Building CSS and Academic Vocabulary

By Saba Karim.

English language, the lingua franca, has gained immense importance in the wake of globalization of science and technology, democracy and cross-cultural synchronization. In Pakistan, as having the status of an official language, English is considered the hallmark of standard, top-brass career achieving and symbol of social status. Being the bedrock of success in the competitive exams like CSS, PCS and PMS, I have developed pragmatic, out-of-the-box strategies for building meaningful, comprehensive vocabulary base.

According to Prof. Mazhar Saeed Mazhar, CEO of NOVA CSS academy, learning how to build a better vocabulary can be a pleasurable and profitable investment of both your time and effort. At least fifteen minutes a day of concentrated study on a regular basis can bring about a rapid improvement in your vocabulary skills, which in turn can increase your ability to communicate by writing, conversing, or making speeches. Acquiring a large vocabulary can benefit you in school, at work, and socially. It will enable you to understand others’ ideas better and to have the satisfaction of getting your thoughts and ideas across more effectively. Realistically speaking, I have come up with the following techniques and strategies of mastering the skill of rich and prolific vocabulary base.

Establishing links and connections

It’s easier to memorize words based on a common theme. Make your own connections between words and possibly organize them in a spider diagram or on the same pages of your notebook. The theme might be a topic or situation (Eg. words for talking about food), phrasal verbs using a common word (Eg. phrasal verbs containing the word ‘get’) or words that have a grammar point in common (Eg. verbs that take a gerund).

Mastering the art of writing

Actually using vocabulary can help it stick in your mind. Write sentences with new vocabulary words or compose a story using a group of words or expressions. If you are out and about, you can make the example sentences in your mind if you don’t have a pen and paper handy.

ALSO READ: Cracking CSS English Essay

Make drawing and sketching

Become an artist by drawing pictures related to the words you study. Your drawings can help trigger your memory in the future, even if you are not a great artist, a drawing can often help fix a word or idiom in your memory.

Command and act like an actor

Get your moves on by acting out words and expressions you learn. Or, imagine and act out a situation where you would need to use them. If you have a study partner act out a word or expression from your notebook and see if he or she can guess what it is then swap over and try to guess what your partner is acting out. If you are alone, use a mirror and pretend you are having a conversation with someone using your new vocabulary.

Create and make mnemonic devices

Design flash cards or index cards in English and study them in your spare time. Each week make new ones, but continue to review all of them. The act of making them yourself will help you remember the words if you are a kinesthetic learner.

ALSO READ: CSS English Nightmare

Associate and affiliate

Assign different colors to different words. This association will help you recall vocabulary later. To prevent the system from becoming confusing make sure you have a consistent theme. For example, you could use different colours for verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Listen carefully and attentively

Use resources like English news broadcasts to hear new words in context. This will help you understand the pronunciation of words and how to use them in real sentences.

Choose and collate

Remember that topics that interest you will be easier to learn. Therefore, carefully select words that you will find useful or interesting. Choose topics that relate to your life at the moment to make the words you learn more relevant. For example, if you have a meeting next week, learn some English vocabulary to use in meetings.Even if you don’t use English in the actual meeting, connecting the words to a real situation will help you remember them.

Well-defined limit of words on daily basis

Don’t try to memorize the dictionary in a day! Limit yourself to 15 words per day to avoid feeling overwhelmed and you will be more successful in remembering the vocabulary.


Keep an eye out for the words you’re studying when reading or listening to English. Make a note of real-life examples of the words you are learning as you see them to find out how to use the words correctly. Don’t just make a note of the individual word, though – the words around it are just as important, especially for learning common collocations.

I hope the readers will find it useful and come up with positive suggestions. Building vocabulary is an evolutionary process and requires continued efforts and systematic practice.

About Author:

The writer did MBA from AJK University. She is aspirant to CSS and PMS, with keen interest in education, current affairs and policy evaluation.

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