262 SAT Vocab Words You Must Know (2024)

A lot of students immediately think of vocabulary when they hear the word SAT. But are SAT vocab words really that important for doing well on the test? Kind of. If you’re aiming for a high score, you’ll definitely want to spend some time learning key SAT words.

In this guide, we give you a comprehensive list of 262 of the most common SAT vocabulary words. We also explain how vocab is tested on the SAT, what types of questions you’ll see, and how to get the most out of your vocab prep.

The SAT has undergone a number of overhauls over the years that have made vocabulary a far less important part of the test. There are fewer vocabulary questions on the current SAT than there were on older versions of the exam, which include qustion types like analogies that focused solely on testing vocab knowledge.

That said, it'll still benefit you to study vocab, especially if you're aiming for a high or perfect score.

All SAT words are about medium difficultyand aretested in the context of reading passages, so you’ll get not just a sentence but an entire paragraph or passage to work with.

Context clues make memorizing SAT vocab words less important on the current SAT than it was on the old SAT, back when you had to memorize dozens of obscure words and answer questions that dealt with isolated sentences (these were called Sentence Completion problems).This made vocab questions particularly hard since you were given minimal context with which to solve them.

The new digital SAT has one Reading and Writing section broken into four domains: Craft and Structure, Information and Ideas, Standard English Conventions, and Expression of Ideas. Only one domain, Craft and Structure, includes vocabulary as a tested skill.

According to College Board's description of this domain, "Students will use comprehension, vocabulary, analysis, synthesis, and reasoning skills and knowledge to understand and use high-utility words and phrases in context, evaluate texts rhetorically, and make connections between topically related texts."

There are approximately 13-15 questions total in this domain, which makes up about 28 percent of the Reading and Writing section of the SAT. But as you can see from the description, vocabulary is not tested in isolation, but in context. That means you won't see a vocabulary word and then be asked to choose the correct definition. Instead, you'll be tested on whether you can use context clues to interpret certain vocabulary words and understand the meaning of a phrase or passage.

It will help to know alternative meanings of relatively common words, such as “directly” and “hold.” While you mightcome across slightly more difficult SAT words, you generally shouldn’t see any as hard as those on the old SAT.

Here's an example of a Reading vocabulary question (with the relevant part of the passage shown):

In addition to Words in Context questions, you’ll getquestions that require you to pick a single word or phrase in order to paraphrase or clarify part of a passage.With these questions, you must understand what allthe SAT vocab words mean so that you can choose the right answer.

In these examples, you'll need to know the definitions of a variety of SAT vocabulary words, such as “substantiated,” “freewheeling,” and “scandalous,” so that you can select the right answer choice.

Now that you know how vocabulary plays a role on the SAT, let's go over the 262 words and definitions we suggest knowing if you want to get a high score on SAT Reading and Writing.

To compile this list, we dug through all official SAT practice tests, looking atboth the Reading and Writing sections (and not just the questions but the answer choices and passages, too).We also looked at SAT words from other online vocab lists.

Though you don’t need to memorize all the words below, familiarizing yourself with most of them should help you better identify the tones of passages and make you more efficient at interpreting and answering questions correctly on SAT Reading and Writing.

Below, we give you each word, its part of speech, its definition, and an example sentence (or more if the word has multiple definitions/parts of speech). All words are listed in alphabetical order.

Word

Definition

Example Sentence

Abate

v. to become less active, less intense, or less in amount

As I began my speech, my feelings of nervousness quickly abated.

Abstract

adj. existing purely in the mind; not representing actual reality

Julie had trouble understanding the appeal of the abstract painting.

Abysmal

adj. extremely bad

I got an abysmal grade on my research paper!

Accordingly

adv. in accordance with

All students must behave accordingly.

Acquisition

n. the act of gaining a skill or possession of something

Language acquisition is easier for kids than it is for adults.

Adapt

v. to make suit a new purpose

v. to accommodate oneself to a new condition, setting, or situation

The US has adapted many foreign foods to better suit the tastes of Americans.

Dogs are known for their ability to quickly adapt to their environments.

Adept

adj. having knowledge or skill (usu. in a particular area)

Beth loves playing the piano, but she’s especially adept at the violin.

Adequate

adj. having sufficient qualifications to meet a specific task or purpose

Though his resume was adequate, the company doubted whether he’d be a good fit.

Advent

n. the arrival or creation of something (usu. historic)

The world has never been the same since the advent of the light bulb.

Adversarial

adj. relating to hostile opposition

An adversarial attitude will make you many enemies in life.

