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Why I created Visual Vocab

Studying for the SAT can prove overwhelming. College bound students must carve out
time to prepare for the test in the midst of the academic and social demands of junior year. With all these competing interests, students commonly prioritize, focusing most of their attention on requisites deemed important by college counselors ,while largely disregarding subjects they believe their existing wealth of knowledge will cover. One commonly bypassed topic is SAT vocabulary.

Students all too often believe that tricky SAT vocab is relegated to a single section of the test that accounts for a relatively minimal percentage of the overall test. They also often avoid studying vocabulary either because they feel like they will already know enough of the words from their classwork at school or, alternatively, because the amount of vocabulary to study seems too overwhelming. Students can feel like if they can’t learn all the words, there’s no point in trying to learn some of them.

But the truth is, vocabulary is a huge part of the SAT. Not just the pure vocabulary questions, but also the reading comprehension and writing questions, can benefit from any amount of vocabulary studying. The vocabulary lists can be daunting, but knowing just one more word could mean one more question right, which could be the difference between your dream score and retaking the exam.

What’s more, many of the common vocabulary words on the test are words a good student might not know. Long story short, a student who doesn’t take the time to study SAT vocab will not get the score he or she deserves as compared to those who directly study it.

Trust me, I learned the hard way. My first SAT practice test was a big disappointment to me. I tried lots of methods for studying vocabulary, and I found that flashcards and definitions didn’t work very well for me.

This very oversight was my motivation for creating the website Visual Vocab. My website represents a quick and easy way to familiarize yourself with SAT vocab through associating seemingly “esoteric” words with coherent illustrations. If you are a visual learner, or looking for an extra learning tactic to support what you’re otherwise doing, I hope you’ll find the site to be helpful!

The idea came to me when I thought about how we learned words as little kids. When you don’t yet know how to talk, you don’t learn words in definitions – you learn them through experience. Someone points to a dog and says “dog”, and eventually you associate that word with that thing. Most of us really know what a dog is. Yet, what’s the definition of the word “dog”? Miriam Webster defines it as “a domesticated canid” or “any carnivore of the family Canidae”. I don’t know about you, but that really wouldn’t help me understand the word “dog.” This idea helped me to realize that you can know what a word means without knowing the definition in words, and you can know the definition in words without knowing what a word means.

What do I really need on the SAT? I don’t need to write a definition; I need to know what the words mean. Further research showed me that associating a word with an image stimulates cognitive and linguistic development that cannot be replicated by rote memorization. It’s real learning!

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