Vocabulary Lists For the GMAT

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You probably know that the GMAT is not a vocabulary exam. Unlike the GRE, there is no question type that explicitly tests your knowledge of certain English words.

Of course, the Analytical Writing Assessment and GMAT Verbal section depend on your knowledge of the English language, but the vocabulary you'll need is unpredictable. Once you have a working grasp of core English vocabulary--let's say, enough to read and understand a US newspaper such as The Wall Street Journal--additional vocabulary isn't going to make a big difference to your GMAT score.

Better Than Vocabulary Lists

Since the GMAT doesn't use question formats such as analogies and antonyms, you'll only be required to know words in context. That is, you'll read passages for Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension questions, and the GMAT expects you to understand them well enough to analyze the content you've seen.

Learning vocabulary won't hurt, but it isn't a very effective way to build those skills. More important--especially if you don't read, write, and speak English most of the time--is reading GMAT-like material. That way, you'll not only be exposed to new words, but to the sentence and argument structures you can expect on the test itself.

Vocabulary In Context

When you read anything, whether it be a high-quality newspaper or an RC passage from The Official Guide, look for unfamiliar vocabulary. At first, try to determine a new word's meaning from context. Usually, if you know the other words in the sentence, you can figure out the other one.

It's useful to consult a dictionary to find out the exact meaning, but only after you've tried to define the word in context. You're more likely to remember a new word if you've thought about it in connection with other things you know. That's much more effective than flashcards, as I've written before.

As always, the best form of practice is with realistic GMAT materials, or some close imitation thereof. The same is true when it comes to building vocabulary for the exam.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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