Quick Tips to Memorizing SAT Vocabulary

Almost every student’s least favorite part of studying for the SAT is memorizing vocabulary. I know that was the worst part of my SAT preparation for sure. However, as mentioned in the previous post, the SAT vocabulary is an important part and cannot be neglected! Here, I will go through some quick tricks and tips to help you minimize the tediousness and ace the SAT vocabulary!

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[Continue reading for tips on how to memorize the SAT vocabulary quickly…]

1. Flashcards. Practically every student has heard of using flashcards to memorize things. However, instead of going through a stack of 1000 words for the SAT vocabulary every time you use flashcards, I am going to introduce a more effective and streamlined method. In this system, you will divide your pile into 3 piles: Know, Unsure, Don’t Know.

  • First, go through the whole pile. For words that you are familiar with, put those flashcards into the ‘Know’ pile. For words that you have come across before but are unsure of the exact definition, put those flashcards into the ‘Unsure’ pile. And lastly, for words that you have never seen before, put those flashcards into the ‘Don’t Know’ pile.
  • You can put the ‘Know’ pile aside for the time being.
  • Pick up the ‘Don’t Know’ pile and depending on the size of that pile and the time frame you have, divide your memorization task on a weekly basis.
  • Work through your weekly ‘Don’t Know’ pile until you have steadily shifted the whole weekly pile into the ‘Unsure’ pile.
  • On the last day of your week, go through the ‘Unsure’ pile. Repeat this process until you are able to move all the words from the ‘Unsure’ pile into the ‘Know’ pile.
  • Make sure you don’t deceive yourself that you know a word when you actually are not sure. The SAT test for one won’t be deceived!
  • Right before your SAT test, all of the flashcards should be in your ‘Know’ pile – and you should go through this one last time!

2. Practice. Memorizing vocabulary is never fun if you’re just stubbornly trying to commit those new words to memory. Hence to make the process more enjoyable, try to practice using those new words anywhere and everywhere! Use them when you’re writing in your journal or talking to friends and family. It will make for more interesting conversations and also include your family in the process!

3. Make links. Many of these vocabulary words are synonyms of simpler and more common words. Thus it would be a good idea to create columns of words that are similar in nature and would help you create those links in your memory. For example, words like “colossal”, “mammoth” and “grandiose” are all synonyms of the word “big”! Although they are not exactly the same in terms of their meanings, they are similar enough that having these links will help you remember the definitions of each one!

All the best!!!

About the author: Shimin Ooi is a junior in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs department. She has a strong interest in economic and health policy and has recently returned from a semester of study at Hertford College, Oxford. In high school, her extensive research on standardized tests helped her achieve a near perfect SAT score and perfect scores on each of her SAT Subject tests. Through these blog posts, she hopes to help others achieve test-taking success as well!

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