A  student has 20 vocabulary words to learn for homework before each weekly test. Each week the student struggles to memorize the words, but has yet to receive a passing grade on the tests. What can students do to be more successful, and better yet, own the words for their comfortable vocabulary usage? After all, what is the sense of learning these new vocabulary words if they are not to be implemented into their writing and speech?

Studies have shown the use of sensory cues aids memorization. (i.e. When introduced to a new person (Mark) repeat the name aloud (Nice to meet you, Mark) and try to draw a mental image of his name (maybe a check mark  ✔︎) as a memory tool. Below are some simple tips to help aid in memorization and add new words to daily usage.

Step 1:  Review the list and check off  the words you already confidently know. Then divide the remaining number of words to learn by the number of days to learn them leaving at least one day at the end of the week to practice and review all 20 words. (i.e. 20 words divided by 5 days equals approximately 4 words a day)

Step 2:  I’m a big fan of homemade flashcards using index cards. I know many students prefer to use their electronic devices rather than handwriting almost anything. To them I say, go for it. Whatever works for you as long as distractions are turned off while working. (i.e. text messaging, FaceBook, etc.)


  1. If using the index cards or your device, set up the card or page as shown above. Write the vocabulary word big and bold in the center of the blank side of the card. (i.e. Hypothesis)
  2. In the bottom right quarter write the definition IN YOU OWN WORDS! (i.e. A guess before testing)
  3. In the bottom left section write a synonym or word with similar meaning (i.e. guess) and an antonym or word with the opposite meaning. (i.e. proven answer)
  4. In the upper right section write a sentence using the definition of the word. (i.e. The trainer made a guess that with the use of treats the teaching-sitdog would learn to sit.)
  5. In the upper left quadrant draw or paste a picture illustrating the sentence.
  6. Review the four new words, reading the information on the cards aloud.
  7. Repeat the process until cards are made for all the new words.

STEP 3: Store your work in an easy to find place for the next day. If cards, place them in a plastic baggie or wrap a rubber band around them and put them in your homework tool box (see Homework Space blog) If you have used an electronic device, save the work in a folder under Vocabulary and the Date. Add your new words each day to the collection.

MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t over work yourself. Studies have proven it is far better to learn smaller amounts over several days rather than trying to commit everything to memory at once.

Good luck!

Please share with your friends and family and let me know how this works for you. I welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions of topics you would like me to address in future blog posts.

Check out my novel: Pandu. An exciting story set in the sunny, warm South Pacific makes it a wonderful holiday stay-cassion read.