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Home »  GRE Preparation » Vocabulary List

Vocabulary List

Word Lists for Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Verbal Vocabulary

Following are word lists that I wrote while I was preparing myself for the Verbal part of the GRE General Test in 1998. Although they were written primarily for the Verbal part, I think they are helpful for the Analytic part as well. I think that the best strategy for GRE is to be acquainted with GRE through taking actual GRE examinations administrated by ETS, but it is undeniable that a good vocabulary is essential for excellent GRE scores.

Since the Verbal part of GRE is by no means a simple examination that tests the examinees only for vocabulary, expanding your vocabulary does not always result in higher scores. You should, however, retain a large vocabulary in your brain at least on the actual GRE test day in order to obtain high scores in the Verbal part, since in some sense quite a few questions just attempt to test whether you can tell the meaning of a particular word or not.

I recommend that you memorize all the words in the word lists below if you must obtain really high GRE scores for this reason, that reason, or whatever. Those whose GPA is relatively low might desire to compensate for their low GPA by obtaining very high scores. (In my opinion, this is not a good strategy; you'd better spend more time writing your research papers, rewriting your statement of purpose, or preparing yourself for GRE subject test, especially if you specialize in computer science.) At a glance, you might ask yourself if you could memorize all of them and never forget them at all; stuffing more than 5,000 new words you have never seen before into your brain could be done without difficulty only by Raymond in the movie `Rain Man.' In my opinion, the answer would be 'No, you cannot,' if you are trying to memorize these words in the same way as you have learned new English words so far. But, the answer would be 'Yes, absolutely,' if you are trying to memorize these words only for the GRE test itself.

The definition of the words in the word lists is based on Barron's GRE word list (usually known as the 33000 word list), American Heritage dictionary (because of concise definition), Longman dictionary (because of precise definition), and Oxford dictionary (as a complement to Longman). I think that it is a very good practice to understand and memorize the meaning of every word in English, which you would surely agree while solving GRE questions.

The word lists below are presented in the same order that I learned them in 1998 when I was preparing for a GRE test. Before printing and carrying the lists with you all the time, you should think for a while if you could benefit from the lists, and if you suppose so, how you could use them. The lists were really helpful to me, but it may not be the case for you; they may contain some words which will never appear in any GRE administration.
Whether you benefit from these word lists or not, I wish you as good GRE scores as you desire. Good luck to your GRE and also your future academic life in the States!

1. Barron's word list (4,842 words)

The original Barron's word list has about 3,500 words. This word list also includes about 1,300 additional words not in the original Barron's word list which I thought should be memorized together. Their definition is preceded by a 's' mark in the Ascii text file and a heart symbol in the Postscript files. (LaTeX was used to create Postscript files from Ascii files.) You might change the Ascii text files for your own use. You may ignore 'n' marks in the Ascii text file and spade symbols in the Postscript files; they indicate that accompanying words were new to me.

2. Big Book word list (876 words)

Big Book is a volume of 27 actual GRE administrations, published by ETS. This word list might help you review actual GRE tests in Big Book and save your time. It also contains a list of words which are related with 'walk' and 'piece'. Stay away from this word list before studying Big Book!

3. Barron's word list - scrambled

After learning through Barron's word list twice or more, you will find why I wrote a C program for scrambling Barron's word list!

4. Additional words

If you have so much time that you may sleep for 12 hours everyday, try it. This list is based on the book GeRo Vocabulary by Jungki Kim and contains many important words. I learned the word proffer for the first time in this book and it appeared in an antonym question on my GRE test!

For printing PDF files, you need Acrobat Reader. Printing the hand-held note Postscript file for Barron's word list with double-side printing gives one sheet for each section. A 'h' mark in a line of the Ascii text files indicates a new page to be started on double-side printing. Exercise notes may be helpful if you prefer memorizing words by writing them.

Word Lists
Full list
Hand-held note
Exercise note
Barron's word list
4,842 words
Big Book word list
876 words
Barron's word list - scrambled
4,842 words
Additional words
230 words


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