Learning new vocabulary is one of the best ways to raise your score on the SAT test. It is the number one skill that's tested in the sentence completion portion of the Critical Reading test, it helps students to understand the passage-based reading sections and will help students express their thoughts more clearly on the essay part of the test.
When you're preparing for the SAT, improve your vocabulary by following these tips.
- Start early: Vocabulary isn't something that you can learn in one night of intense cramming. It takes well-spoken people a lifetime to develop their vocabularies, so expect to spend at least a month practicing in order to learn enough new words to make a dent in your SAT scores.
- Get a book (and use it): There are a lot of great books out there to help students study vocabulary. If you have the cash to spend, head over to the bookstore and flip through the books in the SAT vocabulary section. You'll find books, CDs, and DVDs geared toward every learning style. Some to look for include Suzee Vlk's SAT Vocabulary for Dummies and Kaplan's CD, SAT Words to Go: Vocabulary Building for Super Busy Students. The Intuitive Learning Company even makes a shower curtain that lists the 100 most popular SAT words!
- Write a list: If a spending spree at the bookstore isn't in your budget, then spend some time making a list of words you don't know. Flip through your textbooks, the newspaper, and books you have lying around the house. Make a goal of writing at list of 500 words you don't know, then use Dictionary.com to define them. A word of caution: Don't use the dictionary to make your list. If you're like most people, you'll have 500 words before you even make it out of the Bs!
- Concentrate on general meanings: You're not going to need to know the entire dictionary definition of each word in order to get a good score. You just need to have a general idea of what each word means. When you're studying and defining words, study synonyms, not definitions. For example, when you see the word "recalcitrant," don't try to remember it as "Marked by stubborn resistance to and defiance of authority or guidance." It'll be much easier to remember, "recalcitrant means stubborn."
- Make vocabulary flash cards: This age-old study technique for improving vocabulary is still effective. Flash cards are a great way to practice because they work for a lot of different learning styles. Tactile learners benefit by writing out the definitions, visual learners benefit from looking at the cards, and auditory learners benefit when they read the definitions out loud.
- Pay attention to vocabulary: Once you begin studying vocabulary for the SAT, pay attention to it in other situations. When you're studying, reading the cereal box, or watching TV, listen and look for words you've just learned. Seeing the words in different situations will reinforce what you've been studying, and will help you learn the words more quickly.