Some students are rejoicing now that The College Board has eliminated directly testing vocabulary, through Sentence Completion. Others still work through their lists to build an advantage with the indirect uses of vocabulary that are still tested. Despite the elimination of Sentence Completion from the new SAT, learning vocabulary will still impact a student’s score on both the Reading Comprehension and Essay sections. These are two small reasons why a student should learn and expand his or her vocabulary.

The most important benefit of having a sophisticated vocabulary is the way it impacts all aspects of one’s life, from elementary school through adulthood! Students are doing themselves a huge disservice by eliminating vocabulary study, simply because the SAT no longer tests Sentence Completion.

Let’s review all the ways learning vocab can help in life.

person reading a dictionary Improves Reading Comprehension

This is helpful in every academic subject that requires reading – which is practically every subject other than straight-up math. Most students don’t sit with a dictionary looking up words they don’t know and rarely even check definitions electronically. Words that are unknown are too often skipped, resulting in the loss of the deeper meaning of the passage or subject matter. Students can sometimes derive the meaning of words they don’t know through the context of a sentence, but when there are numerous unrecognizable words, the chances of this undoubtedly diminish. Unfortunately, this can translate to a dramatic impact on a student’s grades in high school and beyond.

Improves Writing Skills

Writing skills are often weaker when students don’t have a large breadth of vocabulary at their disposal. They are left to using less sophisticated words in their writing, which in turn can affect grades on papers, essays and tests. A motivated student will likely sit with a thesaurus or use Word’s synonym-checker, but this is a poor substitute for a strong vocabulary. After all, a student can’t sit with a thesaurus in a timed exam requiring a persuasive essay.

Improves Communication Skills

Finally, people form impressions of others by the way they express themselves. Whether it is an interview, a formal presentation or a regular social situation, word choice can often mean the difference between a positive and negative reaction. Simply put, beyond the classroom, how a person speaks will impact his or her ability to communicate and succeed in all aspects of life.

Have I made my point? Vocab, vocab, vocab! At Ivy Bound, we really can’t emphasize this enough. Just because the College Board members decided they are not going to formally test a student’s knowledge of words like “gregarious” or “loquacious” should not mean that these richly descriptive words should be missing from a student’s vocabulary.

One last extremely important point…start early! Expanding vocabulary should not start junior year of high school, crammed in right before the SAT. The sooner a student starts, the more he or she will reap the benefits!