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Suniti's Advice Corner

How will the Vocab section change on the New SAT

Posted by Sybil St. Hilaire on Fri, Aug 15, 2014

test2 resized 600Earlier this year the College Board announced their planned changes to the SAT. Planned changes to test include the following:

- Passages will come from new sources
- The new math section will have a heavier focus on algebra, linear equations, and inequalities
- The SAT essay will go from being required to being optional and scored separately

Another key aspect of these changes includes a change in the type of vocabulary students will need to focus on. Gone are the obscure SAT words of tests past, instead students will be expected to focus on demonstrating a command of complex vocabulary that students will need to excel outside of the SAT or ACT. Since there is such a strong link between vocabulary and reading comprehension, the test will assess the multiple meanings of words in a way that will require sensitivity to context. 

Students will need to do more than just demonstrate the ability to memorize words using flashcards. Words will need to be defined as they are used in context. According to the College Board, “By including the sorts of words-in-context questions sampled above, the redesigned sat supports and rewards students’ development of broad and deep word knowledge without resorting to obscurity.”

All these changes mean that students will need to change the way they study for the vocabulary portion of the test. Memorization of words and their meaning out of context will not be sufficient to get ready for the new SAT.  As they prepare students should focus on “Tier 2” words like, “inimical”, “hallow”, and “consecrated”.  “Tier 2” vocabulary words are defined as any words “of high utility for mature language users and are found across a variety of domains”, according to the CollegeBoard.

Research has shown that conversation alone is not enough to build the level of conversation needed to be successful in college or career.

"A quick comparison between oral and written language is instructive: while the conversation of college-educated adults contains an average of 17.3 rare words per thousand, even children’s book exhibit almost double that frequency. Clearly, then acquiring vocabulary from conversation alone is insufficient to attain skilled comprehension." (CollegeBoard, 2014)

When preparing students should prepare to read widely and deeply. However because a love of reading is cultivated over time, a number of students struggle with comprehension and varied application of “Tier 2” words. Students should also practice in ways that allow them to learn words in context. TestRocker’s vocabulary game is one option for students looking to learn these words and apply them in context.

Whatever method you choose to prepare, it’s important to understand how critical mastery of vocabulary and solid reading comprehension are to college and career success. It is imperative that students see the value of these skills beyond both the SAT and ACT. Cultivating these abilities will allow students to write and present their own thoughts in a clear and concise way. A strong grasp on “Tier 2” vocabulary is essential to putting them on the path to success. TestRocker stands with students in their journey towards excellence in college and career.

Tags: For Students, For Parents

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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