Learning versus Memorizing Vocabulary Words

Studies show that vocabulary is one of the best indicators of intelligence. Standardized tests like the SAT focus heavily on this in the reading comprehension and essay sections to demonstrate the ability to form abstract ideas and communicate them. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, there are more than one hundred thousand words in the English language. This is why it is important to start increasing your vocabulary early. But, picking up the dictionary and memorizing each word is not the best approach.

There is a huge difference between memorizing and learning. When memorizing, there is only a shallow glimpse into the full potential of the word. Maybe you know how to spell it and pronounce it. But, do you know the depths of its meaning? Not understanding the full meaning of a word can create a barrier when it comes creating sentences with the word or understanding abstract ideas when the word is used in reading material.

A great way to increase your vocabulary, especially if you are looking to enhance your scores on college entrance exams, is online SAT prep. Standardized test prep helps you learn rather than memorizing by introducing the word in the context that it is used. This is particularly true in the reading comprehension section of the exam. It also allows you to practice your knowledge of how a word should be used on the essay section. When taking a practice SAT exam, you will be exposed to dozens of unfamiliar words. The free SAT course goes at your pace so take your time in order to learn new vocabulary.

You can also take these new words, learn the context and try to use it when talking to your family and friends. This will create association with the word. Now you haven’t memorized a new vocabulary word, you’ve learned it.

You can use online SAT prep for vocabulary building exercises daily. Set a goal of learning one to two words per day. You will have a better understanding of the reading section on the test and be able to write stronger essays.

SAT Critical Reading Tips

The SAT critical reading section is designed to test students’ abilities to read and understand material. There are important skills that can help students approach the critical reading section with smart work skills. For this reason, a solid SAT prep program is essential to performing well on this section of the SAT.

The critical reading section is made up of 67 questions total. Of these, 48 are passage-based reading multiple choice and 19 are sentence completion. The questions are broken down into two 25 minute sections and one 20 minute section. The critical reading section is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale that will make up one-third of the total SAT score.

The passage based reading section asks students to read both short and long passages and answer a series of multiple choice questions about the material. The goal of this section is to test reading comprehension. Many students choose to read over the questions first to get a sense of what is important. After reading the questions, go back and carefully read the passage.

It is important to remember that the questions about each passage in this section are arranged not by difficulty, but in chronological order. This means it is best to work in the order that the questions are given so that it is easier to isolate the appropriate section of the passage for reference. One of the sections is a duel-passage section that will require students to read two passages and answer questions about each individually and some that reference both sections. It is typically best to answer the separate questions about each passage first and then begin the ones that will require knowledge of both.

The sentence completion section presents students with an incomplete sentence that they will need to fill in with the appropriate word. There may only be one blank word in the sentence or there may be two that need to be filled in.

While having a strong vocabulary will certainly help in this section, it is just as important to read carefully and be sure that you understand the sentence. If you don’t immediately know the answer, see if you can eliminate possible answers until one becomes the clear choice. It is also a good idea to read the sentence to yourself with the word filled in to be certain that it makes sense.

Time management is an important factor in the critical reading section. It is crucial to read both carefully and quickly in order to answer the questions in the allotted time. A solid SAT preparation program will help students get comfortable with the format so that they can relax and do their best on test day.

Taking practice tests during your SAT test prep is one of the best ways to prepare for the critical reading section. A good plan for test preparation will also help students hone their reading comprehension skills and feel comfortable with the format of the SAT critical reading section. The more you read passages that are similar to the ones on the SAT, the more quickly and accurately you will be able to work on test day.

Preparing for the SAT Critical Reading Section

The Critical Reading section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test focuses on two things: sentence completion and reading comprehension. When combined, the two sections exemplify a student’s grasp of the English language and their ability to recognize and utilize various parts of speech. The critical reading section, in the past, was known simply as the verbal section but now its goal has expanded; the idea being that a student shouldn’t simply know a variety of words congruent with their grade level, but also be well versed with their precise usage.

The sentence completion section is designed to gauge the student’s familiarity with a range of words: their form of speech, usage, and of course, meaning. The latter of which is can be very specific, often the range of answers will include synonyms and/or homophones in order to eliminate the usage of the ever-popular educated guess. Aside from meaning and usage, sentence completion questions measure the student’s ability to structure and form sentences, to know logically how all the parts work together in order to communicate a clear and complete idea. Knowing words and their meanings is the most reliable form of preparation for the sentence completion section, guessing is not a recommended strategy.

The other half of the Critical Reading section is passage based reading. Passages are selected from a wide range of subjects and topics and can be as short as one hundred words to eight hundred. This means one passage can be a half of a short story that is followed by the opening paragraphs of George Kennan’s Article X. Scientific articles are often used as well as humanities based and political pieces. The passages will be presented within a range of styles and normally feature several elements: narration, exposition, argumentation, and the like.

A student preparing for the SAT should be aware of the range the critical reading passages can cover, but simultaneously they should be aware that the major focus of the passage based reading is to test vocabulary, comprehension, and extended reasoning. Vocabulary questions are, somewhat like the sentence completion questions, formulated in order to know that a student is capable of determining meanings of words and phrases based on context. The focus of literary comprehension is to make certain that the student grasps and understands the material. Extended reasoning comprises a majority of the passage based reading questions and they oblige the test taker to make inferences or analyze and identify causes and effects. Reasoning questions can be broader as well, requiring identification of main ideas, purpose, or tone. Another popular but very necessary sort of question, which focuses much more on the extended part of the reasoning, will ask that the test taker replicate the logic of arguments or analogies within the text and apply them to ideas extraneous to the text. Simply put, the objective behind the questions is to determine whether or not the test taker can analyze texts rather than read them and prove that basically, they understand them.

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