GMAT vocabulary you need to know to pass

By Edvoy• Last updated: Jun 16, 2023
GMAT vocabulary you need to know to pass
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The GMAT exam assesses various skills, including analytical reasoning, quantitative abilities, and verbal proficiency. A crucial component of the verbal section is vocabulary, and having a strong command of GMAT vocabulary is vital to score well on the exam.

GMAT vocabulary includes words that are commonly used in business, finance, and economics. These words are often complex, and their meanings may not be immediately apparent, making it essential to prepare thoroughly.

In this guide, we will explore some of the essential GMAT vocabulary words that you need to know to pass the exam.

Also read: 100 GRE vocabulary words you should know

Why GMAT vocabulary is important

The verbal section of the GMAT measures your proficiency in reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction. This section comprises 36 multiple-choice questions, and you have 65 minutes to complete it.

The passages in the reading comprehension section are taken from business-related topics, and the questions assess your ability to understand and analyze the information presented.

Therefore, having a strong command of GMAT vocabulary is crucial to understanding the context and meaning of the words used in the passages. Without this knowledge, it can be challenging to interpret the passages correctly and answer the questions accurately.

Also read: IELTS vocabulary words

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Common GMAT vocabulary words

To excel in the GMAT verbal section, you need to be familiar with a variety of vocabulary words, including those related to finance, economics, and business. Here are the essential GMAT vocabulary words that you need to know to pass the exam:

Also read: Pursuing a business degree: Finding GMAT scholarships to fund your studies


  • Aberration - a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected
  • Abet - to encourage or assist in the commission of an offence
  • Abjure - to renounce or reject a belief or cause
  • Abscond - to leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection or arrest
  • Accede - to assent or agree to a demand, request, or treaty


  • Bane - a cause of great distress or annoyance
  • Bellicose - demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight
  • Benevolent - well-meaning and kindly
  • Bequeath - to leave (property) to a person or other beneficiary by a will
  • Blatant - done openly and unashamedly


  • Cajole - to persuade someone to do something by sustained coaxing or flattery
  • Callous - showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others
  • Capricious - given to sudden and unaccountable changes in mood or behaviour
  • Catalyst - a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process
  • Caustic - sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way


  • 16. Debacle - a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco
  • Decimate - to destroy or kill a large proportion of something or someone
  • Depreciation - the decrease in value of an asset over time
  • Despot - a ruler who holds absolute power and exercises it in a cruel or oppressive way
  • Diatribe - a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something


  • Ebullient - cheerful and full of energy
  • Eccentric - unconventional and slightly strange
  • Eclectic - deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources
  • Efface - to erase (a mark) from a surface
  • Egalitarian - believing in or promoting equal rights for all people


  • Fervour - intense and passionate feeling
  • Flippant - not showing a serious or respectful attitude
  • Flout - to openly disregard (a rule, law, or convention)
  • Fortuitous - happening by chance or luck, rather than design
  • Frivolous - not having any serious purpose or value


  • Galvanize - to shock or excite (someone), typically into taking action
  • Garner - to gather or collect (something, especially information or approval)
  • Glaring - giving out or reflecting a strong or dazzling light
  • Glib - fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow
  • Goad - to provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate some action or reaction


  • Haughty - arrogantly superior and disdainful
  • Hedonist - a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life
  • Heretic - a person believing in or practising religious heresy
  • Histrionic - overly theatrical or melodramatic in character or style
  • Homogeneous - of the same kind; alike


  • Iconoclast - a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions
  • Idiosyncrasy - a mode of behaviour or way of thought peculiar to an individual
  • Ignominy - public shame or disgrace
  • Immutable - unchanging over time or unable to be changed
  • Impetuous - acting or done quickly and without thought or care


  • Jaded - tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something
  • Jargon - special words or expressions used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand
  • Jocular - characterized by joking or humour
  • Juxtapose - to place (two or more things) side by side for comparison or contrast
  • Jovial - cheerful and friendly


  • Kinetic - relating to or resulting from motion
  • Kindle - to light or set on fire; to arouse or inspire (an emotion or feeling)
  • Knack - a special skill, talent, or ability
  • Knight - a person of noble birth who has been given a title of knighthood by a monarch or other political leader
  • Knotty - full of knots; complicated or difficult to solve


  • Languish - to lose or lack vitality; to become weak or feeble
  • Laudable - deserving praise and commendation
  • Lavish - sumptuously rich, elaborate, or luxurious
  • Lethargy - a lack of energy and enthusiasm; a state of sluggishness or inactivity
  • Lithe - thin, supple, and graceful


