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Strategies to Build SAT Vocabulary in the Reading Section

written by: Barbara • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 1/21/2013

Let's face it, if you didn't build up your vocabulary by reading Webster's Dictionary during those high school Friday night dances, you might want to keep reading this article. Read on for some SAT vocabulary building tips.

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    Vocabulary - Verbal Vexing

    What does the word "vexing" have to do with SAT vocabulary preparation? According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "vexing" means to "annoy, bother and distress." For many students, the reading section of the PSAT/SAT tests include a lot of vocabulary words that may prove "vexing" to one's understanding of the passages and to one's final score. This becomes even more "vexing" when you stop to consider that those scores can determine your qualifications for one of the thousands of competitive freshman slots at Universities, colleges, trade schools or internships throughout the global world beyond high school graduation. This article will give you some great SAT vocabulary prep tips to help.

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    Tips to Cracking the Code to Increased Vocabulary

    The PSAT/SAT tests offer a variety of test-taking sections in the Critical Reading part to vex, vinify, vicariate, or vivify the student with words that vociferate the test-taking experience. Without immediate access to the "V" section of Webster's, a student will have only one way to deal with vocabulary encountered during the stress of the actual tests - guess and hope the guess is educated and correct.

    For the strategic student understanding the importance of amassing an extensive vocabulary and to the student increasing his/her vocabulary courtesy of PSAT/SAT testing, cracking the code to an increased vocabulary comes with using tips that work every time for every test.

    • Look for clues: In the sentence completion sections and the reading passages, clues abound in cracking the code of selecting the correct vocabulary for the right answer. Check out the prefixes and suffixes of words to get a head start and then plug in words to see which word makes sense given the context of the sentence or the reading passage. Gauge the difficulty of the sentence by reading the clues that precede the blank and proceed it. Take the following sentence completion example and see if you can select the correct word choice:
      The San Andres fault zigzagged underneath the town's grocery store before it _________toward Sheffield's furniture store due west.

    A. vinified

    B. cloistered

    C. veered

    D. populous

    First of all, the difficulty of the sentence on a scale of 1 easy to 5 hard is a 2 which means there are a couple of possible answers that have a 50:50 chance of being correct. If you know that the word "cloistered" means "confined, sheltered or secluded from the world" according to Webster's and the 9th grade vocabulary test where you first learned the word, you are on a roll of word elimination. A fault wouldn't be cloistered, so that word is out. Even if you don't know the meaning of A-vinified, you're looking for a word that suggests movement which is C-veered. The answer is C-veered meaning that the fault went toward the furniture store due west.

    • Break the sentence in half - If you take a longer sentence and break it in half, you can infer word meaning and selection. The first half will veer you toward the blank word inclusion in the second half of the sentence. Remember there are clues in both sections of a sentence, so if the blank calls for a noun, make sure your answer selection is a noun. If it's a verb, don't put a noun in a blank that calls for a verb.
    • Opposites attract and vice versus - In two blank sentences, look for contradictions or similarities in selections that call for word contrasts or words that are similar in meaning. Look for the ying-yang in word meaning and selection.
    • Trash the bad - Get rid of the wrong answers right away, so that your test time is spent selecting between two possible answers. Look for word clues and summon your extensive vocabulary throughout the test, not just on the Critical Reading Section.
    • Do the easy questions first - and then spend time on the more difficult vocabulary sections and reading passages. Maximize your time and use the test-taking tips to crack the vocabulary code and increase your vocabulary at the same time. Good luck.

Conquer the SAT or PSAT

These tips and strategies will help you better prepare for, and choose the correct answers when taking the SATs.
  1. Tips for the PSAT/SAT: Strategies to Conquer the Reading Section
  2. Top Five Tips for Preparing for the Critical Reading Section of the SAT Exam
  3. Strategies to Build SAT Vocabulary in the Reading Section

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