Other Vocabulary Resources

In addition to products designed for the , you can find a variety of general vocabulary-building books in the reference section of any decent bookstore. One type emphasizes and is organized by word roots and prefixes. Knowing roots and prefixes is the key to making educated guesses when it comes to unfamiliar words on the test. Put this type of book at the top of your vocabulary resource list. But bypass most other general vocabulary builders, at least for prep. Here are the most common types—and why they’re not worth the bother:

Note: Very few test-takers realize that one of the best vocabulary building tools is already on the desktop of almost every PC—it’s the thesaurus built into Microsoft Word. Type in a good word in an open document, select the word, then click on Thesaurus (from the Language tab under the Tools menu). Up pops a list of similar words, and possibly a link to a list of antonyms as well. It’s a at way to learn new words by groups.
  • Books that emphasize word derivations (where a word came from originally and how it evolved to its current spelling, pronunciation, and usage). Although there are many at books of this type available, don’t bother with them for prep.
    They’re inefficient for what you need to know.
  • Books dedicated to the most obscure, most interesting, most frequently misused, or oddest words. Remember: The test designers don’t select words based on how off-the-wall they are. So bypass those novelty books.
  • Dictionaries. Don’t misunderstand—there’s nothing wrong with dictionaries, and you should always have a good one at your side when reviewing Antonyms, Analogies, and Sentence and Complex Text Completions from your Practice Tests. But reading the dictionary isn’t exactly an efficient way to pinpoint the kinds of words that are test-worthy, is it?
Note: A book that presents similar words in groups is better than one that contains little more than long lists organized alphabetically. Similarly, a book containing lots of quizzes and exercises, which make learning new words more fun and interesting, is better than one that lacks these features.

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