Do You Know the 101 Most Common SAT Words?

4 min read

Since 1926, students have been taking the SAT (or Scholastic Assessment Test) to measure their readiness for college. The test used to be two parts: math and verbal. However, to keep up with advances in education, the test was changed in 2016 to contain three parts that take about three hours to complete in total. One test focuses on math, while the other two measure reading skills and writing and language aptitude.

With the older format, studying and memorizing vocabulary words was a big part of test prep. However, according to the College Board, “you don’t need to learn a lot of unusual or difficult vocabulary words to succeed on the SAT.” In fact, the newer test was designed to be less focused on vocabulary questions. The most common words on the test are ones students may encounter in college or the workplace. So even if you’re not taking the SAT anytime soon, knowing this vocabulary list will give you a good basis for professional communication.

How many of these common SAT words do you know?

  • Abandon (v.) – Give up entirely.
  • Abate (v.) – Become less intense or widespread.
  • Abet (v.) – Assist in doing something wrong.
  • Accede (v.) – Agree to a demand or request.
  • Anomaly (n.) – Something that deviates from what is normal.
  • Apex (n.) – Top or highest point.
  • Berate (v.) – Scold or criticize.
  • Bias (n.) – Prejudice in favor of or against something.
  • Bovine (adj.) – Relating to or affecting cattle.
  • Braggart (n.) – Person who boasts about achievements.
  • Burnish (v.) – Polish by rubbing.
  • Cache (n.) – Collection of similar items stored in a hidden place.
  • Cacophony (n.) – Harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.
  • Catalyst (n.) – Substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction.
  • Censorious (adj.) – Severely critical of others.
  • Dearth (n.) – Scarcity or lack of something.
  • Demagogue (n.) – Political leader who appeals to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people.
  • Demur (v.) – Raise doubts or objections or show reluctance.
  • Disdain (n.) – Feeling something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect.
  • Dispassionate (adj.) – Not influenced by strong emotion, but rational and impartial.
  • Effluvium (n.) – Unpleasant or harmful odor.
  • Emulate (v.) – Match or surpass by imitation.
  • Epochal (adj.) – Extremely significant.
  • Expound (v.) – Present and explain in detail.
  • Ferocity (n.) – State of being savagely fierce, cruel, or violent.
  • Flourish (v.) – Grow or develop in a healthy way.
  • Frankly (adv.) – In an open, honest, and direct manner.
  • Fundamental (adj.) – Forming a necessary base or core.
  • Galvanize (v.) – Shock or excite someone into taking action.
  • Geriatric (adj.) – Relating to older people.
  • Hedonist (n.) – Person who seeks pleasure.
  • Hubris (n.) – Excessive pride or self-confidence.
  • Impart (v.) – Make information known.
  • Impartiality (n.) – Fair and equal treatment of all.
  • Importunate (adj.) – Persistent, especially to the point of annoyance.
  • Imposition (n.) – Action or process of forcing something.
  • Indifference (n.) – Lack of interest, concern, or sympathy.
  • Innovative (adj.) – Introducing new or original ideas.
  • Jocular (adj.) – Humorous or playful.
  • Jubilation (n.) – Feeling of great happiness and triumph.
  • Kismet (n.) – Destiny or fate.
  • Lament (n.) – Expression of grief or sorrow.
  • Locomotion (n.) – Ability to move from one place to another.
  • Malicious (adj.) – Intending to harm.
  • Materialistic (adj.) – Excessively concerned with material possessions or money.
  • Mawkish (adj.) – Sentimental in a feeble or sickly way.
  • Melodramatic (adj.) – Being exaggerated, sensationalized, or overemotional.
  • Modest (adj.) – Unassuming or moderate in estimating one's abilities or achievements.
  • Novel (n.) – Fictitious prose narrative of book-length
  • Null (adj.) – Having no legal or binding force.
  • Onset (n.) – Beginning of something.
  • Opine (v.) – State one’s opinion.
  • Oust (v.) – Drive out or expel.
  • Pandemic (adj.) – Disease prevalent over a whole country or the world.
  • Paramount (adj.) – More important than anything else.
  • Patrician (n.) – Aristocrat or nobleman.
  • Polyglot (n.) – Knowing or using several languages.
  • Prestidigitation (n.) – Magic tricks performed as entertainment.
  • Provocative (adj.) – Deliberately causing annoyance, anger, or another strong reaction.
  • Quantitative (adj.) – Relating to measuring.
  • Quirk (n.) – Peculiar behavioral habit.
  • Rancor (n.) – Bitterness or resentfulness.
  • Refute (v.) – Prove to be wrong or false.
  • Resilient (adj.) – Able to recover quickly from difficult conditions.
  • Revile (v.) – Criticize in an abusive manner.
  • Rife (adj.) – Something undesirable in common occurrence.
  • Sanctimonious (adj.) – Making a show of being morally superior to others.
  • Scrupulous (adj.) – Diligent, thorough, and highly attentive to details.
  • Sedition (n.) – Conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against authority.
  • Sinecure (n.) – Position requiring little or no work but giving the holder a benefit.
  • Sybarite (n.) – Person who is self-indulgent in their fondness for sensuous luxury.
  • Tactful (adj.) – Showing sensitivity.
  • Taut (adj.) – Stretched or pulled tight.
  • Temperament (n.) – Person or animal’s nature.
  • Tentative (adj.) – Not certain or fixed.
  • Transparent (adj.) – Allowing light to pass through so objects can be seen.
  • Tremendous (adj.) – In a great amount or intensity.
  • Trounce (v.) – Defeat heavily.
  • Ubiquitous (adj.) – Found everywhere.
  • Unadorned (adj.) – Plain or simple.
  • Undermine (v.) – Lessen the effectiveness.
  • Underscore (n.) – Line drawn under a word for emphasis.
  • Undulate (v.) – Move with a smooth up-and-down motion.
  • Unilateral (adj.) – Performed by or affecting only one person or group.
  • Unjust (adj.) – Not behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
  • Unmitigated (adj.) – Absolute or unqualified.
  • Unprecedented (adj.) – Never done or known before.
  • Unveil (v.) – Remove a veil or covering.
  • Urge (v.) – Try earnestly or persistently to persuade.
  • Usury (n.) – Lending money at unlawfully high rates of interest.
  • Validate (v.) – Check or prove the accuracy.
  • Vital (adj.) – Absolutely necessary or essential.
  • Vow (n.) – Solemn promise.
  • Warrant (n.) – Justification or authority for an action, belief, or feeling.
  • Winsome (adj.) – Attractive or appealing.
  • Wry (adj.) – Using or expressing dry humor.
  • Xenophobe (n.) – Having a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
  • Yeoman (n.) – Man holding and cultivating a small landed estate.
  • Yield (v.) – Give way to arguments, demands, or pressure.
  • Yowl (n.) – Loud wailing cry.
    Zenith (n.) – Time at which something is most powerful or successful.

Featured image credit: turk_stock_photographer/ iStock

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