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Why you should guess...

If you're doing a Cambridge exam, you'll almost certainly have to guess the meaning of some words but can you learn to do this effectively? Read more to find out.


The vocabulary in our current book club choice, A Life’s Work, is certainly challenging, even for me, a native speaker. This means that it’s a good opportunity to practice guessing the meaning of words. Although it can be difficult to correctly guess what a word means, it is a useful thing to do as it can help us to learn new vocabulary. After all, the more that we think about language, the better.


Here are some ideas for guessing the meaning of words:

  • Look at the context and work out whether the word is negative or positive

  • Consider the word class for example noun, verb or adjective

  • Break the word down into its components, for example dis-continue-d

  • Use your knowledge of word transformation

  • Associate the words with vocabulary you know from other languages

Once you’ve guessed the meaning of the words, you can then check the definition and usage in a dictionary or, better still, talk about the word with a friend or fellow student.


After finding the correct definition it's time to start learning the vocab. Quizlet is a great resource for doing this especially when you share the sets and so share the workload. If you need some help with the vocabulary in 'A Life's Work', check out this Quizlet set I’ve created.


After you've learned the vocabulary, you have to start using it but that will be the subject of another post.