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TOEFL Vocabulary Study: Hard Words, Part 6 of 6

Announcement! As of August 1, 2019, the TOEFL Reading, Listening and Speaking sections will be shortened. The TOEFL will also make changes to its prep materials and scoring system. Because of this, some of the info in our blog posts may not yet reflect the new exam format. We cover all the changes here.

This is the final installation of the TOEFL Blog’s in-depth study of the 49 hardest words on the TOEFL. These are all of the words that are assigned a “hard” difficulty level in the Magoosh TOEFL Vocabulary PDF. Below, we’ll look at the different forms, definitions and uses of hard words 42-49 in that PDF. Note that some word forms are not common on the TOEFL. Those alternate word forms still may be useful to study. Knowing all forms of a word will give you the deepest possible understanding of English vocabulary, on test day and beyond.

Difficult words 25-32: Different suffixes, different word forms

Below is a list of hard words 42-49: “pursue” through “welfare.”

Suffixes that change the form of the words:

Nouns: -ance, -er, -tion, -ing, -ity, -ness

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

Verbs: -ate

Adjectives: -ant, -tive, -ed, -ing, -ent



Word explanations (meant to go with the definitions from the original PDF)

  • Pursue
    Pursuemeans to follow or chase something or to try to achieve a goal. In the noun forms of the word, pursuance means the act of following something, chasing something, or trying to achieve a goal, while pursuer refers to a person that follows, chases, or works toward a goal. Pursuantly is an adjective that means “done in a way related to pursuance.” So if someone does something pursuantly, they’re doing it in a way that allows them to follow or chase a thing or work toward a goal.
  • Retain
    To retain means to keep something contain it, or continue to have it. A retainer is thing that allows something to be kept, contained, or maintained as a possession. Retention is a noun that means the activity of keeping, containing, or maintaining possession of something. A thing is retentive if it maintains a grasp on something, not releasing and not ceasing to hold it.Retained is an adjective that describes a thing that is kept, contained, or maintained as a possession. And thing can be described as retaining if it facilitates retention, the keeping, containing, or maintaining ownership of a thing.
  • Scheme
    A scheme is a plan or design for something. To scheme means to make plans or designs. A schemer is someone who does a lot of planning or designing, and scheming can be a noun that refers to the activities of planning and designing. Something can be described as schemed if it is planned out or designed in a specific way, and scheming can be used to describe a schemer who is always making plans or designs.
  • Seek
    Seek means to look for something or try to find it. A seeker is a person or thing that finds something or tries to find something. Seeking can be an adjective to describe a person or thing that looks and finds. And sought describes a thing that is looked for or a thing that people try to find.
  • Subsequent
    Subsequent is an adjective describing an event that happens immediately after another event. (For example, Tuesday comes subsequent to Monday.) If something happens immediately after another thing, you can say that it happens subsequently in relation to the first event. (As in having a meeting before lunch and subsequently a meeting after lunch.)
  • Underlying
    An underlying thing is something that forms the basis for something else. (For instance, TOEFL test prep is the underlying reason for all of the content on this blog, even the content that doesn’t relate directly to the TOEFL.) If something is done in a way that creates the basis for a bigger thing, then it is said to be done underlyingly.
  • Valid
    If something is valid, it is reasonable, correct, or proven true. An idea or thing has validity if it can be proven correct and true. The validity of a thing is also sometimes called the validness of a thing. If something is done in a way that is reasonable, correct, or true, it is said to be done validly.
  • Welfare
    In its most common use on the TOEFL, welfare is a noun referring to how healthy or happy a person is. In a broader sense, welfare can mean general wellbeing. Welfare is also a common word in political and economic writing. In this sense it refers to public policies that protect and sometimes provide for the wellbeing of groups of people and individual citizens.


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2 Responses to TOEFL Vocabulary Study: Hard Words, Part 6 of 6

  1. Saliha Younis April 21, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

    I have given toefl today and the administrator cancel the test as I return from break and she said I used my cell phone I try to explain her that I Just put it on silent as I forgot to do it before she she said your test is cancelled already when I started the test nobody go over the test polices with me neither I received any email from ets that we can’t check our phone neither staff at test Centre warned me so now my test is cancelled I just took the half of it and rest of the half was left now the staff at test Centre told me that I can go ahead and retake the test but shoul I wait from ets to contact me about this matter or just go ahead and book another test I tired to book another test at ets and it took me to check out so confused obviously it was a lesson for me as all
    My effort was wasted, money wasted and so shameful
    But the worst part is they never warn me before starting the test they gave me a paper which I signed but never read it she said instructions were their but seriously I just signed and return to her now what should I do should I contact ets or wait for them to contact me

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 21, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

      Hi Saliha,

      First off, I’m so sorry you had this bad test day experience! 🙁 You definitely should have been asked to empty your pockets and turn in your cell phone before you even went into the test center. If the test center staff didn’t tell you to do that, it’s likely that you’re not in any trouble… or at least not in any other trouble beyond having to retake the test. It sounds like you can just book a new test without problems. Based on the situation you’ve described,t hat’s what I recommend you do. If you are blocked from taking a new exam for some reason, the TOEFL should contact you about that before you can actually take the exam.

      Of course, if you are really worried and want to double check, you can always call TOEFL customer service.

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