Notes from a Lexicomane: why extending your vocabulary is amongst the best ACT preparation you can do.

If there’s one thing that teachers can agree on, it’s that the majority of high school students do not have a sufficiently broad knowledge of English vocabulary.  Although some blame the ‘dumbing down’ of TV shows and popular media, whilst others lament the decline in reading as a pastime, the fact remains that eloquence is an increasingly rare trait. 

Lack of linguistic breadth is a major hurdle which must be overcome by students hoping to score well in their ACT Reading and English tests. This is owing to the frequency of unfamiliar words which the tests are designed to expose students to, as well as the specific ‘vocabulary-in-context’ questions. 

Here’s an example of the sort of question you are likely to encounter:

“Your index finger is one of the most sensitive regions of the human body, owing to the fact that a large number of nerves are concentrated at the tip”. 

As used in this sentence, the word concentrated most nearly means:
A: extracted
B: paid attention to
C: gathered together
D: directed to one topic

The vey best advice which you can take when it comes to building vocabulary is simply to READ MORE! This may sound simple, and it is, but you need to be sure to read a wide variety of different texts in order to maximise your progress. This means that your reading needs to span genres, cultures and historical periods. Yet you needn’t only focus on reading books- reading journal articles, news items and well-written blogs can be just as beneficial if you are being exposed to new words. 

It is important to ensure that you are not skipping over the words you don’t understand- look them up and write them down! There are numerous dictionary apps which enable quick discovery of definitions and synonyms, as well as allowing you to build up personalised word lists. Many even offer a ‘word of the day’ feature, which may prove invaluable if you want to impress your friends with your magniloquence. If you’re looking for a shortcut to boost your linguistic talents, try downloading the free app ‘’, which claims to “combines the world’s smartest dictionary with an adaptive learning game that will have you mastering new words in no time.”

Have you got a favourite word? What are your top tips for improving your vocabulary? Comment below to join the discussion…


answer = C
Lexicomane= a person who loves words
Magniloquence= use of impressive vocabulary