GRE Vocabulary List: Getting The Most Out of Your Word List!

learnThere are some sites with word lists dedicated to thousands of words that they say you should learn for the GRE.  Talk about overwhelming!  One of the questions any future GRE test taker might have is how to prepare to tackle the vocabulary section of the GRE.  It might not seem too practical to try to memorize 4,000 words, or to read every known book of reputable English literature.  And you are right!  Luckily, we are going to help you get on the right track towards the Grad school of your choosing.  Tune in as we go over the steps you will need to take to come up with a useful and effective vocabulary list for the GRE.

Master your GRE vocabulary and more here.

How to Begin Tackling GRE Vocabulary Lists

Remember to begin preparing with a well enough allotment of time before your actual exam.  Without further ado, let’s get started with those vocabulary words.

Word Lists

The first thing that you are going to want to do is to choose some material from GRE word lists.  You can find these anywhere from the internet to study material books.  Remember, if you choose your word lists online, read some reviews to make sure that these lists are reputable and see what other students have to say about them.  Of course, do not choose lists based on words that look easy or have words that you are already familiar with.  Below is an example of a rather varied word list:

Aberrant              abscond               advocate             aggrandize

Amalgamate      ambiguous         ambrosial            anachronism

Anomalous         antediluvian      antipathy            arbitrate

Assuage               attenuate            audacious           aver

Banal                     barefaced           blandishment   bombast

Breach                  burgeon               buttress               cadge

Caprice                 castigate              catalyst                                caustic

Chicanery            complaisant       conflagration     corporeal

Corporal              corroborate        craven                  culpable

Dearth                  deference           depict                   deprecation

Depredation      descry                   desiccate             diatribe

Diffident             disabuse              disparaging        dispassionate

Dissemble          dogged                 dogmatic             eclectic

Efficacy              effluent              emollient            emulate

Encomium          endemic              enervate             engender

Enigma                 ephemeral         equivocal            erudite

Esoteric                eulogy               exacerbate         exculpate

Exorbitant           explicit                 extant                   fathom

Fawn                     feign                     fervid                    fervent

Fledgling             florid                     floundering        garrulous

Gossamer            guile                      guileless              hapless

Headlong            homogenous     iconoclast           impecunious

Imperious           implication         imply                    improvidence

Inchoate              incorrigible        indelible             ineffable

Infer                      ingenious            ingenuous          inhibit

Innocuous           insensible           insipid                  insular

Intransigent       irascible               laconic                  latent

Laudable             leviathan             loquacious          lucid

Lugubrious         magnanimity     malevolent        misanthrope

Misnomer           misogynist          mitigate               nefarious

Noisome             obdurate             obviate                 occlude

Opaque                ossified                 panegyric            peccadillo

Pedantic              perfidious           petulant              philanthropy

Phlegmatic         placate                 plastic                   plethora

Ponderous          pragmatic            precipice             precipitate

Precursor            prevaricate         prodigal               propitiate

Pulchritudinous               pusillanimous   quiescence         rarefy

Reproof               rescind                 sagacious            sanguine

Sate                       saturnine            savant                   sedulous

Specious              superficial          tacit                       taciturn

Temperate         tirade                    tortuous              tractable

Turpitude            tyro                        vacuous               venerate

Verbose               vex                         viscous                 volatile

Voracious            waver                   wretched            zeal

Reading Method

goals and objectives examplesOnce you have your word list in place, decide how you are going to want to study it.  Going over and reading your list is the first thing you are going to want to do, but then you have to decide which method will be best for you to grasp the material.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Hard copy:  If you would rather not read your material off a laptop or computer screen, print out your vocabulary words so that you can have hard copies.  Hard copies are also good if you want to take notes on your words as well.
  • Flashcards:  Flashcards are great for practicing the words and studying.  However, they might take awhile to make, so be sure that you are not in a time crunch.
  • Onscreen:  If you want to type out your vocabulary words, consider using Microsoft One Note so that you can insert things such as: pictures or audio files to help make the memorization easier.


Another way to make your memorization process a little clearer is to alphabetize your words.  This helps you group together words that begin similarly, or that have similar prefixes or suffixes.  However, if seeing too many similar sounding words at once will confuse you, do not try this idea.

Word Structure

You can arrange your words base on more things than their beginning letter.  For instance:

  • Prefixes and suffixes
  • Part of speech (noun/verb/adjective/adverb)

By knowing the part of speech and suffix or prefix of a word, you can also better understand the words meaning; as many words with the same prefix or suffix have similar connotations.

Find the Root Word

You will find that many of your vocabulary words are based off of English or Latin roots.  Many of your words will also have the same root, which will make understanding them and grouping them together easier.


As we mentioned before, memorization by association can be helpful in the memorization process.  To spice things up a little bit, try adding in audio or visual associations to some of your words.  For instance, if you have the word “recumbent”, which means to lie down or recline, then you can have a picture of a man on a reclining chair, or a person lying down.  This makes things fun, right?


If you have ever heard of mnemonics before, you would know that it is a great way to get your brain to remember things.  Whether you use silly, personal, or completely irrelevant things to memorize your words, mnemonics will make memorizing easier.  For example, consider music mnemonics, which requires you to make a song or a jingle to remember what you need to memorize.

Group Words Together

Remember that the GRE does not as for word definitions.  Instead, they ask for you to find relationships in sentence structures.  Therefore, grouping your words together based on meaning could prove helpful.

Play Games

Eventually, memorizing bunches of words or flashcards will get boring.  Gather some of your GRE-studying friends and make a game night out of your GRE word lists.  It will be a fun and interactive way to incorporate learning!

Just, breathe

Although it may seem like it, the GRE vocabulary list is not as daunting as it may seem.  As you begin to go over words, the memorization process will get easier as your brain gets used to visualizing word definition and structure. Remember to keep practicing and do not get discouraged early on.  Check out’s helpful online courses for any further help, and good luck on your exam!