Advocate

n.someone who promotes or defends something

v. to defend or promote something (usu. a belief, theory, opinion, etc.)

I am anadvocatefor free higher education.

Environmental protesters often advocate for cleaner energy practices.

Aesthetic

adj. relating to beauty or refined taste

The aesthetic decorations at the wedding reception made you feel as if you were a character in a fairy tale.

Afford

v. to be able to buy

v. to be able to spare

He’s saving money so he can afford to buy a new car.

I can’t afford to lose any more pencils!

Agitate

v. to promote something (usu. a cause)

They’re agitating for better health care.

Allow

v. to permit or consent to

US law allows citizens to speak freely.

Allude

v. to make a secretive mention of something

She alluded to the problem at hand but didn’t say anything more about it.

Altercation

n. a noisy argument or confrontation

Greg got into an altercation with a stranger at the bar.

Ambiguous

adj. unclear or vague in meaning

Her ambiguous statement made me question whether she could be trusted.

Ambitious

adj. having a powerful desire for success or achievement

Penny is so ambitious, she wants to be president someday.

Ambivalence

n. the state of being uncertain or stuck between two or more options

His ambivalence prevented him from immediately signing the contract.

Analogous

adj. similar but not identical

Green onions are considered analogous to spring onions.

Annihilate

v. to destroy or cause devastating destruction

The dictator sent orders to annihilate the group of rebels.

Anomaly

n. something different from the norm

This result is an anomaly and very rarely happens.

Anticipate

v. assume to be likely to happen

The party was just as fun as I had anticipated it would be.

Antipathy

n. a strong feeling of dislike

Her antipathy toward the professor was obvious: she rolled her eyes whenever he entered the classroom.

Apex

n. the highest point of something

The spring play was the apex of our school year.

Apprehension

n. fearful expectation of something

Her apprehension to leave her house resulted in her missing the train.

Articulate

v. to clearly express in words

She articulated her opinion on the price of the house.

Artificial

adj. something made; not occurring naturally

Many candies use artificial flavors to make them taste fruity.

Assertion

n. a strong declaration

His assertion that sharks are mammals made everyone laugh.

Austere

adj. extremely plain

adj. stern and forbidding

adj. relating to self-denial

He lived in a small, austere cabin in the middle of the woods.

My boss had an austere expression on her face.

An austere lifestyle, like that of monks, isn’t for everybody.

Authenticity

n. the quality of being real and true instead of fake and contrived

The police officer doubted the authenticity of the suspect’s story.

Avenue

n. an intangible path or approach to something

The company has decided to pursue other avenues.

Avid

adj. actively interested in or enthusiastic about something

Gerald is an avid soccer fan.

Basic

adj. relating to the foundation or basis of something

You have to start with basic Russian before you can move on to the advanced level.

Bear

v. to have as a characteristic

v. to have (a child)

v. to bring forth

v. to put up with

She bears a strong resemblance to your mother.

Judy will bear her first child later this year.

My garden is going to bear pumpkins this year.

I can’t bear her complaining any longer!

Benevolent

adj. kind, generous

Many cultures believe in benevolent spirits.

Bias

n. a preconception that prevents objectivity

It’s important to avoid bias when investigating a crime.

Bittersweet

adj. tinged with a feeling of sadness

The ending of the romance movie was bittersweet.

Bolster

v. to support, strengthen, or fortify

If we work together, we should be able to lift and then bolster the couch.

Boost

n.an increase or growth

v. to increase or make grow

Theboostin profits was a welcome change.

In order to boost profits, you need to cater to your customers.

Brawl

n. an intense, loud fight

v. to fight loudly and disruptively

A brawl broke out at school today after one student accused another of cheating.

The two students brawled for an hour.

Brevity

n. the quality of being brief or terse

The brevity of their time together made it all the more romantic.

Candid

adj. direct, blunt

Josh is candid about his desire to become an actor.

Candor

n. the trait of being honest and frank

I admire her candor, especially when nobody else bothers to speak up.

Capitalize

v. to use to your advantage

I’d like to capitalize on your math skills by having your work the cash register.

Capture

v. to trap or take possession of

v. to successfully represent or imitate

v. to captivate, mesmerize

v. to catch or seize

The spy was captured by the enemy.

Your painting beautifully captures the ephemerality of life.

I was captured by her beauty.

The cops captured the criminal three days after the incident.

Civic

adj. relating to the city or citizens

Voting is a civic duty.

Clinical

adj. emotionally unattached (usu. used in medical or scientific setting)

Her clinical approach to situations allows her to handle them more effectively.

Clout

n. special advantage or power

Children of rich and famous people often believe they have a lot of clout.

