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12 POwer Words

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12 Powerful Words

Sedalia Middle School

Jackie Lollis, Counselor


Students in Sedalia Schools are using their power. Over the course of

the next few months, they will be learning twelve words which will improve their

thinking skills. These higher order thinking skill words will be one of the

strategies used to increase test scores and help close the achievement gap. All

twelve words are power verbs and are frequently used on state assessment

tests. By learning these words and knowing the meanings, the students are less

likely to be intimidated by them on a standardized test. Familiarity with the

words will help relieve test anxiety too.


So, what are these words? They are words that the students must see,

hear, use, and experience daily in order to fully understand and internalize.


1. Trace (List in steps);

2. Analyze (Break apart);

3. Infer (Read between the lines);

4. Evaluate (Judge);

5. Formulate (Create);

6. Describe (Tell all about);

7. Support (Back up with details);

8. Explain (Tell how);

9. Summarize (Give me the short version);

10. Compare (All the ways they are alike);

11. Contrast (All the ways they are different); and

12. Predict (What will happen next).


How are they learning these words? Different strategies are used in

each school, but many of the following are implemented by all. They include:

Teachers use them daily in their lessons

A word of the day is given during the daily announcements

Words are displayed on posters throughout the building

Teachers put the 12 powerful words on tests

There is a word of the week

The words are included on spelling and vocabulary tests

Student or teacher create crossword puzzles

Teachers use the 12 words on daily quizzes

Pre-bell activities

Once fully acquainted with these words, the students will be less likely to

skip over them when they encounter them on standardized test. Some

standardized test questions have two or three power verbs in them. We want all

our students to know the language of the test in order to do their best. These

twelve powerful words will help level the playing field and give the students

additional tools to continue their improved performance on the Missouri

Assessment Program tests. 24 April 2008


12 Powerful Words That Trip Up Students on Standardized Tests


Short Student Friendly Phrases

1.  Trace

  Follow, track outline, list in steps

2.  Analyze

  Think through, break apart, break into pieces

3.  Infer

  Figure out, read between the lines, predict, what are they trying to say

4.  Evaluate

  Judge, value of, meaning, examine, solve, test for the truth of, tell one good and one bad

5.  Formulate

  Come up with, make a plan, develop, make, create

6.  Describe

  Tell about, show me, list details

7.  Support

  Provide reasons, tell reasons, give examples, back it up

8.  Explain

  Tell all about, tell what and why, tell how, teach to someone else

9.  Summarize

  Tell main parts, bottom line, main ideas

10. Compare

  List sames, all the ways they are alike

11. Contrast

  List differences, all the ways they are different

12. Predict

  Educated guess, tell what could or may happen, look into the future 24 April 2008

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