A High-Frequency GRE Vocabulary Punch… from the Panchantantra

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This story from the Panchatantra contains 19 high-frequency GRE words. See if you can understand the meanings from the story otherwise, the meanings are given below.

Mandavisarpini was a white flea. She lived in the folds of the luxuriant bedclothes on the bed of a king in a certain country; she lurked about in them at night and fed on his blood without anybody noticing. One day, a bug managed to enter the beautifully decorated bedroom of the king. When the flea saw him, she cried, “O bug, what are you doing in the king’s bedroom? Leave at once before you get caught!”

The bug replied, “Madam, even if I were just a nugatory good-for-nothing pest (which I most certainly am not), it would not be right to treat me this way, because I am your guest, and one should welcome a guest with comity and humility. It is the duty of the host to offer refreshments,” the bug continued, “and though I have fed myself with all types of blood, I never have I had the opportunity to savor the blood of a king. It must be very savory, for a king’s life is filled with all kinds of opulence, and so he must satisfy his palate with only the most magnificent culinary marvels. So, if you will permit, I would love to taste the king’s blood.”

The flea was dumbfounded.

“O Bug, you have a painful bite which feels like a barb perforating the skin, she said, “so the king will surely wake up when you bite him. I feed on the king’s blood only when he is in profound sleep. I can permit you to feed on the king’s blood only if you promise to wait till he is asleep.”

The bug agreed: “I promise to wait till the king is asleep, and only after you yourself have fed will I feed on his blood.”

Soon after they had resolved on this plan, the king came and lay down to sleep. The bug could not control himself, and decided to take a tiny bite of the king right away. As the king had not yet fallen asleep, he jumped when he felt the bug’s sharp bite. Distraught, the king shouted to his servants: “There is something in my bed that has bitten me! Look for it!”

On hearing this, the bug quickly ran to a corner of the bed and camouflaged himself by standing in front of the dark wood of the bedframe. The servants scrutinized the bedclothes sheet by sheet, and found the flea in one of the folds. They killed her at once, thus allaying the king’s anxiety, and the king then went to sleep in peace.
Thus the wise say: Beware the false promises of strangers and friends alike. You are the one who will end up paying for them.

GRE Vocabulary and Meanings

  1. luxuriant (adjective): splendid, shining, and beautiful: “He watched her as she combed her luxuriant brown hair.” “The actress came to the awards ceremony dressed in a luxuriant green sari.”
  2. lurk (verb): to move stealthily and cautiously so as not to be seen: “At night, rats lurk in the ground-floor rooms of our house.” “I never walk on the university campus at night, because they say that thieves lurk in the woods there.”
  3. nugatory (adjective): worthless: “Throughout my teens I continuously wrote poetry, most of which now seems nugatory or positively hilarious.” “A degree from a third-rate university is nugatory.”
  4. comity (noun): courtesy; consideration; kindness: “Political refugees deserve to be treated with comity by the host state while their applications are being considered.” “I wouldn’t recommend that hospital: I sensed a distinct lack of comity on the one occasion when I was treated there.”
  5. humility (noun): humbleness; lack of pride: “Despite his fame, the actor always treated his fans with humility and gratitude.” “When approaching the god in worship, you must always assume an attitude of humility.”
  6. savor (verb): to attentively appreciate a positive experience, particularly a taste: “Just savor the bold flavor of this new Italian wine I bought today.” “I hate it when other audience members talk at concerts while I’m trying to savor the music.”
  7. savory (adjective): tasty; having a pleasing taste: “This bhaji is much more savory than I expected: in fact, on the basis of its appearance, I thought it would taste disgusting.” “A little spice makes food more savory; too much spice just drowns out the taste.”
  8. opulence (noun): splendor of wealth; splendid show of wealth: “Having been quite poor before he became famous, the young actor was unprepared for the opulence of his new lifestyle.” “He’s a man of simple tastes, so he is very uncomfortable with the opulence of the expensive new house his wife forced him to buy.”
  9. palate (noun): the top of the mouth, once thought to be the location of the faculty of taste; the faculty of taste: “Our food will delight your palate with tastes you’ve never even imagined.” “There’s no point in taking him to fancy restaurants: He has the palate of a street dog.”
  10. culinary (adjective): relating to cooking and food: “Among the things that most attracted her to him were his culinary skills.” “For me, the most memorable thing about our trip to Europe was the great variety of culinary experiences we had in the countries we visited.”
  11. dumbfound (verb; almost always in the form of the past passive participle dumbfounded): astonish; appall: “Philosophers of every generation concern themselves with the same set of eternal mysteries that dumbfound the human mind.” “I was dumbfounded when my wife of twenty years sold all our property, emptied our bank account, and fled to Bolivia.”
  12. barb (noun): a thorn; any sharp piercing object: “As he ran through the forest, barbs and branches tore his clothes.” “Bees and wasps have a poisoned barb in their tail with which they sting their enemies.”
  13. perforate (verb): to penetrate; to cut through: “The bullet perforated his left side and lodged between his left lung and his heart.” “Use this machine to perforate the pages so that they can be bound.”
  14. profound (adjective): very deep: “The wreck of the Titanic lies at the bottom of one of the Atlantic Ocean’s most profound chasms.” “The old professor’s students were amazed by his profound knowledge of his subject.”
  15. resolve (verb): to decide (also resolve on): “I resolve to study Japanese for an hour a day until I have attained native fluency.” “After ten hours of deliberations, the prime minister and his cabinet resolved on a declaration of war.”
  16. distraught (adjective): distressed; upset; alarmed: “At the airport, distraught friends and family of the passengers waited anxiously for news of the missing plane.” “I became distraught when my wife still had not returned home at eleven PM.”
  17. camouflage (verb): to conceal something by making it look similar to its surroundings: “Deer camouflage themselves by standing amidst tall dry grass that is similar in color to their brown coats.” “He camouflaged his cricket bat by leaning it against the trunk of a tree.”
  18. scrutinize (verb): to examine or search very carefully: “Even if you have edited your written work thoroughly, you will find errors that you had missed earlier if you scrutinize it again” “Every day I scrutinize the online newspapers for stories about genetically modified crops.”
  19. allay (verb): to neutralize or lay to rest (fear, anger, hunger, or some other negative feeling or experience): “She tried to allay my fear of flying by telling me that in fact one is more likely to be stabbed to death by a monkey than to die in a plane crash.” “The health minister sought to allay the public’s anxiety about Ebola by announcing that every person coming into the country would now be thoroughly screened for the disease.”