Coarse

adj. indicating a rough texture

adj.lacking refinement or sophistication

The horse’s mane was coarse, as if it had never been washed.

The queen’s coarse way of speaking surprised the other members of royalty.

Coincide

v. to happen at the same time

It wasn’t until after I booked my ticket that I realized the concert coincided with my finals.

Commission

n. the use of payment to request something (e.g., a service or product)

This painting was commissioned by a rich merchant in 1589.

Comparable

adj. able to be compared

This novel is comparable to Huckleberry Finn.

Competent

adj. sufficiently qualified

We need to hire a competent web developer to create a good website for our company.

Complacent

adj. satisfied, with no desire to change or improve

Though he had never won any awards or even been published, he was complacent with his life as a poet.

Complement

v. to make perfect or complete

This wine perfectly complements this platter of gourmet cheese.

Concede

v. to be forced to agree or surrender

v. to admit to a transgression

With no chance of winning the battle, the army at last conceded.

Dan conceded to pranking his sister.

Conceive

v. to imagine or come up with

The plan to build the city was originally conceived in the early 1900s.

Condone

v. to overlook, approve, or allow

She couldn't condone her daughter's rebellious behavior.

Conducive

adj. able to bring about or be suitable for

The noisy students hardly made the campus library conducive to studying.

Conduct

v. to control or manage

v. to behave a certain way

The group conducted their research abroad last year.

Be sure to conduct yourself accordingly.

Confide

v. to share something secretive with someone

She confided all of her biggest secrets in her best friend.

Confine

v. to put limits on; to restrict

We are going to confine the use of this drinking fountain.

Consensus

n. overall agreement

After weeks of debating, the panel finally came to a consensus.

Constitute

v. to form or compose (part of) something

The desire for equality constituted the civil rights movement.

Contemplate

v. to think deeply about

She contemplated telling her teacher about the cheating student.

Contend

v. to maintain or assert (an opinion)

The president contends that the US government will not negotiate with terrorists.

Contradict

v. to be in contrast with

The camera footage contradicts his alibi.

Controversial

adj. highly debatable and causing contention

Millions of viewers watched the controversial debate take place.

Conventional

adj. abiding by accepted standards

She lives a conventional life in the suburbs.

Convey

v. to pass on or transfer (information)

I have trouble conveying my thoughts in French.

Conviction

n. a firm belief in something

Her religious convictions prevent her from eating meat.

Corroborate

v. to provide evidence for; to back up (a claim)

The note signed by her father corroborates her claim that she was absent from class that day.

Counteract

v. to work in opposition to

This ingredient seems to counteract the other ones.

Counterargument

n. an argument used to criticize or dismantle another argument

Make sure to include a counterargument in your essay so that you can show you’ve considered the topic from all perspectives.

Counterproductive

adj. hindering the achievement of a goal

Bill’s idea to take a shortcut was ultimately counterproductive: it took us twice as long to get to the train station.

Culmination

n. the final act or climax

The culmination of the performance was unforgettable.

Cultivate

v. to foster the growth of

Teachers don’t just pass on new information to studentsthey cultivate their academic potential.

Decree

v. to declare formally and with authority

The president decreed that Halloween would henceforth be a national holiday.

Deference

n. respect; regard

Her deference to the elderly makes her the perfect candidate for an internship at the retirement center.

Deficient

adj. not enough in degree or amount

I feel as though the sources for my paper are deficient.

Demonstrate

v. to do as an example

v. gives evidence for

Could you demonstrate the dance move for me?

This book’s use of words such as “grim” and “bleak” demonstrates the author’s mournful tone.

Demur

v. to object to

She demurred at my request to transfer to a different department.

Deplete

v. to (over)use over time (usu. resources)

The lost campers quickly depleted their supply of food.

Desolate

adj.bare, barren, empty

The moon is one giant,desolate landscape.

Devise

v. to come up with (a plan)

Lana devised a plan to make herself famous.

Dilemma

n. a problem, usually requiring a choice between two options

The main dilemma is whether to pay for a commercial or not.

Diligence

n. conscientiousness; the quality of being committed to a task

Diligence and confidence will get you far in life.

Diminish

v. to become smaller in scope or degree

The itchiness of mosquito bites usually starts to diminish after a few days.

Dire

adj. hopeless and dangerous or fearful

When the police didn’t explain what was happening right away, Jane knew that the situation must be dire.

Discord

n.disagreement

Disputes over money caused intensediscordin the family.

Disdain

n. a lack of respect and strong dislike (toward something or someone)

He looked at me with such disdain that I immediately knew the job wouldn’t work out.

Dismay

n.hopelessness, stress, or consternation

v. to fill with woe or apprehension

To Nick’s dismay, he got an F on the test.

Many were dismayed by the town’s implementation of metered parking.

Disparage

v. to belittle or speak down to

A good boss is stern but never disparages his or her employees.

Dispatch

v. to send off a message or messenger

The mother dispatched her daughter to their neighbor’s house.

Diversification

n. the act of becoming diverse

Lately, there’s been noticeable diversification of students at higher institutions.

Doctrine

n. a principle, theory, or position, usu. advocated by a religion or gov’t

Devoutly religious people often live their lives according to their doctrines.

Dominion

n. power and authority (usu. over a territory)

n. a legal territory

The country claimed to have dominion over parts of Russia.

Puerto Rico is a dominion of the US.

Dreary

adj. sad, gloomy, dull

The gray clouds in the sky made the day feel dreary.

Dubious

adj. doubtful, questionable

The man’s claims to the throne were dubious since nobody knew where he’d come from.

Eccentric

adj. peculiar or odd; deviating from the norm

She’s a little eccentric but still fun to be around.

Egregious

adj. extremely bad

After cheating on the exam, Emily began to feel as though she’d made an egregious mistake.

Eloquent

adj. having refined or expressive communication skills (in speaking or writing)

His speech was not only eloquent but also extremely compelling.

Eminent

adj. superior or distinguished; high in position or status

Our town made news when the eminent magician came to perform at our local theater.

Emit

v. to discharge, give forth, or release

Plants consume carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.

Emphatic

adj. very expressive; using emphasis

Her emphatic smile told me she was excited to ride the roller coaster.

Empirical

adj. derived from experience, observation, or an experiment

You need empirical evidence to support your claim.

Endow

v. to equip or bestow (usu. a quality or ability)

According to the myth, the gods endowed him with the gift of healing.

Endure

v. to withstand, sustain, or hold out against

I can’t endure this wait any longer. Will Stanford accept or reject me?

Entail

v. to involve or include

A doctoral program entails long nights and a heavy workload.

Entrenched

adj. firmly established

Her face will forever be entrenched in my memory.

Enumerate

v. to specify or count

I can’t enumerate how many times I’ve had to remind my students when their papers are due.

Envy

n. excessive jealousy

v. to admire and be jealous of

His envy of her is quite obvious.

She envies her coworker's social skills.

Erratic

adj. having no fixed course; deviating from the norm

The car became erratic after slipping on ice.

Establish

v. to enact

v. to found (a business, group, school, etc.)

They established a law that made it illegal to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol.

Our group established a new branch in Chicago.

Evoke

v. to draw forth or call up

Horror movies are great at evoking fear.

Exacerbate

v. to make worse or increase the severity of

The doctor told me not to run as it can exacerbate my knee injury.

Excel

v. to do something extremely well or to be superior in

She was a well-rounded student but excelled especially in science.

Exert

v. to put into use (usu. as effort)

Don’t exert all of your energy at once.

Exhilarating

adj. invigorating, stimulating, or exciting

The music playing at the club was catchy and exhilarating.

Expend

v. to use up (as in energy or money)

Be careful not to expend all your energy in the first half of a marathon.

Exploit

v. to use selfishly or for profit

The shoddy company exploited its workers by paying them extremely low wages.

Facilitate

v. to aid the progress of

In grad school, advisors facilitate students’ research and offer constructive criticism.

Feasibility

n. the practicality or possibility of something

The feasibility of her project was doubtful; she’d have to go all the way to Antarctica and back before the school year ended.

Ferocity

n. viciousness, violence

The lion is just one wild animal known for its ferocity.

Fiscal

adj.related to (government) money

Fiscal policy is how the government uses money to influence the economy.

Flourish

v. to prosper, grow, or make fast progress

After one year, the tiny plants had flourished into a breathtaking garden.

Fluctuate

v. to be unstable; to rise and fall

Stocks can fluctuate on a daily basis, making it difficult to determine when to buy or sell one.

Foment

v.to stir up

The civilians accused their leader offomentingpolitical unrest.

Foreseeable

adj. capable of being predicted or anticipated

I can't imagine aliens visiting us in the foreseeable future.

Frankly

adv. directly, clearly

I frankly don’t see the point in learning to drive.

Freewheeling

adj. carefree

His freewheeling attitude often got him in trouble at work.

Fundamental

adj. the most essential or most basic part

A thesis is arguably the most fundamental part of an essay.

Galvanizing

adj. thrilling, exciting, stimulating

The galvanizing performance left everyone spellbound.

Geriatric

adj. relating to old age

I became interested in geriatric medicine shortly after my grandfather passed away from cancer.

Hostile

adj. harmful, dangerous

The voices around the corner sounded angry, hostile even.

Hypothetical

adj. supposed; related to a hypothesis

For my physics homework, I must come up with a hypothetical situation.

Ignominious

adj.publicly shameful or humiliating

The politician's expensive campaign ultimately ended inignominious defeat.

Impart

v. to transmit, bestow, or disclose

Parents must impart common sense to their children.

Impartiality

n. the equal and objective treatment of opposing views

To ensure impartiality, we require everyone to follow these general guidelines.

Imposing

adj. impressive (esp. in size or appearance)

The old mansion was imposing in its huge size and gothic architecture.

Imposition

n. an unnecessary burden

If it’s not too much of an imposition, could you proofread my paper?

Imprudent

adj. not cautious or prudent; rash

Backpacking abroad can be fun, but don’t be imprudent about money.

Incite

v. to encourage or stir up

Her hateful words incited anger in the crowd.

Indifference

n. apathy, emotional detachment

The girl’s indifference toward her brother upset their parents.

Indiscriminately

adv. randomly; with little or no distinction

Lottery winners are chosen indiscriminately.

Indulge

v. to give into; to satisfy or gratify

My friend loves to indulge in cheesy romance movies.

Infer

v. to guess, conclude, or derive by reasoning

You can infer from this quotation that the writer didn’t care for “pretty” language.

Innovative

adj. novel or new (esp. as an idea or invention)

Her invention was incredibly innovative and won her multiple awards.

Insatiable

adj. can’t be satisfied

A vampire’s thirst for blood is said to be insatiable.

Inversion

n. a reversal

The culture’s norms were an inversion of our own.

Invoke

v. to call on; to appeal to (e.g., a higher power)

The shaman attempted to invoke a demon.

Irreconcilable

adj. incapable of being in harmony or agreed upon

The couple’s differences were ultimately irreconcilable, giving them no choice but to break up.

Lament

v. to feel sorrow for; to mourn

Susan lamented her missed chance at going to Europe with her high school class.

Locomotion

n. movement

Physics involves the study of locomotion.

Lucrative

adj. capable of making a lot of money; profitable

Writing books isn’t a particularly lucrative career, unless you’re J.K. Rowling.

Malicious

adj. harmful, spiteful

The malicious spirit drove out the inhabitants from their home.

Malleable

adj. capable of being molded or changed

Children’s minds are malleable but only for so long.

Materialistic

adj. superficial; focus on material possessions

Many people accuse Americans of being materialistic.

Melodramatic

adj. extravagant or exaggerated (as of a melodrama)

The melodramatic play was well liked by the audience.

Modest

adj. simple and humble

adj. small in size or amount

They moved into a modest house in the countryside.

I received a modest sum of money for my help at the company event.

Modify

v. to change, alter, or tweak

Dr. Nguyen modified the gene so that it wouldn’t carry the disease.

Momentous

adj. historically significant

Her win in the election was momentous.

Novel

adj. new, innovative

We are looking for novel ways to approach the project.

Nuance

n. asubtle difference in meaning

Body-language experts even understand the nuances of facial expressions.

Null

adj. legally void and ineffective

The government declared their marriage null.

Objectivity

n. judgment based on observations instead of emotions or opinions

In scientific research, objectivity is of utmost importance.

Obsolete

adj. no longer used; rare or uncommon

Historians assumed record players would be obsolete by now, but in fact they’re making a huge comeback.

Omnipotent

adj. almighty and all powerful

Gods are omnipotent beings who can control human destiny.

Onset

n. the beginning or early stages

At the onset of her career as a lawyer, things were looking up.

Opine

v. to openly express an opinion

The new employee opined at the company meeting.

Ornate

adj. highly detailed and decorated

That ornate silverware must be worth thousands of dollars!

Oust

v. to remove or force out of (usu. a position or office)

Sick and tired of putting up with his bad moods, the pirates ousted their captain.

Paramount

adj. predominant, superior, most important

Our paramount concern is the safety of our employees.

Peculiar

adj. strange, bizarre

Upon entering the abandoned house, Kate experienced a peculiar feeling, as if someone was watching her.

Perish

v. to die; to pass away

According to the news, nobody perished in the fire.

Persecute

v. to cause suffering to

They will persecute anyone who doesn’t agree with their views of the world.

Petulant

adj.cranky, pouty, irritable

Petulant children are especially difficult to care for.

