SAT Vocabulary – You Don’t Have To Memorize The Dictionary
My mother explained how students developed their SAT Vocabulary skills in the 1950s. “I sat down with a dictionary one summer,” my mother said, “and memorized all of the words I didn’t know.” Of course, my mother has a stellar vocabulary, but today’s student who wants to master SAT vocabulary doesn’t have to go so far as reciting passages from Webster’s tome.
There are many books, websites and computer programs aimed at building SAT Vocabulary that didn’t exist in my mother’s time (or even when I was in high school). Although increasing your building SAT Vocabulary skills is not as difficult or as time consuming as it used to be, a student should still make it a long term project rather than a last-minute cram.
There are two main approaches to SAT preparation; long term skill building, and quick study “beat the test” techniques. The ideal way to prepare for the SAT is to master both of these approaches, but the most important of the two is a concentration on developing skills, especially when as it applies to SAT Vocabulary.
You can learn ways to “outwit the testmaker” in a seminar or in a short course, but it is unlikely that you can really get a grasp of the English language in such a short amount of time, and understand, not only SAT Vocabulary definitions, but other aspects of English that are essential, such as word usage, synonyms and antonyms. It is a good idea to develop SAT vocabulary skills over time than in a few afternoons.
A good time to start SAT Vocabulary preparation is when you begin to read. However, if you somehow weren’t thinking about the big test while getting through your first Dr. Seuss book all by yourself, it is not too late (unless it is a month before graduation). The best way to develop an SAT Vocabulary, and a good working vocabulary for any purpose, is to read good books, underline unfamiliar words, and keep a notebook filled with new words you have learned.
Make it a modest goal to learn two or three new words every day. Ask your English teacher to recommend books that will help build your vocabulary, and many of these titles are already part of your English curriculum. Learning not only the definition of word, but how to use them in a sentence or in your ordinary life, will not only help you get into college, but will make your course work and reading easier once you are in college.
You can find lists in books and websites which claim to have the top 1,000 or so SAT Vocabulary words. Test prep gurus claim that the testmakers have “favorite” words that are used again and again. Although learning these lists will certainly not hurt you, it is a good idea to avoid spending a lot of time and money thinking that you can outwit the testmakers.
The staff who create the English sections are English teachers and professors who know how to spot redundancy when they see it. Common sense should tell you that, if a certain word is used all of the time on a test, those making the test would spot this and avoid these common words.
Also, it is reasonable to imagine that the testmakers read these SAT Vocabulary lists and avoid using many of these words so students can be rewarded for having a good working vocabulary and not for merely memorizing a list.
If you find that your vocabulary keeps you back, you need to invest time to develop a good SAT Vocabulary. It isn’t a skill that can be mastered simply by learning a formula or a technique. Fortunately, there are many flashcards and books which help develop SAT Vocabulary, and many students find that these methods increase their scores.