Studying for the SATs can be a trying experience. One easy way to raise your score is to memorize SAT vocabulary words. The Critical Reading section will test your ability to recognize words in context, so knowing as many of these words as possible in advance is a great way to increase your score. We’ve made a list of the 100 most common SAT words to improve your vocabulary skills and raise your overall SAT score.
SAT Vocabulary List
The Critical Reading Section of the SAT has both a reading comprehension component and an SAT vocabulary component. The vocabulary component, which asks you to select a word from a multiple choice list, tests your knowledge of the definition of common words. The 100 words below all appear frequently on the test.
The SAT doesn’t test many easy words, alas. However, the following list is fairly straightforward, both in presenting words you might have encountered before and in definitions that are simple and without much ambiguity. On a few occasions, the words can be more than one part of speech. We’ve provided notes to make that clear.
To reduce, to lessen
Following someone else's example
To refrain from doing something
Feeling what someone else is feeling
Bias (v., n.)
Prejudice for or against something, or to prejudice someone for or against something
Without consequence, trivial, doesn't matter
Compromise (v., n.)
To meet in the middle, to settle differences
Long, esp. of life
Patronizing, talking down to
Conformist (adj., n.)
Someone who follows the majority
Casual, calm, at ease
To delay, often unnecessarily
To dishonor someone, or prove something untrue
Disdain (n., v.)
To regard with scorn
Controlled, not free
Moving apart, going in different directions
These are a bit tougher. The definitions are still fairly straightforward, but the words themselves are less commonly used. Again, when it’s possible a word might appear on the test in either of two parts of speech in the same form, we’ve noted it for you.
Aesthetic (adj., n.)
About beauty, or a particular perspective on beauty
Knowing something by instinct
One who represents an interest group to government officials
Togetherness, trust, friendship
Careful, showing good judgment
Parched (v., adj.):
To have removed water from, or when something is dried up
Clairvoyant (adj., n.):
Able to predict the future, or one who can predict the future
Contingent upon something else
Thinking yourself better than others
Causes a fuss, inflammatory, likely to get people riled up
Straying from the main point
Filled with, especially of tension or negative emotion
The act of bringing people together or making an agreement
Being arrogant, talking down to people
Being new, being redone
Unproven theory, educated guess
Unavoidable, definitely going to happen
To look at carefully
To look at closely, to assess
Being impulsive, acting without thinking
These are the toughest words we’re presenting. Don’t despair! There’s nothing intrinsically mysterious about these words. They’re just uncommon in everyday conversation and on occasion their definitions are a bit ambiguous.
Something unusual, different from the norm
Give up a position
Hedonist (n., adj.)
Person who acts in pursuit of pleasure
To really hate
Out of the context of time, out of date
To assign or attribute to someone
Something out of place, a strangeness
Extreme happiness, joy
Sanctuary, place of safety
Very large, spacious
To back up a claim
Gifted or talented beyond one's years
Irritable, prone to argument
To involve or include
To confirm, prove
Unnecessary, too much
Not lasting long
Something that makes the situation not as bad
Respectable because of its age
To free from blame, to justify in a belief
Tips for Learning SAT Vocabulary Words
Learning vocabulary words can be difficult. Here are some tips to help learn these 100 words, and any other SAT vocabulary words you may come across in the future.
Create Flashcards With Unfamiliar Words
Memorizing words with flashcards is a classic way to study up on unfamiliar vocabulary. You can even use our editable flashcard template PDF for the purpose.
Make an Audio Recording
This is a great tip for auditory learners. If you find it easiest to remember a word and its definition when you’ve heard it out loud, simply read it out loud! Put together a recording with each word and its definition, and you’ll be well on your way.
Use New Words in a Sentence
The most important trick to learning new words is context. The best way to get that context is the same way it will be presented to you on the SAT: in a sentence. We’ve provided a few examples here:
- The student procrastinated until just before the SAT to start studying; he didn’t do as well as he had hoped.
- Her admission to college was conditional on her performance on the SAT Verbal, so she studied hard.
- There was much jubilation in class after all the students scored high on the SAT.
List the Words in Logical Groups
Breaking our lists into smaller groups makes them easier to grasp. Consider making your own lists based on parts of speech, degree of difficulty, positive or negative connotation, categories of context, or any other logical grouping.
The Final Word
Now that you have a starting point, explore the many resources available to help you achieve full mastery of SAT vocabulary words. Free Vocabulary has a list of 5,000 SAT words, and Vocabulary University has a list of the top 180 SAT words. Or, right here at YourDictionary, you can check out our lists of the 100 Most Common Words, 140 Beautiful Words and Words With Multiple Meanings for more vocabulary enrichment.