Articles published in Vocabulary

Recommended Reading for the GRE

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Recommended Reading for the GRE by Cat Powell

You can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our upcoming courses here.


When I was a kid, my mom read Don Quixote to me as a kind of cautionary tale: look at the crazy things you end up doing if you read too much fiction. I did read too much fiction—and I still do—and this probably does explain some of my major personality flaws. But it also turns out that one of the crazy things you can do if you read too much is answer most GRE vocabulary questions, because one great gift of reading is that you learn a lot of interesting words.  

The GRE favors words that are used broadly, across many disciplines, and that are appropriate for academic writing. This means that many of the words that show up on the GRE are rarely used in our everyday conversations, and I find that a lot of them I’ve seen used primarily in 19th-century fiction.

My colleagues have written some great posts about how to learn words effectively with flashcards and other toolsand so today I want offer an alternate strategy: read great fiction, preferably older stuff, but maybe some 20th-century books as well. It’s a fun antidote to study fatigue and a great way to find new words in their natural habitat. Here’s some recommended reading for picking up lots of GRE vocab. Read more

How to Really Remember a GRE Vocabulary Word

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How to Really Remember a GRE Vocabulary Word by Chelsey CooleyYou can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free. Crazy, right? Check out our upcoming courses here.


Think about your least favorite GRE vocabulary word. You know the one—every time you see it in your flashcards, you get that sinking feeling of dread. You always get this one wrong. You know it’s important, but for some reason, it just won’t stick in your head.

Okay, do you have a word in mind? Let’s conquer it—right here and now. Read more

GRE Vocab Words You Think You Know…But Don’t

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - GRE Vocab Words You Think You Know...But Don't by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Some researchers estimate that there are as many as a million words in the English language. However, you won’t see words like mylohyoid, ekphrasis, or cotyledon on the GRE. In fact, even though English has a huge number of extremely rare words, the GRE almost never tests them. Instead, it focuses on a set of words we’ll call rare but reasonable. Read more

Are GRE Verbal Questions Subjective?

by

 

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Are GRE Verbal Questions Subjective? by Chelsey Cooley

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


A lot of people think that GRE Verbal questions can have more than one right answer. The GRE itself doesn’t do anything to dispel this myth, since Verbal questions often include wording like which of the following is best supported? or with which statement would the author most likely agree?. These questions make it sound as if you’re supposed to read five pretty good answers and pick the best one, even if the other ones are okay, too. However, this mindset will hurt you on test day. Read more

Why Isn’t My Vocabulary Knowledge Helping Me on the GRE?

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Why Isn't My Vocabulary Knowledge Helping Me on the GRE? by Chelsey CooleyDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


You’re up to your ears in flashcards. You know the meanings of ‘nostrum’, ‘pelf’, and ‘maculated’. Maybe you’ve even used the spaced retrieval technique; here’s a piece that I wrote on this technique, and here’s another from my colleague, Céilidh Erickson. But when you take practice tests, your hard work with vocabulary doesn’t seem to be paying off. Why are you still missing GRE Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence problems? Read more

How I Got a 340 on the GRE

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - How I scored a 340 on the GRE by Chelsey CooleyDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


The last time I took the GRE was about a year ago, and I scored a perfect 170 on both sections. Obviously, it helped to have taught GRE classes for years! But that wasn’t the whole story. Here are a few notes on how I studied, and how I took the test. Read more

Hack the GRE Vocab: Use Spaced Repetition to Get Maximum Results with Minimum Time Investment

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - Hack the GRE Vocab - Used Spaced Repetition to Get Maximum Results with Minimum Time Investment by Ceilidh EricksonDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Your time is a limited commodity. Studying vocabulary for the GRE can be tedious and time-consuming, and worst of all…inefficient.

If you’re like most students, you flip through flashcards (either premade or hand-made) and quickly try to remember what was on the back. After a few dozen repetitions over a few weeks you probably remember many of them. But…you don’t retain that information for long, and you might not recognize the words when used in a slightly different context.

Vocabulary is a significant component of GRE verbal, but it’s not actually something that you should invest a significant portion of your time studying! That’s because there’s no way to determine which words you’ll see on test day – you might see a dozen of the words you studied, or you might not see any at all.

So, you want to learn as many words as you reasonably can between now and test day with the minimum time spent studying! Read more

Here’s What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do on GRE Vocab

by

Manhattan Prep GRE Blog - What to Do When You Dont Know GRE Vocab by Chelsey CooleyDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GRE courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


While you’re taking the GRE, you’ll encounter words that you just haven’t learned. It happens to everyone: I’ve gotten a perfect score on the GRE (twice!), and both times, I saw multiple Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence answer choices that I couldn’t define. What does a smart test-taker do when this happens? Read more

GRE Tip: Hack Your Memory with Memorable Mnemonics

by

blog-brainhackCan’t get enough of Neil’s GRE tips? Few can. Fortunately, you can join him twice monthly for a free hour and a half study session in Mondays with Neil.

In front of you sits a big stack of GRE vocab words you want to memorize. How do you get all of these words in your long-term memory as quickly and efficiently as possible? You could just try to cram things into your head through sheer force and repetition. But in my experience, that’s too slow, and students often learn the word-for-word definition without actually processing what the word really means. I’ve had more than one student tell me that “obsequious” means “servile” without knowing what “servile” means… Read more

GRE Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence: A Little Grammar Does a World of Good (Part 1)

by

2-9-LittleGrammarWhile studying for the GRE Text Completion (TC) and Sentence Equivalence (SE) questions, you naturally want to study vocabulary.  After all, that’s what the test is testing, right?

Yes and no.  The GRE does test vocabulary, but it also tests your ability to analyze a sentence and divine the author’s intended meaning.  (And for those of you keeping score at home, did I use the word ‘divine’ correctly?  Are you familiar with this less common usage?)

And so, we preach (sorry, with the word ‘divine’ earlier, I had to!) a method for TC and SE that involves identifying the Target, Clues, and Pivots in the sentence.  All well and good, but how do you to this?  Here’s where the following limited grammar discussion should help, because although the GRE does not directly test grammar, a little grammar knowledge can be immensely helpful!

We begin with the core elements that every sentence contains: the subject and the verb.  Separating the subjecting and the verb from other elements (which I will generically call descriptors) is part 1 of my TC and SE analysis.  Part 2 is matching each descriptor to what it describes.

So let’s see two examples.  One is a TC example from Lesson 1, the other is a SE example from the 5 lb. Book.
Read more