memorize the dreaded GRE word list. Here are a few ways that can help:-

  1. Word Roots “Besides giving you an overall sense/tone of the word, roots can help you memorize a lot of words at one go.

For eg. The root word œ-loq/loc- indicates œtalking. This root appears in the following words:

  • Loquacious , which means talkative
  • Circumlocution, which means to beat around the bush
  • Eloquent, which means to speak beautifully
  • Obloquy, which means to speak falsely
  • Soliloquy, which means to talk to oneself etc. 
  1. Mnemonics – Simply put, mnemonics is the use of your own way to learn a word. There is no protocol. Use your imagination!

For instance, enervate means to weaken someone. To learn its meaning just think of someone who never+ate.

Let’s look at one more word, curmudgeon, which means a grumpy, grouchy person. To learn the word, think of someone who curses you, throws mud on you, and locks you in a dungeon. 

  1. Word Clusters – After learning about 50-100 words, you will realize that many words have more or less same meaning. It makes sense to club these words and learn them together.

For instance, despotic, dogmatic, tyrannical, hegemony, imperious, and peremptory all more or less mean dictatorial in nature.

  1. Prefix/and Suffix – Common prefixes and suffixes not only help you to memorize words but also aid in making educated guesses about an unknown word.

For instance, the prefix a/ab- means ˜without. Some words that use the prefix are amoral, atheist, atypical, anomaly, abhor, abdicate, abstruse etc.

An example of a common suffix is crat used to denote someone who has power. For example, aristocrat, bureaucrat, technocrat, plutocrat, and theocrat use the suffix crat.

  1. Visual Vocabulary – Your brain has a tendency to associate something new to something that you already know. Unsurprisingly, when you learn a new word, an image of a person (real or fictitious), an animal, or a thing may quickly pop in your mind. Encourage your brain to do so!

For instance, the word bane/baneful can quickly be associated to the fictitious character Bane from the Batman series. Coincidentally, the word bane means ˜something causing misery or death which is exactly what the character epitomized in the movie.

**Besides using these tools, it is essential that you use the new words that you learn every chance you get. You can also make color-coded flashcards (red for negative words and green for positive words) for words that you find difficult to retain. Developing a powerful vocabulary requires lots of patience and dedication. So, keep at it!


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