Pinnacle

n. highest level or degree

Many believe that composers such as Beethoven and Mozart represent the pinnacle of classical music.

Pitiable

adj. deserving pity

The frail-looking dog was pitiable, so I gave it some food and took it inside to care for it.

Plausible

adj. reasonable and possibly true

Her story is plausible, but that doesn’t mean she’s telling the truth.

Postulate

v. to assert

The literary critic postulates that romanticism and naturalism are actually interconnected.

Potent

adj. having great influence

adj. having a strong, chemical effect

The bald eagle is a potent symbol of the US.

The potion was definitely potentit healed my wounds immediately!

Pragmatic

adj. practical, useful

It’s not necessarily more pragmatic to study engineering than it is to study philosophy.

Precedent

n. an example or subject from earlier in time

This change in law is without historical precedent.

Predecessor

n. someone who comes before you (usu. in position or office)

My predecessor gave me many tips for running the office.

Prescribe

v. to command orders

v. to issue authorization for medications

The directions for our essay prescribe a length of at least ten pages.

A doctor must prescribe you this medication before you can begin taking it.

Principle

n. basic truth, assumption, or rule

Remember the universal principle: treat others as you want them to treat you.

Prohibit

v. to command against, to outlaw

Alcohol was prohibited in the US in the 1920s.

Prompt

adj.punctual, on time

n.a cue to begin something; instructions

v. to incite, propel, or cause to act

She is alwayspromptwhen it comes to turning in her homework.

I had to write an essay based on aprompt.

The possibility of a scholarship prompted him to apply to Harvard.

Promulgate

v. to put into law or formally declare

The ruler will at last promulgate an amnesty with the neighboring countries.

Prosecute

v. to bring criminal action against someone (in a trial)

The suspect was prosecuted yesterday.

Provocative

adj. intending to provoke, inspire, or arouse

Her nude paintings are considered quite provocative.

Qualitative

adj. involving qualities of something (features and content)

I noticed a qualitative change in her paintings.

Quantitative

adj. involving quantities (numbers and amounts)

We must conduct a quantitative analysis.

Quirk

n. a strange habit

His biggest quirk is his love of old marbles.

Ramify

v. to split into two or more branches

Cars ramified throughout the world in the twentieth century.

Rash

adj. without attention to danger or risk

Her rash decision to pass the car nearly resulted in a crash.

Raw

adj. unrefined

adj. not processed; uncooked (as in food)

He’s got raw talent as a singer, but he needs to work on his performance skills.

In some countries, such as Japan, it is normal to eat raw fish.

Readily

adv. right away and without difficulty

Water was readily available at different points in the race.

Reconsideration

n. thinking again about a previously made choice

The judges’ reconsideration of her performance resulted in her victory.

Reform

n. a change for the better; improvement

v. to improve via change

The reform made it so that only those 18 and older can legally drive.

The government reformed its vague policies on marijuana use.

Refute

v. to prove to be untrue, unfounded, or incorrect

The student refuted the professor’s claim in class.

Reinforce

v. to strengthen or add support to

We can use these pipes to reinforce the structure.

Reluctantly

adv. somewhat unwillingly

Max reluctantly agreed to see the horror movie with his friends.

Renounce

v. to give up (usu. power or a position)

v. to cast off

Our CEO renounced her position yesterday.

He renounced his friend after he caught her stealing money from him.

Reproach

v. to criticize

The mother reproached her daughter’s school for making students come in during a blizzard.

Repudiate

v. to refuse to recognize as true

v. to cast off

The father repudiated his son’s marriage.

She repudiated her son once she found out he’d married someone without telling her.

Retention

n. the act of keeping something

Water retention can make you weigh more on certain days.

Satiated

adj. satisfied (usu. in hunger)

I felt satiated after eating a snack.

Savvy

adj. having practical intelligence or knowledge

My brother is not very savvy when it comes to using public transportation.

Scandalous

adj. morally offensive, often causing damage to one’s reputation

The scandalous politician decided it was best to resign from office.

Scorn

v. to look down on with disdain

It’s difficult for me not to scorn those who use improper grammar.

Scrupulous

adj. paying great attention to detail

I am a scrupulous proofreader and never miss an error.

Scrutinize

v. to examine carefully and critically

The teacher scrutinized her students’ essays.

Secrete

v. to produce or release (a substance)

Trees secrete a sticky substance called sap.

Sentiment

n. opinion

n. a tender or moving gesture

I am of the sentiment that you should never give out your passwords to anyone.

Even though I’m not a big fan of porcelain dolls, I appreciated the sentiment.

