The Word Wizard's Guide to Texas Middle School Vocabulary


Some kids collect baseball cards. I collect words.

Hi! I'm the Word Whiz. I'm in middle school, just like you, and I'm going to turn you into a Word Whiz — just like me! I'm going to introduce you to more than 600 words middle school students need to know for the TAAS, in class, and when doing homework. Important words for important subjects, such as:

English Language Arts: ...

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More About This Book


Some kids collect baseball cards. I collect words.

Hi! I'm the Word Whiz. I'm in middle school, just like you, and I'm going to turn you into a Word Whiz — just like me! I'm going to introduce you to more than 600 words middle school students need to know for the TAAS, in class, and when doing homework. Important words for important subjects, such as:

English Language Arts: paraphrase, motivation, interpret, metaphor, symbolism
Math: convert, probability, hypotenuse, median, variable
Social Studies: civic, inalienable, eligible, posterity, consequences
Science: buoyant, neutron, friction, oxidation, synthesis

I've also included words commonly used in questions on the TAAS, including approximate, equivalent, and opinion.

My WhizWord lists have kid-friendly definitions and sample sentences, plus synonyms, antonyms, related words and meanings, and examples of how the words are used on the TAAS.

I've also included all this extra cool stuff:

* WhizTips: helpful hints on how to learn words and ace tests.
* WhizQuizzes: mini-quizzes to help cement the words in your brain.
* WhizFacts: general good stuff to know about these words.

And that's not all! I also made up some really fun practice exercises. They will help you nail down these vocabulary words by relating them to things we're interested in, like TV, movies, sports, and music.

The words in this book will come in handy for the rest of your life. So let's get started!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743211062
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/1901
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.23 (d)



Hi. My name is Sam. Sam Antonio. As you can probably tell from my name, I'm from Texas. I'm going to help you with your vocabulary.

I'm in the eighth grade. At my school I'm famous for two things — my fastball and my vocabulary. I perfected my fastball last summer by throwing at a 2 foot x 2 foot box every day. Man, my arm felt like a rubber band at first, but now it is strong and my fastball is up to 60 mph — not bad for an eighth grader.

I perfected my vocabulary by practicing, too. By reading books, writing essays and stories, and by just generally paying attention to words. It turned me into a Word Whiz. Now I'm going to turn you into one.

If you're having trouble on tests, one reason might be because you are having trouble understanding the words. Of course, the first and most likely reason you blank or panic or freak out on tests is that instead of studying, you keep watching your new Chicken Run DVD. Still, sometimes things don't go so well even when you do study. That's the worst. You're like — I studied all night and I still got a D! What's up with that?

Sometimes it's because you just aren't comfortable with the words on the test. For example, say you are taking a math test and one of the questions asks you to find the "perimeter of a rectangle." It's not hard to do — you just add up all the sides. But if you space out on what the word "perimeter" means, you're in trouble. Your brain freezes. Does it have something to do with periscopes? Or maybe something to do with meters? The next thing you know, you have a picture of a submarine doing the 40-meter dash in your head.

Believe me, I've been there. It's no fun. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Word Whiz Is Here to Help

Believe it or not, you probably already know more than 10,000 words total. It just happens. The older you get, the more words get added to your vocabulary. But let's not talk about the words you already know, let's focus on the words you need to know. The 600-plus words in this book are the most important ones to know for middle school homework, tests, and the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills). I call them WhizWords. If you know these WhizWords backward and forward, you will be in good shape at school, and you will no doubt become rich and successful when you grow up.

I'm going to review these WhizWords for you by relating them to things you're probably interested in, like TV, movies, sports, music, celebrities, and the stuff kids like us like to do when we're NOT in school. All these things can help you learn these 600-plus words.

I'm also going to explain them to you in words you already know. The problem with a lot of dictionaries is the words they use in the definition are harder than the word they are defining! Or they just repeat the word. Here's an example — the definition of "impartial" from a popular dictionary (I won't name names):

impartialadj. not partial; unprejudiced.

Gee, thanks a lot! Believe me, if I knew what "partial" meant, I could probably figure out impartial. And "unprejudiced?" How many syllables is that? Eleven? Geez. And of course they don't give a sample sentence. Now here's my definition:

impartialadj. fair. Judges and juries are supposed to be impartial. That means they just go by the facts. Like Judge Judy on TV — she is an impartial judge who listens to all the facts, then she reams the person who is guilty.

Better, right? I'm also only going to give you the one or two meanings that you are most likely to see on a test in class. Some words have tons of different meanings, and regular dictionaries have to list them all. But in my book, I am just going to focus on the meanings that apply to your tests, classroom reading, and homework.

How to Use This Book

Most dictionaries just list all words in alphabetical order. That's a good idea, of course. But I have gone one step further. My WhizWords are in alphabetical order, but I have also divided them into six categories:

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Test Instructions
All-Purpose Words

This way, you can focus on the subjects where you want to improve your vocabulary. Notice that I also included a list of words that you'll probably come across when you're taking the TAAS or other tests, and another list of general words that you'll find useful in all your classes.

Now, each of these chapters has two parts — the vocabulary list, plus some practice exercises. The exercises will help you remember important words that are related to each other. Off to the side of the exercises, you'll see a bunch of icons. These tell you what resources you'll use to do the exercise — things like TV, newspapers, and the Internet.

Copyright © 2001 by Chris Kensler and Heather Kern

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