The TOEFL Academic Word List: Research

The Academic Word List: Research

Magoosh is dedicated to helping you with your English vocabulary. And we want to make sure you have the words you need for the TOEFL and for your future studies. This is why the Magoosh TOEFL Blog provides both a TOEFL Vocabulary PDF and tutorials on vocabulary from the Academic Word List. What is the Academic Word List? Glad you asked!

The Academic Word List is a collection of the English words you’ll hear or read the most often at colleges and universities. In the TOEFL Blog’s last two academic word list studies, we looked at words from two fields that are very popular with international students: business and world affairs.

Today, we’re going to look at more general set of words. The words in the chart below are used in English language research across many different subjects. These words are used to describe research methods and study results.

As usual, I’ve arranged these words in a chart so that you can see the different grammar forms of each word. I’ve also included a list of the different suffixes that are used to change the grammar of the words. Study these suffixes carefully, and look up the words on (I’ve also provided footnotes on the meanings of a few very similar words on the chart.) Once you’ve mastered these words, you can take a vocabulary quiz on them. The quiz will be posted later this week.

Nouns: -ation, -cation, -is, -age, -ence, -sion, -phy, -ity, -tion, -ization

Verbs: -ate, -ize, -tion, -ian, -ence

Adjectives: -ible, -ate, -able, -ual, -ive, -ic, -al, -ical

Adverbs: -ibly, -ately, -ably, -ually, -ively, -ically, -ally


* “Civility” is the condition of being polite (Do not be so rude! Show some civility!) “Civilian” refers to an ordinary citizen with no special government responsibilities. (He is not a president or a soldier. He is just a civilian.) “Civilization” refers to an organized nation or society (The ancient Egyptian civilization built the pyramids.)

** “Confer” means to meet with someone and have a discussion or get information (The doctor conferred with the family about how to be healthier.) “Conference” means to hold a meeting (The professors in the department conference in the meeting room once a week.)

*** “Link” and “linkage” have the same meaning. The only difference is that “linkage” cannot also be a verb, and is somewhat more formal in use.

**** “Maximal” means done in the best or most productive way. (The car works as well as possible; engine performance is maximal.) “Maximum” means the highest number or biggest amount possible. (The car’s trunk can carry a maximum of 250 kg of weight.)

***** “Regiment” is a small organized unit of something, usually people (My army regiment contains 10 soldiers.) “Regime” refers to a government, especially a government directed by one leader or group of leaders. (In America, one president’s regime can last a maximum of 8 years.)


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    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!