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Test Your GRE Vocabulary Skills

How strong is my vocabulary?

As you prep for the GRE, this is a question you may have already asked yourself. Practice tests and practice questions have already given you a sense of this. Yet it is never a bad idea to get a vocab assessment. Below, I’ve done my best to pick words indicative of a certain level. Simply define each word. Below the words are definitions and instructions how to score. A scale detailing your score is found at the very bottom.


Good luck!


Level 1 – Words everybody taking the GRE should know (if you don’t already)

1. Indifferent

2. Implicate

3. Elaborate


Level 2 – Words you’ve probably seen before

1. Meticulous

2. Rebuke

3. Volatile


Level 3 – Difficult words that you still need to know

Whether you score a 170 or a sub-150, you will see the medium-level section on the GRE. Level 3 words can definitely show up in the medium section, and can maybe even show up in the easy section. If you do not know any, don’t despair. Simply commit yourself to studying more words. You WILL be able to get to this level if you follow my advice on learning vocabulary.

1. Inimical

2. Petulant

3. Confound


Level 4 – Words for the top 10%

For those hoping to score in the 160s for verbal, you should know at least two of the three words below. These are words that would likely only show up in the most difficult verbal section.

1. Sententious

2. Lassitude

3. Sartorial


Level 5 – Very difficult

Really speaking, Level 5 doesn’t really pertain to the Revised GRE. The test has done away with vocab obscurity and shifted the focus to syntactical complexity (meaning, really long and confusing sentences).

Nonetheless, in the spirit of vocabulary—and in that random one off chance that the Revised GRE will throw in difficult words—welcome to Level 5. And don’t worry if you do not know a single one. You can still get 170 on the verbal section.

1. Gnomic

2. Autochthonous

3. Numinous


Now, add up your points. To do so give each question a point value based on the following: whatever level a word is part of, give yourself that many points for knowing the word. For instance, if you knew the word lassitude (a level 4 word), give yourself 4 points.




1. Indifferent – not caring; neutral

2. Implicate – charge with wrongdoing (can also mean to imply)

3. Elaborate – (v) explain in detail ; (adj.) detailed



1. Meticulous – careful

2. Rebuke – sharp disapproval

3. Volatile – changing suddenly



1. Inimical – hostile or antagonistic towards (describes situations not people)

2. Petulant – whining in a childish manner

3. Confound –1.  To completely confuse   2. Mix up



1. Sententious – moralizing in a condescending manner

2. Lassitude – weariness, lack of energy

3. Sartorial – relating to the way one dresses



1. Gnomic –  pithy, usually in a way that is cryptic

2. Autochthonous – indigenous

3. Numinous – supernatural


Point Scale

35 – 45: Your vocabulary is very impressive. As long as your reading comp skills are up to snuff, you should do very well on the GRE.

30 – 35: You may well likely know every word that could pop up on the GRE. Nonetheless, go through books such as Word Smart, Barron’s 3500-word list, and make sure you know every single word. There will probably only be a few stragglers that fell through the cracks.

25 – 30: Do not limit yourself to one list. To grow take advantage of various GRE lists, making sure you know all the words contained within. Since your vocabulary is already relatively strong doing so shouldn’t take as long as you think.

20 – 25: You have a strong vocabulary, but to give yourself a boost, make sure you are learning from a large enough list. One thing you can do is to go through the official test and make sure you know every word:

10 – 20: Use this as an opportunity to brush up on your vocabulary skills. Read the following on how to do so:

Below 10:You may be new to the GRE, but don’t despair. Just make sure to focus on learning vocabulary. If you’ve been studying awhile, you may want to redouble your vocab efforts. More importantly, you should ask yourself, how you are learning words. Is it the most optimal method?


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.

18 Responses to Test Your GRE Vocabulary Skills

  1. jay June 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Hi chris,

    I had taken this test about a month back , after which I have worked substantially on my vocab. Now I really want to know where I stand as far as GRE vocab is concerned. I tried to ferret out an other test from the list of magoosh’s blog posts , but apparently this is the only one. Could you please build up another test. Also, are there any websites that you could suggest for such vocab tests.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Hi Jay,

      I can definitely plan another one of these for the near future. For now, go through the ETS book, see how many words you can define. You can also use Barron’s 3500 word list, doing the same. Scan for words you don’t know. If you are defining 80% correctly, then you are doing very well. 90% then you are well on your way to mastery.

