SAT Vocabulary

Importance of SAT Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is an important part of any SAT preparation strategy. In the Critical Reading section, sentence completion questions directly test your vocabulary. Here you need to know the meaning of the presented words in order to identify which correctly fills in the blank of a sentence. Such questions make up a significant chunk (around 28%) of your raw Critical Reading score.

But remember, too, that many reading comprehension questions hinge on your knowing the meaning of particular words as well. The passages you have to read in the Critical Reading section are likely to contain advanced words. If you are unfamiliar with them it could slow down your reading time and decrease your understanding of the passage.

Also, reading comprehension questions often directly or indirectly test your vocabulary. For example it is very common to see questions such as “In the context of the passage, the word X most nearly means...” Or, you might be asked to describe the tone of a passage, and would need to know the meaning of answer choice words such as “malevolent” “foreboding” or “ebullient” to pick the right one.

Finally, skillful use of appropriate vocabulary is one of the criteria used to evaluate your SAT Essay in the Writing section, so increasing your vocabulary should be a goal that you pursue from day one of your SAT preparation efforts.

Recommended Print SAT Vocabulary lists

Direct Hits Core Vocabulary of the SAT (Volume 1)

The Directs Hits word list is compilation of 190 vocabulary words from the most recent SAT exams. Although a short list, the words on the list have the highest frequency of appearing on the SAT than any other word list currently available.

Direct Hits Toughest Vocabulary of the SAT (Volume 2)

Volume 2 is an extension of the Direct Hits vocabulary, with an additional 176 words. Volume 2 includes more advanced vocabulary including words pertaining to subject areas and words with multiple definitions.

Recommended Online SAT Vocabulary lists


Most Comprehensive SAT Word List on the internet.

Free Rice

Practice your SAT vocabulary and help fight world hunger at the same time.

1000 Most common SAT words (Spark Notes)

A list of high frequency SAT words in pdf format.

Free vocabulary word lists.

Various SAT Word lists in PDF form.