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Essential Words for the GRE Paperback – Jul 1 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Barron's Educational Series; 2 edition (July 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764144782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764144783
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #122,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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By abc on Nov. 6 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is key for the GRE. Not only does it list some of the most frequent words, it has a lot of helpful exercises to help you remember them.
Also this book has the perfect amount of words, 800 words is A LOT, anything more is just crazy.
Overall I would rate this book as the most helpful for GRE verbal preparations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 77 reviews
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
All GRE takers should buy this. Now. And rush the shipping. Feb. 26 2011
By AKB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished taking the GRE last month - I had only 3 weeks to study because of an administrative glitch, so I needed a good resource and some quick shipping (thanks, Amazon). For my overall study guide, I picked Princeton Review based on previous use of their products and the overall positive reviews, and I was generally very pleased with it and its ability to help me work through the entire test prep matter in 3 weeks. That said, I could not have achieved my verbal score of 770 without this book from Barron's. I'm actually not sure I would have come closer than 700-720....it's that good. A reviewer for the Princeton Review general guide recommended this Barron book and I must second that review and all other five-star reviews here. The word list is EXTREMELY comprehensive and the exercises and 10-word unit breakdown really help you learn. I wound up going unit by unit. For each one, I'd read all the words and definitions and identify the ones I didn't know (or didn't "really" know...maybe I had a hunch but not a clear sense). For those unknown words, I wrote them down in a notebook, with a definition in my own words and a sentence I made up myself (Barron's also has sentences which will help you understand the word better but I think making up your own definitions and sentences and then writing them down helps it sink in). After working through all 80 units (whew) I turned to the notebook list of "trouble" words and basically quizzed myself and had others quiz me in multiple rounds, where in each round I highlighted the words I still didn't know, until that list got smaller and smaller and then disappeared. It was a lot to do in three weeks but Barron's really helped me focus. Seriously - get this book and you will maximize your score. For people like me whose verbal and essay scores are most important, this book is really worth the time it takes to work through. Get it! Get it now! Good luck, everyone!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
great book but not enough for higher score! Nov. 18 2010
By U. Salim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In order to score 1400 or higher this set of words might not be enough. I learned the entire 800 list and maybe a 100 more from here and there but there were still few words that I didnt know on the actual test.

However, this is a great book. The words are explained and used in a sentence. Then there is a mini quiz after every 10 words which is extremely beneficial.

This is an extremely must have book but dont rely on it completely. If you have time and you are motivated enough, look for other word lists, e.g princeton review ones.
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
good book, poor selection of words Oct. 12 2010
By college student - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like this book for two reasons. First, unlike other GRE vocab books, it provides reinforcing exercises after every set of words. Secondly, 800 words seems like a sensible middle ground between Barron's full 3,500 word list and the 300 word lists of other publishers.

The bad news is that this book didn't provide the words I needed. This book covers words across the entire spectrum of the GRE, from really simple to totally obscure terms and everything in between. Unfortunately this means that this book is of very limited use to any individual test taker.

I highly recommend that you work with a vocab list that is targeted at your current level. If you already have a strong vocabulary, this book won't be challenging enough. If you are a non-native speaker studying for the GRE, this book does not have enough "easy" words to provide a solid foundation.

My own story: As a non-native speaker, I had some significant gaps in vocabulary that needed to be filled. After I bought this book, I took the first PowerPrep exam and wrote down a list of ~50 unfamiliar vocab words that I encountered on the exam. This book contained only 7 of those words, but Sparknotes' 1000 Words for the SAT had over 30! (Yes, that's right: SAT vocab.) I studied primarily from Sparknotes and raised my score from 480 on the first PowerPrep exam to 620 on the test day.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Still Essential For the New GRE Dec 11 2011
By W. Shi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was an instrumental tool in my preparation for the GRE verbal. I was hesitant at first about getting it, because it was geared toward the old GRE which was supposedly more vocabulary heavy. However, I figured that at $8 the risk was low enough to just give it a try. It turned out to be the wisest decision I made in my GRE preparation.

With regard to the vocabulary requirement on the new GRE versus the old, I believe that the new GRE places a bigger emphasis on the depth of your command of vocabulary than the breadth. This book is great because the sample sentences and exercises allow you to learn vocabulary with precision. Further, although the new GRE may have fewer obscure words, you will likely still need to substantially expand your vocabulary if you are aiming for a high verbal score. In light of this, this book is STILL very much essential, even though it was written for the old GRE.

What I loved about this book:
- Bite-size units. Each self-contained unit has 10 words. Works great if your free time is fragmented.
- Clear, concise definitions
- Aptly chosen sample sentences
- Exercises at the end of each unit. These really helped with retention!

Possible areas for improvement:
- I wish pronunciation was included. For me and possibly for many others, sounding out a word helps remembering it.
- The binding needs to be stronger. Mine fell apart in a week. Seriously, a book that is meant to be used and written in everyday should be able to withstand a fair amount of abuse.

Organization of the book
The main part of the book consists of 80 word lists, each containing 10 words and complete with exercises. Each word is accompanied by its definition and a well-chosen sample sentence. The words are listed alphabetically, so it's easy to look up a word you know you have studied but just couldn't recall the meaning. Two self-assessment tests are included: one at the beginning of the book (pretest) and one at the end (posttest). These are in the format of the old GRE verbal, and are each one section long (30 questions including reading). The front of the book includes a condensed list of 300 absolutely essential GRE words. You can give those a quick scan to see how strong your starting vocabulary is. The back 1/3 of the book is dedicated to an extensive root work section, as well as a list of common suffixes. These will help you expand your vocabulary even further and strengthen your ability to guess the meaning of an unfamiliar word.

How I used the book
I found that on average it took me 20-30 minutes to complete one unit, including doing the exercises. I got this book merely 10 days before the exam (was studying for the GRE full time), so I only managed to get through 70% of the words in the book. This means I crammed at a rate of 6-8 units a day. NOT recommended. Depending on how extensive your starting vocabulary is, you should be able to cover 2-4 units a day comfortably.

I usually tackle the exercises immediately after studying the words the first time. There are three types of exercises after each unit: matching, fill-in, and a fun "Sense of Nonsence" where you have to decide if a sentence makes good sense or not. One way I tried to challenge myself was by attempting the fill-in questions without looking at the word choices. This "blind-fold" method both helped me internalize the words better, and was a great way to practice for the sentence equivalence and fill-in questions on the test. In addition, I made flashcards for the words I had trouble with.

On a side note, the book is written in a non-cumulative way, which means the definition, sample sentences and exercises in any part of the book do not assume knowledge of the words that appeared earlier in the book. This is beneficial because it allows you to study in any sequence you want. I studied in a somewhat random order, because I just couldn't stand the thought of having gone through 10% of the book and still on A.

The Results
I took the GRE yesterday and scored a 167 on the verbal. By my estimate, studying from this book improved my verbal score by about 10 points, and that's with learning only 70% of the words!
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Great help! Jan. 1 2011
By Tracy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After taking a few GRE practice tests, I determined that my score was being lowered because I didn't know the definitions of certain words at all, making it quite difficult to discern the correct answer! I figured any improvement in my vocabulary would help on the test. I took the words in the book and made flash cards of the ones I didn't know. They really helped! I am going to continue trying to learn more words from this book so I can be a better scholar.

I was averaging around 550-600 before using this book, and I ended up with a 660 Verbal score after learning these words. I would highly recommend this book!

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