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Posted on September 14 2020

Six super tips to study GRE vocabulary

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023
GRE Coaching

The GRE’s vocabulary section requires considerable preparation, however, the usual method of remembering multiple words by repeating them over and over or using flashcards may not be effective. Here we bring you some scientific ways to remember the words and their meanings and efficiently prepare for the vocabulary section of the GRE.

Use the testing effect

Your brain loves to make mistakes, even if sometimes it doesn't feel that way. You are much more likely to remember that question when you get a question wrong, and then correct yourself. You are also more likely to retain information about which you have been forced to think hard — say when you tried to remember the answer to a quiz question.

 Start each GRE study session by selecting five random words of the vocabulary and questioning yourself. Similarly, end each session. You will more likely remember those words over time than if you just spent more time reading about them.

Use the power of memories

If you're struggling with a GRE word vocabulary, associate it with a mental image that includes some of the following four features. To really connect the image to the word, make sure you include that word's sound in some way.

Personal experience: Things that happened to you are more likely to be remembered than the facts you learned in school.

Strong emotion: Moments of anger, sadness, joy, fear, frustration, disgust and so on are more likely to be remembered.

Sensory experiences: Memories which include vivid smells, tastes, sounds, etc. are more likely to be remembered.

 Surprises: Things you're more likely to remember to include those that were shocking and strange to you.

Using such associations will help you remember words that are a struggle to recall.

Use separate flashcards for tricky words

You'll come across words that sound like they're not meaning something! This makes them a  favorite on GRE vocabulary. As you study, you will run into words like these: words that logically should mean one thing, but in fact, mean something else.

The best way to remember them is to keep a separate set of flashcards for these words and other words that always seem to trick your ear.

Be aware of second definitions

Some words tend to have second definitions, one is common and well known. When you hear the word, it is the first thing that pops into your head. The other definition is far more rarely used.

The GRE loves testing those second definitions, of course. If you see something weird while solving a vocabulary problem — such as a word that seems too common to be a GRE word — then think of second definitions. Include these second definitions in your flashcards.

Use spaced repetition

The concept of spaced repetition works like this-if you forget something in part, then relearn it later, you create a stronger memory than you did in the first place. When learning a vocabulary word for the first time, you should review it often. Then let go of longer and longer periods of time before revising it again. This will reinforce your memory of that definition by training your brain to remember it in difficult situations.

Use a variety of study methods

You train your brain to practice recalling memories under different conditions when you change it up. By the time you take the real GRE, you will be ready for anything and even in the testing center you will be able to recall definitions. Study at different times of the day and in various locations! Change the way you're studying, too: have someone else quiz you, or ask yourself a question.  Write down word definitions or recall them aloud, provide as much variety to your study methods as you can.

With Y-Axis Coaching, you can take up online coaching for conversational German, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, SAT and PTE. Learn anywhere, anytime!

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