Vocabulary, The Little Known Secret to Academic Success


Academic Success

Only 29 words can predict your academic success in college?

The Test

At the University of Illinois, freshmen were given a 29-word vocabulary test. Regardless of the student’s previous academic achievement, those with high scores consistently did better in college. The researcher, Professor William D. Templeman, concluded that those with a stronger vocabulary were more likely to succeed in a variety of subjects throughout college, linking it to their greater facility with both reading and writing.

Since reading and writing are so critical to college success, you likely won’t be surprised to learn that a study with multiple universities showed that college freshman who enrolled in a vocabulary course (such as Vocabulary Zone) consistently outperformed control groups during their sophomore, junior and senior years.

Dedicated vocabulary study leads to greater achievement, plain and simple.

So there’s a correlation, but how exactly does having a good vocabulary set you up for success in higher education? Let’s dig into that a bit more.

Vocabulary, Reading, and Writing: A Trinity of Success

The link between reading and vocabulary is strong for obvious reasons. A limited vocabulary removes you from the reading experience as you search your memory for meaning, dig through dictionaries or note the word for later. If you cannot understand words you read as you read them, it will be that much harder to comprehend and make sense of the ideas contained within.

This leads to a vicious cycle, where reading is more arduous, so you’re less likely to build your vocabulary through the pursuit. On the other hand, this cycle can be turned to your benefit: By building your knowledge of the English language, you’ll have an easier time reading and will, in turn, learn more words. Rinse. Repeat.

Writing and vocabulary also share a strong bond, though this poses an even greater challenge. When reading, you at least have surrounding text to help you out; Not so much with writing. Since you do not have the luxury of examining the context in which a word is used; you have to create the context. In other words (pardon the pun), your own words are all you have. If you do not have enough of them, your ability to convey ideas will be restricted. Making writing much more difficult.

Additionally, formal writing skills and an advanced vocabulary are both required for college success. Unfortunately, students today are at a disadvantage because our learned language from social media and texting has become too informal. Grades will certainly suffer if you allow such casual language habits to creep into your college writing. Don’t buy it? Read this primer on academic writing for college students. The first recommendation for successful college essay writing: Use Formal Vocabulary

73% of Companies Prefer Candidates with Strong Writing Skills

Studies show that 73 percent of companies look for candidates with strong writing skills, while a whopping 93 percent want employees who can think critically and communicate clearly.

Writing well is a powerful way to indicate your other positive traits to schools and employers as well. There’s been a variety of success-research that shows a strong link between vocabulary and IQ score. Furthermore, medical research has demonstrated that regular vocabulary practice makes your brain work better. Put simply, your working memory, the problem-solving part of your brain, relies on words to make connections and innovate … also skills employers covet.

Bigger Vocabulary, Brighter Future

The benefits don’t end in college, however. Harvard graduate and engineer Johnson O’Connor conducted ongoing studies on the relationship between aptitude and achievement. Over the course of two full decades, he discovered that people of all ages, educational levels, occupations and backgrounds benefited from a larger vocabulary.

This finding is borne out today. A 20-year study of college graduates showed those who scored in the top 10 percent went on to be in the top income bracket, while those who scored in the bottom 5 percent went on to be in the bottom income bracket. Clearly, career success and income are irreversibly entangled with your lexicon.

The takeaway? Your future college and career success depend heavily on you having a good vocabulary.

Improving Your Vocabulary, One Passive Word at a Time

If you’re right now suffering a mild panic attack thinking of all the words you need to learn, don’t. The truth is, improving your vocabulary is far simpler than you might think. For one thing, a lot of people know words without ever using them in their everyday speech or writing. This is known as your passive vocabulary. It’s actually a relatively simple matter to move words in your passive vocabulary over to your active vocabulary so that you can easily use them in conversation and while drafting reports and papers.

That’s exactly what we do at Vocabulary Zone: help you transfer the knowledge you already have into an active arena where you can actually make use of it. And completely new words? Those are easy to learn as well – our lessons are simple and can be knocked out in under 10-minutes a day.

Written by Greg Ragland, President, CEO of CommEdge LLC producers of Vocabulary Zone and the corresponding Vocabulary Certifications: College Preparedness, Ph.D. Vocabulary and Executive Level Vocabulary

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