Sheer

adj. so thin that light can shine through

The curtains on the window were so sheer you could clearly see inside the house.

Simple

adj. easy; not complex

adj. undecorated

This math problem is so simple even a first grader can solve it.

The simple beauty of the ocean is what makes it memorable.

Sinister

adj. ominous, evil

Medieval peasants believed sinister demons could harm humans.

Solidarity

n. the joining of commonalities or common purposes among a group

I stood in solidarity with other female students by refusing to wear the school’s sexist uniform.

Sparingly

adv. insufficiently, meagerly, or in a restricted manner

Due to my condition, I must eat salt sparingly.

Spawn

v. to release eggs

v. to call forth or generate

Frogs typically spawn in ponds.

The topic spawned an ongoing debate among his family members.

Spur

v. to stimulate or incite

Her bravery spurred others to act.

Squalid

adj. run-down, sordid, or sleazy

The squalid cabin needed a new roof and an exterminator.

Stark

adj. very plain; devoid of any details or features

Looking out at the stark landscape, I felt a keen sense of isolation.

Static

adj. motionless

adj. changeless

The ball is static.

Her life has been static for the past three years.

Subordinate

adj. lower in rank

n. someone lower in rank

v. to make dependent on or put at a lower rank

The subordinate officers work every day.

My subordinate will check you in.

You aren’t my bossyou can’t subordinate me to the role of receptionist!

Subsequently

adv. happening later or after something

I subsequently went home.

Substantial

adj. very large in amount or degree

I was shocked to find a substantial amount of money beneath the park bench.

Substantiate

v. to strengthen with new evidence or facts

It is important for scientists to substantiate their theories whenever possible.

Subtle

adj. hard to detect or analyze

I detected in her expression a subtle hint of irritation.

Sufficient

adj. enough; just meeting a requirement

These boxes should be sufficient for our move.

Surly

adj. unfriendly; inclined to anger

The bartender was a surly fellow who wasn’t afraid to start a fight.

Surmount

v.to get on top of or overcome

They managed to surmount the language barrier by using a translation app.

Susceptible

adj. to be vulnerable (to something)

Children are more susceptible to certain illnesses than adults are.

Tactful

adj. skilled at dealing with people

Her tactful attitude toward our class made her one of my favorite teachers.

Taut

adj. pulled tight

The rubberband was taut and ready to be fired.

Teeming

adj. abundantly filled (usu. with living organisms)

Doorknobs are not as clean as they look and are often teeming with germs.

Temperament

n. usual mood or feelings

She had a hostile temperament, making her intimidating to most people.

Tentative

adj. not yet finalized

We haven’t made any official arrangements yet, but the tentative location for our wedding is Hawaii.

Transparent

adj. see-through; so thin that light can shine through

adj. truthful or easy to perceive

Stained window glass isn’t as transparent as regular window glass is.

She was transparent about her plans to end her marriage.

Treacherous

adj. dangerous and unstable

The journey was becoming treacherous, but they continued on regardless.

Tremendous

adj. very large, good, or bad in degree or size

Tremendous news! You don’t have to repay your loans!

Ubiquitous

adj.being everywhere at once

Cell phones are ubiquitous these days.

Unadorned

adj. undecorated, plain

Though the dress was cheap and unadorned, it was by far her favorite one on the rack.

Undermine

v. to weaken or subvert (usu. gradually or secretly)

Parents should take care not to constantly undermine their children.

Underscore

v. to emphasize or give additional weight to

This sentence seems to underscore the overall meaning of the passage.

Undulate

v. to move as ripples or in a wavy pattern

Belly dancers are known for their ability to skillfully undulate their stomachs.

Unilateral

adj. one-sided

The unilateral decision was deemed unfair by the other party involved.

Unjust

adj. unfair; not justified

The court’s decision is unjusthe should not go free.

Unmitigated

adj. downright, utter, total

My speech was an unmitigated disaster!

Unprecedented

adj. completely new and never having happened before; historic

The number of protestors was unprecedented.

Unveil

v. to make visible; to reveal

We plan to unveil our plans for the new company project on Sunday.

Urge

n.desire or impulse

v. to encourage or persuade

He had theurgeto tell his parents about his acceptance to Columbia but decided against it.

She urged her sister to apply to Stanford.

Validate

v. to prove or declare valid

Your selfish actions do not validate your feelings for me.

Viability

n. ability to be done in a practical or useful way

The viability of the solution is questionable.

Vital

adj. urgently necessary

It is vital that you respond by the deadline.

Vow

v. to promise

My brother quickly broke his vow to never eat chocolate again.

