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The Word Whiz's Guide to New York Middle School VocabularyLet This Nerd Help You Master 400 Words to Help You Score Higher on the New York State 8th Grade Tests and Succeed in School
By Chris Kensler
KaplanCopyright © 2001 Chris Kensler and Heather Kern
All right reserved.
IntroductionHi. My name is Stan. Stan Hattan. As you can probably guess from my name, I live in New York, New York: the town so nice they named it twice. 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 on a diamond in Central Park every morning. 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 assays 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. (Believe me, I don't hold it against you, that flick rocks.) Still, sometimesthings 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 best. 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, exams, and the New York State tests. 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):
impartial - adj. 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:
impartial - adj. 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 or 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 divided into six categories:
English Language Arts Social Studies Math Science Test Instructions All-Purpose Words
This way, you can focus on the subjects where you want to improve your vocabulary. I've also included a list of words that appear in the instructions on the New York State tests, and another list of "all-purpose" words.
Each of these chapters has two parts - 1) the vocabulary list, and 2) 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 for the exercise - things like TV, newspapers, and the Internet.
Excerpted from The Word Whiz's Guide to New York Middle School Vocabulary by Chris Kensler Copyright © 2001 by Chris Kensler and Heather Kern. Excerpted by permission.
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