100 SAT Vocabulary Words You Should Know

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Updated:
November 27, 2023
6 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/27/23

Check out our list of the most common vocabulary words on the SAT.

It is no secret that studying for the SAT is a daunting task. Colleges take SAT scores into serious consideration when reviewing applicants, so you’ll want to make sure you do your best on the exam. 

To help you prepare for the SAT, we’ve put together a list of the most common SAT vocab words and give you a few key tips on how to memorize and retain them. Get ready to tackle the SAT vocabulary section with confidence!

How Is Vocabulary Tested on the SAT?

The SAT will test your vocabulary skills by asking you to identify words in context and analyze how they are used in various passages. This assesses your understanding of the words’ meanings and your ability to use them accurately in various situations.

To excel, it’s important to be familiar with common college-level vocabulary words. This is why studying a comprehensive list of words is crucial. By doing so, you can increase your chances of correctly answering vocabulary questions on the SAT.

Female student surrounded by books

100 Common SAT Vocabulary Words

Just under 20% of your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is determined by vocabulary, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with SAT vocabulary. 

Your vocabulary skills play a crucial role, contributing to nearly 20% of your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score on the SAT. That's why it's important to get comfortable with SAT vocabulary. 

To help you do that, consider adding a SAT Word of the Day exercise to your study routine. This way, you can steadily grow your word knowledge and be better prepared for the SAT exam.

