A wide-ranging word-power is the key to do away with umpteen number of hurdles in the way of any competitive exam.
As you are perhaps aware the English section of the Entrance Tests, question paper contains questions pertaining to
practical vocabulary in all its variants—such as synonyms, antonyms, one-word substitutions, idioms, phrases, nibbled
letters and words analogies reverse analogies, closest in meaning, farthest in meaning etc. In addition a sound vocabulary
is ‘indispensable’ for tackling comprehension passages, cloze passages and questions pertaining to logical reasoning.
In the light of the above it is absolutely essential for the students to work diligently for building a sound and varied
bank of word power.
In the chapters that follow a sincere and concerted effort attempt has been made to deal with all the verbal aspect of
the Entrance exam in as lucid a manner as possible. Students are advised to assiduously follow what has been discussed
in the vocabulary chapters. We are sure that constant practice awareness and its use in the correct context in this regard
will be of immense help in tackling any type of vocabulary related questions in the entrance exam.
VOCABULARY FOR THE ENTRANCE EXAM
The Entrance Exam is a rigorous evaluation, not of the academic proficiency of a candidate in the conventional sense,
but of his mental faculties, such as the skills of analysis and comprehension, powers of logic, deduction and capacity to
arrive at a correct decision under servere time constraints and the resultant mental tension. A harmonious blend of speed,
accuracy and precision is required to meet this formidable challenge.
The knowledge of words in their isolated identity, without overlooking their connotative significance is tested in verbal
skills in the form of synonyms, antonyms and one-word substitutes. The choice provided may be easily narrowed down
to two; but to choose the correct one from the two will require a real feel for words. The choice of the correct alternative
depends as much on the meaning of the words as on the appropriate part of speech. A synonym or an antonym of a word
should be of the same part of speech as the given word.
Intrepid means “brave” or “fearless”
(a) Brave the adjective shows ability to face and endure danger or pain
(b) Valorous implies ability to display personal courage
(c) Indefatigable would mean unwearing or tireless.
(d) Strong however, indicates having power of resistance.
Of the four alternatives provided ‘brave’ is identical in meaning with ‘intrepid’. So the answer is (a).
Antonyms are words contrary in meaning to one another as ‘bad’ to ‘good’.
Grave, the headword, means solemn, needing serious thought, sombre
(a) Simple is consisting of one element, not complex
(b) Nonchalant is unexcited, unmoved or cool
(c) Frivolous is paltry or trifling, not serious
(d) Indifferent is having no partiality for or against, neither good nor bad.
The alternative that is opposite in meaning is (c) ‘frivolous’ – not serious.
In recent Entrance Examinations, there has been a variation in the instructions given for the synonyms/antonym section.
The students were asked to choose the alternative closest in meaning to the given word (like the synonyms), or the word
farthest in meaning to the given word (like the antonyms). One should be cautious in making the choice, for the alternatives
given are shades of meaning of one word and all the four alternatives may seem appropriate to the headword. It may not
be a simple process of narrowing down your choice to two alternatives and then choosing one from the rest but eliminating
three, each after judicious examination.
Closest in Meaning
Aptitude, the headword, is a natural or acquired ability to learn and become proficient in a sphere of activity.
(a) Talent is an uncommon aptitude for some special work or activity.
(b) Instinct is a natural aptitude, an extension of the basic innate tendency or response essential for development or
(c) Gift is a specific natural endowment
(d) Bent is a personal inclination and does not necessarily imply an accompanying aptitude. But aptitude and bent often
coexist in the same person, as it is natural to like doing what one does well.
So the word that is closest in meaning is ‘bent’. The answer should be marked (d).
Farthest in Meaning
This section tests the student’s ability to distinguish between the various shades of meaning of the given word/words.
Nominal means existing in name only.
(a) Serious means thoughful, earnest, sober
(b) Fantastic means extravagantly fanciful, cap
(c) Essential has the connotation of something fundamental, indispensable
(d) Substantial means having substance, actually existing, of real importance or value.
Although essential which is indispensable seems to be the answer, substantial gives the connotation of having substance
actually existing and therefore not nominal or merely in name and is the farthest in meaning. Hence (d) is the answer.
In the choice of the one word substitute the choice must both semantically and syntactically replace the underlined
Jumbled Letters, Words and Sentences
Giving letters of a word in a jumbled form (Letter Jumble) and asking the student to choose the alternative that can make
a word is another test. The letters in the spelling of the word are numbered and alternatives formed by different arrangements
of the numbers are given.
(a) 2, 4, 3, 1, 5
(b) 4, 3, 2, 1, 5
(c) 3, 1, 4, 2, 5
(d) 1, 5, 4, 2, 3
The answer is (c) GLORY.
To attempt this, try forming the word with the first three letters as indicated in the first alternative. If this combination
seems promising, proceed to form the word. If the combination of the first three letters seems absurd, go on the next
An extension of the letter jumble is found in the Word Jumble. Here, the words of a sentence are jumbled and numbered
and alternatives provided.
Lushgreen such is vegetation in the tropics only found
(a) 2, 1, 4, 3, 7, 6, 5
(b) 4, 1, 2, 3, 6, 5, 7
(c) 2, 1, 4, 6, 5, 7, 3
(d) 3, 7, 1, 5, 3, 6, 4
The answer is (a) Such lush green vegetation is found only in the tropics.
