SAT Vocabulary Words: The Complete Guide

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Are you wondering how important vocabulary is to SAT prep

This guide will cover everything you need to know. Read on!

Why do I need to study vocabulary?

Expanding your vocabulary and becoming comfortable with understanding new words is a vital skill for anyone who wants to score well on the SAT test*. While it’s true that modern SAT tests place less emphasis on vocabulary than they did in the past, students still need a strong vocabulary to complete the test with confidence and do well. 

The reading section of the SAT test presents students with five passages, and many of the questions that follow will test each student’s understanding of words used. In the writing and language section, students must read four more passages and improve upon the expression of the ideas therein with effective use of language. 

So… How can students improve their vocabulary to score well on their SATs?

Read Widely

The best way to learn new vocabulary is to read. Fiction, nonfiction, online and in print, read as much and as widely as you can.

Old novels and modern literary fiction are both treasure troves full of words that you haven’t encountered before. Read books that you enjoy and take the time to look up and make note of any new words that you come across. 

In this article on studying for the SAT test, high school English teacher Ashley Cullins recommends that students read challenging texts each and every week to help prepare them for the passages they’ll encounter on the SAT test. Cullins suggests academic research papers and magazines like Scientific American.

Make a List

You would do well to keep a running list of new vocabulary that you learn throughout all of your reading and any new words that you encounter in daily life. If you’re getting a late start and want to put together a list more quickly, there are countless resources online that list helpful vocabulary for SAT prep. We’ve even included one in this post!

Quiz yourself as you go through a prefab list, and write down or highlight each of the words that stumped you. Now you have your own personalized list of words to study. 

Use Flashcards

Your list won’t do you much good if you don’t take the time to study it. Flashcards are a classic for a reason. You can write them out by hand, which is a great way to cement new words in your memory, or use one of many aps to create a virtual deck of flashcards to study whenever you find a free moment.

Write Novel Sentences

Memorizing definitions is all well and good, but you’ll never become truly comfortable with new vocabulary words until you begin to use them in context. As you go through your lists and flashcards, try using each word in a sentence. For a fun challenge, break out your flashcards and write a short story, incorporating each card in the stack into the next sentence. 

Shake Things Up

Many people find that they study best when they’re on the move. Try going through your vocabulary while walking somewhere safe or jogging on a treadmill. You could also record the words and definitions on your phone and then play it back while you exercise; simply speaking and listening to the definitions can go a long way for auditory learners. 

It’s all about what works best for you.

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200 SAT Vocabulary Words

We’ve put together a list of common SAT words that many high school students have not yet encountered or aren’t fully comfortable with. Use this list as a starting point for your studies, but remember: understanding new words in context is even more important than memorizing new vocabulary, and that’s a skill that you can only hone through extensive reading. 

