Basic arithmetic is pretty trivial, but it can take time and is often very tedious for large quantities and so they allow us to use calculators when writing the GRE (Graduate Records Examination).

But shouldn't we be allowed to use dictionaries, memorizing plenty of words is pretty trivial too, and is tedious. I get that it helps improve our vocabulary, but like we use calculators when doing large calculations, we can simply pull out a dictionary when we see a new word right?

Is it because we save time by knowing the word already? GRE tests several other things including sentence structure, meaning, context etc... But wouldn't it be better if they left vocabulary off that list of things they test?

  • If I had to guess, they want you to be able to figure out what a word means from context. This is an important skill in academia when there will be tons of jargon you can’t find in the dictionary. It’s not about memorization at all. – knzhou Sep 14 '18 at 20:12
  • @knzhou But that's the opposite of what the GRE asks for. it gives you blanks, and asks you to fill in words. – Azor Ahai -- he him Sep 14 '18 at 21:23
  • @AzorAhai There are those too, but those questions don't use obscure words at all. There they're just checking if you can use the basics correctly. – knzhou Sep 14 '18 at 21:28
  • @knzhou No, they're pretty obscure. I'm taking it Sunday - I've done plenty recently. – Azor Ahai -- he him Sep 14 '18 at 21:29
  • @knzhou, if an academic text contains tons of words we can't find in the dictionary, isn't it just a waste of time to read, isn't it poorly written? I mean the purpose of the text is to convey some information, it should do so clearly, and concisely, right? I'm a computer science student and understanding algorithms and data structures is hard enough, I don't think we need any convoluted texts. – Rockstar5645 Sep 15 '18 at 2:18

The GRE is ran by ETS, so only they will be able to answer your question about why they don't allow dictionaries.

Your same logic starts to question the entire point of these tests. Using Google is trivial and is engrained in our day to day lives, so why can't we use it on the tests?

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  • Ummm, no actually, there are a lot of things Google can't answer. Often we don't know the correct questions to ask, and we wouldn't be able to interpret the answers properly. – Rockstar5645 Sep 14 '18 at 16:41
  • There are plenty of questions in both the Quantitative and Verbal sections that you wouldn't be able to answer if you didn't have prior practice, and all you had was Google. – Rockstar5645 Sep 14 '18 at 16:42
  • @Rockstar5645 Exactly! You're proving my point. Having Google won't make everyone get a perfect score. You still have to have some fundamental knowledge and problem solving skills. Just like if you have a calculator or dictionary. – Austin Henley Sep 14 '18 at 16:44
  • So we should be allowed to have a dictionary right? And yeah, if we were to allow people to use Google, all test takers should have the same internet speed, availability, etc.... But baby steps first. – Rockstar5645 Sep 15 '18 at 2:21

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