The Vocabulary Project by Kentworth Edel
How many words could a student have added to his or her “high-school” vocabulary over the course of a typical college career? In strategic preparation for the MCAT– the Medical College Admission Test – the author undertook as a college freshman to record and define every “unknown word” that he encountered. Over the next three years he recorded and learned roughly 700 words, resulting in his scoring in the 99th percentile on the MCAT’s vocabulary section: he knew every word. Two years and another 300 words later, he scored in the 99th percentile on the GRE (the Graduate Record Examination), again knowing every word in the test. In the ensuing years, he has added an additional 400 words. These are the “right” words–no jargon, no technical terms, no quaint or whimsical words, no “high-school” words. All of them are in current usage by modern writers.
Any college student preparing for a graduate-school exam – the MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or GMAT – will benefit from reading through these more than 1400 words, which are indexed and arranged in order from the more common to the more obscure. By reading through and memorizing the first half of these, the student will have learned the more common of the “big” words, and might whet his or her appetite for learning the more obscure of them in the second half.