offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh GRE Prep.

Books and Online GRE Vocabulary Resources

While I’ve been trumpeting the wonders of reading in context, many of you simply do not have the time to read through newspapers and the like. For those who want a more targeted vocabulary approach, without starting with the letter A in the dictionary, or getting bored out of your mind by staring at an endless list of Barron’s 3500 Words, the resources below are essential.

Still, no matter how pressed you are for time, sometimes you will need example sentences to better understand a word. Below, I’ve included resources that are a mixture of words, example sentences and the flashcards you’ll need to quiz yourself.

And, remember, there is no one resource, no magic bullet, that will fell the GRE verbal monster. Use a combination of the following for optimal results.


First, there is the sheer bulk of a stack of flashcards, and then – if you’re anything like me – you may easily lose them, especially because flashcards are so portable that you can take them anywhere. At any rate, they are a little old-fashioned once you consider Quizlet.

Imagine that, with a simple click of your mouse, you could have access to all the usual GRE vocabulary words from Kaplan, Barron’s and Princeton Review. Better yet you can create flashcards from scratch (now you can turn all those pesky vocab words I’ve used on the Magoosh blog into flashcards).

A trove of stylistic example sentences, and a vocabulary community to boot, is addictive. Think of any GRE word you are struggling with, say remonstrate, and wordnik has lots to say. Here are just the first three quotations this site provides:

“In the Estonian capital of Tallinn, a Russian guard at the door of a Soviet office building demanded to see a visitor pass; when nearby Estonians began to remonstrate, she relented and beckoned him in.”

“The Iraqi soldiers remonstrate, saying it’s too many patrols, and too long.”

“Mr Martin said he did walk over and “remonstrate” with Opposition staff, but did not swear at them.”

The fact that these example sentences run on for dozens of examples – all sedulously gleaned from respectable journals and literary works —makes wordnik the best place on the web to find example sentences.


You’ll notice that neither of these selections is explicitly for the GRE. The reason is, there is no select group of words that appear only on the GRE. The GRE simply tests your knowledge of words that are used in an academic context.

Barron’s 1100 Words You Need to Know

Imagine trying to figure out an unknown from context, and then checking to see if your hunch is correct. Well, that’s exactly what you are able to do over the course of 1,100 words. Throw in fun matching exercises, and a weekly quiz (days are broken up into five words), and you have your very own vocabulary program. A glossary containing example sentences from a wide variety of resources, from The New York Times to William Shakespeare (hey, it’s like Wordnik 1.0), this book is a do-it-yourself vocabulary program that I recommend very highly.

Word Smart, 4th Edition Princeton Review

Forget Barron’s 3500 word list – it belongs in a GRE museum next to the antonym exhibit. At 1,500 words, Word Smart contains all the words you need to know. The definitions are much clearer than Barron’s, and there are example sentences galore. Quizzes sprinkled throughout the book help sharpen your memory. Word Smart is a must for those looking to boost their vocabularies, whether they have one week or one year before taking their GRE.

If you want even more Word Smart, there is a Word Smart just for the GRE. But remember, these words aren’t necessarily more likely to show up on the test. All the words are important, and, as there is significant overlap between the two books, Word Smart alone should do the trick (okay, if you are very ambitious and can’t stomach any of this overlap, there is always Word Smart II).

A Few Others…

To varying degrees the books below follow a similar formula.

30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary by Norman Lewis

Word Power Made Easy by Normal Lewis

Verbal Advantage by Charles Harrington Elster



Word lists are helpful if they come with example sentences and practice exercises/quizzes

No one resource can help you completely prepare for the GRE. Use a combination.


Magoosh students score 12 points better than average on the GRE. Click here to  learn more!

Most Popular Resources

15 Responses to Books and Online GRE Vocabulary Resources

  1. Reza December 1, 2018 at 11:43 am #

    Thanks for the great posts.
    What are the best mock tests for verbal questions like GRE. I know the quant of Magoosh and Manhattan Prep are the best out there. However, I can’t really find standard verbal questions similar to the official GRE.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 5, 2018 at 10:24 am #

      Hi Reza,

      It really is a lot harder to find truly ETS-like Verbal questions. The first place you should look, if you haven’t done so already, is ETS itself. The books and other resources on the official GRE prep page provide the most realistic, true-to-the-test practice questions. In fact, the questions in ETS’s practice material are all taken from real past GRE exams.

      When it comes to unofficial practice, PowerScore seems to come close to the quality of real ETS GRE Verbal questions. So definitely check out their GRE Verbal web resources and books.

      Beyond that, I really do believe Magoosh comes close to the real thing when it comes to GRE Verbal. You may want to consider a Magoosh GRE subscription for some high-quality, ETS-like Verbal questions.

  2. karan goyal June 6, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    hello sir,I am just beginning my gre vocabulary training at home by myself,could you please help me to find out any free ebook which has got almost all words required for gre preparation,in alphabetical order,i would really appreciate for your favour,thnak you.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

      Unfortunately, there really isn’t a resource with all of the words you might encounter on the GRE. This is because the GRE has such a rich range of vocabulary in its highly academic texts. There are over a million words in the English language, and the GRE tries to use as many of them as possible! So it’s best to treat any GRE word list as a sample of the kinds of words you might find on the GRE, and a practice set for advanced vocabulary comprehension. And use any word list as an aid to development of broader reading comprehension skills– you don’t want to rely primarily on word lists for your vocabulary comprehension. With that said, when it comes to good, free ebooks, you can start right here on this blog! Since this post was written, the Magoosh GRE Blog has released a free GRE vocabulary ebook and a free flashcard ebook!

  3. Richa March 19, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Can you please roll out a similar post updated for 2014?

    What I have in my mind till now- Magoosh app and e-book, Barron’s 4759, Barron’s 1100!

    I wish to have a list of the vocabulary material to be studied which I can blindly follow and I don’t mind if it gets too much. 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele March 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      Great point! I’ll roll out such a post. And I like the attitude: there is never such a thing as “too much” :).

  4. sai January 5, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    hi chris,
    is there any others newspapers other than newyorktimes,economist or guardian which can be refer for gre engima reading practice point of view

    • Chris Lele
      Chris January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

      The Atlantic Monthly is good. Washington Post, as far as newspapers go, is another. Even U.S. News and World Reports isn’t that bad, though the writing isn’t quite as challenging as that found in the other magazines.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Silver89 December 14, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    Many thanks for the advice
    In fact, I was confused in regard to vocabulary. But these recommendations made it easier.
    Many thanks for all the effort

    • Chris Lele
      Chris December 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm #


      Thanks! I’m glad it was helpful.

  6. Arif September 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Thanks Chris, Amir & Siva !

  7. Vasuki September 8, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Hey Chris

    This is very very useful for all of us who are taking GRE especially mine is on oct 17th…so a lot of thanks for this post.

    Thanks once again…Keep posting like this.

  8. Siva September 8, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Hi Chris,

    The site seems very good and it gives the list of all the family words for a given word. Just check it out and let me know whether it will be useful or not.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris September 8, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks for the link! I’ll give it a look

    • Amir September 8, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Thanks Siva for sharing of

      It looks like:
      which NYT also uses for their “Word of the Day”.

      Also it resembles:

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply