By Paget Hines

The conversation about vocabulary typically centers on standardized testing. It is true that vocabulary study is integral to obtaining a top score on these tests, but the value of a strong vocabulary transcends standardized tests.

Test scores are one component of a student’s school portfolio. Class work, essays, and tests are vital as well. Additionally, for those students applying for scholarships, internships, or special programs, interviews and essays are usually mandated. Demonstrating a penchant for sophisticated word choice will set a student apart from the crowd.

Utilizing a robust vocabulary in an interview and essay underscores the fact that a student’s understanding of vocabulary is not merely superficial. Used appropriately, erudite words in essays and interviews will enhance a student’s standing with the teacher, reader, or interviewer.

It is crucial that parents, teachers, and tutors incorporate meaningful and contextual vocabulary study across the instruction spectrum. This is particularly important for student’s who struggle with critical reading and writing skills and those for whom English is a second language.

A vivid and varied vocabulary will bolster a student’s chances of success. No two words mean exactly the same thing, so it is important to teach the proper contexts for words. Throwing in a few big words might misfire if students are not aware of the nuances of the words. As with any skill, practice makes perfect!

Engaging and entertaining for students.

Paget is a Learning Specialist, Partner at Direct Hits, and author of the Direct Hits Vocabulary book series. She began her teaching career at the Schenck School in Atlanta. After completing two years of Orton-Gillingham training, Paget began privately tutoring. For 13 years she was in private practice in San Francisco, working with students in middle school and high school. She developed and implemented a SSAT verbal, reading comprehension, and essay curriculum for students with learning differences and test-taking anxiety. She currently works with students at Georgia Tech through Project Engages. Paget has tutored and administered the SSAT, PSAT, ACT, and SAT throughout her career.

Integral – — very important and necessary

Transcends — goes beyond, exceeds, surpasses

Mandated – — to officially demanded or required

Penchant —– a liking or preference for something, aptitude, an inclination

Underscores — emphasizes or shows the importance of

Superficial – — concerned only with the obvious or apparent

Erudite – — learned,; literate

Enhance — make stronger, better, or more valuable

Incorporate — include, make part of another thing

Underscores – to emphasize or show the importance of

Bolsters – —to make stronger or better


Nuances — the slight and subtle differences or shades of meaning between nearly identical entities


Study guides form Direct Hits  can be purchased wherever books are sold. Direct Hits Advance Vocabulary 9781936551248, Direct Hits Essential Vocabulary 9781936551200, and Direct Hits Core Vocabulary 9781936551224.

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