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Building a strong vocabulary is crucial for excelling in the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections of the GRE. In this blog, we will explore effective strategies and resources that can help you enhance your vocabulary and improve your chances of achieving a high score on the GRE.

In this blog:

  1. Why is Vocabulary Building Important for the GRE?
  2. Strategies for GRE Vocabulary Building
  3. Resources for GRE Vocabulary Building
  4. FAQs about Vocabulary Building in GRE Prep

Why is Vocabulary Building Important for the GRE?

Enhancing Reading Comprehension Skills

One of the key reasons vocabulary building is crucial for the GRE is that it enhances your reading comprehension skills. The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE requires you to read and understand complex passages, often containing challenging vocabulary. Having a strong vocabulary will enable you to comprehend the passages more effectively, making it easier to answer questions accurately.

Improving Analytical Writing

Another aspect of the GRE that relies heavily on vocabulary is the Analytical Writing section. To express your ideas concisely and effectively, you need to have a wide range of vocabulary at your disposal. A rich vocabulary allows you to articulate your thoughts with precision, making your essays more persuasive and impactful.

Guessing Unknown Words

During the GRE exam, you may come across unfamiliar words in both the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections. However, with a strong vocabulary, you can make educated guesses about the meanings of these words based on context. This skill can help you eliminate incorrect answer choices and increase your chances of selecting the correct option.

Demonstrating Language Proficiency

A robust vocabulary showcases your language proficiency and intellectual depth to the admissions committees. By using advanced vocabulary in your essays and responses, you can impress the examiners and exhibit your mastery of the English language.

Also read: How to register for the GRE?

Strategies for GRE Vocabulary Building

Read Extensively

Reading extensively is an effective strategy for expanding your vocabulary. Make it a habit to read a variety of materials, such as newspapers, magazines, novels, and academic articles. Focus on subjects that interest you and challenge yourself with more complex texts. While reading, pay attention to unfamiliar words and try to deduce their meanings from the context.

Keep a Vocabulary Journal

Maintaining a vocabulary journal is an excellent way to reinforce your learning. Whenever you encounter a new word, write it down in your journal along with its definition, synonyms, and usage examples. Regularly reviewing your vocabulary journal will help you internalize the words and increase your retention.

Use Flashcards and Mnemonic Devices

Flashcards are a popular tool for vocabulary building. Create flashcards with new words on one side and their meanings on the other. Review the flashcards regularly, testing yourself on the definitions. Additionally, mnemonics can be used to associate new words with familiar concepts, making them easier to remember.

Practice Contextual Usage

To truly internalize new words, practice using them in context. Write sentences or short paragraphs incorporating the new vocabulary words. This exercise will not only help you remember the meanings of the words but also improve your ability to use them accurately and appropriately.

Review and Revise Regularly

Building a strong vocabulary is an ongoing process. Set aside dedicated time to review and revise your vocabulary regularly. Continuously reinforce your learning by revisiting previously learned words and adding new words to your repertoire.

Also read: GRE Sentence Equivalence Sample Questions

Resources for GRE Vocabulary Building

GRE Word Lists

Several GRE word lists are available online and in study materials. These lists compile commonly tested words on the GRE. Start by familiarizing yourself with the words in these lists and gradually incorporate them into your vocabulary practice. Download the GRE 100-word list here.

Vocabulary Building Apps

Mobile applications help you to study vocabulary in a handy way. You could be traveling on a subway or waiting at a dentist’s appointment, a GRE vocab app can keep your practice up and running. At Jamboree, our students resort to one such app called the ‘Simplified GRE Vocabulary App’.  This app offers word quizzes, flashcards, and other engaging activities to help you learn and retain new words effectively.

Reading Challenging Literature

Dive into classic literature and other intellectually stimulating works to expose yourself to advanced vocabulary. Novels by renowned authors often contain intricate language and sophisticated vocabulary, offering an excellent opportunity to expand your word bank.

Vocabulary Podcasts

Podcasts focused on vocabulary building can be a convenient and enjoyable way to enhance your vocabulary. They typically discuss word origins, meanings, and usage in an engaging format, making your learning experience more dynamic.

Online Thesauruses and Dictionaries

Thesauruses and dictionaries available online, such as Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary, are valuable resources for exploring synonyms, antonyms, and definitions. Use these references to deepen your understanding of words and expand your vocabulary.

FAQs about Vocabulary Building in GRE Prep

1. How long does it take to build a strong GRE vocabulary?

Building a strong vocabulary is a gradual process that requires consistent effort and practice. While the timeline may vary for each individual, dedicating at least a few minutes every day to vocabulary building can significantly improve your word bank for the GRE.

2. Are there any shortcuts to learning vocabulary for the GRE?

While there are no magic shortcuts, using effective strategies like flashcards, contextual usage, and regular revision can accelerate your vocabulary learning process. Consistency and persistence are key to achieving long-term results.

3. How many words should I aim to learn for the GRE?

There is no fixed number of words you need to learn for the GRE. However, familiarizing yourself with 1,000 to 2,000 high-frequency words and their usage can greatly enhance your performance on the exam.

4. Should I focus on memorizing word definitions or understanding word usage?

Both aspects are crucial. Understanding word usage helps you grasp the nuances and subtleties of vocabulary, while memorizing definitions ensures you can accurately recall and apply the meanings in the exam.

5. Can I improve my vocabulary through other activities besides reading?

Reading is an excellent way to build vocabulary, but it’s not the only option. Engaging in conversations, watching movies or documentaries, and participating in vocabulary-building games and quizzes can also contribute to expanding your word knowledge.

6. How can I track my progress in vocabulary building?

Keeping track of your progress can motivate you and help you identify areas that need improvement. Set milestones for yourself, track the number of new words you learn each week, and regularly assess your understanding and usage of the words.


Building a strong vocabulary is a vital component of GRE preparation. A wide-ranging vocabulary not only enhances your reading comprehension and analytical writing skills but also demonstrates your language proficiency to admissions committees. By employing effective strategies such as extensive reading, using flashcards, and practicing contextual usage, you can steadily expand your vocabulary. Remember to utilize the wealth of resources available, such as word lists, vocabulary apps, and online courses. With consistent effort and dedication, you can significantly improve your vocabulary and increase your chances of success on the GRE.

Find out how GRE-ready you are by taking a free GRE diagnostic test here!

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