The Importance of Vocabulary for Life


Students all around the country are rejoicing that they no longer have to anguish over learning new and challenging vocabulary words now that College Board has eliminated testing of vocabulary through sentence completion. Despite the elimination of sentence completion from the new SAT, learning vocabulary will still impact a student’s score on both the reading comprehension and essay sections. However, this is only one small reason to learn and expand one’s vocabulary. The more important benefit to building a more sophisticated personal lexicon is how it impacts all aspects of one’s life – from elementary school through the adult years. Students are doing themselves a huge disservice by eliminating vocabulary study simply because College Board decided that they wanted more students to choose their exam over the ACT. Let’s take a look at all the ways learning vocabulary can help.

Having a stronger vocabulary will improve reading comprehension. This is not just helpful on the SAT or other standardized tests, but in practically every academic subject. Students don’t often take the time to look up words they don’t know while reading, even though it is a fast and easy  process when reading on a kindle, smartphone or computer. If words that are unknown are skipped, the deeper meaning of what is being read is lost. Students can derive some meaning of words they don’t know from the context of the sentence, but when there are numerous unfamiliar words, reading comprehension is diminished and learning is impacted throughout high school, college and beyond.

Writing skills are undoubtedly weaker when students don’t have a strong vocabulary at their disposal. The use of less sophisticated and varied words in writing impacts grades on papers and tests and candidate strength on college essays. A stronger student may enhance their writing on an essay by using the thesaurus function in Word, but this is a poor substitute for building their own vocabulary. And, online thesaurus tools won’t be available to them while writing a persuasive essay during an in-class exam.

Lastly, people form impressions of you by the way you express yourself. In social situations, an interview, or during a formal presentation, the words you choose make all the difference.

So, have I made my point? Vocab, Vocab, Vocab! I really can’t emphasize this enough. Just because College Board isn’t going to formally test your knowledge of words like “gregarious” and “loquacious” doesn’t mean that great descriptive words like this should be absent from your vocabulary.  One more important point… Now that you can see how vocabulary can be so beneficial, why not start early? Who decided that expanding vocabulary should only start junior year of high school and be crammed into several months right before the SAT?  Why not start now and reap the benefits longer?

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