GRE Snacks 12 – How semantic clusters accelerate GRE vocab acquisition

Tyler York
GRE Snacks

GRE doesn’t provide a vocab list, so how do you study all vocabulary in the entire English language when preparing for the GRE? Orion shares his unique and powerful approach that uses semantic clusters – grouping of words with similar meaning – to help you get GRE-vocab-ready in a fraction of the normal time required.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to maximize your score on the GRE exam, check out Achievable’s GRE course that was authored by Orion.

GRE Snacks 12 – How semantic clusters accelerate GRE vocab acquisition transcript:

 Welcome to GRE snacks snackable episodes about the GRE exam and graduate school admission. I'm Tyler founder of achievable and I'm Orion founder of Stellar GRE and author of Achievable GRE course. All right, let's get started. So today we are going to talk about the best way to do vocab acquisition, which you call semantic clusters. So what are semantic cluster? This is a very unique elements to the approach that we have over at achievable. And as far as I know, this is the only test prep company that uses semantic clustering as a way of acquiring new vocabulary. So it kind of goes like this can be one of the most exasperating aspects of the GRE prep why because there's literally tens of thousands of words in the English language that are like GRE level were tens of thousands of test.
 Vocabulary words and there is no master list that UTSA is a sourcing from so it's very difficult to learn even a few hundred new words. It's it's very time-consuming and the odds are that no one word that you said he will ever show up on the exam. So to become a demoralizing right and instead you get to study the entire English language with sounds fun.
 Oh, yeah, a lot of a lot of fun. I mean if if your idea of a good time is just grinding with stacks of vocabulary flashcards, then you're going to have a blast of thing for this year. I'd prefer other ways to get my kicks some of which are illegal and
 GRE vocab is just not one of them one of the main reasons why acquiring all that new vocabulary is slow is so slow and painful is that students study? Like they're studying for a high school English class. They have the word on one side. They have the actual dictionary definition of you on the other and this is very slow because that level of memorization is very time-intensive and energy-inefficient.
 Were you have to remember the actual dictionary definition and be able to recall it associated with a specific vocabulary word? There's actually two types of remembering their recall and there's recognition remembering for recall is being able to know that for example sculpture is the capital of North Macedonia. Like why would do I know that I don't know. I just pulled that out. It requires a lot of extra information to be able to pair those two elements into your memory into recall them at will but if I were to give you a list of three potential capitals are six potential capitals and I say which one of these six is the capital of North Macedonia to be much more likely to recognize cupshe then if I didn't provide it in that list.
 And at the end of the day vocabulary and the GRE is a recognition task. It's not a recall task. The test will never ask you. What is the definition of obstreperous? What is the definition of loquacious?
 It will ask you to kind of recognized among a small list of available Words, which ones mean kind of death.
 So with that in mind, we can dramatically accelerate the vocab acquisition process by kind of refraining from memorizing actual dictionary definition for recall because that's not actually the steel that's demanded on the day of the test instead. We memorized for recognition which requires much less effort in much less energy.
 That is his work. So what are the cool things about English which is one of the largest languages that has ever existed on planet Earth is that we have so many words me of all these interesting nuances of language and subtle distinctions between various words that makes language rich and interesting and poetic but all of that is unnecessary for standardized tests, like the GRE you don't necessarily need to understand the subtle differentiation between language.
 Instead you need to know that these words kind of mean the same thing and these words kind of don't mean the same thing. The reason for that is vocabulary question to really just send him and ask him problems in Disguise and we go into this in-depth interview the manual in achievable.
 So what we want to teach students to do and train them to do it to recognize synonym and antonym Pairs and to do that efficiently. What would I done is a group of thousands of words together into these things call Samantha clusters where it's basically like I've taken groups of words that have more or less similar meanings and Associated them with each other in a single cluster and then Define them with a very easy simple to understand term.
 For example, there's a semantic cluster called talks too much very easy to understand very simple language and inside that cluster are Jerry little words, like loquacious and garrulous and logarithmic and products and her both and wordy. All of these words have settled if fluctuations in their definition of connotation variation mean that the person can't shut up. They just talk too much. So knowing that you'll be able to recognize that loquacious pairs with careless that products pairs with logorrheic and that will help you when it comes to recognizing those words. I'm broke at base questions on the GRE, right? I mean I bare minimum you're memorizing at least it's at least better that you're memorizing one definition for six words instead of memorizing 6 definition for six words that will help with the process.
