Summer Test Preparation: Vocabulary Building for the SAT

Posted by Sophie Pauze on 6/20/13 9:03 AM

summer test preparation

Many students think ahead and wonder how they can use their summer to advance their standardized test preparation, without monopolizing the entire summer break. Vocabulary-building is an easy (and for some, fun) way to improve your verbal SAT score and can be done easily from anywhere, even while you're in transit.

Additionally, the vocabulary section on the SAT presents enormous challenges for many high school students. The people who write these tests have immense word banks from which to draw potential questions, and simultaneously, as students read less, they have less exposure to the basic vocabulary words.

Two different prongs of attack can help students ace these sections and alleviate this problem. The first involves basic learning of vocabulary words and the second requires a careful application of test strategy and a process of elimination. While an SAT tutor can help with the test strategy part, this approach needs some material to draw on. 

This blog post will discuss the two main ways to increase your basic knowledge of vocabulary with the goal of increasing your SAT verbal score:

SAT tutoring cambridge

1. Flashcards offer the most tried and true way of putting a lot of vocabulary in your head in a short time.  Just making a big stack of these venerable 3x5 index cards helps cram words. The trick to flashcards is regular practice. Committing a reasonable amount of time to learning these words each day will help much more than an hour-long marathon. Just like anything, practice makes perfect.

Of course, because it’s the 21st century, different manifestations of the flashcard idea exist. Anki, a free program that’s available on almost every platform, relies on an idea called spaced repetition and reviews words at intervals that are supposed to help you learn the vocabulary presented. People have created “decks” of cards for almost every topic and searching for Anki SAT (or whatever else you want to learn) decks will show you the variety of decks available.

SAT verbal section

2. As an SAT tutor, I can tell you that the best way to learn vocabulary is by being reading actively. 

  • Think about the plot, the characters, and the way the author uses words to create tone.
  • When you find an unfamiliar word, look it up and make a flashcard or add it to your Anki deck.
  • Make sure to pick difficult books.

According to a recent study of the Accelerated Reader program, kids in grades 1-12 consistently read at a lower level than their grade. In fact, your summer reading list may not challenge you enough. Over the past 100 years, the complexity of books assigned to students has declined by about three grade levels, so make sure the books you choose are challenging. 

If you’re feeling motivated, employ both of these study skills strategies. By making flashcards and reading rigorously, you will do wonders for your standardized test preparation and definitely impress your SAT tutor! 

Click here to sign up for a free SAT consultation!

Tags: study skills, SAT, summer activities