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GRE Vocabulary List – Don’t Get Confused Again!

Under Pressure

Under the pressure of a timed exam, the test taker is even more likely to confuse the definitions of words. For instance, does preempt mean to be bossy, or to act before someone else does (it’s the latter; peremptory means bossy)?

Be on Guard

To prevent mixing up these diabolically similar words, you want to be on guard well before you take the actual test. A good strategy is to have a separate pile of words that you commonly confuse. The Magoosh blog is a great place to start studying vocabulary words that looks very similar to one another. Review these words–and other confusing word pairs you encounter in your studies–whenever possible.

Use your Left-Brain

And remember—be creative. Don’t simply look over a stack of flash cards. Write a story or a poem using the words. Or, if you’re not much of a writer, tape the flashcard to a physical location. I’ve had students decorate their rooms with GRE flashcards located at different spots. While excessive, this strategy can be very effective. I even had one student put post-its of words on photos of friends and family. An older sister had become peremptory, a good friend gregarious.

The main point: to avoid getting tripped up on similar-looking words, come up with creative mnemonics or other strategies that work best for you. And, again, avoid the tedium of using only flashcards.

Time For Some Confusing Words

Now that I’ve given my little pep talk, let’s take a look at a few confusing words. See if you can come up with clever strategies to learn these words. And I will be quizzing you on an upcoming post. Remember, a little pressure always helps with learning.

1. Indigent

This word means poor, having very little means.

In the so-called Third World, many are indigent and only a privileged few have the wherewithal to enjoy material luxuries.

2. Indigenous

Indigenous means relating to a certain area. Plants and animals are often indigenous, as are people.

The flora and fauna indigenous to Australia are notably different from those indigenous to the U.S—one look at a duckbill platypus and you know you’re not dealing with an opossum.


3. Indignant

Imagine you are waiting in line to order your morning coffee. Right as you are about to order a nice steaming cup, someone cuts in front of you and places an order for six people. How would you feel? Indignant.

Indignant means to feel anger over a perceived injustice. And you don’t want to be indignant the day of the test, when ETS just happens to pick that one word you always end up confusing with another word. So, get to work on your mnemonics: practice with a sentence completion question from Magoosh!

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

5 Responses to GRE Vocabulary List – Don’t Get Confused Again!

  1. Aman April 19, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Use to get confused between Indigenous and Disingenuous.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 19, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      Think of the ‘dis.’ It is negative. Disingenuous has a negative meaning; indigenous does not :).

  2. Chris Lele
    Chris Lele August 7, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Great! With vocabulary learning it is a lot of perseverance, especially with these tricky word pairs.

  3. Storm August 6, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    These topics are so cfounisng but this helped me get the job done.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 19, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      Glad I could help!

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