Competitive examinations like CAT, GRE and many state level management entrance examinations like TANCET, ICET, MAT, ATMA test the student’s vocabulary. The words that appear in the exam are the ones that the student do not stumble by on a daily basis. These are the words not from the active vocabulary that the student is familiar with. These words are from the passive vocabulary. Passive vocabulary is a set of words that you understand but do not use.
Mugging up words or learning a list of words by heart will not increase your vocabulary. You need to involve thoroughly in the act of increasing or adding up to your vocabulary. You need to involve heartily. Happily.
“Reading” increases your vocabulary. At least a year prior to your competitive examination indulge in the act of reading. Do not read mechanically or cursorily. Understand while you read! When you come across a new word, do not stop there. Get a book and note that word and find its meaning. Keep a dictionary handy so that you can immediately find the meaning of a new word! All these activities should commence exactly a year before the main exam. If you start these things a fortnight before the exam, I am afraid, you won’t see any positive result!
Read from a variety of topics: literature, sports, science and technology, astronomy, agriculture, business, economics, anthropology so on and so forth. Jot down the new words that you meet underneath their respective titles. This way you will have for yourself a book of classified vocabulary. Sounds great and interesting isn’t it!
You can form a group of active vocabulary learners and meet every week. This way you can share the new words you learned with a few like-minded, agile friends! You can make the meet even more interesting by talking about the context of the word and its pronunciation. A rich meeting it will be! Discuss in these meets the words that appeared in the previous examinations. Do not learn vocabulary in isolation. Remember you will learn better only when you put these words into active and rigorous use.
Let a new word intrigue you. Make you feel inquisitive. Become a detective a la Sherlock Holmes. Analyze the word. Break it into root, prefix and suffix and try to hunt for a similar sounding word. Try to do some intelligent guessing. In fact you can do these things in your weekly vocabulary meets and liven up the environment. You can make a few slips of some tough words, fold them and pick them one by one and try to guess the meaning of the word. Give a punchy title to the game.
Fear of the exam kills the aptitude and enthusiasm for learning. In order to avoid this prepare well in advance. I am sure you will enjoy the learning process better this way!
Wishing you success!