Word Power is the biggest stumbling block and a nightmare for each and every GRE/GMAT/SAT/IIM-CAT aspirant. All complain of the problem of cramming about 4000 words, and those that are never heard of in day to day usages or even in literary passages. Many of these are archaic words, some of which may even be missing from standard English language dictionaries.
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The other complaint is that even if they try to learn the dictionary by heart, by devoting a lot of time and dedication, they face the memory storage problem. In other words, if you happen to learn 40 words today, tomorrow you tend to forget 30 of those, while on the next day another 5 are wiped out of your mind, and may be the rest the day after.
In despair and distress, not knowing how to overcome this terrifying situation, you tend to fall back on various word power gurus, who claim to teach you the entire list of words in 10 days. But the human mind after all has a limit, and all such tricks are unlikely to yield much result.
LEARNING 700 WORDS IS ENOUGH
The first and foremost step to mastering word power is to get rid of the fear psychosis of the enormity of 4000-odd words. You can break this psychological barrier the moment you realise that actually it’s around 700 words you have to learn and not the dreaded figure of 4000.
WHY 4000 = 700 WORDS
This is how it works. On an average, each word has say five synonyms. This translates to the fact that if you learn the meaning of one word, you complete the task of knowing six words.
2 MONTHS = 700 WORDS
And you can very well gain command over 700 words in a maximum of two months with sufficient time for revision if you go even at the rate of 20 new words per day.
BLIND CRAMMING IS NOT THE ANSWER
The root cause of your memory failure is because of the tendency of all to blindly cram word meanings, without giving a due consideration of its relationship with different words or sentences. Moreover, the element of cramming works more like a mechanical machine, which in all probability is bound to go out of order very frequently.
THE LOGIC OF HUMAN MEMORY
You should understand that human memory too has logic. Much depends on with how much love and warmth you are taking it. If you recall, you may be able to think of every single dialogue of your favourite movie, or the individual scores of a cricket test match, even if they may be of long back. Since you amalgamate your mind so deeply with these episodes, it remains ingrained in your memory for years.
INVOLVING YOUR MIND
You can very well replicate this sharp memory in building up your vocabulary too. For this all that you need is to involve your mind in your quest for acquiring proficiency in mastering word power. This is how it should work:-
PREPARING SENTENCES WITH SYNONYMS
After you see the meaning of a word, look up the usage of the word in the sentence that is usually present in the dictionary. You note down this sentence, as also prepare a new sentence after understanding the meaning of the word. Try to create new sentences with new words you are learning every day. You should write at least five different sentences with every new word over a period of time. By doing so, your mind is rigorously churned to find the suitable usage of the word. And this mental exercise would ensure the meaning of the word is ingrained in your mind.
PREPARING SENTENCES WITH ANTONYMS
It does not end here. Whatever has got stuck in your brain needs to be permanently stored in the mind. For this, take a look at the thesaurus, and find out the antonym of the word. After you find out the antonym, make a sentence with the antonym in the same way you did with the synonym. If possible create at least five different sentences with a word over a period of time.
COMPARING SYNONYMS & ANTONYMS
Now it is the time for you to compare the synonyms and antonyms both as they are opposite to each other, and how sentences are constructed with opposite meanings of these words. This procedure enables you to see a word from both the sides, and hence is the final solution to your problems.
If you can follow this strategy, it would definitely solve your problem of learning new words without forgetting the meaning of each.
Let us take the word punctilious. Its synonyms are careful, conscientious, exact, finicky, formal, fussy, meticulous, particular, proper, strict. Now we are making sentences with some of them below:-
We really appreciated our punctilious host’s warm welcome.
Our hosts were very careful to offer us a very warm welcome.
The hosts were meticulous in ensuring their guests’ comforts.
Now let us look at the antonyms of punctilious, and make sentences with them. They are easy-going, informal, lax.
The easy-going attitude of the hosts left a cold feeling among the guests.
The hosts were very informal in receiving their guests.
The hosts’ lax attitude towards the guests made them feel uncomfortable.
USE THE SAME CONTEXT
You may notice above, for all the synonyms and antonyms, the same context and meanings have been used. This is very important, and you should always try to write new sentences in the same background. If you use different circumstances, events or situations to get acquainted with the usage of the meaning, there is a strong possibility of being confused. But it is the context that will always remind you of how the word is used, and hence would ensure you don’t forget its meaning easily.
THE FINAL WORD – NEED PATIENCE & STRONG WILL POWER
No doubt even if you have to learn 700 word meanings, the exercise is time consuming and requires huge efforts on your part. Interestingly, if you ask such words to men of letters or novelists, writers and journalists, professors of English, most would fumble and reply that they are hearing these words for the first time. So, you need not feel terrified or disheartened seeing the mammoth task ahead of you. Again it would be nothing short of being naive on your part to think that you can master Word Power like a magic. But your patience and strong will power would definitely see you through.