A good vocabulary is a real asset to all those who possess it. It helps us to express ourselves better and to put our point across in a more comprehensive manner.
Having an extensive knowledge of words also helps us to understand the meaning being put across by various authors.
From the point of view of CLAT, having a good vocabulary will help you score some crucial marks in a short amount of time.
Vocabulary questions can be posed to you on their own or as part of reading comprehension questions. Each of these cases will want you to deal with the question in a different manner.
When you are dealing with stand alone vocabulary questions make sure you read the instruction provided carefully.
There can be an instance where you are presented with a mixed bag of questions where you are asked to choose the synonyms of the provided words in the first 3 questions but need to select the antonyms of the provided words in the 2 questions that follow.
Clear instructions will be provided at the beginning of the set of questions so make sure you pay attention to what is being asked of you.
A common mistake that students make is to assume that all the questions in the vocabulary section require the same thing from you.
For the sake of caution never assume anything in CLAT!
Ensure that you check whether you are being asked for a synonym or antonym before you select an option.
Vocabulary questions posed as part of reading comprehension usually ask a student to identify the meaning of the provided word with regard to the context in which it has been placed in the passage. This has two aspects to it.
Firstly, a good vocabulary will allow you to make sense of the passage.
Secondly, an idea regarding the different meanings of a word is necessary for you to successfully answer these types of questions.
You will notice that any good dictionary always provides multiple meanings for a given term—each of these meanings hold good in different contexts.
Your job is to familiarize yourself with as many such contextual meanings of as many words as possible.
Now suppose you learn 5000 new words in the course of your preparation for CLAT and you have a cumulative vocabulary of 15000 words. However CLAT poses a question before you regarding a word you have no idea about. What should you do then?
An obvious answer will be to skip the question and move onto the next seeing that CLAT will penalize you for every wrong answer you give. But think again, would you be willing to let go of 1 mark without even trying?
One way to try and gain that elusive 1 mark is to deduce the meaning of the word. This technique is better used in the case of comprehension passages.
You can get a fair idea of the possible meaning of a word from the other words surrounding it.
A review of the surrounding words can help you identify whether a word is being used as a noun, adjective or otherwise. This can provide you with a guide to the possible meaning of the word.
The tone of the passage is often another indicator of the type of the word you are looking at.
Passages with a melancholic tone tend to use words with a more pessimistic orientation as opposed to cheerful passages which tend to use a lot of positive words.
The situation becomes trickier while dealing with standalone vocabulary questions.
Consider the word fluviology.
Now owing to the fact that it isn’t commonly used it is possible that many people will be caught off guard if they are questioned about its meaning. One can nevertheless attempt to realize its meaning by breaking it up and considering its separate segments.
We find that the word has two segments—‘fluvi’ and ‘ology’. A good way to start would be by thinking of other words which end with ‘ology’.
Many words come to mind in this regard—biology, sociology, criminology being among them. Each of these words describes a field of study.
We find that the only segment common to each of the words is ‘ology’. We can therefore reasonably deduce that ology refers to a study of some kind.
Coming to the first segment of the word in question we should think of words which begin with ‘flu’.
The first word that pops up is ‘fluid’.
Combining the two words we can reach a standing that ‘fluviology’ might mean a study of some form of fluid. A quick look at the options will tell us whether we are thinking on the right track.
In this case ‘fluviology’ is the study of watercourses and our deduction stands true.
This method is meant to allow you to utilize your existing vocabulary to find out the meaning of new words. It is of course not a technique that works each time but it is worth a try in case you are in a serious fix.
You should know that you will eventually get better at this as you practice this more and more. So the next time you come across a new word try and figure out its meaning yourself before consulting the dictionary!