Monday, June 8, 2020
Top Tips for ACT Vocab
Hidey-ho, Magooshers! Today IÃ¢â¬â¢m going to give you my top three tips for vocabulary success on the ACT, and what they mean for you in preparing for test day. Top Tip #1: The ACT and SAT test vocabulary in different ways. Traditionally, an Ã¢â¬Å"SAT wordÃ¢â¬ has been a vocabulary word that is both uncommon and difficult. You know, the sort of word youÃ¢â¬â¢d only get by drilling vocabulary into your head until your brain bleeds. (AuthorÃ¢â¬â¢s Note: please donÃ¢â¬â¢t try that at home.) The ACT, on the other hand, tests vocabulary that isnÃ¢â¬â¢t too terribly difficult. TheyÃ¢â¬â¢re words you would probably see in real life, and youÃ¢â¬â¢ll probably come across them in some of your reading in college which you will have, regardless of your major. Sorry. What this means for you: YouÃ¢â¬â¢re unlikely to be asked about weird, difficult vocabulary words, but youÃ¢â¬â¢ll be expected to know very detailed definitions of more common words. You also wonÃ¢â¬â¢t be asked any straight-up vocabulary questions, but you will be expected to use words appropriately in the context given to you. So if youÃ¢â¬â¢re taking both tests, or if your school or teachers are offering ways to help you prepare for the SAT, not everything applies from the SAT to the ACT though knowing more words canÃ¢â¬â¢t hurt! Top Tip #2: The ACT loves secondary definitions, like whoa. Imagine with me for a moment. YouÃ¢â¬â¢re in the middle of your ACT Reading test, and you come across the word Ã¢â¬Å"sufferÃ¢â¬ in one of the passages. If youÃ¢â¬â¢re anything like me, when you read the word just now, you probably thought that someone was in pain or going through trauma of some kind. But what if the sentence was something like, Ã¢â¬Å"She suffers from a tendency to exaggerate.Ã¢â¬ Here, the woman in question isnÃ¢â¬â¢t in pain. I used a secondary definition of Ã¢â¬Å"suffer,Ã¢â¬ which here means Ã¢â¬Å"She is given to exaggerationÃ¢â¬ or, in more intelligible English, Ã¢â¬Å"She exaggerates a lot.Ã¢â¬ Or what if the sentence is something like the famous Bible quote, Ã¢â¬Å"Suffer the little children to come unto meÃ¢â¬ ? DonÃ¢â¬â¢t worry, no one is hurting kids. Ã¢â¬Å"SufferÃ¢â¬ is being used in yet another way: as a synonym for Ã¢â¬Å"allowÃ¢â¬ or Ã¢â¬Å"permit.Ã¢â¬ In this context, Ã¢â¬Å"sufferÃ¢â¬ means Ã¢â¬Å"Allow the little children to come to me.Ã¢â¬ What this means for you: If you think you know what a word means in an ACT question, you probably need to double-check the context. Even if you donÃ¢â¬â¢t think you need to, do it anyway. Another thing you should double-check: parts of speech. If youÃ¢â¬â¢re dealing with the word Ã¢â¬Å"determined,Ã¢â¬ for example, you should be totally clear on whether the word is being used as an adjective (Alyson was a determined young lady) or as the past tense of the word determine (Galileo determined that the Earth orbits the sun). Top Tip #3: The ACT also loves idioms. Idioms are one of those lovely things about English that make the people learning it as a second language want to hit native speakers with the nearest lexicon until internal consistency is achieved. An idiom is a common phrase that makes no sense when you think about it, but we all know what it means in context. Some familiar examples of idioms include: narrow down to reduce the number of choices or possibilities cut corners to do something poorly, often to save money up in the air to have undefined plans up in arms to become angry about something hush-hush secret or hidden stumble upon to discover accidentally came about happened (If youÃ¢â¬â¢re looking for more practice with idioms for the ACT English Test, we have a whole post on them HERE.) What this means for you: Now, the ACT wonÃ¢â¬â¢t ask you to complete the sentence with the appropriate word but idioms do appear fairly frequently in the Reading Test passages, so you should be prepared. If you come across an idiom and youÃ¢â¬â¢re not sure what it means, ignore it. If thereÃ¢â¬â¢s a question based on that part of the passage, go back and give it a second look. Try to predict what the author meant in that situation. Chances are good that youÃ¢â¬â¢ll be able to get a general sense of the meaning, even if youÃ¢â¬â¢re not completely sure what all the words mean.