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GRE Vocabulary — A Synonym Tree to Up Your Score!

A while back, I had debuted the concept of a synonym tree, the clustering of synonyms and related words using a tree. The tree itself would be a very general word, such as good.  Each branch would stand for words that are very close synonyms, and, in turn, the branches themselves would be relatively similar. Some would stand for extremes, to either greater or lesser degrees. Together, the branches would make up the synonym tree.

The power of the synonym tree is to remove you from the context of rote memorization, i.e. the perils of flashcard learning, in which you learn words in isolation instead of in relation to one another. Because synonym trees force you to come up with the words on your own—essentially you are looking at a blank piece of paper—synonym trees directly test how well you are able to connect vocabulary that you are learning.

So before looking at the tree I’ve presented below, see how many synonyms you can come up with for STUBBORN.

Yeah, I know, you don’t feel like doing it right now. But trust me, it’s a great exercise. Come on, go ahead—don’t be stubborn.

The Stubborn Tree

Fixed in One’s Way (Branches Underlined)

Intractable, mulish, intransigent, obstinate, obdurate, headstrong, uncompromising

Stubbornly Resisting

Recalcitrant, refractory, contumacious, perverse, unyielding

Stubborn in One’s Thinking

Dogmatic, pertinacious, dogged, adamant

How Did You Do?

In general, you want to be around 7, which is about half the words. If not, don’t despair. A little practice can go a long way. If you were able to get more than 10, great! You are a full-fledged Magoosh.

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