Back in 2016, when I was preparing for GRE, I was falling short of days to prepare properly, especially for the verbal section. I had to learn over a thousand new words in a couple of weeks and improve my vocabulary somehow really soon. And I did just that by building a Twitter bot.

With 8+ hours going in at work every day, there wasn’t much time left for myself to learn all that had to be done. It did not feel ethical to me to study for GRE while I was at work, so I did not do that. However, I noticed that even at work everyone was checking notifications on their phone. I also checked every single notification on my phone – be it WhatsApp, Gmail, or something else. This gave me the idea that perhaps I could utilise my habit of checking notifications for some good – If there could be a system that would push notifications with GRE words and their definitions to my phone, my habitual glance at the notifications would end up benefiting me.

So, I decided that I needed to build a GRE Words App.
Did it benefit me? Well, I scored a 325 / 340. So, I would say it did. 🙂

Now, I could have gone with building a full fledged Android App, but that would have required a lot more time and effort, and every minute was crucial for my preparation. If you’re giving GRE, you know this. People don’t put up vocabulary chrome new tab extensions, or word meaning screensavers for no reasons.

So, I settled for building a Twitter bot, and let twitter take care of pushing me the notifications. Moreover, it was also safe to say that even if my manager or peers saw my phone, no one’s going to judge me for some Twitter notification. 😉

This gave rise to @GREWordVocab on Twitter. If you’re preparing for your GRE exam, you can subscribe to this twitter account. And voila, every half an hour you’ll have a twitter notification on your phone with a GRE word and its definition.

An example showing a tweet with a GRE word

What I found a very nifty feature was to #hashtag the word. So, I could just click on the hashtag and it would show me other tweets using that hashtag, which often served as a good way to know real world examples for that word.

The code for the twitter bot is completely open sourced and decently documented on Github. Any Pull requests, or additions, or issues to the code are welcome.

The rest of this post is about how I built that bot, and how you could build a similar twitter bot as well.

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