Here, we've compiled a list with definitions and sentence examples of common vocabulary words you'll encounter on the SAT. Feel free to use them as you dive into a SAT Word of the Day exercise.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Abbreviate V. to shorten, abridge I need to abbreviate this article before submitting it to the editor.
Abstinence N. the act of refraining from pleasurable activity, e.g., eating or drinking He practiced abstinence from alcohol for a month.
Adulation N. high praise The audience gave the singer adulation after her performance.
Adversity N. misfortune, an unfavorable turn of events Despite adversity, they continued to work towards their goal.
Aesthetic Adj. Pertaining to beauty or the arts She has an aesthetic sense that makes her art stand out.
Amicable Adj. Friendly, agreeable The two friends had an amicable conversation.
Anachronistic Adj. out-of-date, not attributed to the correct historical period The use of a cell phone in a medieval movie is an anachronistic error.
Anecdote N. short, usually funny account of an event The old man told an anecdote about his childhood.
Anonymous Adj. nameless, without a disclosed identity The anonymous letter contained sensitive information.
Antagonist N. foe, opponent, adversary extremely dry or deathly boring
Arid Adj. extremely dry or deathly boring The desert was so arid that nothing could grow there.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Assiduous Adj. persistent, hard-working She was assiduous in her studies and always got good grades.
Asylum N. sanctuary, shelter, place of refuge The refugees sought asylum in the nearby country.
Benevolent Adj. friendly and helpful The charity organization was benevolent and helped those in need.
Camaraderie N. trust, sociability amongst friends There was a strong sense of camaraderie among the team members.
Censure V. to criticize harshly The teacher censured the student for not paying attention.
Circuitous Adj. indirect, taking the longest route The hike was so circuitous that it took us twice as long as expected to reach the summit.
Clairvoyant Adj. exceptionally insightful, able to foresee the future The psychic claimed to be clairvoyant and able to see into the future.
Collaborate V. to cooperate, work together The musicians collaborated to create an amazing performance.
Compassion N. sympathy, helpfulness or mercy His compassion for others made him a great leader.
Compromise V. to settle a dispute by terms agreeable to both sides The couple compromised on where to go for their vacation.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Condescending Adj. possessing an attitude of superiority, patronizing He spoke to her in a condescending tone, making her feel belittled.
Conditional Adj. depending on a condition, e.g., in a contract The offer was conditional upon passing a background check.
Conformist N. person who complies with accepted rules and customs She was a conformist, following the rules without question.
Congregation N. a crowd of people, an assembly The congregation was so large that they had to use loudspeakers outside.
Convergence N. the state of separate elements joining or coming together The convergence of technology and education is revolutionizing how we learn.
Deleterious Adj. harmful, destructive, detrimental Smoking is known to have deleterious effects on your health.
Demagogue N. leader, rabble-rouser, usually appealing to emotion or prejudice The demagogue stirred up the crowd with emotional speeches.
Digression N. the act of turning aside, straying from the main point, esp. in a speech or argument During his speech, he went on a digression about his childhood.
Diligent Adj. careful and hard-working The diligent student worked hard and got straight A's.
Discredit V. to harm the reputation of, dishonor or disgrace His unethical behavior discredited him in the eyes of the public.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Disdain V. to regard with scorn or contempt She looked at the dirty room with disdain.
Divergent Adj. separating, moving in different directions from a particular point Their opinions on the issue were divergent and they couldn't reach an agreement.
Empathy N. identification with the feelings of others She had great empathy for the homeless and volunteered regularly.
Emulate V. to imitate, follow an example He tried to emulate his hero by learning from their actions.
Enervating Adj. weakening, tiring The hot, humid weather was enervating and sapped all of his energy.
Enhance V. to improve, bring to a greater level of intensity The new software will enhance the performance of the computer.
Ephemeral Adj. momentary, transient, fleeting The fireworks display was an ephemeral moment of beauty.
Evanescent Adj. quickly fading, short-lived, esp. an image The evanescent image of the sunset disappeared as the sun dipped below the horizon.
Exasperation N. irritation, frustration His constant complaining caused exasperation among his coworkers.
Exemplary Adj. outstanding, an example to others Her exemplary behavior earned her the respect of her peers.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Extenuating Adj. excusing, lessening the seriousness of guilt or crime, e.g., of mitigating factors The extenuating circumstances of his illness led to a lenient sentence.
Florid Adj. red-colored, flushed; gaudy, ornate The girl's florid dress was gaudy and too ornate for the occasion.
Fortuitous Adj. happening by luck, fortunate It was fortuitous that I found my lost wallet in the park.
Frugal Adj. thrifty, cheap He was known for being frugal, always saving his money.
Hackneyed Adj. cliched, worn out by overuse The movie was filled with hackneyed ideas and predictable plot twists.
Haughty Adj. arrogant and condescending She was haughty and treated others with condescension.
Hedonist N. person who pursues pleasure as a goal As a hedonist, he believed in pursuing pleasure above all else.
Hypothesis N. assumption, theory requiring proof Scientists developed a hypothesis about the origin of the universe.
Impetuous Adj. rash, impulsive, acting without thinking His impetuous decision to quit his job was made without thinking.
Impute V. to attribute an action to particular person or group I imputed the mistake to my own carelessness.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Incompatible Adj. opposed in nature, not able to live or work together Cats and dogs are often seen as incompatible pets.
Inconsequential Adj. unimportant, trivial The results of the test were inconsequential and had no impact.
Inevitable Adj. certain, unavoidable Death is inevitable for all living beings.
Integrity N. decency, honesty, wholeness He was known for his integrity and honesty.
Intrepid Adj. fearless, adventurous The intrepid explorer went on a dangerous journey to discover new lands.
Intuitive Adj. instinctive, untaught The artist relied on her intuitive sense to create a masterpiece, trusting her instincts over deliberate planning.
Jubilation N. joy, celebration, exultation The town was filled with jubilation on the day of the festival.
Lobbyist N. person who seeks to influence political events The lobbyist was hired to influence the government's decision.
Longevity N. long life Her longevity was attributed to her healthy lifestyle.
Mundane Adj. ordinary, commonplace The everyday tasks at the office were mundane.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Nonchalant Adj. calm, casual, seeming unexcited He remained nonchalant even when faced with a difficult challenge.
Novice N. apprentice, beginner She was a novice at cooking and was still learning the basics.
Opulent Adj. wealthy The opulent mansion was a symbol of the family's wealth.
Orator N. lecturer, speaker The orator captivated the audience with his powerful speeches.
Ostentatious Adj. showy, displaying wealth The diamond ring was ostentatious and showed off the couple's wealth.
Parched Adj. dried up, shriveled The crops in the drought-stricken area were parched and withered.
Perfidious Adj. faithless, disloyal, untrustworthy He was considered perfidious for breaking his promise.
Precocious Adj. unusually advanced or talented at an early age The young prodigy was precocious and showed great talent at a young age.
Pretentious Adj. pretending to be important, intelligent or cultured The book was filled with pretentious language and was difficult to understand.
Procrastinate V. to unnecessarily delay, postpone, put off He often procrastinated on his work, leading to missed deadlines.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Prosaic Adj. relating to prose; dull, commonplace The novel was prosaic and lacked excitement.
Prosperity N. wealth or success She enjoyed the prosperity that came with success.
Provocative Adj. tending to provoke a response, e.g., anger or disagreement The provocative art exhibit sparked intense debates among visitors.
Prudent Adj. careful, cautious She was known for being prudent in her financial decisions.
Querulous Adj. complaining, irritable He had a querulous tone and was constantly complaining.
Rancorous Adj. bitter, hateful The rancorous argument between the two political parties lasted for weeks.
Reclusive Adj. preferring to live in isolation The reclusive author lived a solitary life, rarely leaving her home.
Reconciliation N. the act of agreement after a quarrel, the resolution of a dispute The reconciliation between the former enemies was a long and difficult process.
Renovation N. repair, making something new The renovation of the old building took several months to complete.
Resilient Adj. quick to recover, bounce back The resilient athlete quickly bounced back from his injury and returned to the game.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Restrained Adj. controlled, repressed, restricted The restrained behavior of the crowd was admirable during the controversial speech.
Reverence N. worship, profound respect The reverence for the elderly is a common value in many cultures.
Sagacity N. wisdom The wise decision was made thanks to the leader's sagacity.
Scrutinize V. to observe carefully SThe detective scrutinized every detail of the crime scene.
Spontaneity N. impulsive action, unplanned events The spontaneity of the party made it a night to remember.
Spurious Adj. lacking authenticity, false The evidence showed that the claim was spurious and lacked authenticity.
Submissive Adj. tending to meekness, to submit to the will of others The submissive dog followed its owner's commands without question.
Substantiate V. to verify, confirm, provide supporting evidence The police need to substantiate the eyewitness testimony before making an arrest.
Subtle Adj. hard to detect or describe; perceptive The subtle changes in the economy are often hard to detect.
Superficial Adj. shallow, lacking in depth The superficial relationship was based on appearances and lacked depth.

