Analogies and Antonyms (AA):
Well, although all four sections- Reading Comprehension, Sentence Completion, Analogies and Antonyms have approximately equal number of questions, AA questions can be tougher than the others for the following reasons:
- You must be cognizant (That's the company I'm placed in- cant help giving them this little publicity :-) ) of the given word (Antonyms), or word pair (Analogies).
- You must have some cognizance of all the five 5 choices.
- You must have some above average mental reasoning (for some tough ones), and must be able to use it.
First of all- its simple math (really simple folks!) that you need to know 6 words for Antonyms and a dozen for Analogies- for each and every question in the Test. English language composes of a million words, Merriam Webster has about half a million and even Barron's- which is supposed to be a highly condensed list for GRE students has about 3500.
So taking five words out of these 3500 aint not gonna pose a problem for the questions-setting comittee. BUT, its gonna present a big problem for you if you had just left the word in "choice", like you do in Semester exams.
If you have absolutely no idea of what the word means- the best you can do is just guess; trying to work out the meaning from word's roots is as crazy as generalising that all the French women are sensual and all Jews are smart.
So to increase your chances of getting a word in your (possibly) limited vocabulary, you must expand it.
This you could do by mugging up every word list in Barron's, or Word Clusters from Lyceum (Mama Easy Book). Believe me- I found this is the most boring as well as the most strenuous exercise to the mind. And whats more- half of the words you read aint not part of daily or professional usage. They're merely learnt to improve the math equation- know more words. They wouldn't appear in the GRE as well- but you folks (with an air of paranoia) read it, just in case.
I say- thats wrong. The BEST WAY to tackle these questions is to practise, practise and practise. Yes preparation is necessary I know- but its better to prepare while practising, learn while you earn. Here's the method:
Take up a verbal test- only Analogies or Antonyms. If you don't know any of the words in the question- immediately look the up the dictionary, find out the meaning and come back to the question. Try to answer it now- you will surely be able to do it now. Do the same for every question. In the course of a few tests you'll find that your vocabulary has increased manifold and you'll also remember the words better, if you repeat the procedure for the same tests 2 or 3 times- this surely aint a monotonous procedure compared to merely cramming words into your poor brain. I'll also recommend following this procedure with a good command of the Word Clusters- this procedure of mine works well with Mama Easy, not so with Barron's (I just learnt 2 word lists of Barron's afore my Exam, but knew atleast 500 words of Clusters).
Practise this method- others are either too time consuming and the words learnt that way are too volatile to stay in your memory for long. We'll meet again in the next episode- watch out for that, its gonna be about another problem topic- Issues and Arguments, with some notes on Grammar.