Last night I met with a student for the first time since the end of the school year. After a nice discussion of our various summer activities, I asked her if she had done any studying for the SAT, and she gave me a sheepish look.
Not only had she avoided all structured test prep all summer long and avoided reading even one book, but she had also neglected even to look at the vocabulary words that she had been working on. Not one single glance. Not shockingly, she’s lost almost every word that she had worked so hard to gain.
Learning vocabulary is a long process that requires daily repetition. If you don’t read books and encounter new words all the time, you have to dedicate yourself to less pleasant shortcuts, like vocabulary cards or lists. But study something every day–review ten or twenty words, read an article in The New Republic, or even pay attention to the dialogue in shows like Suits, which has a surprising number of SAT words in every episode. When you learn a new word, write it down somewhere so you’ll see it again. After you see or use a word a few dozen times, it will be in your head.