Word Definition Example Sentence
Superfluous Adj. extra, more than enough, redundant The addition of extra features was seen as superfluous by many users.
Suppress V. to end an activity, e.g., to prevent the dissemination of information The government decided to suppress the release of classified information.
Surreptitious Adj. secret, stealthy The surreptitious meeting was held in secret to avoid detection.
Tactful Adj. considerate, skillful in acting to avoid offense to others The tactful diplomat was able to negotiate a peace treaty without offending any of the parties involved.
Tenacious Adj. determined, keeping a firm grip on The tenacious detective never gave up on the case, even after years of investigation.
Transient Adj. temporary, short-lived, fleeting The transient fame of the pop star quickly faded after his latest album flop.
Venerable Adj. respected because of age The venerable institution has been serving the community for over a hundred years.
Vindicate V. to clear from blame or suspicion The innocent suspect was vindicated when the real culprit was caught.
Wary Adj, careful, cautious The wary traveler always takes precautions to stay safe while abroad.

Source: Washington Post

By familiarizing yourself with these 100 vocab words, you’ll have a solid foundation to tackle any verbal question on the SAT, even if you need to make an educated guess

How to Memorize Vocabulary Words for SAT Test

Everyone learns differently, so finding a study method that works for you is important for memorizing vocabulary words. Whether you prefer self-studying or working with a tutor, both can be effective ways to learn the words.

Writing down SAT vocabulary words, definitions, and example sentences on flashcards can be a helpful technique. You can also make studying fun by playing flashcard games with friends.

Focus on the words you struggle with and make sure to review them regularly, but don't neglect other words as well. Consistent study is key to memorizing vocabulary words for the SAT, so build a study plan that will help keep you on track.

scrabble letters in pile

FAQs: SAT Words

Still have questions about the SAT vocabulary? We’ve got you covered! We answer your frequently asked questions below. 

1. How Many SAT Words Are There?

The SAT underwent a major redesign in 2016, and there is less vocabulary content in the revised version of the test. Ten questions out of the fifty-two reading and writing questions are vocabulary questions. 

While this may not seem like a significant chunk of the test, doing poorly on the vocabulary portion can significantly impact your overall score. If you want a high, or even perfect score, you’ll need to ace all aspects of the test.  

2. Is There an SAT Vocab List?

No, there is no official vocabulary list. However, feel free to review and use the list of SAT words we put together to give you a solid idea of common words you will need to know for the SAT. 

You should also take practice tests to gauge what kind of vocabulary will appear on the SAT. 

3. What Are the Most Common SAT Words?

This is a difficult question to answer as each SAT test is slightly different. However, you can memorize words that often appear on the SAT. There are tons of resources out there that gather and list the most common words on the SAT. 

Our list also includes common vocabulary words you’ll find on the SAT! 

4. How Can I Remember My SAT Vocabulary?

Starting early, giving yourself enough time, and consistent practice and studying are crucial to memorizing SAT vocabulary. It is highly recommended to use flashcards when studying vocabulary words, but you should do whatever works best for you. 

Final Thoughts

The SAT is a challenging test, but getting a good SAT score can strengthen your application and maximize your chances of acceptance into colleges. 

While the SAT has less of a focus on vocabulary than in past years, it can still mean the difference between scoring well and scoring poorly on the test. 

Studying SAT vocabulary will also increase your performance on the entirety of the test. Knowing and understanding SAT vocabulary will give you a deeper understanding of words and concepts that appear throughout the test. 

Begin early, review common SAT vocabulary words, practice consistently, and you should do well on the vocabulary section of the SAT. 

Best of luck!

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