Most Common GRE Words

One mistake many students make while studying on their own is to treat every word with equal value. In reality, the more confusing a word is, the more likely it will be to come up on the GRE.

Below are some of the most commonly confused words in GRE vocabulary. Don’t walk into the GRE without knowing them.



Many think this word means extinct. Extant is actually the opposite of extinct.

Despite many bookstores closing, experts predict that some form of book dealing will still be extant generations from now.

A great mnemonic is to put the word ‘is’ between the ‘x’ and the ‘t’ in extant. This gives you existant (don’t mind the misspelling).

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This GRE word does not mean content, as you could have probably guessed. It comes from the word contend, which means to argue. If you are contentious, you like to argue.

Contentious is a very common GRE word, so unless you want me to become contentious, memorize it now!



Yep, this GRE word doesn’t relate to history—it relates to acting. To be histrionic means to be overly dramatic.

During another of her histrionic fits she knocked over a few chairs, claiming that everyone was trying to bring her down.

While not quite as common as the other GRE words on the list, histrionic is still common enough that you want to know it on test day (lest you throw up your hands histrionically in disgust halfway through your exam).



This word does not mean to miss again. To be remiss means to neglect one’s duty.

Re- prefixes are common in confusing GRE words, because we mistakenly assume that re- always means to repeat. As with remiss, this is not the case.



This word sounds very sinister. Auspicious is actually the opposite and means favorable.

Despite an auspicious beginning, Mike’s road trip became a series of mishaps, and he was soon stranded and broke next to his wrecked automobile.

The opposite, inauspicious, is also common on the GRE.



Now that you have learned these commonly confused GRE words, make sure to embed them into long-term memory. If you don’t, you’ll definitely be remiss!

P.S. Ready to improve your GRE score? Get started today.

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4 Responses to Most Common GRE Words

  1. Prasad N R March 29, 2018 at 9:38 pm #

    I can bring up my panoply of my GRE Verbal and score 160+ which seems like an indomitable goal unless I remiss it.

  2. Amey June 8, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Fantabulous job Chris!

    Love reading your blogs!


    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 9, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      Great! I’m happy you are enjoying our posts :).

  3. Parsa October 10, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Thanks for your invaluable effort. This site helped me a lot!
    Good Luck!

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