Cracking the Verbal Section 2: Turning Verbal Debility into Verbal Ability

Cracking the GRE Verbal Section

(Note: debility means weakness or disability; verbal debility here means a weakness or disability relating to the verbal section. Also, check out the other difficult words in this post. To get the meaning, just hover your mouse over them.)

 

How to Improve Vocabulary

1. Get those Vocab Lists, Look up those Dictionaries

As we said in our previous post, a good grasp of vocabulary is instrumental to achieving success in the Verbal Section. To improve your vocabulary, start by learning word meanings, synonyms, and antonyms. In order to do this you will need to find a good GRE list on the net – there are several available – and look up the synonyms and antonyms on a good online dictionary e.g.

On every handy piece of software to download and install on your laptop, phones, tablets, PCs etc is wordweb (http://wordweb.info/free/): it will give you words, meanings, sample sentences etc. for every word you hover your cursor over.

(Note to Dilip Oak’s Academy students: you already have VaiVocabulary – this gives you the word list along with synonyms, antonyms, easily confused words and a whole lot of revision features.)

2. Learn, Revise, Repeat

Developing an effective vocabulary also means consistent learning and revision so, start learning well before the exam – at least three months is recommended – and set up a learning and revision schedule. Make regular revision an integral part of your schedule: unless you revise regularly and repeatedly, you won’t remember any of that difficult vocabulary you are learning.

4. Target the Tough Ones

When you revise, mark out any words that you tend to forget: they need extra revision. The more you tend to forget them, the more they need to be revised; and the more you revise them, the better you will remember them!

5. Start Small

Doing all the learning and revision required can be an arduous task so, start with a good 500 high frequency GRE® word list. A short list like this will be a good stepping stone to the longer ones; and learning it will help you in overcoming the mental blocks associated with vocabulary learning.

6. Put it in Context

Keep in mind that simply memorizing words by rote is not enough, however; and developing a good vocabulary is not merely a matter of memorizing meanings of thousands of words. Often students notice that simply knowing the meaning of an obscure GRE word does not guarantee selecting the right answer in the exam. A proper understanding of exactly how to use vocabulary is necessary. It is this knowledge of usage that helps you to choose the right word for the given context. It is therefore advisable that, along with all your efforts to increase your vocabulary, you focus on getting a clear understanding of how to use these GRE words and which words fit in a particular context.

 

Developing Good Reading Habits

Apart from going through word lists, developing good reading habits is also crucial. One way in which this helps is getting an understanding of usage and context as we saw above. Secondly, though the GRE® is not a test of general knowledge, the reading comprehension passages in the verbal section cover a variety of topics and areas. Some background knowledge of the subjects being discussed in the passage you are reading is always useful since it is always easier to understand something that is at least somewhat familiar than something that is completely unfamiliar. For both these reasons it is imperative that you read a variety of articles from newspapers, magazines, and the web. Sites like the ones below give you access to an eclectic collection of very high quality writings.

http://thebrowser.com/ (easier but nevertheless intriguing reading – good to start with: it stimulates your interest and gets you reading without bogging you down with difficult words or convoluted sentences)

http://www.aldaily.com/ (more complex stuff, really long articles – get into this slowly)

Reading through this material at random can ensure both plenty of practice for comprehension and exposure to vocabulary in context.

