Improving SSAT and ISEE Verbal Test Scores

Many students struggle to receive a high score on the verbal section of their test. One of the most important things to do to improve verbal scores is to work on vocabulary as often as possible. Students may want to cram in vocabulary cards last minute, but there should be a slow process of growth in order to develop the vocabulary acquisition skills they need to receive a high test score on these tests.

On both the ISEE and SSAT tests, students will be asked to find a synonym for a specific word and then either fill in a sentence completion with a word (ISEE), or do analogies with challenging words (SSAT).

Students will not be asked to define words; they will be asked to find the most appropriate match for the word they are given. Because of this, it is not necessary for students to know all of their vocabulary words 100% of the way. It is best to generally know as many words as possible in order to answer many questions correctly, rather than knowing a select few words perfectly.

To learn as many words as possible, it is important for students to learn words in groupings of context. They can learn words better if they are grouped according to a similar subject or idea. One way to start this process is to pick a word and go through the thesaurus to select as many synonyms as possible for that word, and then put together a grouping of note cards to learn all of those words together. Students will learn words much more quickly because they will remember that they learned a word in that grouping, which will help retention. If students learn many words completely out of context from each other it is much harder to retain those words.

Students should learn as many prefixes and roots as possible in order to have a general awareness of words that they will encounter, so even if they see a word they don’t specifically recognize, they will still be able to eliminate some answer choices that do not relate to what they think the word might mean. There will be so many new words that they will see on the test, that the most important skill a child can learn is how to break down unfamiliar words and isolate fragments of the word that they recognize. This is much better in terms of getting more points on the test than just knowing some select words perfectly, because the chances of those particular words that you studied and memorized appearing on the test are slim.

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