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Active Usage

In this video we’re gonna talk about how to study vocab and how not to lose it. And you can already see that one way is by using it. And I really can’t underestimate how important that is.

Because what people like to do: they go into their “Vocab Cave”. And in their Vocab Caves, they’re really intense and they get into the words and then all of a sudden–poof!–vocab cave has disappeared and life begins.

And we go about life and 24, 48 hours later we go back in a vocab cave and realize, wow, we forgot quite a lot but we’re gonna be really, really intense again and hopefully remember as much if not more.

not very effective. The idea is use it or you are going to lose it. So daily activities. What do I mean by that? You are going to have a vocabulary activity? No.

What I mean is you’re going to try to interweave or intersperse vocab in your daily activities. You can do this in jest with people, and use words to describe a situation. If you find that too embarassing, and I guess most people would, inside, in your head, that is.

You know, the street. Look around you. Describe buildings as “ornate” and “embellished” or “austere” if that’s applicable or describe people around you. Oh, there goes a hirsute Harry.

That means a hairy person. No, hirsute’s not necessarily the most typical of GRE vocab. Though there are a lot of hirsute people. But the idea is that there’s a GRE adjective that you know.

There’s probably a person in your vicinity who more or less you can use that word on. So the idea is, these words aren’t just part of the vocab cave, wherever you happen to study at that one coffee shop, or that one desk in your bedroom.

Something that you integrate, interweave into your daily activities. Next, you’re gonna think I’m crazy: watching television. And I would be crazy if I just said “Hey, watch TV and you will learn vocab. Obviously not gonna happen.

What I mean by watching TV is that there are certain intelligent shows intelligent writers, not necessarily boring shows. Dramas typically on HBO or AMC is another great network you are gonna watch TV, not that I recommend, “Oh, start watching TV now” if you don’t usually watch TV.

But if you are gonna watch TV, watch those shows, more mature shows, I mean, Breaking Bad to an extent, Mad Men. I mean, there are good writers. And I have oftentimes sat in front of shows and go, “Oh, look. What a nice GRE word that Don Draper thread in there.

So, again, don’t overdo this but know that there’s a difference between, you know, watching the usually hackneyed sitcom and watching something where they put a little bit more into the writing. Okay. What else?

Well, again, it really depends on your proclivities, what you like to do, but if you go online and you’re talking with people, you can start trying to have erudite conversations.

Or if you feel a little bit weird just putting yourself out there online, between friends as well. That is, pepper your writing with GRE words and try to write about things intelligently. Maybe you can tweet using GRE words, or maybe your facebook update can subtly throw in a GRE word without sounding too ridiculous.

But the idea is that you’re really using these words, and in any way you can think of. And of course, I’m just thinking of my own life, or thinking generically. You know yourself best, you can probably think of ways where you can thread in GRE words, whether these are erudite conversations online or just in your daily activities.

Finally, in terms of use it or lose it, there’s the idea of creative stories. Again, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people just don’t like writing. But if you like writing, then give yourself 10 minutes, and write a story. See if you can cover an entire page.

And it starts to be silly, no one’s gonna read them, but have fun doing it! The point of this story though, is that you are going to include GRE words you’ve learned in the last few days. Without, this is important, cause I can imagine people saying “Oh, I’ll just look at the list of words, and see, yes, I’ll use that word.” No!

do not look at the list, you shouldn’t be using a list anyway, but the flashcards or wherever you are getting your vocab from. Don’t look at that. Just off the top of your head you’re going oh, but that’s hard, I don’t like that.

It makes me feel uncomfortable. That’s the point. That’s when you are learning, when you really have to struggle to think of what that word is. and if you’re even using it correctly. That’s of course after you write your wonderful, creative story, something you can actually check on the dictionary.

But the point is, you’re recalling the words from your head. You’re not 100% sure, but now you try to use them. Even if you’re wrong, once you’ve used them, you’ll realize, “Hey, now I know this word a lot more” I’ve actually looked it up and I feel more confident versus, again, just looking at a list and copying the word over into your story.

Don’t do that. Okay. We’re not done yet though. It’s not just “Use it, or lose it”, but its this idea of repetition. So I’m also happy you’re not just a power repetition.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. So these are, you can say two sides of the same coin. The idea is, don’t go into your cave. The first one. Everyday, once a day, or every other day hoping you’re going to learn.

at the same time, we are just going along thinking “I’m going to learn 100 words”. And you learn those hundred words for about fifteen minutes and then an hour later you maybe know about thirty of those words. you want to take it little pieces at a time.

Lot of repetition. One way is to not think of vocabulary as a big chunk of the day, and of course this goes back to the other screen where we were talking about integrating words into your daily activities.

I mean, walking down the street, just in your little interior monologue you have going on in your head. Start bringing some GRE words in there! especially ones that you weren’t. Now this is more specific to the idea of flashcards.

If you are waiting somewhere, maybe you have a smart phone with GRE words on it. Look at that. Look at those words, while you have a dead minute, or even a dead twenty seconds, and I’m not endorsing driving while looking at your smartphone.

Thinking, “Wow, I’m learning such a large vocabulary”. Please do not do any of this while driving, in terms of looking at flash cards or smartphones. Though, while driving, as long as you’re paying attention, you can describe the angry driver behind you as truculent, contentious, etc.

But here, the point is try as much as possible during those down times to whip out your flash cards or smart phones and study vocabulary. And then another good idea is to sort of revisit what you’ve learned 90 minutes after studying it.

Studies show that…when I say studies show, I’m kind of jesting but from research I’ve done in psychology there is definitely of leveling off of knowledge, meaning that you know about 70% of what you learned, right after you learned it.

Meaning if you study 50 words, you can remember about 35, 40 of them, but an hour and a half later researchers have found that suddenly they just disappear, and what you had so clearly in your mind only an hour, hour and a half ago, suddenly feels really tenuous and week.

And so they say if you study, and let’s say you study 20 words, about 90 minutes later back just really quickly, even if it’s two or three minutes, just go through those words again.

See if you remember them. And what you’re doing is you’re strengthening neural connections. And also another a good little trick is right before you go to bed, study your words. Or right when you wake up in the morning, study the words, first thing.

It’s almost as though you’re dreaming when you at night when you’re dreaming, you’re almost learning these words. But of course you’re probably not dreaming of vocab. It’s just the way the brain works is right before you go to bed and right when you wake up, if you learn something, it’s more likely to stick.

And again, if you struggle you keep forgetting words. For every hundred you learn two days later you remember only twenty. Bite size pieces. Learn 15-20 words at a time. Get strong with those words and then build off of those words. It’s a much better way than cramming.

Because, remember, GRE is not a cramming test. It’s testing your lifelong vocabulary, and unfortunately for you lifelong development may only be three weeks, maybe two or three months but at the same time don’t try to cram it all in in one day.

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