(Note for Oak’s students: check out this link)

 

 

Cracking the GRE®: Verbal Reasoning 1 – the GRE exam’s Toughest Nut to Crack

Vocabulary tough nuts

First, here’s some basic orientation for GRE® rookies. The GRE exam incorporates 3 types of section:

  • Analytical Writing (the essay writing section which is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half point increments)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (which tests Maths skills)
  • Verbal Reasoning (which tests English skills – both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are scored on a scale of 130-170 in 1-point increments)

Typically, cracking the GRE requires 4-12 weeks of preparation. A major chunk of this time will inevitably be invested in preparing for the Verbal section. Why is this so? Firstly, a lot of Indian students taking the GRE are engineers or others for whom the Quantitative Reasoning section is not a major problem. But Verbal reasoning includes questions on Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence which require good reading skills and an extensive vocabulary. However, most Indian students don’t tend to read much and, as a result, these are precisely the skills and knowledge that they lack. So, the Verbal Reasoning section is a tough nut to crack. What difficulties does it throw up?

Doing well in reading comprehension entails, among other things, an ability to read challenging unseen passages on unfamiliar topics, locate relevant information within the mass of details given in the passage, understand assumptions and implications and, get the main point. Choosing the right options from among several close alternatives requires insight, and discrimination, and the ability to recognize correct restatements and inferences.

 

In Sentence Equivalence or Text Completion questions, a proper understanding of the logic and reasoning of the sentences plays an important role: without it you won’t find the correct approach. Then, there are the vocabulary challenges. We all know that word meanings in the English language can be quite tricky. The GRE exam makes this problem even trickier by offering you close choices in Sentence Equivalence and Text Completion questions – ones which require you to understand the nuances of meaning and usage of words. Understanding usage and context therefore play a very important role in eliminating the wrong answers. Further, the wide variety of sub-question types and the high difficulty level of the questions is a challenge to most students.

Given the difficulties verbal questions pose, preparation for the Verbal section means developing a thorough mastery of vocabulary, reading skills and the strategies for tackle them successfully. Naturally, doing well in the Verbal section takes intensive preparation and practice for all students. You have to start well in advance, have the right resources and a good study plan. Our next blog will give you a few tips on how to move closer to attaining prowess in this difficult section.

 

Make Learning GRE Vocabulary Fun for Yourself with this Hilarious (But True) ‘History of the English Language in Ten Minutes’

Here’s a fun help for GRE verbal section preparation – especially for those students who find learning the vocabulary a bore! This hilarious video by the Open University, England gives you insights into the ingredients that have been combined to create that wonderful melting pot that we call the English vocabulary.

Some highlights: Shakespeare’s contributions to the vocabulary of the English; before that the additions to the language through the invasions of tribes such as the Jutes, Angles, Saxons and the role of conquerors such as the Normans from France and the Romans. Towards the end of the video there are even parts on the role of the Internet, of America and even India! Definitely worth a watch, maybe even several! Happy viewing!

 

P.S. just in case the embedded video is not working here’s the link:

The History of the English Language in Ten Minutes

Related Links

GRE Prep: Verbal Study Plan Overview

Here from Dilip Oak’s Academy are the GRE Prep highlights. As the graphic above indicates the basic plan for verbal preparation for the GRE is as follows:

  • at least 3-5 months before your GRE, begin vocabulary preparation and preliminary reading practice
  • 2 months before your GRE, begin going through the practice material
  • 1 month before your GRE, begin your practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTS)

This is explained below: As you can see there are four aspects of preparation that you have to cover:

  1. Vocabulary Learning and Revision
  2. Preliminary Reading Practice
  3. Covering the Practice Material
  4. Practice on the Computer-Based Tests (CBTs)

Each of the sections below gives you a brief idea of how to handle one aspect of preparation. Each section also contains links (in red) which give you further important details about the aspect of preparation that it deals with. Before you read through the sections below read through the post on ‘some principles’ for GRE Preparation. This will give you important guidelines on how to work through the material described in each of the sections.

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Free GRE Tips on Preparing for the Verbal Section

Guiding Principles

I. First Techniques, Then Timing

When working on your practice material, first get comfortable with the techniques and start focusing on timing only when you have reached a high level of accuracy and confidence with the techniques. If you try to push yourself to do the questions faster, without first getting a good grasp of the techniques, you will end up making more mistakes and losing confidence. So,start by getting accurate and confident with the techniques first.

