Looking for some GRE vocabulary games to help get your vocab up to snuff? First you should start with a solid word list.
1. Stump a friend
First off you need to know someone who is taking the GRE—or you’re likely to watch your social network wither away. If you do know somebody, try to outsmart him/her with words. I know this sounds dorky—and you may probably want to apprise your friend before you start bulldozing them with words like ‘truculent’ and ‘pedantic.’ But once the game of one-up-manship begins, it is hard to stop, especially if you and your friend are the competitive types.
2. Synonym Trees
Take a word, let’s say ‘truculent.’ How many words do you know that are similar? ‘Belligerent’ and ‘bellicose’, maybe. Can you think of any others? How about ‘combative’, ‘contentious’, and ‘disputatious’? Oh, did I mention ‘pugnacious’.
Instead of just listing words, draw a tree. The most general—or easiest— word should be written in the trunk. In each branch, write the words that are specific/GRE words. For instance, we’d write ‘combative’ in the trunk and in the branches we can write ‘contentious’, ‘pugnacious’, ‘truculent.’
3. Words beginning with…
Give yourself three minutes to see how many words you can come up with that begin with a specific group of three letters. For instance, how many GRE words beginning with ‘ini’ can you think of? You’ll probably want to avoid combinations such as ‘xjk’ (for the record, there is probably no language on earth with a word that starts with those three letters).
You can also do two-letter combinations (e.g., ‘fa’ – and get ‘fastidious’, ‘fallacious’, ‘facetious’, ‘fatuous’, etc.). And if you can’t define the word, no worries…just make sure you look up the definition of the word.
4. Word Box
This is a game that I’ve played in my SAT classes to great success. Indeed, many students stay beyond class to keep playing the game (and you thought the iPad was addictive. Here’s how the word box works:
Come up with a 5 x 5 grid of letters.
I S T U D
Y G R E V
O C A B U
L A R Y F
O R F U N
The goal with this GRE vocabulary game is to come up with as many GRE words based on the letters in the box. Give yourself exactly 5 minutes. The words cannot use a letter more than once, unless that letter appears more than once. For example, you can use the letter ‘r’ up to three times in one word, but can only use the letter ‘v’ once in a word.
Possible words include:
The scoring words as follows.
Three- and four-letter words are given one point.
Five-letter words (+2)
Six-letter words (+3)
Seven-letter words (+5)
Eight-letter words (+8)
Nine-letter words (+13)
Ten-letter words (+21)
Above ten letters (+50)
For each word you define correctly add +3
Hence, my score would be as follows:
Total: 24 + 15 (if I define the words correctly) = 39 points.
The letters you put in the box are up to you. I took the sentence “I study GRE vocabulary for fun” (something I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would utter) and fit it into the 5×5 mold. You can pick random letters or come up with your own sentence.
In my class the first team to +100 points is usually the winner.
For this challenge, I’ll throw down the gauntlet: who can come up with the longest GRE word? Definitely +100 points for you!
Bonus! Check out this video for the top 3 GRE vocabulary study tips: