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Boost your SAT Score with these 8 Expert Tips for Mastering Common Words

June 3, 2024

Preparing for the SAT exam and developing a strong vocabulary is crucial. This article explores the significance of SAT words, the vocabulary required for the SAT exams, and provides tips to study and master these words effectively.

What are SAT words?

Preparing for the SAT exam and developing a strong vocabulary is crucial. SAT words refer to a specific set of vocabulary words that commonly appear in the SAT exam. These words are carefully selected to assess your language skills and understanding of nuanced meanings.

Vocabulary required for SAT exams

To excel in the SAT, you need to familiarize yourself with a wide range of words. The exam includes questions that test your understanding of word meanings, synonyms, antonyms, and contextual usage.

Example: Let's take the word "benevolent." Knowing that it means kind and generous is essential for answering SAT questions that may ask about its synonym or appropriate usage in a sentence.

What do the SAT vocabulary questions look like?

SAT vocabulary questions come in various formats, including sentence completion and reading comprehension. These questions assess the ability to identify the correct word or phrase that best fits a given context.

Example: "The teacher praised James for his _________ in helping his classmates with their assignments." The correct answer would be "assistance," as it accurately reflects James's helpfulness in the context of the sentence.

Top SAT vocabulary words that are common

To provide a glimpse into the SAT vocabulary, here are a few examples of commonly encountered words:

  1. Ephemeral - lasting for a short time; transitory
  2. Exemplify - to serve as a typical example of; illustrate
  3. Mitigate - to make less severe or intense; alleviate
  4. Pragmatic - practical and sensible, rather than idealistic
  5. Resilient - able to recover quickly from difficulties; adaptable

Commonly confused words in SAT vocabulary

It is important to be able to differentiate between words with similar meanings or spellings. Some commonly confused words that you should be aware of include:

1. Effect vs. Affect

"Effect" is a noun that represents the outcome, while "affect" is a verb that represents the action of influencing or modifying.

2. Complement vs. Compliment

"Complement" refers to something that completes or enhances, while "compliment" refers to an expression of praise or admiration.

3. Principle vs. Principal

To differentiate between the two, remember that "principle" typically relates to fundamental beliefs or rules, while "principal" usually refers to the head of an institution or denotes importance, such as being the main or original thing.

4. Discreet vs. Discrete

To remember the difference, think of "discrete" as related to things that are separate or distinct, while "discreet" relates to behavior that is careful or tactful.

5. Allude vs. Elude

Think of "allude" as referring indirectly to something, while "elude" relates to escaping or evading something or someone.

8 Tips to study the most common SAT words

Mastering SAT words requires a systematic approach. Here are some effective tips to enhance your vocabulary skills:

1. Invest in a prep book

SAT prep books often provide comprehensive word lists and exercises to aid your vocabulary development.

2. Read, read, read

Engage in extensive reading of various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and newspapers, to expose yourself to diverse vocabulary.

3. Use a dictionary

Look up unfamiliar words to understand their meanings, usage, and pronunciation.

4. Make new SAT words your own

Create associations or mnemonics to remember challenging words more easily.

5. Write it down

Practice using new words in sentences to reinforce your understanding and retention.

6. Practice with flashcards

Flashcards are a helpful tool for memorizing and reviewing SAT words.

7. Use it or lose it

Incorporate SAT words into your everyday conversations and writing to reinforce their usage.

8. Don't forget your math vocabulary

SAT exams also include mathematical vocabulary, so familiarize yourself with key terms related to geometry, algebra, and statistics.

Frequently asked questions about SAT vocabulary

To address common queries regarding SAT vocabulary, here are a few frequently asked questions:

1. What does it mean for a word to be "common" (or not)?

To prepare for the SAT exam, it's important to understand that "common" SAT words refer to words that frequently appear in the exam and are essential for success.

2. What do SAT word lists look like?

SAT word lists compile words with their definitions, synonyms, and example sentences to aid in studying and retaining the vocabulary, making them useful for preparing for the SAT exam.

3. Do these lists help you prepare for the SAT?

Yes, studying SAT word lists can significantly improve your chances of performing well in the exam by expanding your vocabulary and enhancing your comprehension skills.

4. How can I improve my SAT vocabulary?

The tips provided earlier in this article, such as reading extensively and using flashcards, are effective methods to enhance your SAT vocabulary.


Developing a strong vocabulary is an integral part of SAT preparation. By familiarizing yourself with common SAT words, understanding their meanings, and practicing their usage, you can boost your overall performance in the exam. Remember, consistent effort and practice are key to success.

To further enhance your SAT preparation, subscribe to Aha, a learning website that offers a wealth of high-quality sample questions and utilizes AI to analyze your weak points. Visit Aha to subscribe and unlock a world of comprehensive resources to excel in your SAT journey.

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