How to Study Vocabulary Most Effectively for the ISEE and SSAT Tests

In order to perform well on the ISEE and SSAT tests, learning to study vocabulary is crucial. The Verbal section of each test challenges the vocabulary skills of even the strongest students. It can be difficult to study vocabulary with your busy schedule, but without making it a priority, you will not be able to perform well on the synonyms and analogies portions of the SSAT exam or the synonyms and sentence completions portions of the ISEE exam.

What is most important to remember about studying vocabulary is that you will never be asked to directly define a word, so rote memorization of exact word definitions is not the recommended strategy. Instead, the exam will ask you to identify how a given word relates to a set of other words. Therefore, when you can recognize words in context and have a sense of what they mean, even if you cannot provide an exact definition, you will probably be able to answer the question correctly. This means that you should know a word well enough (75% of the way) to compare it to other words in a given list and generally understand its meaning in a context.

Think about it this way. To know a word 0% of the way means you have never heard of it before, and could not eliminate any answer choices given to you in relation to the word. To know a word 50% of the way means you have heard it before, but are not quite sure what it means;  you may be able to eliminate some answer choices, but your answer would still be a less-than-educated guess. When you know a word 100% of the way it means you know the exact definition of the word; you know it cold. Knowing a word 75% of the way is all you need to do well on this test. The more words you know 75% of the way, the better, because this test is all about word relationships. Knowing two words 75% of the way so that you can identify the appropriate relationship is better than only knowing one of the words 100% of the way.

In order to perform to the best of your abilities on the Verbal sections, there are a number of activities that Boston Tutoring Services utilizes to enhance vocabulary knowledge. Our ISEE and SSAT test prep program is customized to address each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and we will develop a customized preparation plan to arm you with powerful and up-to-date strategies for all sections of the test.

Click here to learn more about our ISEE/SSAT test prep programs. 

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