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Bye, Bye to Obscure Vocab

During the last few posts, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that my vocabulary posts, once a staple both of Magoosh and the GRE, will no longer be as relevant. While many may breathe a sigh of relief that words such as contumelious will no longer bully the frazzled test-taker, the bottom-line is that the GRE will still require you to understand the meaning of certain words. By extension, I will still continue to write GRE vocabulary posts. Only, these posts will not be as frequent, nor will they include esoteric words (ironically, esoteric will still be a word you need to know).

In honor of the old GRE (well, we’ll still have to wait until Aug. 1st to officially dub it that), I will write one final post that includes some relatively obscure words. As well as two question types that will soon be relegated to the dustbin of test-prep history.

First, let’s say bye to the antonyms.

1. Nugatory

(A) auspicious

(B) sedentary

(C consequential

(D) eminent

(E) insipid

2. Valedictory

(A) incipient

(B) worthless

(C diffident

(D) reticent

(E) insalubrious

3. Exoteric

(A) intrinsic

(B) recherche

(C catholic

(D) subdued

(E) permanent

And now time for one last analogy (try not to shed a tear).

4. Philippic : VituperativeĀ 

(A) harangue : mercurial

(B) filibuster : interminable

(C quagmire : unnavigable

(D) ephermera : outre

(E) encomium : acclamatory

And there you have it – two question types you will never have to deal with again, and a handful of arcane words.

But, that doesn’t make things any easier. The new verbal question types are hard. Very hard. My upcoming posts will focus more on dissecting formidable three-blank text completions. In fact, some of the questions may be so nuanced and convoluted that maybe, just maybe, you’ll pine for an antonym question. If so, here are the answers for the questions above:

1. C

2. A

3. B

4. E

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8 Responses to Bye, Bye to Obscure Vocab

  1. Chris Lele
    Chris Lele August 1, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    One last thing – I realized that this post was ambiguous all along. I give several examples of obscure words interspersed with easier words. To do away with any confusion, the obscure words included were nugatory, exoteric, and philippic. Most of the other words – especially reticent, mercurial, and diffident – are high-frequency words.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Nick July 25, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Hi, Chris,

    Could you please explain why do you think that these very obscure words will no longer be tested? more specifically is there an official ETS announcement that you are relying on?

    From what I’ve read on the ETS website it didn’t seem to me that the sentence completion questions are not going to test words such as minatory, nugatory etc.

  3. Priya July 25, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Could you please repeat the name of the vocabulary book that you d mentioned during the webinar on the 20th july. I remember you telling about the 1500 words in the book which could be of great help.



    • Margarette Jung
      Margarette July 25, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Hi, Priya

      We’re actually going through and getting the recorded webinar video ready to post, so I thought I’d jump in on Chris’s post to answer your question. The book he mentioned was Princeton Review’s WordSmart, which you can find on Amazon. Hope that helps!


  4. ARIF July 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm #


    Vocabulary is the essence of GRE VERBAL SECTION and i highly doubt that they will exclude OBSCURE VOCABULARY

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 25, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

      I think it is question of the level obscurity. The words I’ve included above – at least a few of them – are sufficiently obscure that they will not show up on the new GRE. The soon-to-be old GRE, on the other hand, has vocabulary that, in the dictionary, is labeled as archaic. Those words I expect to be absent from the new GRE. Again, for those who haven’t studied much vocabulary, esoteric and exoteric can seem equally obscure. However, esoteric will surely be around for the new GRE, though I’m guessing we can say good-bye to exoteric, a word labeled as “technical” in my dictionary.

      • ARIF July 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

        Thanks Chris.

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