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Easy Ways High School Students Can Build Vocabulary for College

written by: Stephanie Torreno•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/5/2011

Are you preparing to go to college? Your vocabulary might need a little improvement to get you ready to handle those tougher assignments. Learn how a little time each day can build your vocabulary in preparation for college.

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    Improve That Vocab

    The transition from high school work to assignments with college level vocabulary can seem overwhelming. College coursework with more difficult reading and writing will contain words that might not be in your current vocabulary. To increase your ability to read, write, and speak as a college student, follow these suggestions to get an extra edge on improvining your vocabulary.

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    Reading and Listing New Words

    Reading is the key to increasing your word power. Read not only the materials you are used to reading, but also newspapers and journals that will challenge your knowledge of words. Instead of reading and skipping words unfamiliar to you, write them down. Keep a list of these words you don’t know. Look up and write down their definitions, and try to learn it the first time you list it. Make sure you know how to pronounce it correctly, repeating it many times in your head. Practice saying the word aloud, and use a tape recorder to hear it again. Try varying the word from singular to plural, or changing the tense. On your word list, create a sentence with each word underlined in the sentence.

    Review the words on your list for a few minutes each day until you become familiar with it. You should begin recognizing these words in reading and using them in conversation. Your friends and family will be impressed with your college level vocabulary!

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    Using Other Resources to Improve Word Power

    Of course, other resources can help . Buying a vocabulary builder, available at most bookstores, is helpful because book chapters often group together words that have something in common. Some suggested titles are:

    • Building College Vocabulary Strategies by Darlene C. Pabis and Arden B. Hamer, published by Prentice Hall in 2007.
    • Building Vocabulary for College by R. Kent Smith, published by Wadsworth in 2008.
    • College Vocabulary Building by Devern J. Perry, published by Thomson South-Western in 1992.

    A thesaurus can increase your word power by allowing you to look up similar-meaning words. Just be sure to know the exact definition of the word you intend to use. Then, create a word map by jott down the original word in the middle of a page and writing synonyms in every direction of the word. Draw lines to connect the original word to the new words, and form circles around the new words. See how large your spider web of words can grow.

    Use the Internet to build your college level vocabulary by working on vocabulary puzzles and quizzes. Finally, subscribe to daily e-mail messages, such as Merriam Webster's Word of the Day, that deliver new words to your inbox. Read these e-mails and add the words and their definitions to your list.

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    Daily Practice Leads to Increased Vocabulary

    A few minutes of practice every day can offer you a chance to learn new words. Incorporating these words into your reading and writing will let you become familiar with college level vocabulary. These activities will help you prepare for your assignments in higher education and beyond.