The verbal part of the SAT exam tests a student’s vocabulary and reading comprehension. About half of the questions in the verbal section will be specifically to test vocabulary skills, but even the reading comprehension section depends heavily on the reader’s ability to figure out unfamiliar words in context. You might wonder why vocabulary skills are at such a premium in a college entrance exam.
Well, in order to perform well in college, a student must have an adequate command of the English language. They will have to be able to navigate their textbooks easily, and communicate their ideas and thoughts fluently. Students without a strong vocabulary will be at a significant disadvantage throughout their college career.
Because vocabulary is such a key component of the SAT, it is important to focus on building a strong command of the English language before taking the exam. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The first focus should be on making sure that your high school classes are college preparatory. CP classes are specifically designed to help prepare you for the rigors of post-high-school education, and will probably be more likely than general education classes to include a wide array of vocabulary. If your classes do not provide adequate vocabulary instruction, you may need to supplement them with books or software programs that concentrate on preparing you for college entrance exams. Reading prolifically is another key ingredient to SAT preparation. Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, and internet all provide fodder for building your vocabulary. Some students even create note cards for any unfamiliar words they come across in their reading, and look up their meanings to help them remember the word in the future.
You can’t possibly learn all the SAT vocabulary overnight. It will require time, effort, and patience to acquire the word skills that will help you succeed on the exam. One important focus of your study should be on root words, particularly Greek and Latin roots. A large portion of English terminology has its “roots” in these two languages. By learning the general meaning of the most common Greek and Latin roots, you can often make educated guesses at unfamiliar words that contain those roots. In the analogy and sentence completion sections of the SAT, this can be an especially helpful trick for making educated guesses. Spending even 10-15 minutes a night working on these types of word attack skills can greatly improve your verbal acumen, and your possibility for SAT success. Another idea is to use vocabulary building software, such as Ultimate Vocabulary for the SAT Exam.
Colleges and universities take into account many factors when deciding who to admit to their student body, but the SAT can often be one of the key elements that make or break a student’s chances at higher education. The single best way to ensure your success in the entrance exam is to grow your vocabulary. The SAT doesn’t test your intelligence, your creativity, or even your common sense. It does, however, test how well you have prepared. Today is the perfect day to begin preparing by simply building your vocabulary.
Students - If you're working on Vocabulary, don't forget your Writing!
The SATs cover more than just vocabulary words. Students preparing for the SAT Essay Writing portion would benefit from Time4Writing because it offers courses that include writing instruction with tips and strategies from a certified teacher, as well as practice essays and feedback.
For total Test Preparation, we recommend Time4Learning's online learning resources. Time4Learning helps improve critical skills through structured lessons and activities that correlate to the educational standards that standardized tests, including the SATs, are built around.