  • 61. Magnanimous - generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or someone less powerful than oneself
  • Maladroit - clumsy or inept; lacking in skill or ability
  • Malevolent - having or showing a wish to do evil to others
  • Malfeasance - wrongdoing, especially by a public official
  • Manifest - clear or obvious to the eye or mind


  • Nadir - the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization
  • Nefarious - wicked or criminal
  • Nemesis - a long-standing rival; an archenemy
  • Neophyte - a person who is new to a subject or activity; a beginner
  • Nihilism - the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless


  • Obdurate - stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or course of action
  • Obfuscate - to make something unclear or difficult to understand
  • Oblivious - not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one
  • Obsequious - obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree
  • Obsolete - no longer in use or no longer useful


  • Palpable - able to be touched or felt; tangible
  • Panacea - a solution or remedy for all problems or difficulties
  • Paradigm - a typical example or pattern of something; a model
  • Paragon - a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality
  • Parsimony - extreme unwillingness to spend money or use resources


  • Quagmire - an awkward, complex, or hazardous situation
  • Quandary - a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation
  • Quell - to put an end to (a rebellion or other disorder) by force
  • Querulous - complaining in a petulant or whining manner
  • Quintessential - representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class


  • Rancor - bitterness or resentfulness, especially long-standing
  • Raze - to completely destroy or demolish (a building, town, etc.)
  • Recalcitrant - stubbornly resistant to authority or control
  • Redundant - not or no longer needed or useful; superfluous
  • Refute - to prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false


  • Salient - most noticeable or important; prominent
  • Sanctimonious - making a show of being morally superior to others
  • Sardonic - grimly mocking or cynical
  • Scrupulous - diligent, thorough, and extremely attentive to detail; having moral integrity
  • Serendipity - the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way


  • Taciturn - reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little
  • Temerity - excessive confidence or boldness; audacity
  • Tenacious - tending to keep a firm hold of something; persistent in maintaining or seeking something valued or desired
  • Terse - sparing in the use of words; abrupt
  • Transient - lasting only for a short time; temporary


  • Ubiquitous - present, appearing, or found everywhere
  • Unassailable - unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated
  • Uncanny - strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way
  • Undermine - to weaken or damage, especially gradually or insidiously
  • Usurp - to take (a position of power or importance) illegally or by force


  • Vacillate - to waver between different opinions or actions; to be indecisive
  • Venerate - to regard with great respect; to revere
  • Veracity - conformity to facts; accuracy; truthfulness
  • Vex - to make (someone) feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried, especially with trivial matters
  • Vicarious - experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person


  • Wary - feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems
  • Whimsical - playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way
  • Wistful - having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing
  • Wry - using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humour
  • Wane - to decrease gradually in strength or size; to decline

X, Y, Z

There are not many common GMAT vocabulary words that start with X, Y, or Z. However, here are a few that may come up:

  • Xenophobia - a fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers
  • Yield - to produce or provide; to give way to pressure or force
  • Yearn - to have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from
  • Zealot - a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals
  • Zenith - the highest point or peak; the culmination or climax of something.

Also Read: GMAT Self-study Plan

How to build a strong GMAT vocabulary

Building a strong GMAT vocabulary can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few strategies you can use to make the process easier and more effective:

1. Read widely

One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to read widely and regularly. This can expose you to a wide range of words and help you understand how they are used in context.

2. Look up unfamiliar words

Whenever you come across a word you don't know, make a note of it and look it up in a dictionary or online. This can help you expand your vocabulary and understand new concepts.

3. Practice using new words

Once you've learned a new word, try to use it in your own speaking and writing. This can help you remember it and integrate it into your vocabulary.

4. Use flashcards

Flashcards can be a useful tool for memorizing new vocabulary. Create flashcards with new words and their definitions, and review them regularly.

5. Study word roots and prefixes

Many words in the English language have roots and prefixes that can help you understand their meaning. For example, the prefix "un-" often means "not," as in "unhappy" or "unfair."

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6. Use GMAT vocabulary resources

There are many GMAT vocabulary resources available, such as GMAT vocabulary books, online flashcards, and vocabulary lists. These can be a helpful way to focus your study and ensure that you are learning the words most likely to appear on the test.

Also read: Daily used English words


A robust command of GMAT vocabulary is critical to succeeding on the verbal section of the exam. It is essential to study and learn the meanings of commonly used business and finance words to understand the reading comprehension passages and answer questions accurately. By preparing adequately and mastering essential GMAT vocabulary words, you can increase your chances of scoring well on the exam and gaining admission to your desired graduate business programs.

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