Warrant

v. to prove to be reasonable

Wanting to look cool in front of your friends doesn’t warrant breaking the law.

Yield

n.production of an amount

v. to give way to or surrender to

v. to produce or supply

The farmer’s annual pumpkinyieldexceeded 10,000.

Cars turning right on red must yield to oncoming traffic.

Our experiment yielded many unique-looking vegetables.

Now that you've got a huge list of SAT vocabulary words you can work with, what’s the best way to study them? Here are three key tips to help you get the most out of your SAT vocab studies.

One of the absolute best ways to study SAT vocab words is to make flashcards.This lets you control which SAT words you study and even randomizes them so that you don't accidentally memorize words in a predetermined order.

We recommend using the waterfall methodto study your flashcards.With this method, you'll get to see all the words in your deck, going over the most challenging words more often than the ones you already know or sort of know.

Once you’ve made your flashcards, split them up into decks (you can put whatever words you want in these decks) of about 30-50 cards each. Choose one deck to be your Starting Stack.

Go through your Starting Stack, looking at each and every card. For the words you know, put them in a Know It pile. For the words you don’t know, put them in a separate Struggled pile as so:

Now, pick up your Struggled pile and go through each card in it (leave your Know It pile where it is). Put the cards you know in a second Know It pile and the ones you don’t know in a Struggled pile.

Repeat this process of picking up your Struggled pile and going through each card until you’re left with about one to five cards in your Struggled pile:

By now you should know most, if not all, cards in your deck.But it isn’t enough to just go through them once—you also have to work back up your “waterfall” of cards.

To do this, combine your Struggled pile with your last Know It pile (the pile closest to the Struggled pile). This will be your Working pile. Go through all the cards in this pile. If there are any words you forgot, go through the entire pile again and again until you've learned all the definitions in it.

Continue this pattern by combining your current Working pile with the next Know It pile. Go through all these cards until you know each one.

At the end, you should have made your way all the back to your original Starting Stack. You now know all the SAT words and their meanings in your deck!Repeat this waterfall method with the other decks you make so that you can learn even more critical SAT vocab words.

If you don’t have time to study the entire list above or only want to learn some SAT words, use our list to make a new vocab list containing only the words you don’t know. So if you know a word or are fairly sure you’ll be able to recognize it on test day, skip it and instead focus onthe words you’ll have the most trouble remembering.Once you have your list, use the waterfall method to study it.

If you’re not a fan of paper flashcards, you can opt for digital flashcards. Anki is a free software you can download and use to make your own flashcards. The program uses spaced-repetition software (SRS) to show you difficult cards more often than those you know (basically, a digital version of the waterfall method).

Since the majority of the words in our list above come fromofficial SAT practice tests, once you’ve studied these SAT words, you can put your knowledge to the test by taking a practice test.This letsyou see whether you truly know the meanings of the words andwhether you’ll be able to get the right answers in the context of a full-length, timed test—just like the real SAT.

If you miss any questions because you forgot the meaning of a word, go back over our SAT vocab words list using your flashcards and the waterfall method.

If you plan to make your own SAT vocab flashcards from our list, you'll need at least 300 blank index cards and a system to keep them organized. These basic cards are an affordable option that are also available in fun colors. You can keep them organized with plastic baggies or rubber bands, or you can get an organizer. Alternatively, try these easy-flip flashcards that include binder clips.

Though we strongly recommend making your own flashcards, you can also buy pre-made ones. There aren't a lot of options for the new SAT. We'd recommend going with Barron's 1100 Words You Need to Know, a series of exercises to master key words and idioms, or Manhattan's GRE flashcards if you're looking for a challenge.

Overall, vocabulary words don't play a huge part on the SAT. That said, you’ll definitely have some questions on both the Reading and Writing section that test your knowledge of SAT words, so it’s important to study those most likely to appear on test day.

The best way to study SAT vocabulary is to make flashcards and use the waterfall method. This ensures you know all the words in your deck and aren’t glossing over any difficult ones.

If you don’t want to make flashcards or don’t have time to study the whole list, however, it’s a good idea to pick out the words you don’t know and study just those. With these, you can either make a smaller deck of paper flashcards or opt for digital flashcards.

No matter how you choose to study SAT vocab words, be sure totest out what you’ve learned in the context of full-length practice tests. Nearly all the words in our list above come from official SAT practice tests, so you’re guaranteed to come across them in some form!

These recommendations are based solely on our knowledge and experience. If you purchase an item through one of our links, PrepScholar may receive a commission.

262 SAT Vocab Words You Must Know (2024)
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