Unless you are one of the few in high school who completely escapes the daily grind with enviably high-brow literature that makes your English teacher weep with joy, you probably are somewhere in the “trying to grow your vocab” phase of life. This period of several years is necessary to transition from ‘tween words and phrases like, “I don’t wanna!” to more sophisticated means of expression, like “Given the undeniable circumstances of the situation, I prefer to refrain.” (I’m only half joking here. I knew people in high school who actually talked like that, at least between more colorful words ;)
Basically, you’re growing up, and your vocabulary needs to grow up, too. And preferably ASAP, since you have standardized tests like the SAT and ACT coming up, and you NEED to nail those sentence completions and reading passages!
So, like most Test Prep Gurus and tutors, I do have some clichéd advice to expand your diction. And I would never hold out on the tried and true methods, no matter how hackneyed and BOOOORING they might seem…
BUT! – keep reading! – I know a few more ways to get the job done that I think you, my darlings, would much rather prefer! So in this 4-part series, I’m here to enlighten, and hopefully make your quest to raise your SAT Critical Reading and ACT Reading scores considerably more fun!
Let’s start with the easiest:
Vocab Hack #1: Surround Yourself With Smarter Peeps
By “smarter”, I don’t necessarily mean you should ditch your crew if they aren’t up to snuff. However, maybe you should consider adding some variety to your social circles. This could be as simple as befriending upper classmen or chatting with your parent’s friends and your older relatives when you get the chance. Maybe, just maybe, instead of shying away from crazy surgeon Uncle Andy, ask him about the grossest thing he’s ever seen on the operating table or why he prefers Fleetwood Mac to the Beatles.
Basically, partake in adult conversations with actual adults. Bonus points if Tina Fey is your close family friend.
Very likely, you will begin to uncover more sophisticated ways of expressing yourself and hear some higher-echelon vocab in context and start to feel comfortable with it.
As a side benefit, you may just find yourself becoming more emotionally mature and perhaps even collecting cool stories about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that can come in handy as a “personal experience” essay example!