Strategies for Strengthening SAT Vocabulary
For high school students who are preparing for the SATs, and in particular, for the English portion of the SATs, it may be a source of anxiety and stress. However, by incorporating strategies and techniques into your daily routines, it will help you to internalize and to remember vocabulary words that you may encounter on the day of the test. Not only will you build a greater vocabulary repertoire that will help to boost your SAT score, more importantly, you will have the power to clearly express and eloquently communicate your ideas. Your ability to use more refined and polished language in your writing will help you in writing college essays, high schools essays, and personal statements.
Here are 5 great strategies to help you to learn and to memorize vocabulary:
“Word of the Day”
Post an SAT word in a centralized location that you will encounter throughout the day, such as on your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator. Then, incorporate the specific word into conversations at least two times that day.
Use Your Imagination
Break down the word into parts and then create a short story that correlates to the definition of the word. For example, the word conspicuous is defined as standing out or attracting attention. When you deconstruct the word into its parts, you can re-think of the word as “consPICKuous.” If you remember that if something is conspicuous, it means you can pick it out from among others.
Build a personal connection with a word; this will help you to remember it. Use specific memories to build associations with the targeted word. By doing so, it strengthens your ability to recall the word and its definition. For example, if your friend Samantha supports you and is always there for you, you can remember that she is a stalwart, or a loyal and reliable, person.
Waterfall Method/Spaced Repetition
- Create flashcards of the 200 words that most frequently appear on the SATs.
- Separate the cards and begin with a pile of 30-50 vocabulary words.
- As you review the cards, create 2 piles: A “Know It” pile and a “Struggled” pile.
- If you can immediately recall the definition of a word, place the card in the “Know It” pile. If you struggled to recall the definition, place it into the “Struggled” pile.
- Now, placing the “Know It” pile aside, repeat the process and review only the cards from the “Struggled” pile.
- If you know the words this time around, place the cards into a second “Know It” pile. If you continue to struggle in recalling the definition of the word, place it into a new “Struggled” pile. You should now have three stacks of flashcards: a “Know It,” a “Know It (2nd time),” and a “Struggled” pile.
- Continue to repeat this review process creating a new “Know It” pile each time, until you only have 1-5 cards remaining in the last “Struggled” Pile.
- Now, reverse the “waterfall” and begin to combine your most recent “Struggled” pile with your most recent “Know It” pile until you have re-combined and memorized every word in this pile.
Identifying Words in Context
Since the implementation of the newly reformatted SATs, it is no longer enough to memorize word meanings. Rather, you must read and identify words in context and select a portion of the passage that best supports your answer choices. In order to build upon your skills during contextualized reading, when practicing for the reading section, write down your reasoning and rationalizations for your answer choice, as well as arguments that prove the other answer choices are wrong.
With the newly redesigned reading and grammar section of the SATs, you should focus on increasing your vocabulary as well as practice reading in context for word meaning.