Building Vocabulary For Life – Part Five

When you think of vocabulary in relation to high school, you generally think about preparation for college entrance exams. High schoolers who are preparing to further their education must put their energy into building a strong vocabulary during their final years in school. But even if you are not planning on attending college after high school, vocabulary instruction will still play an important part in your secondary education. Having a strong vocabulary prepares you for many key areas in life, including:

  • Being able to converse intelligently with a variety of people
  • Gaining confidence in speaking both personally and in groups
  • Gaining respect of potential employers in interview situations
  • Improved business communication skills
  • Understanding reading material more easily
  • Problem-solving more efficiently

For those planning on attending college after high school, there are several things they can do to help grow their vocabulary during these crucial years. Because college entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT, have a large verbal component, students must exert particular effort to prepare themselves for these standardized tests. College preparatory classes usually incorporate a wide variety of words into their content, so it is important to sign up for several CP courses during high school. Students can also supplement their coursework with software programs, such as the Ultimate Vocabulary series, that are specifically designed to help boost your scores on college entrance exams. Reading prolifically is another key ingredient to standardized test preparation. Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, and internet all provide fodder for building your vocabulary.

Other ways of building your vocabulary during the high school years include:

  • Creating a 3X5 card “word bank” where you write down any dictionary unfamiliar words you come across in reading or conversation; you can also include the definition of the word on the card, and any other pertinent information that will help you remember the word
  • Solve crossword puzzles on a regular basis
  • Play vocabulary games online – – sites such as can provide valuable and fun practice of word skills
  • Spend time studying Greek and Latin root words – – knowing these words can often help you decode unfamiliar words you come across

The high school years are ripe with opportunities to build your vocabulary skills. Whether preparing for college, or work life, a strong command of English vocabulary can be a cornerstone of future success. If you have experience with studying vocabulary in the high school years, or if you are a teacher who has ideas on how to help high schoolers prepare for the vocabulary parts of the college entrance exams, please share your ideas with us in the comments section for this week’s entry at And be on the lookout for next week’s newsletter, where we will finish our Building Vocabulary For Life series, with a look at how we can continue to grow our vocabulary throughout the adult years.

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