Did that headline scare you? Don’t worry! I have no intention of asking your 13-year-old son to start hitting SAT essays and math. However, there is one aspect of college admissions tests you should start preparing for sooner rather than later. That’s vocabulary.
I can hear all of you moaning and groaning from here. “But no one ever uses those words!” “When am I ever going to need to know what ‘obstreperous’ means?” “I’m hungry.” Ok, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. The thing to remember is that unlike those special triangles rules you’ve committed to memory for the math sections, vocabulary will absolutely benefit you into college and beyond.
College reading is a world away from high school assignments. The work you put in to vocabulary now will help you get through those tough books you’ll need to read at the next level. Your comprehension will be better, and you won’t have to stop constantly to look up words you don’t know.
But even more importantly, a solid vocabulary will help you in the working world, too. Want a sophisticated, interesting (not to mention high paying) job? Have a sophisticated vocabulary. Higher level employees have language skills that match their job levels. If you want to move up the corporate ladder, sound like you belong at the top.
Let’s go back to 8th grade (not literally...thank goodness). The most effective way to build vocabulary is to read challenging books. The College Board released a recommended reading list a few years ago. The books on that list are a bit heavier than Twilight and Harry Potter, but they’ll do a lot more for your SAT skills. If you have one, a Kindle is a fantastic way to get started on reading serious literature. It has a built-in dictionary so there’s no excuse for not looking up tough words, and many classic works are available for FREE.
As your child progresses through school, and a date with the SAT looms, targeted vocabulary prep may be worthwhile. But the reading skills he or she has developed over the years will go a long way toward improving his/her performance on the Critical Reading section of the SAT. Reading improvement takes a lot of practice over time, and doesn’t respond as quickly to SAT exercises as math skills. So start early! You and your child will be so glad you did.
* FYI, “obstreperous” means “noisy and difficult to control.” See, you’ve already learned a new word by reading.
About the Author:
Guest Author Jenn Cohen is the owner of Jenn Cohen Tutoring and President and Chief Word Nerd of Word-Nerd.com, an SAT vocabulary website. She blogs about test prep and college admissions at The Fat Envelope. You can find her on Twitter @satprepforadhd and @SheldonWordNerd.