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Building vocabulary for SAT success

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Preparing for the reading section of the SAT test:  five simple tips

Preparing for the reading section of the SAT test: five simple tips

SAT scores can weigh heavily as high school students begin the process of applying to colleges.  But what exactly is the SAT test? The SAT is merely an acronym for the name Scholastic Aptitude Test, a standardized test first devised in 1901 as a benchmark for college admissions.  The SAT test contains four primary sections; critical reading, mathematics, writing, and a variable or equating section.

In order to prepare for the Reading section of the test, it is wise to focus on vocabulary building and basic grammar. There are a wide variety of products, programs and SAT workbooks designed specifically for SAT vocabulary building. While many of these products, techniques and tutoring programs can cost thousands of dollars, there are some other very simple, inexpensive and highly effective ways to boost SAT vocabulary scores.

If you, or someone you know is preparing for reading section of the test, encourage SAT vocabulary building with these simple tips. Building vocabulary for SAT success is an ongoing learning process, and one that can be fun!


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Preparing for the Reading Section of the SAT Test:  Five Simple Tips

1.   Read, read, read.  
The more you read in a day, the more likely you are to encounter challenging vocabulary. Regularly reading a wide variety of books, newspapers, magazines, online articles, and other engaging literary materials is the very best way to improve your vocabulary, your retention and your overall reading comprehension.

2.   Look Up Unfamiliar Words.  

Make a point of taking the time to look up the definitions of any unfamiliar vocabulary words. Granted, most of us don’t carry dictionaries around in our pockets.  However, there are some terrific online dictionary sites such as There are also a variety of dictionary applications for smart phones. Even if you aren’t near a computer or a phone when you encounter a challenging or unusual word, write it down on a scrap of paper, and be sure to look it up at the earliest opportunity.

3.   Make Flash Cards.  

Especially if you are trying to familiarize yourself with a large group of vocabulary words, making flash cards can be one of the very best SAT vocabulary building activities. Taking the time to write out the words and definitions will help to ingrain the words in your memory. Then, keep the flash cards handy, held together with a rubber band or in a zip-lock bag to prevent them from getting damaged. Pull them out to quiz yourself during your lunch hour, in the evening before bed, while riding the bus, or even first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. 

4.   Take a few SAT practice tests.  

The College Board website (the official website of the SAT test) offers a variety of practice SAT tests that students can take. For a fee, tutoring programs such as The Princeton Review and Kaplan also offer demo tests with detailed score reporting that can help you to analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Practice tests are a great way to familiarize yourself with the format and question styles of the SAT test.  

5.   SAT Question of the Day?  

The College Board website also offers a fun and free ?SAT question of the day? that can help to prepare you for the real SAT test. Simply visit the website and enter either your e-mail address or phone number. You can choose to receive the question of the day by e-mail or text. A number of online dictionaries also send a “word of the day” to subscribers.


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