Sentences of a paragraph, in direct or reported speech, are sometimes jumbled (Sentence Jumble) and the most
meaningful order is required to be chosen from among the alternatives given. While this is a similar exercise (as in the two
cases above), a challenging variation has been introduced in some exams. A paragraph of sentences is given followed by
four alternatives, each being a sentence. One of them is the concluding line of the paragraph and it has to be chosen. This
can be a logical conclusion, or a deduction, or a summing up. The alternatives have to be weighed carefully before the choice
Another type of question, testing verbal ability, is the application of the meaning of a word to describe a thing, or a state
or a situation. A definition is given and four alternatives are provided.
Consultation—taking expert advice
(a) Student in a class-room
(b) A client at a lawyer’s chamber
(c) A visitor at a science exhibition
(d) An actor being directed.
The answer obviously is (b).
(a) : students in a class-room are taught by experts
(c) : A visitor may learn about the exhibits from experts but the word given will not fit in there.
(d) : An actor performs as directed by an expert.
This question may also ask you to pick out that alternative which is not an apt illustration of the given definition.
Consultation – taking expert advice
(a) a patient at a physician’s clinic.
(b) a business man at the auditor’s office.
(c) a client at a lawyer’s chamber.
(d) a student taking private tuition.
The answer is (d).
One of the pitfalls in written English is orthography. English spelling is not phonetic. To trace the vagaries of spelling to
the etymology of the words may be an academic exercise, but knowing the spelling for correcting a misspelled word calls
for an acquaintance with words, especially those that have an unpredictable sequence of double consonants, diphthongs
and digraphs. (A digraph is a double symbol used to represent a single sound, for example ‘ae’ in ‘Caesar’ or ‘ph’ in physics.)
The questions may be of the following types :
1. The same word spelt correctly in one alternative but incorrectly in the others.
2. Four different words one of which alone is spelt correctly.
3. Four different words one of which alone is spelt incorrectly.
So read the instructions carefully.
One type of logical reasoning is determining the relationship between pairs of words. Usually two words are capitalised with
a colon or a ratio symbol as follows:
Pyrogenous : Fire : :
(a) oleaginous : oil
(b) androgenous : egg
(c) homogenous : man
(d) nitrogenous : nitrogen
The colon symbol indicates that the relationship between Pyragenous––productive of heat and fire is the same as (indicated
by double colon : :) oleogenous : oil.
You will notice that the adjectival form ‘pyrogeonous’ has the same relationship to ‘fire’ as ‘oleogenous’ has to ‘oil’.
‘Androgenous’ meaning having characteristics of both the male and female forms has no such relationship to ‘egg’.
‘Homogenous’, meaning ‘of the same kind’ does not have the same relationship to ‘man as ‘pyrogenous’ has to ‘fire’
‘Nitrogenous’ indicates ‘containing nitrogen’ has to ‘fire’ ‘Nitrogenous’ indicates ‘containing nitrogen’ and the relationship
nitrogenous : nitrogen is not similar to pyrogenous : fire.
The answer is therefore (a).
This section tests your ability to see the relationship between two words, distinguish between types of relationships. The
questions test your knowledge in various fields, your vocabulary and your ability to think logically.
The relationships could be
Synonymous, meaning the same as
riches : affluence : : tall : high
penury : poverty : : niggardliness : miserliness
Antonyms, meaning the opposite of
fury : tranquillity : misery : happiness
garrulity : taciturnity : : hard : soft
Adjective and noun relationship
canine : dog : : ursine : bear
joyous : joy : : illusory : illusion
axle : wheel : : pin-head : pin
soldier : army : : dial : watch
tadpole : frog : : pupa : butterfly
apple : cider : : crude oil : petrol
fire : conflagration : : disease : epidemic
drought : famine : : waves : erosion
Things that go together
bread : butter : : button : buttonhole
salt : pepper : : horse : carriage
Implements or instruments and their users––artisans and professionals
saw : carpenter : : wheel : potter
lancet : surgeon : : hammer : smith
Raw material to the finished product
cotton : cloth : : clay : pot
wool : tweed : : ore : iron
Something that is a larger (smaller) version
stream : appland : : irritate : torture
joy : rapture : : sadness : melancholia.
Degrees of intensity
appreciate : river : : sea : ocean
book : booklet : : crown : coronet
Time sequence relationship
night : day : : before : after
then : now : : past : present
Relationship of measure
mile : distance : : gram : weight
ship : knot : : aircraft : mach
Profession, person relationship
sermon : clergyman : : design : architect
car : chauffeur : : boat : oarsman
chicken : egg : : tree : seed
Paris : France : : Rome : Italy
Copenhagen : Denmark : : Vienna : Austria
Symbol, institution relationship
country : flag : : business house : logo
nazism : swastika : : Semitism : star of David
Musical instruments and their categories
flute : wind : : drum : percussion
guitar : strum : : harp : pluck
he : him : : I me
she : hers : : it : its
fox : vixen : : bull : cow
horse : horses : : volcano : volcanoes
Parts of the day
dawn : morning : : dusk : evening
noon : midnight : : day : night
(This is based on certain implied relationships as in proverbs or idiomatic expressions)
run : hare : : hunt : hound
flog : dead horse : : plough : sand