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GRE Article of the Month – May 2013

Cannon Fodder: Denouncing the Classics
By Sam Sacks for The New Yorker

The Rise and Fall of Charm in American Men
By Benjamin Schwartz for The Atlantic

I know, I know, it’s June. Better late than never!

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For “this” month’s article of the month, I’ve decided to do a two-for-one special. By that I mean there will be two articles. But mere bounty is not my aim here. Sometimes, readers feel that the articles I recommend, while engaging and thought provoking, are neither challenging nor contain difficult (at least for them) vocabulary. As a corrective, I will have one tough article–for those looking to break 160 in Verbal–and one not-so-tough article.

The Tough Article

For the challenging article, I’ve chosen a five-page piece from the New Yorker that addresses the question: What makes a work of literature a classic? And the more interesting—and polemical—counterpart: Is it mere chutzpah for us to skewer the sacred cows of the literary canon?

The menagerie of tough vocabulary includes the following:

  • Orotundity
  • Pillory
  • Hegemony
  • Philistinism
  • Apotheosized
  • Concomitant


The Easier Article

Of course I don’t want to leave those who aren’t looking to break 160 bereft of their monthly dose. So I’ve included a longer piece from The Atlantic, called The Rise and Fall of Charm in American Men. While this is the “easy” piece, there are so many GRE vocabulary words in the article that you might at times feel as though you are making your way through a lexical quagmire. The topic is straightforward enough: where have all the charming men gone? The writer is both highly analytical and big into name-dropping, so the sentence structure is quite involved. At times you might feels like you are reading through a Text Completion (which, for GRE, is a good thing).

Below is a hefty sampling of the words.

You might want to look these words up first before reading the article.

  • Burgeoned
  • Ingratiating
  • Tentative
  • Arch (2nd def.)
  • Idiosyncratic
  • Inconspicuous
  • Gambit
  • Quotidian
  • Declension
  • Jejune
  • Antithesis
  • Insouciance
  • Exemplar
  • Diffidence
  • Deployed
  • Profligatev
  • Lascivious
  • Beguiling


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11 Responses to GRE Article of the Month – May 2013

  1. Thomas July 12, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Chris, I have a proposal for the next Article of the Month, from the New Yorker (published July 8):

    How an Israeli billionaire wrested control of one of Africa’s biggest prizes.

    It’s a juicy, 13-page investigative piece on corruption in Guinea. Their are plenty of names, places, companies, and acronyms that provide a high level of detail. If any reader can be comfortable reading and comprehending this article, they have the endurance, memory, and internalization skills of the 95th-percentile. Conquering this article also demands a moderate level of vocab mastery.

    Below are some words I’ve picked out of the article that I have either 1) seen in Magoosh GRE sample questions; 2) had trouble with; 3) perceived as words I can see others having trouble with, and 4) interesting words.



    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Thomas,

      Wow! That looks like the perfect article :)! I’ve just read the first page, and I’m already hooked. Just chose an article of the month, but with all the great words you found, I will definitely make this the article of the month for Aug.!

      Thanks again!

  2. Christina June 28, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for sharing these articles! However, I have quite a different view of the difficulty of the articles.

    As a non-native speaker, I was first a bit loath (yes, utilizing GRE vocab 🙂 ) to read the more challenging article you proposed. Thus, I started off with the second one and I actually had difficulties with continue reading it up to the end. There were soooooo many words I didn’t know (probably because I just have started studying for the GRE) and it was hard for me to focus on reading….So I was very intimidated to read the more challenging one since you mentioned the second one is easier. But I did read it and I must say: I found it so much easier to read! Less complex sentences and not so much of a “lexical quagmire” (to use your words 🙂 ). I actually had fun looking up the “exotic” words within the article. So my take away: study GRE vocab until you die 🙂 and to all non-natives (who might also have felt a bit intimidated): read the more challenging article! It is worth it!

    By the way: You guys are doing such an awesome job! Thank you. I like how all of you pronounce the word “GRE” throughout your videos, it always sounds like: GRE -the enemy! 🙂


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Christina,

      Thanks for the feedback! Perhaps I was amiss in my judgment of difficulty levels :). I agree that the “easier” article definitely has the tougher vocab. As you mentioned, perhaps that makes the difference in being able to breeze through versus slog through the passage. Regardless, I appreciate your resolve to master GRE vocab–an even more impressive goal given you are non-native speaker (though I could never tell by your writing :)).

      Good luck, in your quest to fell the GRE beast :)!

      • Christina July 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

        Thanks 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele July 2, 2013 at 10:44 am #

          You’re welcome!

  3. Nicole June 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Does the author of the Canon Fodder article use “expectorate” incorrectly? Here’s the sentence: “Speaking as someone who has joyfully expectorated into it on numerous occasions, we don’t even treat the Grand Canyon like the Grand Canyon.”

    The only definition I could find of expectorate was “to cough up or spit out matter from the lungs.” Is there another definition I am not aware of?

    Thanks so much for the articles of the month!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Nicole,

      The definition is quite graphic :). However, expectorate can just be a fancy way of saying “to spit.”

      Hope that helps clear things up!

  4. TM June 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Oh man, “clickbait” has to be my favorite new vocab word — and the newest interweb insult. Thanks, NY’er. And thanks also to Mr. Lele for picking two excellent articles. They both read like the most interesting and difficult GRE passages I’ve ever seen, and brought some literary levity to my lunch hour. Cheers to great vocab.

    • TM June 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

      BTW I also hope to see “priggish” appear in my upcoming test. What a great word.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 13, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Nothing makes me happier than being the source of “literary levity.” Hopefully, my July article will bring buoyancy to your noon hour too!

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