Vocabulary Quiz: High-Frequency GRE Words


Over the last months, I’ve been stressing the importance of learning vocabulary in context – reading articles, highlighting unknown words and then turning those words into flashcards.

Such an approach rewards the diligent student over a period of time. Still, it is not the most effective method for learning words in a short time. So, what I’ve endeavored – à la WordSmart – is to highlight high-frequency GRE words, define them in language that is not as obscure as the words themselves, and then, most importantly, provide a few example sentences.

Today, I am going to change it up slightly – instead, I will offer the definition of the word, and then, at the bottom, I will give blank sentences. Without looking back at the words, you will want to see in how  many of the five sentences you can correctly identify which word fits in the blank.

I like to think of this format as my Word List 2.0. But, to really be worthy of that moniker, my lists must be used in conjunction with Wordnik.com. So, open up a browser window, and head to worknik.com. For any of the words below in which you want even more context, simply enter the word into Wordnik, and then look to the right of the page for a slew of example sentences. Following this approach will help you when you are ready to answer the questions below.

Below is this week’s Word List 2.0. The Revised GRE frequently threads these words into Text Completions and Reading Comprehension questions, so you must have strong grasp of each one.

  • Meticulous (adj.)–paying careful attention to details.
  • Prosaic (adj.) – dull, uninteresting, boring.
  • Disseminate (v) – to spread or scatter.
  • Censure (v) – to express severe disapproval of
  • Prodigal (adj.) – wasteful, extravagant (not spending wisely)
  • Maintain – (v) To assert strongly
  • Deride – (adj.) To put somebody down
  • Pragmatic (adj.) – practical (in terms of approach)
  • Deferential (adj.) – showing the proper respect
  • Contrite (adj.) – feeling remorse, affected by guilt
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Here’s the quiz. Good luck! And, for a few of these, you may have to change the word’s part of speech.

1. A despotic government is quick to control any means of ______ – as long as citizens are deprived of access to writings that are critical of the government, that government is able to stifle discontent.

2. Unlike her contemporaries, many of who had no qualms plagiarizing other writers’ work, she always felt ______ whenever she noticed that some of her ideas echoed books she had recently pored over.

3. While many psychologists _____ that the first two years are most critical for learning, they are usually quick to add that learning happens throughout a person’s lifetime.

4. The ex-CEO was censured in the corporate newsletter for his ______ – the same newsletter went on to say that the company would henceforth be far more frugal.

5. The philosopher is no mystic purporting to fathom the universe’s most arcane secrets; rather, he or she must be able to think deeply about those matters that are most _____ and close at hand.








1. dissemination
2. contrite
3. maintain
4. prodigality
5. prosaic 


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2 Responses to Vocabulary Quiz: High-Frequency GRE Words

  1. Vanan September 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    For the last question, wouldn’t the word ‘pragmatic’ fit the bill?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      Interesting…pragmatic would kind of work, but not really. Here we are looking for a word that would contrast with arcane (little known/abstruse) and something that is commonplace or prosaic. At the same time pragmatic/practical does not quite match with “close at hand.”

      Hope that makes sense!

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