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Are you working towards an important exam? We're here to help with a series of videos that pick out some top tips for studying and taking exams.

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Exam skills: 5 tips for dealing with new and difficult vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is key

The skills for learning vocabulary are one of the keys to success in English language exams!  When faced with a new or difficult word – you need to know how to deal with it.  Watch this video to see our five top tips on how to deal with new or difficult vocabulary - then afterwards test your understanding in our quiz.  [Images: Getty images]

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Rob
The skills for learning vocabulary are one of the keys to success in English language exams! English teacher, Margaret John, would agree…

English teacher, Margaret John
You know what really makes the difference between a fair and an excellent performance in exams? It’s knowing how to learn your vocabulary.

Rob
This is true when you're faced with a new or difficult word – you need to know how to deal with it. Hopefully our top tips can help you… Firstly, when you see an unfamiliar word, can you ignore it? You might find that you can understand the general meaning of the sentence without understanding every single word.

If you're stuck on a new word, are there clues to help you guess its meaning? Again look at the context of the sentence to work out what the new word means. Maybe the word looks like a similar one you already know? But be careful of what we call false friends. These are words which look very similar to words in your own language, but have a completely different meaning. Get to know the common false friends that your language has with English!

It may sound obvious but you could use a dictionary to look up a new or difficult word. Think about which one to use – a bilingual one or a monolingual one. Think about the new word in English. It will also help you build your vocabulary by giving you other words connected to the new word you have just learned. And of course when you discover a new word, use it or lose it – as examiner Mark Shea explains…

Examiner, Mark Shea
You need to revise your vocabulary on a regular basis, perhaps once after twenty-four hours and once a week. It’s not enough to write a word down to learn the word. You need to use the word to really acquire it.

Rob
So don't forget your new word, record it and make use of it in your writing and conversations. Try these tips, and hopefully you won't find new and difficult words a challenge any longer. Good luck!

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Here's a summary of our tips for dealing with new or difficult vocabulary:

Tip 1: Can you ignore the word?

Tip 2: Can you guess the meaning?

Tip 3: Beware of false friends

Tip 4: Use a dictionary

Tip 5: Record and use your new words

To do

So what did you discover? Find out by taking our test…

Dealing with new vocabulary - what to do?

4 Questions

Answer these 4 questions

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You can find out more about false friends here. And you can build your English vocabulary in six minutes by listening to these 6 Minute Vocabulary podcasts.

Have you got any tips about learning strategies and exam preparation that you can share with us? Please email them to us at learningenglish@bbc.co.uk with 'Exam Skills' in the subject line. We will post our favourites here and on our Facebook page. Please note that we can’t reply to individual emails, but we do read all of them.

End of Session 1

We hope you enjoyed that. Next up is News Review. Scurvy, a disease from the history books, has been found in patients in Australia. Join Neil and Catherine to find out more, and to learn how to use some of the key words and phrases from this story in your everyday English.

Session Vocabulary

  • faced with
    confronted; seen for the first time

    unfamiliar
    not known to you

    false friends
    words which look very similar to words in your own language, but have a completely different meaning