SAT Words: Studying for the SAT With Free Rice

In July, The New York Times ran a lengthy front-page story about teenagers’ abandonment of books. Kids would rather read online than pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird or a Jane Austen novel.

My son Ben shares that sentiment. He will sometimes stumble onto a book that he loves like The Life of Pi, but it’s got to be pretty compelling to hold his interest. Even with The Life of Pi, Ben skipped over about 40 pages because he got impatient waiting for Pi to meet the tiger in the boat.

With so many kids only reading literature that’s been assigned in English class, it can be a challenge for them to know enough SAT vocabulary words.

I’ve got my son (reluctantly) learning about 10 new vocabulary words a week. He tends to remember the new words that he thinks he can use during discussions in his humanity classes such as iconoclast and polemic. This test prep method is decidedly low tech. Each word, along with the definition and sample sentence, are written on an index card. Because the index cards ended up scattered around the house, I gave him a recipe box to store them.

A more entertaining way to learn new SAT words, however, is Free Rice. Every time a visitor to this site gets a vocabulary word right, the site’s advertisers donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nation’s World Food Program. Since Free Rice was launched in the fall of 2007 — by a dad helping his kids with SAT  vocabulary words — the site has generated donations of trillions of grains of rice.

There are 60 levels, but its rare for anybody to get above level 50. I’ve never gotten above level 43. When I try, I get hung up by words I’ve never seen before like jape, unguent and inutile. Of course, maybe that’s because I didn’t do too well on the SAT.

Further Reading:

Comparing ACT and SAT Scores

The Dirty Secret Behind the ACT and SAT Tests

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