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How I Got 338/340: Aadheesh Gokhale

Here’s another blog from one of our Academy’s stars, Adheesh Gokhale, who scored a superb 338. What makes his performance even more creditable is that he was a working student. So, his is another inspiring story to let you know that getting a great score is possible.

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Finally, with apologies for my procrastination (you can look up the meaning of the word here; I won’t tell you! :)) here’s my blog. Now, let’s get down to business.

I will not tell you what to do; instead I’ll share what I did. (But I do believe that anyone who can do this will be able to score above 330 – I won’t say much on AWM though as I have a score of only 4 🙂 ! So, here goes:

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An Easy Way to Learn GRE Test Words – Learn Them through Roots

Word RootsStarting this week, we are introducing a new feature that will help all you students who are struggling to prepare for the GRE test – posts that will help you learn the GRE test words using roots. Though the technical meaning of ‘roots’ is a little different, here it is useful to think of them as the original Latin and Greek words that the English words came from.

Learning words through their roots is useful in two ways – firstly, knowing the root and meaning of a word can help you understand why the word means what it means. Secondly, since there are often many words which come from the same Greek or Latin root, this helps you to learn several words at one time. It becomes easier because, as you will seen in today’s post, words from the same root look similar and also share a common set of meanings. The two lists below, which cover 32 words totally, will illustrate how this is so.

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An Easy Way to Learn GRE Words (Through Roots) Part 2

Word RootsIf you found the last post on roots helpful, here are 2 more roots which cover 25 GRE words. For those of you who have come directly to this post, here’s a link that will help you understand why we are talking about roots so much: go to first roots post. (But basically, it helps to make learning the GRE words much easier).

genus generis (14 words)

The Latin word genus (cognate with Greek ‘genos’ and the Sanskrit root ‘jan’) has produced a number of English words. Genus has two basic forms: ‘genus’ and ‘generis’ (the second of which is more important because most derived words in English and other modern European languages have come from it whereas ‘genus’ exists as a single English word).

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GRE Prep for Oak’s Students – Vocabulary Learning and Revision

Vocabulary Learning and Revision (to be started preferably 3-5 months in advance)

The largest, most time-consuming component of your GRE preparation is vocabulary revision. Achieving a good level of basic preparation involves getting familiar with around 4,000 words commonly used on GRE test. To really understand a word you need to know its range of meanings, some of its important secondary meanings, its usage (illustrated by sample sentences using the word) and it is often useful to know the roots of the word. Dilip Oak’s Academy has provided two very useful aids for learning and revising these various aspects. Described below is how you can use them both at home and outside.

 

At Home:

When at home use VaiVocabulary. VaiVocabulary is one of the best vocabulary learning softwares available in the market. It has a number of features which help to make vocabulary learning really effective. Here are some tips on how to get the most of it:

  • Try out all the features in order to select which combination works best for you – some of the more important features are given below:
    • Pictures – these are connected to the meaning and help to remind you of the meaning.
    • Sample sentences or usage – remember you don’t understand the meaning when you learn the definition: real understanding comes when you see how the word is used in sample sentences.
    • Video’ – most of this is really audio, but the videos give really good explanations of word meaning and lots of additional sample sentences.
    • Mnemonics – ways of linking the meaning of the word with the form of the word; many are given; select the ones you find most useful.
    • Word origins – these are the roots of words which help you to understand the meanings of words rather than just learning them by heart.
    • Synonyms – the easy synonyms help you to understand the meaning of a word better; the hard ones extend your vocabulary.
  • Mark any word you cannot remember ‘very difficult’ by default so that you will be able to repeatedly revise it; lower the rating when you get better at remembering.
  • most important: sincerely go through all quizzes, the rapid revision (it comes up at the beginning of a new session) and the difficulty-based revision sessions.
  • The VaiVocabulary DVD has a tutorial that will take you through all the available features and explain how to use them
  • If you run into any problems with installing or using the DVD contact the Academy – all the problems can be fixed one way or another, but don’t let problems prevent you from the enormous benefits of using this great vocabulary learning software.

Outside (i.e. when you are not at home): Use FlashCards and FlashCard Companion

  • The FlashCards contain 4,000 GRE words and their meaning; 2-3 shades of meaning are given for every word.
  • The FlashCard Companions are booklets which give you a sample phrase for every meaning of every word in the FlashCards.
  • Every page in the FlashCard Companion booklet corresponds to a FlashCard. The number of the FlashCard is given at the top of the page. Word numbers are also given for ease of reference.