Building Vocabulary for Standardized Testing

From the state assessment tests in elementary school, all the way through the college entrance exams, vocabulary is a key element of almost any standardized test.  In fact, in the verbal score of these tests, vocabulary may be the single most important factor.  Even if there is not a specific vocabulary section in an assessment test, vocabulary still plays a key part.  Most reading comprehension sections of these tests are covertly testing vocabulary by using words that are grade or age specific.  Even math questions can sometimes be designed to see if the test-taker understands specific terms and language.  Vocabulary knowledge can make a large difference in the overall score for most standardized tests.

Students have many ways to build their vocabularies in preparation for standardized tests.  “Vocabulary Building” simply means improving one’s skills in a language which one is already proficient. Besides the traditional vocabulary lessons of most upper elementary, and middle school language arts programs, there are many resources available to help a student improve his or her proficiency in words.  The most important vocabulary-building strategy is prolific reading.  Reading fiction books, non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, and even internet articles builds word knowledge.  Seeing words in a variety of different contexts also helps you retain the definition of difficult words. 

Learning about word origins is another important part of building your vocabulary.  More than 60 percent of English words are derived from Latin and Greek roots, so becoming familiar with those root and base words can be tremendously beneficial in trying to guess the definition of an unfamiliar word.  It can also help you when you must choose between words with similar spellings, but different meanings.  Knowledge of word origins and base words can help you distinguish small differences between words, especially when you are given multiple choices, such as in a standardized test format.

A third approach for building your vocabulary is by learning words by theme.  The brain organizes and retains information more easily if it is grouped together, so learning words by category will be very helpful tool.  The games on are designed with this very idea in mind.  Each of the six games is organized so that you can play and learn one of over 200 topics, or themes.  There are topics for everyone from preschoolers to adults, and for every interest from bodies of water to criminal law.  This is the perfect tool for someone aiming to increase his or her vocabulary in preparation for a standardized test.

As you can see, building vocabulary doesn’t have to be dry or dull.  There are many ways to increase your word power just by reading and playing.  And learning new words helps not only with the specific vocabulary questions on standardized tests, but with the reading comprehension and math word problem sections.  Vocabulary proficiency is a key ingredient for almost any standardized test success.

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2 Responses

  1. ngo thi hang says:

    help me! I want to learnt Vocabulary E

  1. February 29, 2008

    […] Building Vocabulary for Standardized Testing […]

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