The Dreaded SSAT Vocabulary Section

Preparing for the SSAT test cannot simply be a once a week, 60 minute per week, tutoring session; rather, preparing for the SSAT test needs to be incorporated into every day routines as much as possible. That doesn’t mean every child needs to slave 10 hours a week over their study book on top of homework from school. What it does mean is that families should support their student’s learning outside of tutoring sessions.

Here are a few ideas on incorporating Vocabulary learning for the verbal and reading comprehension portions of the test: First, have your student chose a “Word of the Day,” and make vocabulary games each day with the “Word of the Day.” For example, students could use a word of the day in different sentences and challenge their parents to do the same; this simple exercise could be done in the car on the way to school, at the dinner table, or in the car on the way to extracurricular activities. If this isn’t your cup of tea, then try listening to an audio book that includes slightly more challenging vocabulary than what your student has read in the past. Again, you might listen to the audio book in the car on the way to school, on the way to extracurricular activities after school, or at dinner. Every time your student hears a new vocab word, engage him/her in a discussion on the meaning of the new vocabulary. Finally, does your student like creative writing? Challenge him/her to write a story each week with 5-10 new vocabulary words based on the Bespoke Quizlet!

Also, ask yourself, “what kind of learner is my child?”Is he/she an auditory learner? If so, listen to audio books. Is he/she a visual learner? If so, then have your student write a story with new words to commit new vocab words to memory, or draw a picture to give a definition of word. Is he/she a kinesthetic learner? If so, find a way to pair a physical sport activity with vocabulary learning. For example, have your student say the definition of a word or use a word in a sentence while making a basketball shot or have your student act out the definition of the word (like charades).

The article, “Stretch Their Vocabularies” (Gilbert, A., n.d.) states, “Research has shown that students must make connections and have multiple exposures to words in order to make the words a part of their permanent memory.”[1] Thus, these activities aim to give students connections with words by also associating the recognition of a word with other stimulus – such as auditory, kinesthetic or visual associations.

Acquiring challenging vocabulary is a matter of constantly being immersed in a vocabulary rich environment at home, through reading, through listening to new and challenging vocabulary in the kinds of media that your family listens to on TV, radio, and online. Parents, this is my charge to you: commit yourself to challenging not just your student, but also yourself by immersing yourself and your family in reading and listening to a variety of materials that will challenge your student -read news or books together, listen to audio books, take note of new vocabulary words and then foster conversation with your family at the dinner table, or in the car,

Need more ideas for vocabulary learning? Check out this list in the article “Stretch Their Vocabularies” at

[1] Gilbert, A. (n.d.) Stretch their Vocabularies. National Education Association. Retrieved from

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