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Improve Your Vocabulary to Boost Your SAT Score

January 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 157

High school seniors are often concerned about whether or not they will score high enough on the SAT (formerly called the Scholastic Assessment Test) to gain admission to a top-rated university. Their concern is unwarranted, however, because new books which trace the history of words are now on the market. Reading one of these books will greatly improve the student's vocabulary and allow him or her to get a high score on the Critical Reading (formerly Verbal) portion of the SAT.

A book on the history of words will enable the reader to learn hundreds, even thousands, of words without having to memorize them, at least consciously. To illustrate: probably not many people who haven't studied Latin have given it a thought that fug- is the root of twenty or more words, such as fugitive, refugee, centrifugal, and nidifugous. From your common knowledge, you know that a fugitive "flees or runs away"; a refugee "flees from his or her country"; and a centrifugal force "flees from the center." So if you encounter nidifugous on the SAT, you may not know what the word itself means, but you know that it has something to do with "fleeing." Consequently, of the multiple choice items, surely one of the possible answers would have something to do with "fleeing, running away, or escaping."

Psychologists called this step "associative bonding," similar to mortar between bricks. For instance, you will find that nidifugous comes from Latin nidus, nest, and describes a bird, such as a chicken, turkey, grouse, or pheasant that "flees" the nest shortly after hatching, as opposed to robins, wrens, and sparrows that must remain in the nest until they are mature enough to fly and hunt for their own food. These birds are called nidicolous, where the contrasting element is from colere, to dwell, and which gives us the word "colony."

The word centrifugal may be contrasted with centripetal, which means "seeking the center." In this case the pet- is from petere, "to seek." Centripetal is then concatenated, or linked to, appetite, a seemingly unrelated word. However, when one has an appetite, he or she seeks food, knowledge, or other desires, just as a centripetal force seeks the center.

Many words have Latin origins, such as the word granum, meaning seed or grain, which yields granary, grange, granite, granular, granule; pomegranate (a seeded or granulated fruit); grenade; engrain, filigree, garner; grain, gravy; and German Einkorn shares the common meaning with the Latin element, and means "one-seeded wheat."

Some words are one-of-a-kind; i.e., they have no relatives. Nainsook, for example, a soft, light fabric, often with a woven stripe, is from Hindi nainsukh, meaning "pleasing to the eye." There are also many words with interesting features. For example, robot and orphan are closely related, both pertaining to "work." In Old Slavic, rabota meant work or labor, and originally "compulsory labor," or "drudgery." Orphan, from Czeck robotnik, serf, originally meant a child, with or without parents, who had to work to support himself or herself.

There are the Romance cognates, in which the common element's equivalent is listed in the five major Romance languages: French, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. For the fugere family, there are respectively fuir, fugi, fuggire, fugir, and fugar.

A current book on the history of words will explain these word derivations plus hundreds of others. The reader will soon discover that building his or her vocabulary is a relatively easy task, and actually fun. The greatest benefit, of course, will accrue to college-bound high school students who want to score well on the SAT.

See also:

The author has a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

He was a career U. S. Marine officer for 20+ years, and then the CEO of a successful corporation in northern Virginia until 1997. From then until 2004 he was an adjunct professor of management at both 2-year and 4-year universities in Virginia.

He has written on a variety of topics for The Washington Post and The Potomac News.

Source: EzineArticles
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