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My question stems from this paper: An analysis on the validity of the lexicon required by GREĀ® test takers.

According to the paper, "the great majority of these words are too infrequent to be deemed as useful tools for graduate life". Only 15 out of 302 analyzed words (about 5%) found to be frequent in academic corpus.

So why do they exist in the Graduate Record Examination?

My experience is that those words are especially helpful when you read articles from reputed newspapers and magazines, where the demand of complex language is high. Sometimes I do meet a GRE word that I've learned in a scientific paper, and thanks for my studying in GRE I don't have to look up the dictionary. I do use those words to show off in my TOEFL test, and I have a high score in writing and reading skills. In short, I am wholeheartedly advocate to learn advanced vocabulary, for the sake of getting fluent in the language. However, I don't understand why the GRE requires the test-takers to learn words which are too infrequent for their academic jobs.

1 Answer 1

The vocab in the GRE is a measurement of verbal reasoning. The GRE never makes any claims of being practical. It strictly wants to know how well you can do on a general test that measurements several factors related to graduate studies.

Naturally, there have been complaints about the GRE's ability to predict graduate school academic performance. However, as of now, this is a required test for admission to many graduate schools