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Building a strong SAT Vocabulary is absolutely crucial for an elite score on the SAT exam, but students at any SAT score level will benefit greatly from adding new words to their vocabulary.

When it comes to the SAT, the students with strong vocabularies are in heaven. They feel comfortable and confident, even excited to see what new words their next SAT will test. They know that they will never be blown out of the Critical Reading section, because they will correctly interpret most passages, questions, and answer choices.  

How improving your SAT vocabulary can help:

Improving your SAT Vocabulary will have a great deal of impact on your Critical Reading score.

In the Critical Reading section, difficult terms show up in Sentence Blank questions and answer choices, throughout the Reading Comprehension passages, and again in the Reading Comprehension questions and answer choices. This is a good place to focus if you want to improve your Critical Reading score in the long term.

Vocabulary can also pay off throughout the SAT Writing section. For example, the word “anecdote” is not just a common SAT vocab word in the Critical Reading section – it shows up frequently in the Writing section as well. An “anecdote” is a short story that’s used for one of two purposes: it is either humorous or it is used to make a point. The writing section can test this knowledge in the Improving Passages section by asking you to identify the use of an “anecdote.”

Heck, in real life, vocabulary can mean the difference between life and death! What if you were in a dark warehouse filled with boxes marked “Inflammable” and you needed to see to find your way out? If you thought “Inflammable” meant “WON’T catch on fire,” you might light a match to see better and blow the whole place up! Uh-oh!

Knowing that “Inflammable” means “very flammable” is just one of thousands of real-life reasons to improve your vocabulary! Obviously I’m stretching things a little bit here, but you can see that improving knowledge of difficult and confusing terms on the SAT exam can only help your score.

So how can you increase and improve your list of SAT vocabulary words?  

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How to study SAT Vocabulary:

Every student should develop their own method for learning vocabulary, but the three “classic” methods are:

  1. Flashcards. Word and part of speech on the front, definition, sentence, and synonyms on the back. My personal favorite and the most no-nonsense way of getting it done – like taking your vitamins. Making your own by hand is best.
  2. Connecting the word to an image or phrase. For example,  the word “Circumnavigate” has always reminded me of a circus circling and navigating on a funny little boat, which prompts me to remember the definition as “going around” something.
  3. Repetition – good old repetition. When you repeat something. You might say it again, or speak the same words twice. Ah repetition – good old repetition. It’s just so repetitive. This works very well for some people, though not for me. Just get a clear, brief definition for a word, then and write it down over and over or repeat it out loud/in your head until it sticks.

Here’s an article on the best way to learn SAT vocab at my other website, by another talented SAT/ACT tutor named Chris. Well-worth a read!

Check out my Conquer SAT Vocabulary video course for nearly 2 hours of hi-def video tips for building your SAT (and ACT) vocab!

Of course, one of the best ways to build your vocabulary is to just read more books! Check out that link for a variety of great books that will not only build your vocabulary, but will also be fun to read.

How to make an SAT Vocabulary word list:

There are three ways to make a great SAT vocabulary word study list, and I recommend a mix of all three.

  1. Enroll in my Conquer SAT Vocabulary video course and get started with those lessons right away – it works best in the long term if possible.
  2. Use a standardized list that’s targeted to the SAT. It is best to start studying vocab immediately, from a variety of lists. I highly recommend the following books and vocab lists. Most cost $20 or less and are easy to order from (I’ll include affiliate links below). I use these books with my private tutoring students weekly.
  3. Make your own vocab list! The best source of new words is SAT Critical Reading practice sections. Just write down all the words you don’t know and pick the ones you like. Add them to blank flashcards (The Princeton Review box comes with extra blanks) or learn them in whatever way suits you.

The most important thing is to get started today. Building SAT Vocabulary is like lifting weights or taking vitamins – results are not immediate, but they are effective in the long-term… and everyone around you will notice and be impressed! Plus, the gains are permanent – lifelong – yours forever!  

Check out my SAT vocab video course and the other books below!

Additional Resources: 
Conquer SAT Vocabulary Video Course

Here are my four favorite SAT vocabulary books.

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