5 Ways to Improve Your ACT Vocabulary

Last updated Feb 5, 2021 

ACT Vocabulary

Are you trying to figure out how to study ACT vocabulary? You might be surprised to learn that vocabulary is not directly measured on the ACT test. Nevertheless, a better vocabulary will allow you to more easily dissect passages in all sections of the ACT, plus it will strengthen your essay on the Writing section. Let’s take a look at what the experts say.

Dr. David Moore, a college professor for adult literacy teacher preparation, argues in an article entitled, “Why Vocabulary Instruction Matters,” that students can’t realistically understand what they are reading without knowing what most of the words mean. Education professor Warwick B. Elley summed up the importance of learning vocabulary by saying that it is “the best single indicator of intellectual ability and an accurate predictor of success at school.”ACT_Vocabulary

Translated to test taking, for students to fully understand what they are being asked, they must have a handle on the meanings of words in the passages and questions. The larger the pool of words they understand, the more successful they will be in an academic setting, whatever the subject matter.

Educator Carol Chandler-Wood of Total Learning Concepts says improving your vocabulary is one of the most important academic investments you can make. That being said, let’s get started. Here are some tips to help improve ACT vocabulary.

Commit to Learning One Word a Day
The Learning Network blog, published on the New York Times website, posts a “Word of the Day” each weekday. Along with the word and its definition(s), the post notes how many times the word has been used in New York Times articles in recent years, often displaying the excerpts for context.  

Read More
The most commonsense way to increase your vocabulary is to expose yourself to more words by reading as often as you can. Set a newspaper website as your home page. It will remind you that reading the news will help expose you to more words. Try to read at least 15 minutes a day outside of your schoolwork.

Don’t Just Learn New Words—Use Them

Though reading is very effective, Michael from Daily Writing Tips notes that realistically we don’t all have time to be full-time bookworms. He lists several helpful alternate ways to give your vocabulary a boost, including using new words in your own speech to commit them to memory. “Make it a game,” he says. “Slip your new word into a conversation with as many different people as you can.”

Download a Free App

Definest gives you an easy way to keep track of words you come across and want to learn later. Create lists, utilize one-tap access to a dictionary, and add your own notes to your saved words.

Invest in Software

If you’d like to improve your ACT vocabulary, consider making an investment in software like Ultimate Vocabulary. This program has a special testing category, so you can create a list of words to boost your ACT vocabulary.

Learning new words is a slippery slope—in a positive way. “The larger your vocabulary becomes, the easier it will be to connect a new word with words you already know, and thus remember its meaning,” the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation says.

We recommend learning SAT and ACT vocabulary in 9th, 10th or 11th grade. Consider the A+ Tutoring Vocabulary Booster program, which will help foster a strong vocabulary before diving into an ACT test prep program.



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