Fifty questions, of increasing difficulty, give you a rough calibration of your word power
This test is based on well known principles of vocabulary development. It allows you to estimate the number of "words" (in the sense of distinct dictionary entries) that you know, and to compare your vocabulary score with the general population.
The highest adjusted score so far recorded was 83.2%, ...over 200,000 words.class="style14">[quoteleft]It begins at approximately the 6,000 word level and increases steadily in difficulty to well over the 400,000 word level. (It is not known how many words there are in the English language, but it is probably over a million.)
To determine your score, count the number right "R" and the number wrong "W" and compute your "adjusted percentage score"
A = 2xR - 1/2xW
If an item is unfamiliar it may be to your advantage to guess whenever at least one alternative choice can be ruled cut.
An adjusted score of about 30% corresponds to the population median (i.e. 50% score above, and 50% score below 30%). The test is "tapered" in such a way that each item is (approximately) 10% rarer (harder) than its predecessor: thus, the difficulty builds up at a "compound" (exponential) rate. A typical pattern for a testee is to get every item correct up to, say #25, and then to miss nearly every word beyond that point.
The highest adjusted score so far recorded was 83.2%, for a vocabulary of over 200,000 words. An interesting aspect of vocabulary tests is that a dictionary can be "tested': the scores on the Vocabulary Gradient Test of some popular dictionaries have been included in the score interpretation chart to help you interpret your score. Many of those tested were surprised to discover that they know more words than are in the fabled Oxford English Dictionary. (Of course, that does not mean they would know every word in it!)
Although the vocabulary size estimates are believed to be quite reliable, the population percentile chart has been derived by testing only 55 subjects (30 above 132 I.Q. and 25 above 148 I.Q.) and by accepting published literature on the population mean and median; therefore, it should only be considered an approximation.
How many words does one reed to know? Kocera and Francis performed an heroic computer analysis of English text ("Corpus") whose results we may use to make some estimates. If one reads at the speed of the average high school graduate (350 words per minute) one will read one million words in 47.6 hours of reading. In a million words of (widely varied) reading one will have encountered 50,406 different words! Since a fairly "literate" person might read a billion words in a lifetime it would clearly be convenient to have a recognition vocabulary of more than 50,000 words -- perhaps 75,000 or 100,000. (As a matter of interest, note that our literate man would encounter the word "the" 70 million times, "he" 9.4 million times, and "she" 2.8 million times; the words the, of, and, to, a, in, that, is, was, and he together actually account for 25% of all running words in English.)
1. GRIEF is an extreme form of
2. A CAWING noise is made by a
3. There was a RUMBLE.
4. A TRIAL is
5. He believed in ACUPUNCTURE treatment. It uses
6. He DISAPPROVED the proposal. That is, he
7. He MOORED the boat. (a) secured it (b) got it stuck in mud (c) freed it from entanglements (d) started up the motor (e) cleaned the keel
8. He was RESPECTFUL of his father. That is, he
9. The cab was for HIRE.
10. They said he was EFFEMINATE. That is, he was
11. A form of EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION. (a) reminiscence (b) clairvoyance (c) dreaming (d) hypnosis (e) hyperactivity
12. He UNDERVALUED her.
13. He used a MICROPIPETTE it helped him to
14. He kept the data in a RING BINDER.
15. He appeared to call for EXTREMISM.
16. He obtained a LANYARD.
17. A MOUSER got rid of the mice.
18. She was a DO-GOODER.
19. He held his SHAKO. (a) hat (b) pistol (c) sword (d) mixed drink
20. He created a SPECTACLE. (a) a successful party (b) a telescope's objective lens (c) an embarassing public display (d) a commotion (c) a fireworks exhibition
21. He began to have FLESHLY ideas. Ca) greedy (b) carnivorous
22. A palm FROND.
23. He worked as a PENNER. That is, he
24. He was dominated by his PURISM.
25. The sea displayed its LUMINESCENCE.
26. He searched for BONITO. (a) shark (b) tuna (c) mackerel (d) mahi-mahi
27. She watched them BRACHIATE. (a) mate (b) pick lice
28. The garment was BOUCLE.
29. A CRETACEOUS rock
30. HELIOGABALUS was
31. Which of the following is GEOCARPIC?
32. He bought a GRAVICEMBALO.
33. He believed in METEMPSYCHOSIS.
34. He particularly liked MINESTRA.
35. The term CLASSICAL ECONOMICS includes the works of all but
36. He used a BIROTA.
37. Don't IMPIGNORATE your house.
38. He MACERATED the leaves.
39. In the Volsunga saga, GRIMIHILD was
40. A CHEVAL VAPEUR is
41. The stream was PRETERLABENT.
42. One of the following is an example of DIPLASIASMUS.
43. He broke her DAEDALID vase.
44. REFOCILLIATION was clearly needed. (a) refreshment (b) reorientation (c) redefinition (d) additional funding (e) starting over anew
45. He blessed the ANTIDORON. (a) elder (b) baptismal water (c) infant (d) bread (e) wine
46. His MYCTERISM was excessive. (a) superstitious mumbo-jumbo (b) carping and complaining (c) hyperactivity (d) caution (e) jeering
47. He collected a fine specimen of LEPIDOMELANE. (a) the bacillus of leprosy (b) a large, black migratory butterfly (c) a rare black orchid (d) a mica-like rock containing much iron (e) a jungle bird noted for the gorgeous, iridescent, metallic colors of its plumage
48. The species is EDAPHIC. Ca) becoming extinct (b) localized (c) selfpollinating (d) widely dispersed geographically (e) adapting to present conditions
49. He found ASARABACCA. (a) aromatic birthwort (b) Arabic headdresses (c) a genus of the tobacco family (d) remote trading post near the Atlas mountains
50. ISOALLOXAZINE is used to make (a) tranquillizers (b) niacin (c) cholesterol (d) DDT (e) riboflavin
Ed is a NASA research scientist and prolific writer on technical subjects, and is also noted for his lively discussion evenings. He has contributed about 25 papers to scholarly publications. Copyright © 1980 by Edgar M. Van Vleck. May not be reprinted.
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