  1. abase (v.) to humiliate, degrade 
  2. abate (v.) to reduce, lessen 
  3. aberration (n.) something that differs from the norm
  4. abject (adj.) wretched, pitiful 
  5. abjure (v.) to reject, renounce 
  6. abnegation (n.) denial of comfort to oneself 
  7. abrogate (v.) to abolish, usually by authority
  8. abscond (v.) to sneak away and hide
  9. abstruse (adj.) hard to comprehend
  10. accede (v.) to agree 
  11. adroit (adj.) skillful, dexterous
  12. adumbrate (v.) to sketch out in a vague way
  13. alacrity (n.) eagerness, speed
  14. analogous (adj.)similar to, so that an analogy can be drawn 
  15. anathema (n.) a cursed, detested person 
  16. apocryphal (adj.) fictitious, false, wrong
  17. arbiter (n.) one who can resolve a dispute, make a decision 
  18. archetypal (adj.) the most representative or typical example of something
  19. arrogate (v.) to take without justification
  20. ascetic (adj.) practicing restraint as a means of self-discipline, usually religious 
  21. banal (adj.) dull, commonplace 
  22. behemoth (n.) something of tremendous power or size
  23. bilk (v.) cheat, defraud
  24. bombastic (adj.) excessively confident, pompous 
  25. bourgeois (n.) a middle-class person, capitalist
  26. calumny (n.) an attempt to spoil someone else’s reputation by spreading lies 
  27. caucus (n.) a meeting usually held by people working toward the same goal 
  28. circumlocution (n.) indirect and wordy language
  29. circumspect (adj.) cautious
  30. cogent (adj.) intellectually convincing 
  31. collusion (n.) secret agreement, conspiracy
  32. commendation (n.) a notice of approval or recognition
  33. commensurate (adj.) corresponding in size or amount
  34. complacency (n.) self-satisfied ignorance of danger 
  35. concomitant (adj.) accompanying in a subordinate fashion
  36. confluence (n.) a gathering together
  37. congruity (n.) the quality of being in agreement
  38. contemporaneous (adj.) existing during the same time
  39. contravene (v.) to contradict, oppose, violate
  40. credulity (n.) readiness to believe
  41. cupidity (n.) greed, strong desire
  42. dearth (n.) a lack, scarcity 
  43. decorous (adj.)socially proper, appropriate
  44. deleterious (adj.) harmful
  45. demagogue (n.) a leader who appeals to a people’s prejudices 
  46. denigrate (v.) to belittle, diminish the opinion of
  47. desolate (adj.) deserted, dreary, lifeless
  48. despondent (adj.) feeling depressed, discouraged, hopeless
  49. despot (n.) one who has total power and rules brutally
  50. didactic (adj.) intended to instruct or overly moralistic 
  51. diffident (adj.) shy, quiet, modest 
  52. dilatory (adj.) tending to delay, causing delay
  53. disaffected (adj.) rebellious, resentful of authority
  54. disavow (v.) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for
  55. discretion (n.) the quality of being reserved in speech or action; good judgment 
  56. discursive (adj.) rambling, lacking order
  57. dissemble (v.) to conceal, fake
  58. dogmatic (adj.) aggressively and arrogantly certain about unproved principles
  59. efface (v.) to wipe out, obliterate, rub away
  60. elicit (v.) to bring forth, draw out, evoke
  61. emollient (adj.) soothing
  62. enervate (v.) to weaken, exhaust 
  63. enfranchise (v.) to grant the vote to 
  64. engender (v.) to bring about, create, generate
  65. ennui (n.) boredom, weariness
  66. ephemeral (adj.) short-lived, fleeting
  67. equivocal (adj.) ambiguous, uncertain, undecided
  68. espouse (v.) to take up as a cause, support
  69. evince (v.) to show, reveal 
  70. expiate (v.) to make amends for, atone 
  71. forbearance (n.) patience, restraint, toleration 
  72. fractious (adj.) troublesome or irritable
  73. garrulous (adj.) talkative, wordy
  74. gregarious (adj.) drawn to the company of others, sociable
  75. grievous (adj.) injurious, hurtful; serious or grave in nature
  76. hallowed (adj.) revered, consecrated
  77. hedonist (n.) one who believes pleasure should be the primary pursuit of humans 
  78. hegemony (n.) domination over others
  79. heinous (adj.) shockingly wicked, repugnant
  80. hypocrisy (n.) pretending to believe what one does not
  81. iconoclast (n.) one who attacks common beliefs or institutions 
  82. ignominious (adj.) humiliating, disgracing 
  83. immutable (adj.) not changeable
  84. impassive (adj.) stoic, not susceptible to suffering
  85. impecunious (adj.) poor
  86. imperative (adj.) necessary, pressing or (n.) a rule, command, or order 
  87. impervious (adj.) impenetrable, incapable of being affected 
  88. impinge (v.) to impact, affect, make an impression or (v.) to encroach, infringe
  89. implacable (adj.) incapable of being appeased or mitigated
  90. impute (v.) to ascribe, blame
  91. inchoate (adj.) unformed or formless, in a beginning stage
  92. incorrigible (adj.) incapable of correction, delinquent 
  93. increment (n.) an enlargement; the process of increasing
  94. indefatigable (adj.) incapable of defeat, failure, decay
  95. indigent (adj.) very poor, impoverished
  96. indolent (adj.) lazy
  97. indomitable (adj.) not capable of being conquered
