GRE Vocab Capacity: 2016 Edition – Over 1,200 Powerful Memory Tricks and Mnemonics

2016 version published on 11/5/15.

Need a good way to keep in mind that the word “prodigal” means “wasteful”? Just think of prada gal – a girl who spends all of her money on designer clothes.

Brian McElroy (Harvard, ‘02) and Vince Kotchian (Boston College, ‘97), two of San Diego’s most sought after test-prep tutors, provide a series of clever, unconventional, and funny memory devices aimed toward helping you to beef up your vocabulary and take into account that words long-term so that you don’t ever omit their meanings. Brian and Vince, combined, have been tutoring the test for over 20 years. They have analyzed all available official GRE tests to make a choice the words that appear in this book.

The vocabulary words in this book are best suited for students at a 9th-grade level or above. The words in this edition are specifically targeted toward the GRE exam, but they are also helpful for students who are preparing for other standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT, or anyone at any age who simply wants to beef up his/her knowledge of English vocabulary.

Disclaimer: a few of our mnemonics might not be appropriate for kids – some contain adult language or situations. Over 950 of the words in this book appear in our other mnemonics book, SAT Vocab Capacity. So if you’re easily offended, the SAT version might be a better choice.

Why This Book Is Different

If you’re studying for the GRE, SAT, or for any other standardized test that measures your vocabulary, you may be feeling a little bit anxious – especially if you’ve taken a practice test and encountered words you didn’t know (or maybe never even saw before)! Whether you have seven days or seven months to prepare for the test, you’re going to want to boost your vocabulary. But it’s not that simple – you’ve got to take into account that the words you learn. And on many GRE text completion and sentence equivalence questions, getting the right answer comes down to knowing the precise definition of the words.

You could make vocabulary flashcards. You could look up words you don’t know. You could read a book with lots of big words. But unless you give your brain a way to hold on to the words you learn, it’s going to probably have a harder time remembering them when they appear on the test. That’s the problem with most vocabulary books: the definitions and sentences in the books aren’t especially memorable.

That’s where this book is different. We’ve not only clearly defined the words but we’ve also created sentences designed to help you take into account that the words through a variety of associations – the use of mnemonics.

Mnemonic Examples

A mnemonic is just a memory device. It works by creating a link in your brain to something else, so that recall of one thing helps recall of the other. This can be done in many ways – but the strongest links are through senses, emotions, rhymes, and patterns.

Believe this example:

Quash (verb): to completely stop from happening.

Think: squash.

The best way to quash an invasion of ants in your kitchen is simple: squash them.

Now your brain has a link from the word quash (which it may not have known) to the word squash (which it probably knows). Both words sound and look the same, so it’s easy to create a visual and aural link. If you picture someone squashing ants (and maybe get grossed out), you also have another visual link and an emotional link.

Here’s another example:

Eschew (verb): to avoid.

Think: ah-choo!

Eschew people who say “ah-choo!” unless you wish to have to catch their colds.

The word eschew sounds similar to a sneeze (ah-choo!), so your brain will now link the two sounds. If you picture yourself avoiding someone who is about to sneeze in your face, even better! Again, the more connections you make in your brain to the new word, the easier it’s going to be for you to remember it.

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