 It's also very easy to get them confused. Like I grew up studying Spanish. And now I know Portuguese and anybody who said he does wrong by those two romance languages know that there's actually a great deal of overlap between the two and the better. My Portuguese gets the worse my Fantasy Gifts and kind of vice-versa because they're so similar. It's easy to confuse them that I have to kind of repress one of the similarities to facilitate recall of the other language than just take away two similarities and group of all the state it all the same.
 Yeah, and then like you said it's always in contact so you don't actually need to know what the distinctions are. You basically just need to know the general thrust of what it means so that you can answer the question. Exactly. We are here to answer the question to get points on the board not to increase our vocabulary. That's not a word and we hear achievable are very goal-oriented in solution-focused. Our job is to raise your score as quickly as possible so that you can move on with the rest of your life. And that's one way to do it. Another way we do that is using a number of fun games. So I'll the way that most people study for the vocabulary is cray flashcards, are there actual physical cars with index cards or virtual flashcards using apps like Quizlet and they just would have flipped over the definitions and the words over and over and over again.
 Well, that's one way to study but it's also time consuming and not very effective. So by achievable, we facilitate the memorization of these clusters by providing a lot of fun interesting matching games basically, like for example will give you a selection of 10 words and asked you to select all the ones that mean sleepy so you'd help, you know, sup soporific and ignore the ones that don't mean that so it drains the recognition element of memorization and also have fun in novel where the games that start a different. So you also don't expect the same game over and over again certificate boring it maintains attention, which also facilitates the learning process. Yeah, and I messed around with it and when you get one of them wrong, so let's say there were four right answers and you got three of them, right the one that's wrong you it sticks out is connected to the other three that were correct.
 Loquacious also is very similar to we're both. Okay, I'll remember that. That's true so that you can learn sometimes even more from what you don't get right then what you do and that's actually really important in in machine learning and learning theory because we can get something right for the wrong reason. In fact Mystery Machine learning is said that the optimal accuracy rate for growth is rent at 85% I tell the students all the time because learning the GRE can be kind of inherently frustrating experience the questions keep getting harder the adapter that kind of keeps you in the state of of not knowing and struggling to find the answer in many in many respects. But if you're getting all the questions, right, it means that the content is too easy and you're actually not accelerating your growth as fast as you could it might feel good to get them. All right, but optimally you want to be shooting for like 85% accuracy.
 That's the fewest amount of tryouts get the more Bank the most bang for your buck. You should be an art of class.
 Got it to go for bees.
 cool, great Wally Show anything else you wanted to talk about with just like how the semantic clusters are made or maybe just like the philosophy that got got muted work on them in this way in the first place at the origin origin story is just dealing with students frustrations over the shooter and density of the task of preparing for the vocabulary in the GRE over the last fifteen or sixteen years, especially
 In the context of students whose first language is not English in the GRE is hard enough test as it is I can't imagine taking this test in Portuguese. It would be extremely difficult. So I have a lot of respect for students who are taking this test when English is not there the primary tongue. In fact one out of three students take the test outside of United States. So there's a lot of non-english language you can steaks on the GRE the kind of makes a test easier. It's likely a let's let's get through this faster. How did I develop the Clusters? I went through dozens of actual practice tests. I looked at the vocabulary that was present in all the vocab based questions. And so I sort my vocabulary from actual ETS practice test as well as those made by a reputable test prep companies develop this master list. So I think that they're good words,
 You see some products out there that say like the top 200 words are the best 500 Words and I'm sure that sells product but it's not validated with any kind of Empirical research. As far as I'm concerned. There are no like top 200 words that UPS always uses or much more frequently uses another words. She do want to cast a wide net when studying vocabulary. It's important to prioritize quantity over quality because anyone word has such a low chance of presenting on the actual test. It's better to learn more words kinda then to learn a few are words. Exactly and that's precisely what this event in clusters in Courage is running way more words faster kinda
 Except exactly cool.
 That's all right.
 Well, thanks so much Orion. This has been GRE snacks hosted by Orion for StellarGRE and Tyler from Achievable, but she would want Orion and partner to build a great GRE course, you can try it for free at and you can use the code podcast to get 10% off at checkout.
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