SAT Vocabulary Words

SAT Vocabulary Words

Studying for the SATs does not necessarily mean memorizing a list of SAT vocabulary words. 

Yes, memorizing can help you do well on the exam. However, it should not be the only thing you should focus on. 

Some still aced their exam even though they did not memorize a long list of vocabulary words. 

The best way to prepare for the Reading section of the SATs is to improve your ability to recognize words in context. 

Recognizing is not the same as memorizing. 

If you do not know how the word is usually used in context, then your efforts in memorizing its meaning would be futile. 

Keep in mind that the SATs are meant to test your comprehension and ability to recognize words in context. 

That being said, we have created this guide to help you ace your next SAT. 

SAT Vocabulary Words

Preparing for the SAT 

This guide is meant to help you prepare for the Reading and Writing Section of the exam. 

Read more often 

You may have already heard this several times from other people but reading is a surefire way to improve your vocabulary and comprehension. 

Rather than memorizing empty SAT vocabulary words, it is best to read and learn them in context instead.

If you are not much of a reader, then I would suggest you start with short articles, stories, or passages.

Once you get the hang of it, you can start reading books or feature articles. 

However, we still highly suggest you read one full-length article every day. 

Since the passages in the Reading section are mostly excerpts from different sources, you should also familiarize or expose yourself to different writing styles. 

This way, your reading speed would always be consistent no matter what the writing style or topic is. 

Keep tabs of the new words

If you encounter or learn a new word from what you are reading, you should keep track of it and try to incorporate it into your everyday life. 

By doing this, you can actively recall and remember the words for a longer period of time. 

It is easy to expand your vocabulary and it is much better than memorizing a list of SAT vocabulary words 

Another plus side to doing this is that you can learn and absorb the new word more effectively. 

Since you are actively recalling it and using it in your everyday life, the new word would eventually feel like a normal or easy word that has been innate to you. 

Answer more practice test

Apart from cultivating a reading habit, another surefire way to ace your SAT is to answer practice tests. 

Rather than memorizing vocab words, you can just learn those words through several practice tests. 

Simulating and answering several standardized practice tests can help you prepare for the exam. You would be familiar with the format of the exam. 

On top of that, having an SAT prep can also help you with context clues and sentence completion questions. 

SAT Vocabulary words

Rather than memorizing a vocabulary list, try to familiarize and recognize how these words are used in a different context. 

See the image below for the different word classifications. 

SAT Vocabulary Words

Keep in mind that the SATs would mostly test you on Tier 1 and Tier 2 for the Reading and Writing section.

Tier 1 

  • Modals [can, cannot, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would] (Super cluster 1: Auxiliary and Helping Verbs) 
  • Relationship Markers (Concurrent Action) [as, at, during, now, of, on, together, when, while] (Supercluster 6: Time)
  • Primary Auxiliary Verbs [did, do, does, doing, done, had, has, have] (Supercluster 1: Auxiliary and Helping Verbs)
  • Auxiliary Verbs [am, are, be, been, is, was, were, being] (Super cluster 1: Auxiliary and Helping Verbs)
  • Relationship Markers (Addition) [and, of, too, with] (Super cluster 7: Comparison and Contrast)
  • Pronouns/Reflexive Pronouns [he, him, I, it, me, myself, she, them, they, us, we, you] (Super cluster 2: Pronouns)
  • Possessive Pronouns [her, hers, its, mine, my, our, their, your, yours, his, ours, theirs] (Super cluster 2: Pronouns)
  • Interrogative Pronouns [what, when, where, which] (Super cluster 2: Pronouns)
  • Direction To and From [at, from, to] (Super cluster 4: Physical Location and Orientation)
  • Cause/Effect (Relationship Markers) [because, by, for, from, if, since, so, then, to, because of] (Super cluster 3: Cause and Effect)
  • Specifiers [a, an, each, every, no, that, the, these, this, those, either] (Super cluster 5: Measurement, Size, and Quantity)
  • Exclamations (General) [ah, aha, bye, gee, good-bye, ha, hello, hey, hi, ho, maybe, no, oh, ok, okay, ooh, wow, yes, goodnight, wow] (Super cluster 9: Verbal Interactions)
  • General Amounts [all, another, both, few, half, less, little, lot, many, more, most, none, only, other, pair, two, whole, amount, couple, extra, several, single, twice] (Super cluster 5: Measurement, Size, and Quantity)
  • Diminishers [almost, enough, just, only, hardly, alone, mostly, nearly, simply] (Super cluster 5: Measurement, Size, and Quantity)
  • Relationship Markers (Contrast) [but, else, not, or, still, than, without, yet, against, compare, either, except, instead, neither, unless, whether] (Super cluster 7: Comparison and Contrast)
  • Attitudinals (Lack of Truth/Doubt) [maybe, possibly] (Super cluster 19: Attitudinals)
  • Distances [along away, beside, between, by, close, far, near, past, toward, apart, aside, beyond, nearby, opposite, outer] (Super cluster 4: Physical Location and Orientation)

Tier 2

These are examples of academic vocabulary

abbreviate collaborate incessantflorid
abdicate commiserateincidentalrancorous
aberrationcompassion incitefortuitous
abstinence composureincorrigiblereclusive
abstractcompromise indictfrugal
accommodatecondescending insurgent’hackneyed
adulation conditional intangiblerenovation
adversity conformist judicious lavishhaughty
aestheticcongregation listlessresilient
aesthetic contractmeagerhedonist
affinityconvergence meander restrained
altercationcopiousnegligent hypothesis
amelioratecordialobliterate reverence
amicabledearthponderous impetuous
amicable debilitatepreclude sagacity
anachronistic decadenceprerequisite impute
anarchydeferenceproximity scrutinize
anecdotedeleterious rectifyincompatible
anonymous demagogue resolution inconsequential
antagonist deprecaterigorous spurious
appalldespotscrutinize inevitable
ariddigression tiradesubstantiate
articulatediligentturbulence intrepid
assiduous discredit unimpeachable subtle
astutedisdain unobtrusiveintuitive
asylum disparageusurpsuperficial
authoritariandissonancevacillate jubilation
benevolent duplicityempathylobbyist
camaraderie equivocalpretentioustactful
censure frivolousprosperityvenerable
circuitous haphazardprovocativevindicate
clairvoyant hereticexemplaryostentatious

