Monday, March 15, 2010

Word Attack Strategies

What strategies help you when you don't know a word?  Do you always use the same one?  Here are ways you can figure out the meaning of words you don't get.

1.  Do a Skip Test
Read the sentence without the word.
Ask yourself, do you need that word?
If not, answer the question without the word.

If you need to know the word, try another strategy.

2.  Can you figure out using context clues?
Read past the unfamiliar word and look for clues. If the word is repeated, compare the second sentence to the first. What word might make sense in both?

3.  Is there a word you can substitute?
Think about what word might make sense in the sentence. Try the word and see if the sentence makes sense.

4. Use Prior Knowledge
Think about what you know about the subject of the essay or passage. Do you know anything that might help you make sense of the sentence? Read the sentence with the word to see if it makes sense.

5. Sound out the word
Break the word into parts.  Look for the root word.  Divide the word into syllables.  Look for familiar beginnings (prefixes) and endings (suffixes).  Read each chunk by itself. Then blend the chunks together and sound out the word. Does that word make sense in the sentence?

6. Connect to a Word You Know
Think of a word that looks like the unfamiliar word. Compare the familiar word to the unfamiliar word. Decide if the familiar word is a chunk or form of the unfamiliar word. Use the known word in the sentence to see if it makes sense. If so, the meanings of the two words are probably close enough for understanding the new word.

7.  Visualize
Picture the passage.  Think about how the question relates to the passage.  Get a picture of what the question is asking.