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Although the new GRE allows you to move around within a section and come backto questions you previously left blank or wish to reconsider, keep in mind that, if youdon't know the words, you won't do any better by attempting the questiontwice—you'll only waste time and lower your overall score.If you don't know the words, do not leave the question blank. Make your bestguess and move on. Don't waste time coming back—spend that extra time onReading Comprehension or other vocabulary questions that you are able to answermore effectively.In sum: learn the words!Why It Is Important to Learn Words in ContextEducational Testing Service tells you not only to check that the two answers youselect for a question create sentences that mean the same thing, but also to makesure that each one “produces a sentence that is logically, grammatically, andstylistically coherent.”Hmm. Asking test-takers to check that the completed sentences are “grammaticallycoherent” implies that some of the choices will create sentences that are not. Here'san example:Education advocates argued that the free school lunch program was vital tocreating a school environment _____________ to learning.conduciveinimicalsubstantialappropriatebeneficialhostile“Education advocates” are certainly in favor of learning; your fill-in might besomething like helpful.
Looking at the choices, conducive,appropriate, and beneficialall seem to bematches.However, if you place each word into the sentence, one choice creates an incorrectidiom. “Conducive to” works, and “beneficial to,” but “appropriate to learning” is not acorrect idiom—instead, you would say “appropriate forlearning.”Thus, it is important not only to memorize dictionary definitions of words, but also tobe able to use those words in context, in a grammatically correct way.Here's another example:He's a _____________ fellow, always grandstanding and deploying hisformidable lexicon for oratorical effect.declamatorygrandiloquentdidacticfloridtitaniccabalisticThe target is “he” and the clue is “grandstanding and deploying his formidablelexicon for oratorical effect”; that is, he speaks in a pompous way, as thoughshowing off his vocabulary for an audience.The word floridseems appropriate—it means “flowery” and often applies to speech,as in “florid poetry.” But wait! Floridapplies to writing, speech, decor, etc.—not thepeople who produce those things! (Actually, you can apply floridto people, but inthat context it means “flushed, ruddy,” as in having rosy cheeks, which is notappropriate here.)The answer is declamatoryand grandiloquent, both of which describe pompousorators (that is, people who make speeches) or the speech of such people.Memorizing that floridmeans “flowery” is better than nothing, but doesn't really tellyou what kinds of things to describe with that word, or how to use it metaphorically.