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How to extend your vocabulary to improve your NCEA English marks!

Today is my exam.

I am nervous about today’s exam.

It is with absolutely fear that I sit my exam, today.

It is with every shiver and shake my anxious frame can experience that I undertake my examinations, if only I knew where to begin.


This blog is about extending your vocabulary. Let's talk about the examples above and why detailed writing will improve your NCEA English marks.


The first sentence is a typical sentence that students write if they have not learned to explore detail and extended vocabulary. The last sentence is written deliberately considering detail and a variety of different synonyms to common words. The difference is clear between the two sentences; one vaguely says what the main character is experiencing, and the other sentence includes the inner feelings of the character and the challenges they are facing as well. Writing with detail is important. It isn’t just about making sure you tell more of the story, but it is also to make sure the reader connects with the writing. One way to do that is to share the main character’s feelings, challenges, vulnerabilities and experiences. You can do this through detailed writing.



It is important to learn a variety of different words in NCEA English. It helps you communicate.
It is important to learn a variety of different words in NCEA English. It helps you communicate.


Where do I begin as an NCEA English student or someone who is new to writing?

As a new writer it is important to try describing things first and foremost. Using adjectives and verbs to share what is happening, will begin your journey developing imagery.


How do I help my NCEA English students, if I am a teacher?

If you are teaching this concept, having easy to read examples that you can adapt and transform into your students’ own examples where the students can replace words that are specific to what the creative writing piece is.


use dictionary and thesaurus to extend vocabulary in NCEA English
Become familiar with a dictionary and a thesaurus to improve on your vocabulary in NCEA English.


How can I extend my vocabulary to improve my NCEA English marks?


It is important to learn how to explore synonyms and extend your vocabulary. If you stick with the same wording all the time then you may limit how you develop your writing skills. Here are three ways to extend your vocabulary:


Tip #1 Online search:

If you find yourself wanting to add a flash new word into your sentence, type the simple word into the search engine with the word ‘synonym’ after it. A synonym is a different version of the same word. For example, happy can equate to joyful, excitement, delighted, amused. The search engine should in theory provide you with a variety of different types of


Tip #2 Printed thesaurus:

An old school way of discovering synonyms is through a thesaurus, which is a printed book of words that are compiled into categories of similar words. Each word is in alphabetical order and includes the definition and a selection of words that are similar in meaning as the listed word. For example, happy can equate to joyful, excitement, delighted, amused.


Tip #3 Online thesaurus:

An online thesaurus carries the same purpose as a printed thesaurus; however, it is available online and includes clickable words for you to continue to explore.


Tip #4 Record and research:

Whenever you come across an interesting word in a TV series or movie, look up the meaning online and try to use it sometime during your day, and then when you are ready to implement it into your writing, put it into your next written piece. This is a great way to develop your vocabulary. Eventually you will feel confident with the word and you may find you use it in your everyday language henceforth.


Best of luck with your writing. Experiment, play, challenge yourself as a writer. Creation is limitless and so much fun if you let go and enjoy the process.


Tovah O’Neill

Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd


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