Written by Saba Khaliq who is a 3rd Year MBBS student at Rawalpindi Medical University
With over 200 words to be memorized along with their synonyms for MDCAT, applicants find it unreasonable to prepare for the vocabulary portion.
This sometimes leads to demoralizing them even before test preparation. Some applicants, upon viewing a colossal pile of English vocabulary words, just quit this significant section and choose to channel all their energy in the science parts.
This is a highly irrational approach if one wishes to score near the merit allocated by the concerned authorities in Pakistan. The section for English entertains an equal significance in the entry test for medical and dental institutes.
Students, in an impulsive outburst, rush to the books of vocabulary designed by academies and colleges for MDCAT English preparation.
This leads to not only developing stress in the most important phase of preparation but also gives the applicants false hopes of memory retention when they appear in the exam.
The process is made more exhaustive and unreasonable when the students go for cramming the words and an unnecessary list of synonyms accompanying them, when all this time, they hardly know the meaning of any of them.
Preparing the meanings of the words – as many as they are – is more important than failing at cramming all the dreadful synonyms.
Methodology to Prepare MDCAT Vocabulary
If, relying on the power of self-trust, students apply the following techniques and strategies to prepare for MDCAT vocabulary, memory retention of more than 800 words can be made a relatively easier and less frightening task.
1. Write it All Down
The students behold the humongous tower of words provided by the UHS every year for English section and, without a second thought, head over to the nearest photocopier to get the list printed. The already alienated words get more bland and distant when printed in black over a paper.
Retrace your childhood when you would write things down to memorize them fully. And when it comes to hundreds of words you have never heard or seldom read during the twelve years of study, it’s better to switch to a methodology with tested results.
Write down the words and their meanings at least from a dictionary. This may seem a lot more time-consuming. But trust me, the wasteful hours you are going to invest in cramming all these words and their synonyms in the coming days will prove even more distressing for you.
This entire painstaking process will have two benefits – firstly, you will remember the words you looked up in the dictionary yourself because the human mind tends to remember elaborate and systematic tasks with more precision.
Secondly, you will remember the words and meanings you’ve written down because of the reflexes of your fingers while you formed the words, imprinting them as a pattern in your mind.
2. Group Them up!
Our minds tend to group things or events and dates in order to retain them in memory for a long while. The Law of Similarity, also known as the Gestalt grouping law, states than elements or items with some similarity tend to perceived as a single group. Remembering a group is a lot easier than remembering tens of things.
The trick can be applied in two ways. In one case, the words having similar meanings can be grouped together.
E.g., urge and yearning are two different words provided in UHS MDCAT 2019 syllabus. Now, both share the same meaning that is a strong desire, now, these can be grouped together. A mnemonic can be formed out of them to memorize them.
In the second case, words with opposite meanings can be grouped together.
E.g., refuge and vulnerable, enlisted in UHS MDCAT vocabulary list 2019, can be grouped together as they mean the opposites – refuge meaning shelter and protection from any possible harm and vulnerable meaning exposed to danger or harm.
3. Picture Stories
Picture stories are the most effective method of getting the vocabulary words imprinted on the memory. Remember the time you used to watch movies with subtitles? Every other scene introduced you to a new word that unconsciously drifted into your memory and stayed there perhaps forever.
Apply the same technique here. Whenever you learn a word, draw a picture or improvise a scene in your brain revolving around the word. If the word is related to the sense of hearing, add in a voice to your picture. This way, you would be forming a picture story that has a better chance of staying glued to your brain in the long run.
E.g., You just read a word, unburdened. Imagine an old hunched man walking down the street carrying all your FSc and MDCAT books on his stooped back. Overcome by an impulse of kindness, you rush to the old man, grab all the books from his back and unleash him from their weight. Congratulations! You just unburdened him and made a whole picture story to remember the word.
This method is also applicable to synonyms where you could form characters out of these synonyms and give them lines and costumes that may speak of their meanings.
This technique is your go-to aide when you are planning to memorize the long list of synonyms that you should search out from the thesaurus yourself keeping in view technique number 1. Bear in mind that while making mnemonics, extraordinary and memorable words shall be chosen for the concoction that makes a mark on your memory. Often, the students tend to forget the mnemonic itself and then, tracing the footsteps towards the synonyms list becomes immensely stressful in the middle of the exam.
Consider this example,
Pulley, gear, address, confront, approach, question are the synonyms of tackle.
Their mnemonic could be PAGA Q C? that has a meaning in Punjabi language if read as Roman Punjabi (Why did you run?). Using phrases from indigenous languages is always a far better choice while laying a hand on this strategy.
5. Sew Sentences
No word was concocted or devised to be used as a lone entity in any language. Every year, words keep on adding to most of the global languages owing to their encounters with other words and ideas in a language.
In this pretext, it is utterly irrational to treat these words as absolute entities. A wiser approach would be to sew them in the fabric of sentences and apply the method of making sense of a word through its sentence.
A word, when intertwined in the sequence of a sentence, also helps in keeping in mind its grammatical category.
6. Practise Words in Daily Gossips
We play chess every weekend with a close friend or our father and slowly but consistently, unravel all its moves and secrets. Practice makes us sharp enough to predict the moves of the opponent or read his mind while he thinks of his next step.
Make fun of the maxim, “Practice makes a man perfect” for a lifetime but never would you be able to deny its validity.
The question arises how can this maxim match with a group of over 200 words, partially alien in meaning, entirely foreign in origin?
The simplest way is to inculcate these words in your daily conversations. Sipping a cup of tea with your sister in the passive evening? How about your comment, “This solemn scenario needs a quiver!” and jump off the sofa to play some music on your cell phone or laptop?
This way you’ll practice three words
- Solemn – not cheerful
- Scenario – situation
- Quiver – shake
7. Take Mock Tests
While preparing the English section has been made a lot easier as compared to the times of our parents, the fright of a foreign language successfully lingers over our heads throughout the preparatory phase.
Whatever strategies you devise and implement in these two months of preparation will in the end, wither away if you have not coupled them with your time management skills.
Set up an entire arrangement of mock tests for yourself occasionally. Keep a watch by your side and time every attempt at the English section of the paper. Repeat this procedure of preparation by getting past papers printed and practicing at least two papers a week.
By alleviating the fear of this section and strengthening your reflexes, success becomes inevitable.
The purpose of enlisting and elaborating all these techniques is to make the applicants acquainted with this mammoth of English vocabulary, a valuable part of MDCAT. All these steps have been devised to carve out a relation between words and readers. Step by step, this alienation cracks making the mountain a bit less huge with unraveling the meaning behind every word.
Good luck for this section in particular, folks!