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my main source of learning GRE vocab words
on May 21, 2012
I recently took the revised GRE and scored in the 85th percentile on the verbal section (much to my surprise I might add). I used both the Manhattans 500 Essential Words Flash Cards 500 Essential Words: GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards as well as the Manhattan 500 Advanced Words Flash Cards 500 Advanced Words: GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards. After making it through both of these sets of flash cards, I felt like I had a fairly good vocabulary for the GRE and did see many of these words on the test. [By the way, if these cards are out of stock on Amazon, just call Manhattan and buy them over the phone, that's what I had to do. I don't know why they have issues stocking these on Amazon]
With this noted, if you do have additional time after finishing these two sets of flash cards, I **HIGHLY RECOMMEND** that you learn the 300 or so most common root words for the GRE as well. Root words are very helpful in deciphering words that you don't know that will come up on the GRE. I found Barron's Essential Words for the GRE book Essential Words for the GRE (Barron's GRE) to be a good source for this, although I'm sure you can find these same root words in the Kaplan or related books as well. And while 300 root words seems like a lot of words to learn, you will probably know some/many of these words already, so fear not! There doesn't seem to be a good set of root word flash cards out there, so I ended up making my own, which was fine. One last note about learning root words: they will also help to strengthen and reinforce the vocab words you already know or are learning from both sets of the Manhattan cards. Learn your root words!
If you need help with reading comprehension and verbal practice problems, I used several different books. Here is my preferred list of books, in order:
Kaplan New GRE Verbal Workbook
New GRE Verbal Workbook (Kaplan GRE)
While I usually don't like Kaplan as a company (and I have not used any of their other books), I *would* highly recommend using their verbal workbook as there seems to be a good amount of practice problems and they seem similar to what you might see on the GRE.
Secondly, I did use the Barron's GRE Verbal Workbook Barron's GRE Verbal Workbook and while I found it useful for it's large amount of practice problems, I found some of the vocab words used as answers were less common that what I saw either on the GRE or on other practice problems and practice tests. With this noted, I still recommend using this book.
Finally, I did use Manhattan's Reading Comprehension and Essay GRE Strategy Book as well. Reading Comprehension & Essays GRE Strategy Guide, 3rd Edition (Manhattan Prep Strategy Guides). The best thing I got from this book is learning how to take brief notes while reading over the reading passages on the GRE. Taking notes helps to reinforce what you are reading, a technique not talked about very often by other books. The practice problems in this book are decent, but nothing above that. I do wish they could have put more practice problems in this book (like the Kaplan Verbal Workbook), but there is still useful content here. If you are struggling with the analytical writing section, there are some good tips on this section as well.
One final note about both practicing your verbal, but also your math/quantitative: do as many practice tests as you can!!! When you purchase a book (any book I believe) from Manhattan, you get an access code to 6 full length online practice tests. I found these practice tests VERY VERY USEFUL for getting comfortable with the GRE format but also applying all of the verbal and math skills I was practicing. Most of the questions are very similar in difficulty to what you will see and you can review your questions as well. By the way, always review problems you get wrong, this is really important! For Kaplan, you have to purchase the Kaplan Premiere GRE review book to get the disc with access to 10 verbal practice tests and 10 quantitative practice tests. Like the Manhattan, I found these practice tests VERY VERY useful. Do yourself a favor, and get access to both the Manhattan and the Kaplan practice tests It will help immensely!