You can proceed to this website to see some examples of Tier 2 per grade level

Tier 3

  • Abatement
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accretion
  • Adversary Proceeding
  • Aerostats
  • Affidavit
  • Algae
  • Alkali Metal
  • Allele
  • Amicus Curiae
  • Amplitude
  • Anemometer
  • Appellate
  • Biomass
  • Biome
  • Buoyancy
  • Burden Of Proof
  • Coefficient
  • Cold Front
  • Cold Fusion
  • Combustion
  • Concurrent Sentence
  • Contingent Claim
  • Contour Lines
  • Convection
  • Covalent Bond
  • Deposition
  • Diffraction
  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Electron
  • En Banc
  • Entropy
  • Ex Parte
  • Exothermic Reaction
  • External Combustion Engine
  • Friction
  • Halogen
  • Heterozygous
  • Inclined Plane
  • Indictment
  • Inertia
  • Inhibitor
  • Interrogatories
  • Ionic Bond
  • Isotope
  • Jurisprudence
  • Liquidation
  • Longitude
  • Magneto Hydrodynamic
  • Meiosis
  • Molecule
  • Nuclear Fusion
  • Oxidation
  • Photosynthesis
  • Propellant
  • Prosecute
  • Protist
  • Remand
  • Respiration
  • Rock Erosion
  • Run-Off
  • Sequester
  • Statute Of Limitations
  • Sublimation
  • Subpoena
  • Subscript
  • Substance
  • Trough
  • Trustee
  • Tundra
  • Unscheduled Debt
  • Wage Garnishment
  • Writ
  • Writ Of Certiorari

SAT Vocabulary Words

Dealing with Difficult Words

We have cited a few words above to give you a better idea of it is classified into groups. 

Tier 2 words are usually the hardest ones because they are not commonly used in conversations. That being said, the SAT exam would ask you to determine the meaning of these words in context. 

So if you ever encounter these words during your ready or study sessions, always keep tabs and remember to do the following. 

Use it in a sentence

Rather than memorizing the meaning of the work, use it in a sentence and different context instead. 

This way, you would be able to know when and what situation should the word be used. 

As we have mentioned earlier, memorizing the meaning of the word is futile if you do not know the context it should be used in. 

So rather than writing the meaning of the words in a flashcard, write it in a sentence instead. 

Active recall

Now that you have written the sentence in your flashcard, the next best thing to do is review your flashcards more often. 

Given that you only put the sentence in your flashcards and not the meaning of the word, you would then be forced to actively recall the meaning of the word. 

It has also been scientifically proven that active recall is an efficient way to absorb new information and store it in your memory for the long-term.

Practice it in conversation

To make to new word stick, you should use it in conversation as well. 

This way, and as we already mentioned before, the new and difficult word would become an innate word that is easy to understand and comfortable to use. 

Practice Problem 

Rhetoric / Analyzing Word Choice

Mattie Silver had lived under Ethan’s roof for a year, and from early morning till they met at supper he had frequent chances of seeing her; but no moments in her company were comparable to those when, her arm in his, and her light step flying to keep time with his long stride, they walked back through the night to the farm. 

1. In the context of the passage, the author’s use of the phrase “her light step flying to keep time with his long stride” (line 3) is primarily meant to convey the idea that 

  1. Ethan and Mattie share a powerful enthusiasm.
  2. Matte strives to match the speed at which Ethan works. 
  3. Mattie and Ethan playfully compete with each other. 
  4. Ethan walks at a pace that frustrates Mattie.

Vocabulary and Context

Voters need to understand the prosaic details of complex policies. Most have staked out positions on these issues, but they are not often reasoned positions, which take hard intellectual work. Most citizens opt instead for simplistic explanations, assuming wrongly that they comprehend the nuances of issues. 

Psychological scientists have a name for this easy, automatic, simplistic thinking: the illusion of explanatory depth. We strongly believe that we understand complex matters, when in fact we are clueless, and these false and extreme beliefs shape our preferences, judgments, and actions— including our votes.

As used above, “illusion” most nearly means

  1. misconception.
  2. dream.
  3. charade.
  4. phantom

But when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators, the instruments, not the guides, of the people. 

As used above, “instruments” most nearly smean

  1. representatives.
  2. tools.
  3. counselors.
  4. navigators

Writing and Words Placement

“One feels oneself present at the beginnings of a revolution,” a theater critic wondered of this climactic scene; the same can perhaps be said of Georg’s achievement overall. The play was a hit, launching the duke’s group on a seventeen-year tour, during which it delivered over 2,000 performances in venues throughout Europe. Inspiring directors around the continent to design and execute more unified, detailed productions, 22 the title Georg was dubbed with was “The Theater Duke.”

  2. presumed 
  3. sensed 
  4. observed


Hopefully, some of the words and practice problems we compiled are enough to give you an idea of what the SAT would look like. 

Keep in mind that the examples above are not guaranteed to appear in the SAT. It is only meant to give you an overview of the level of difficulty used in the SAT. 

To briefly recap, we covered the following areas

We have also discussed a few topics that we thought are relevant for your grade level such as

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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