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A student asked me this week, "How should I study for vocab tests?" The words were moderately difficult, common SAT words - words that any well-read adult would know, but words that a typical 10th grade student might not have come across yet in their lifetime. Words like morose or mellifluous. The teacher gave the class a vocab list with definitions. Many words had similar ideas, not exactly similar definitions, but of the same idea. My student studied very hard for this test, but got only 40% correct. The problem wasn't in not understanding the words, the problem was in not knowing how they are commonly used. The definitions were very "terse" (another one of the words on the vocab list). We came up with a list of ways for the student to study for the next set of vocab words: 1. Look up all the words in a dictionary, in addition to learning the definition given by the teacher. This will give you a broader sense of the word. 2. Google each word, and find... read more

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