3 Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary for the MCAT

A lot of premed students, especially English as a Second Language (ESL) premed students, ask us how they can improve their vocabulary for the MCAT exam. Well, here are three things you can do.

One is to look at and study traditional vocabulary lists like the SAT and MCAT vocabulary lists. You can find them and other vocabulary lists online and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the terms there. In our classes we give our students a comprehensive vocabulary list of 1,000 words that we ask them to study and familiarize themselves with throughout the course. We never want a student to miss a question just because they don’t understand a term.

Two, the most effective way to truly build up your vocabulary is to read good magazines. Now what do we mean by that? An example of what we consider a good magazine is The Economist , which is published in London. It it one of the world’s best written magazines. We also recommend just reading good literature in general; journals and articles that you wouldn’t normally read. For example, The London Review of Books or the Times Literary Supplement (that’s the Times of London) have articles that are in areas that you wouldn’t normally read but that have very rich and very interesting vocabulary.

Three, when you come across terms you don't know, look them up! Most of us tend to skip over words we don’t know when we read them and try to get the gist of the sentence by the context the word is used in. This is a good strategy during the MCAT exam when you aren’t allowed to use a dictionary. However, in everyday life, take the time to look up the word and truly understand what it means. If you get in this habit you’ll notice your vocabulary increasing dramatically.