If you intend to perform well on the ACT English, ACT Reading, SAT Reading and SAT Writing and Language sections, you must under understand the types of questions you will encounter and how to deal with them. One type of question shared by both exams involves vocabulary.
You will not be asked to define individual words on either of the college entrance exams. You will, however, need to know the meaning of many words in order to interpret the sentences in which they are used. One important technique to remember when dealing with vocabulary is to always consider the context in which a word is used. Instead of looking at the options among the multiple-choice answers, choose your own word first and then find the closest match to your word among the answers provided on the test. A common mistake made by test takers is to depend on the answer choices for hints to the correct response. Be warned, these choices are not meant to help you. They are meant to trick you into selecting the wrong answer if you are unsure about the definition of the word in question.
To better prepare for the exam, step up the amount of time you spend reading. Both college entrance exams tend to focus on words used by mature speakers and writers, AKA college-level material. Read a variety of materials that deal with all the subjects you have studied in high school – mainly history and literature as well as current news and stories from popular culture. Check the meaning of words that are unfamiliar. It will increase your understanding of the information being presented as well as expand your vocabulary.
Do a quick internet search for vocabulary aids, make flash cards from your reading as well as from the internet search and pay close attention to possible meanings for words that are both familiar and unfamiliar. Listen for words in news broadcasts, podcasts and conversations that are seldom used and try to discern their meaning from the context. Be sure to always check their definitions in the dictionary so that what you learn is always correct. Use any unfamiliar words from your list in sentences and in writing assignments to make sure that you become comfortable with them. It sounds like a lot but really, reading more, paying closer attention to the words you hear, and using those words will help you with the vocabulary portion of the SAT and ACT exams.