I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Readers Digest. Although I read every joke and anecdote, I only read some of the articles. (You may draw your own conclusion about what that means.)
A favorite feature of mine is “Word Power,” a multiple-choice vocab test, which for me sometimes ends up more like a “multiple guess” effort in futility. I faithfully take every test, normally scoring in the second-highest category. Over many years of trying, I’ve only aced it four times. However, once I did worse than had I merely guessed every answer and gotten the statistically probable number correct. I hope it was just an off day.
Why do I subject myself to this? First, I do it for the challenge, but more importantly, I want to expose myself to new words. I’m not sure how much I actually retain, but it does help.
Another means to expand my vocabulary is crossword puzzles. I do know those help, plus they’re more fun and less frustrating.
A third way to learn more words is to read extensively. Of course, it helps to have a dictionary handy to actually look up words instead of merely guessing their meaning through context. When I use my Kindle, I access definitions at a mere finger tap—most of the time.
As I write, I frequently use Word’s thesaurus or an online version. More often than not, on my way to finding the right word, I pick up a new one, too, for later use.
Anything we can do to expand our pool of usable words will help us as writers.