      Good luck!

      • jay June 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

        Actually I used the ETS book itself as a tool to build up my vocab ( apart from other sources like magooshs ebook) , as I had read about the close proximity of the matter in the book with the actual gre exam, in your blogs.

        Also I’ve seen you using a macbook pro in your videos. How would you rate the apple dictionary ( in comparison with I’m personally have a predilection for the variety of sentences they provide.

        Thanks 🙂

        • jay June 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

          * I peronally

        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

          Hi Jay,

          I am a fan of the Macbook dictionary too (it’s the New Oxford). I do like their nuanced definitions and well written example sentences. is a little dull by contrast. However, it does contain more words and more definitions of certain words. Of course there is that pools together many different dictionaries for a tapestry of meanings and example sentences.

          • jay June 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

            Alright. So i guess referring to all the sources and then making my own flashcards is the best way to go. haha.

            Thanks 🙂

  2. Pemdas@BTG April 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Hi Chris, PR’s Word Smart contains only one word from level 3 and no other level words at all. 1001 words by Barron’s does the same job as PR’s book. What source should we follow to learn the words then? Do we have to become walking thesaurus and learn by heart all words from the old GRE Barron’s vocab? Please advise. Also, can buying out and learning MGRE word sets essential+advanced can fill in the gaps here? Does MGRE contain the words from level 3 and higher?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Hi Pemdas,

      There is no magical vocab guide: PR Word Smart is great, MGRE too. My advice is to combine as many as you can. Soon you will know most of the words from the Barron’s 3500 list (it won’t be as though you’d have to learn 3500 new words from scratch).

      Again, the number of lists–and thus the number of words you study–will be proportional to your target score.

      That said, I am surprised that only one of the words above was in Word Smart. I know Level 4 and 5 are uncommon in WS…but many level 1, 2, and 3 should be in there.

      • Prem April 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

        hi Chris

        So what source should I follow for level 4 &5 words?


        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

          Great question (and sorry for the delayed response – your comment must have been hiding :)).

          For level 4-5 words, Barron’s 3500 word list, the ETS paper-based book, and Word of the Day are good sources.

          Hope that helps!

          • Shota December 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

            Mr. Chris,
            %80 of the word you mentioned I know. But what about improving reading skills and also writting?
            How I can get succeded?
            I already studied Barron’s top 800 words and now studying the roots. Also I ordered Manhatan’s essential/advanced 500 flash cards? Is this enough for vocabulary?

  3. vaisnavi March 31, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Donno whether if u like these words or not, but i found it really challenging

    1) Acatalectic= Not defective
    2)Esculent= Fit for eating
    3) Fabianism= Cautios or dilatory, as in taking action.
    4) Daedal= Skillful,artistic,ingenious

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Hi Vaisnavi,

      Thanks for the challenging words! Some of these may be level 6, if not level 7. For instance, I have never seen acatalectic before, but according to my dictionary it relates to poetry. I did find one reference to ‘not defective’ on-line. Anyhow, most of these words would probably be beyond the scope of the new GRE. But they sure are fun :).

  4. vaisnavi March 27, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Kindly evaluate mine 🙂 1) Indifferent= Not concerned with, nonchalance
    2) Implicate= Charge with wrong doing. Incriminate, Indict.
    3) Elaborate= to stretch a topic
    4)Meticulous= Overly particular in anything,fastidious, persnickety
    5)Rebuke= sharp disapproval, to reprimand
    6)Volatile= changing quickly
    7)Inimical= hostile and threatening
    8)Petulant= whining, cantankerous
    9)Confound= to perplex and confuse thoroughly
    10)Sententious= pithy, moralizing something in a condescending way.
    11)Lassitude= lack of energy,torpor, sluggish
    12)Sartorial= generally we use this word fr tailors. so it’s related to dressing
    13)Autochthonous= indigeneous
    14)Gnomic and Numinous = 🙁 no idea

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 28, 2012 at 11:39 am #


      Awesome :).

      You clearly have a very impressive vocabulary. Perhaps you know some good Level 5 words you could share with the Magoosh community :).

  5. vaisnavi March 27, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    I think Sententious also means pithy.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris March 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Yes, I should have added that (woe is me :). A good way to think of sententious is aphoristically condescending.

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