  98. ineffable (adj.) unspeakable, incapable of being expressed through words
  99. inexorable (adj.) incapable of being persuaded or placated 
  100. inimical (adj.) hostile
  101. injunction (n.) an order of official warning 
  102. intimation (n.) an indirect suggestion
  103. intrepid (adj.) brave in the face of danger
  104. inure (v.) to cause someone or something to become accustomed to a situation
  105. inveterate (adj.) stubbornly established by habit
  106. irascible (adj.) easily angered
  107. judicious (adj.) having or exercising sound judgment
  108. knell (n.) the solemn sound of a bell
  109. laconic (adj.) terse in speech or writing
  110. languid (adj.)sluggish from fatigue or weakness 
  111. latent (adj.) hidden, but capable of being exposed
  112. libertarian (adj.) advocating principles of liberty and free will 
  113. licentious (adj.) displaying a lack of moral or legal restraints
  114. lithe (adj.) graceful, flexible
  115. lurid (adj.) ghastly, sensational
  116. magnanimous (adj.) noble, generous
  117. manifold (adj.) diverse, varied
  118. maudlin (adj.) weakly sentimental 
  119. mendacious (adj.) having a lying, false character
  120. mitigate (v.) to make less violent, alleviate
  121. modicum (n.) a small amount of something 
  122. mollify (v.) to cause to soften in temper
  123. multifarious (adj.) having great diversity or variety
  124. munificence (n.) generosity in giving
  125. nadir (n.) the lowest point of something 
  126. nascent (adj.) in the process of being born or coming into existence
  127. nebulous (adj.) vaguely defined, cloudy
  128. neophyte (n.) someone who is young or inexperienced
  129. obdurate (adj.) unyielding to persuasion or moral influences
  130. obfuscate (v.) to render incomprehensible
  131. obsequious (adj.) excessively compliant or submissive
  132. obstreperous (adj.) noisy, unruly
  133. odious (adj.) instilling hatred 
  134. onerous (adj.) burdensome
  135. oscillate (v.) to sway from one side to the other
  136. ostensible (adj.) appearing as such, seemingly
  137. palliate (v.) to reduce the severity of
  138. panacea (n.) a remedy for all ills 
  139. paradox (n.) an apparently contradictory statement that is perhaps true
  140. paramount (adj.) greatest in importance, rank, character
  141. pariah (n.) an outcast
  142. parsimony (n.) frugality, stinginess
  143. paucity (adj.) small in quantity
  144. pejorative (adj.) derogatory, uncomplimentary
  145. pellucid (adj.) easily intelligible, clear 
  146. penitent (adj.) remorseful, regretful 
  147. penultimate (adj.) next to last
  148. penurious (adj.) miserly, stingy
  149. perfidious (adj.) disloyal, unfaithful
  150. perfunctory (adj.) showing little interest or enthusiasm
  151. pernicious (adj.) extremely destructive or harmful
  152. perspicacity (adj.) shrewdness, perceptiveness
  153. pert (adj.) flippant, bold
  154. pertinacious (adj.) stubbornly persistent
  155. petulance (n.) rudeness, irritability
  156. phlegmatic (adj.) uninterested, unresponsive
  157. pithy (adj.) concisely meaningful
  158. placate (v.) to ease the anger of, soothe 
  159. plaudits (n.) enthusiastic approval, applause 
  160. plethora (n.) an abundance, excess
  161. pliable (adj.) flexible 
  162. poignant (adj.) deeply affecting, moving
  163. portent (n.) an omen
  164. potentate (n.) one who has great power, a ruler
  165. preclude (v.) to prevent 
  166. preponderance (adj.) superiority in importance or quantity
  167. presage (n.) an omen
  168. presumptuous (adj.) disrespectfully bold
  169. pretense (n.)an appearance or action intended to deceive
  170. privation (n.) lacking basic necessities 
  171. probity (n.) virtue, integrity
  172. profligate (adj.) dissolute, extravagant 
  173. promulgate (v.) to proclaim, make known
  174. propensity (n.) an inclination, preference 
  175. propitious (adj.) favorable 
  176. prosaic (adj.) plain, lacking liveliness
  177. puerile (adj.) juvenile, immature 
  178. pugnacious (adj.) quarrelsome, combative 
  179. pulchritude (n.) physical beauty
  180. quagmire (n.) a difficult situation
  181. quandary (n.) a perplexed, unresolvable state 
  182. quixotic (adj.) idealistic, impractical
  183. rancor (n.) deep, bitter resentment
  184. rapport (n.) mutual understanding and harmony
  185. raucous (adj.) loud, boisterous
  186. raze (v.) to demolish, level
  187. recalcitrant (adj.) defiant, unapologetic
  188. replete (adj.) full, abundant
  189. rife (adj.) abundant 
  190. sagacity (n.) shrewdness, soundness of perspective 
  191. salient (adj.) significant, conspicuous
  192. surfeit (n.) an overabundant supply or indulgence
  193. tacit (adj.) expressed without words
  194. tantamount (adj.) equivalent in value or significance 
  195. temerity (n.) audacity, recklessness 
  196. truculent (adj.) ready to fight, crue
  197. ubiquitous (adj.) existing everywhere, widespread 
  198. vestige (n.) a mark or trace of something lost or vanished
  199. wily (adj.) crafty, sly
  200. zenith (n.) the highest point, culminating point 

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