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.

Breaking down the SAT: Sentence Completion

The sentence completion section of the SAT will test your vocabulary and ability to make sense of “context clues” while reading. In this section, you will be given questions that consist of sentences where either one or two blanks are present, indicating missing words. You then must choose from among five answers to find the word or words that make the most sense in the context of the sentence.

These types of questions make up about a fourth of the Critical Reading section of the SAT, so it is important to be familiar with them since you will only have a little less than a minute to answer each one. Online SAT test prep is a great way to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will be confronted with and how to answer them.

A good strategy for answering these fill-in-the-blank questions is to read the sentence quickly and fill in your own word to complete the sentence. To do this, you will need to look for context words that the test writers include in the sentence. Words like “however,” “because of,” or “additionally” can clue you in as to whether you need a contrasting word or a complementary one.

After coming up with your own word to complete the sentence, look to see if there is a synonym for your word among the answers. Consider all the answers. If there is more than one that is close to what you chose, try reading the sentence with both of those words in context to see which makes more sense.

Let’s look at an example:

Even though Vincent van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces, people in his own time thought he was ____.

A) able B) inexpert C) unrivaled D) merited E) masterful

Reading through this sentence, we can see there is a clue word right at the very beginning: “even though.” “Even though” usually sets a sentence up for a contrast at the end-even though this happened, something unexpected was the outcome. Keeping that in mind, we can come up with our own word for the end of this sentence that contrasts with the fact that Van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces-perhaps, “not good.”

Looking through the answers, most of them have the opposite meaning from “not good,” except for B) inexpert. So B must be our answer.

This section is typically ordered from least to most difficult question, so be sure to leave enough time to answer the harder questions by moving quickly at the beginning. You can use online SAT test prep to practice answering questions and become familiar with techniques that will save you time.


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