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GRE Vocab Wednesday: TOEFL Words That Are Also GRE Words

Many of you studying for the GRE will also be studying for another test: the TOEFL. Indeed, you might be studying both at the same time. Even if you aren’t in this group, you probably already know that the level of vocabulary on the two tests is very different. However, you might be surprised to learn that there is some overlap—though, admittedly, not very much—between the two tests. Below are four words that show on the GRE and have appeared on TOEFL tests, too.


I’m not talking about having enough money for something; I am talking about a specialized definition of the word that typically only comes up in writing. To afford is to offer or provide, usually an opportunity.The upstairs window affords the best views of the mountain lake.

Traveling abroad afforded Jim the ability to learn about foreign cultures he would not have otherwise known about.

TOEFL NOTE: This is a great word for a vocabulary question from the reading section of the TOEFL. It is a bit formal, a bit uncommon, and doesn’t look exactly like words in other languages with the same meaning.


If something is plausible, it is believable. We usually use this word to describe accounts or stories. An implausible story for why I showed up late to work was that my pet poodle was pinched by an international rink of dognappers. A plausible reason would be that the public transportation system had a major glitch.

It is not plausible that he was unable to study the entire month—surely he could have made some time.

TOEFL NOTE:“Plausible” is a very flexible word; you could use it in many different contexts. For example, it could be said in a conversation between a student and professor, or it could be in lecture. This also would be a great word to use in an integrated essay if, for example, the professor thinks an argument in the text is not plausible.


A very similar word to fertility, fecundity describes the ability to produce lots of something, whether offspring or creative works.The old mare was renowned for her fecundity, begetting four horses that went on to win major races.

Picasso was renowned for his fecundity, able to create masterpiece after masterpiece.

TOEFL NOTE: This word appeared in a lecture on a real TOEFL in the past, but in a specific way: it was a topic word, so the professor defined it and gave examples. Words as rare as this are too hard for normal TOEFL vocabulary; if they appear, they will be defined.


One who is very careful when doing something is meticulous. A meticulous planner is one who pores over and anticipates every detail or scenario. A meticulous dresser is one who makes sure that every piece of clothing tastefully blends with the other.

Studying vocabulary meticulously will make you both a better reader and a better writer.

TOEFL NOTE: This word, like “afford” and “plausible,” could easily be in a reading vocab question—a question that simply asks about the definition, but it could also easily appear in a text or lecture with no question about it. In this case, a background in a Romance language (Spanish, French, Italian…) can give you an advantage; this is often true of TOEFL vocabulary, because more academic English vocabulary often is based of Latin, the ancestor of the Romance languages.

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