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TOEFL and GRE Vocabulary (Video)

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Here is a list of four TOEFL and GRE vocabulary words that are likely to appear in either exam.


The words are presented by Lucas Fink, the TOEFL guy at Magoosh.

(to) exacerbate

This word looks and sounds like “exasperate”, so sometimes native speakers confuse them, but the meaning is quite different. “Exasperate” is similar to “frustrate”, and is used for people. If you “exasperate” somebody, you make them angry. But “exacerbate” is used for situations, not people, and means “make a problem worse”. For example, imagine you are writing in pencil. You make a mistake, and so you try to erase the mistake. But the eraser doesn’t work well, so instead of erasing you smudge the letters. So you try to erase more, but it only makes the smudge bigger. Now you have a big black spot on the paper. Trying to erase the mistake has only exacerbated the problem.

Check out: Tricky Words in TOEFL (Video)

(to be) prolific

Something who is “prolific” creates or produces a lot. We use this often when talking about writers or artists who produce a large number of works. Stephen King is a great example of a prolific writer. When he started writing, it was standard practice to publish no more than one book per year. But King wrote so much that he used a second name, a pseudonym, in order to publish more.

(to) augment

This word is similar in meaning to “add to”, but it is usually used when adding an improvement or a resource (especially money). Imagine a woman named Janine, who has a baby. Let’s say Janine does one job during the day, but then starts a second job in the evenings. She is probably starting that second job because she wants to augment her income.

(an) apex

This word is not usually used to describe a physical place, but when it is, it is at the very top of something, such as a mountain. More often, an apex is a time when something is at its best or most numerous. A professional athlete, for example, will usually hit his or her apex somewhere around 25 to 30 years old. That is a career apex. Most athletes in their 40s don’t perform as well as younger athletes, because it is harder to stay as strong and healthy as we grow older.

If you want to learn more words you have to read a lot. Just make sure to look up words you don’t understand in the dictionary.

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