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Vocabulary Quick Tips
- Don't spend too long on vocabulary questions
If you do not know a vocabulary question after 45 seconds, you probably will not know it after 2 minutes. Therefore, do not spend too long thinking about a vocabulary question. The time you save on vocabulary questions can be used more effectively on other Reading questions.
- Ignore vocabulary if you're not asked about it
TOEFL tries to make you focus on vocabulary that you really do not need in order to understand a passage or answer a question. Don't fall for this trap. Instead: ignore the vocabulary that you don't know and focus on the vocabulary that you do know.
- Avoid sound-alikes and look-alikes
TOEFL will try to trick you by giving you answer choices that look like or sound like the word you're being asked to define. Avoid these choices. For example, do not choose hamburger as the definition of humdinger.
Vocabulary Building Methods
Root, Prefixes, Suffixes
Strictly English believes that the best way to learn vocabulary is to learn the parts of words that also form other words. For example, once you learn that BENE = GOOD, then you've learned benediction, benefactor, benefit, and benevolent. Memorizing ONE root gives you at least FOUR new words!
Also always remember that prefixes change the meaning or a word (for example, unhappy means the opposite of happy), while suffixes change the grammar of a word (for example, happy is an adjective, but happiness is noun).
Memorize common content vocabulary
Strictly English has developed over 15 vocabulary lists with approximately 150 each for common academic topics that routinely occur on the TOEFL: biology, earth science, university life, psychology, the arts, literature, history, etc. By studying these lists, you will be more familiar with common words used by professors in these disciplines.
Bringing words from passive to active vocabulary
Many people think they need to learn hundreds of new words if you want to understand the lecture and readings on the iBT, but they forget that they already have hundreds of words in their head that they only know in certain contexts. We have methods to help you recall words you already know when you find them in contexts that are different from the contexts you learned them in.
Using context to guess a word's meaning
There are many clues in a sentence that will help you to figure out what a word means. You just have to be able to identify the grammatical, structural, and semantic clues that TOEFL is giving you.