Essential Words for the GRE Paperback – Jul 1 2010
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From the Inside Flap
Table Of Contents:
Introduction: Mastering Advanced Vocabulary For The GRE
Suggested Study Plans
300 High-Frequency GRE Words
Essential Words For The GRE
Review: 300 High-Frequency Word Roots
Review: Essential Words For The GRE
300 High-Frequency Word Roots
Essential Words For The Gre
Root Roundup Review
Index --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Philip Geer lives in Singapore where he directs Mentaurs, an educational consultancy that prepares students for the SAT, GRE, and other standardized tests. From 1978 until 2001 he taught English for the Singapore Ministry of Education at the junior college level. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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!
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.
Regarding the layout, the structure is quite simple: The book has 800 high frequency words divided into 80 units of 10 words each. The words are conveniently alphabetically ordered in categories such as the following: abate to abstinence, abysmal-affinity, etc.
Then within each unit you will find definitions of all 10 words in addition to sentence examples with the key words embedded. All of this is followed by LOTS OF PRACTICE:
1) A matching section
2) A fill in the blank section
3) A sense or nonsense section (Based on your understanding of the new vocabulary, you have to read whole sentences and assess completely if they make sense).
At this point you, the reader, have read the definitions, seen examples of how they fit in sentences and completed three forms of practice.
That's the equivalent of 5 levels of exposure and it's given to you in bite size chunks that you can digest within 10 minutes each. This level of repetition and exposure flat out works!
In fact, this type of learning would work extremely well for some of the English language learners (students who struggle with English) that I teach, because they require much practice to truly internalize vocabulary. I suspect that if you are looking to cram and forget the words right after the exam then simple flash cards would be better suited. That said, I think that this book's structure and amount of practice make it a pretty fail safe solution to improving your reading comprehension score via vocabulary memorization.
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.