The S.A.T.s are a longstanding rite of passage from high school. They offer the proof that you have what it takes to go to college. Being well prepared with good study techniques will better your chances of doing well on the tests.
The vocabulary portion of the test is perhaps the most confounding to students, primarily because they study the wrong thing. Their focus is on memorization of definitions, but the test goes beyond that to measure the application of that knowledge. Memorizing and knowing a word are two entirely different levels of understanding. The most effective ways of learning vocabulary go beyond memorization.
Here are 4 ways to learn SAT vocabulary:
1. Apply the Definition
Many students thought they were prepared after getting some flash cards and memorizing a few new words a day over time. This is far from the truth; in order to really learn something you need to make it a useful part of your daily life. This means not only do you need to learn the word and its definitions, but also its role in a sentence, how the nuances of the word make it the same or different from words with similar definitions, or what its relationship is to other words. No less than six months in advance of the test you should have established a routine of adding new words to your working vocabulary.
2. Be Consistent
Although it sounds imposing, you can break learning vocabulary down to manageable learning tasks. The key is consistency. Learn no more than five words a day so you can spend some time with them. Once you learn a word, immediately put it into a context you understand. Use it in a variety of other situations too to really expand your understanding of the word, doing this will ensure you never forget it or its meanings.
3. Use Association
Another good trick is try and associate the word you’re trying to learn with something familiar to you. Your brain naturally categorizes new information by linking it to what is already known. Work with your brain, by associating the new word with a familiar person or situation. For example, raconteur is a person good at telling stories. If your grandfather is a good storyteller, then linking the word with the image of your grandfather telling stories will help you remember the word and get to know it.
4. Share Your Knowledge
Along with context and association is sharing the word with others. Once you learn the word and get the context down, share and review it with others to cement the word into your vocabulary. Get other family members to call grandpa a raconteur. Ask your friends who the raconteurs in their families are. Using these important principles in learning vocabulary doesn’t mean you have to get bogged down in drudgery. There are fun ways to use these principles when learning vocabulary.
You can make a doodle or drawing of the word for an association. Try going through your social media accounts and assigning words that fit to different friends, or do a Google image search of a word and pick an image with a strong association for you. Use the words in context by writing the word into a micro-story, or tweet the words in real life situations on Twitter. Text your five words a day with friends who are also preparing for the test. Use the words in creative and humorous ways while maintaining the meaning of the words to make them part of your working vocabularies.
There are many fun and interesting ideas you can come up with to practice when learning new vocabulary. Familiarize yourself with the main principles and tricks and then use the world around you to assist you in retention. Give yourself adequate prep time, apply the basic techniques, use multiple resources, and don’t overwhelm yourself. You can easily overcome the scary vocabulary section of the SATs by utilizing these tips.