The SAT is one of the most important academic experiences you'll have in high school. While good students with a strong GPA and a comfortable aptitude for standardized tests can feel relatively confident that they'll fare well, there's still no substitute for strong preparation.
One of the most challenging things to prepare for is the SAT vocabulary portion, which is daunting to even the most avid reader. By taking a short SAT vocabulary quizlet, you can see where you are now, and what you need to study.
What Is the SAT?
The SAT is a standardized test that any students who are interested in attending a four-year college after high school graduation typically take during either their junior or the beginning part of their senior year. While not every college requires students to take the SAT, most do, and it is considered to be a rite of passage in the American school system. Most people who take the SAT take the test more than once. You are allowed to take the test more than once and then submit only your highest score.
The SAT covers math, verbal mastery and an optional writing section. The SAT is designed to test the degree of mastery that students have over the material they have covered in their courses over their tenure in high school. For many students, certain parts of the test are easier than others. The combined score on both the math and verbal are what yield your final score on the SAT.
The highest possible score on the SAT is 1,600. Many students fare better on one section than they do on the other. It is not uncommon for certain students to have a high verbal score and a low math score, or vice versa. Reviewing formulas and equations and theorems can help to prepare for the math section. Meanwhile, reviewing vocabulary, spelling and grammar rules can help you prepare for the verbal section of the test.
What Is the SAT Word List?
Students who are preparing to take the SAT are often in possession of prep books and other materials that claim to help them study for the test. These books typically contain SAT practice tests, examples of questions, explanations of confusing or complex concepts and other study aids. One of the most important and popular pieces of SAT test preparation is the SAT word list. The SAT word list is a long list of words, which may or may not appear on the SAT.
The SAT went through a redesign in 2016. Prior to the redesign, there were a number of parts of the SAT that required extensive memorization of vocabulary words. The section that was most devoted to the words on the SAT word list was a section called "Sentence Completion Problems." These questions asked students to choose from a list of words to complete a sentence.
At the time of the redesign, these questions were removed from the test because it was believed that they were needlessly confusing. The idea that a student would need to select a word in a context-less situation and know the definition of that word was determined to be flawed. There was no way that educators could prove that knowing the definition of random words in isolation was in any way related to academic work or to a professional career.
SAT Vocabulary Words
While the test was redesigned, and the vocabulary section changed somewhat, it is still important to study the SAT word list. This is for a number of reasons. While prior to the redesign of the SAT in 2016, you needed to know the definitions of words with no context, today you still do need quite a large vocabulary, especially if you're shooting for a perfect score. While the test no longer expects that students will have spent hours studying an exhaustive list of words, it does still demand a facility with advanced vocabulary.
In place of the "Sentence Completion Problems," students will now find other fill-in-the-blank questions that allow students to select the correct word from a list of words that mean something similar to a word that they have been given within the context of a larger paragraph. This allows students the ability to use context to determine how the word is being used and thus what it might mean. However, it does still demand a fairly large vocabulary.
Since the redesign of the SAT only about 13 percent of the questions on the current test deal with vocabulary words. Much of the rest of the verbal section is about word usage, reading comprehension, grammar and other elements of verbal speech and language acquisition. All vocabulary words will be presented in context, but even so, being able to guess the precise definition of a term is a very small part of the test
How to Prepare for the SAT Verbal Section
There are a number of ways you can prepare for the verbal section of the test. Even though you are not going to be expected to be able to define every word on the SAT word list, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't prepare for the test by doing everything you can to improve your vocabulary. The better your vocabulary is, the easier a time you will have figuring out words when provided with their context. This will help you to move through the verbal section of the test with ease and speed.
Making flashcards is an excellent way to prepare yourself for the verbal section of the SAT. By reviewing every word on the list a few times and learning how to use the words in a sentence, you will be setting yourself up for success. Practicing your flashcards and giving yourself an SAT words quizlet every so often will help you make sure that you're on top of your game.
Studying with a friend is also a good idea. Share flashcards with vocabulary words and quiz each other. Once you know a certain word well, put the card aside. Stay focused on learning the words that you don't know. Once you're confident that you have a working awareness of the definition of all the words on the card stack, you are free to move onto the next step.
SAT Word List Tips
Because you know that you will not be required to write out the definition of any of these words, you should consider that you will likely be asked to select from a group of words that are similar to the word you've studied. For this reason, you should plan to study synonyms, not just definitions. Synonyms are words that sound different but have similar meanings. For example, the word "dry" has several synonyms including "arid," "parched," "withered" and "waterless."
By learning the synonyms of a word, you are not only learning the definition, but you are also getting exposed to other words that have the same meaning which is likely to show up on the test. When it comes time to give yourself an SAT vocabulary quizlet, challenge yourself to see if you can define all of the words only by using synonyms. This will help you to get familiar with the other words, thereby expanding your vocabulary significantly.
Another way to improve your vocabulary and increase your likelihood of getting a high score is to read every day. This is not a challenge for students who already read avidly. Many of them have excellent vocabularies to begin with because reading can broaden the vocabulary naturally. By reading for at least 20 minutes a day, something that is outside of your school curriculum, you will increase your vocabulary, and perhaps more importantly, your reading comprehension.
Prep for the SAT Verbal Section
Once you've devoted a significant amount of study time to vocabulary-building, it is good to remind yourself that the verbal section has a number of other important aspects. Perhaps the most important part of the section is reading comprehension. Reading comprehension refers to the way that you understand the text and whether you are able to pick out the main idea in a paragraph. It can also refer to your ability to notice and process contradictions in speech and inferences in small details.
By reading regularly you can accustom yourself to paying attention to the main ideas the author is trying to get across. While you're reading, whether it's a history book, a newspaper or a work of fiction, pause every so often and ask yourself,"What was the main idea of this paragraph?" Once you've identified it, go on to examine how the supporting details in the paragraph help the main idea stand out. Look at the other sentences that the author has chosen to include. How do they support the main idea or make another point about it?
Practice reading books that you don't normally read. Read biographies of historical importance. Read fiction. Read nonfiction. Try to broaden the scope of your reading as much as possible. Not only will this help you to learn more, but you will begin to be able to identify the various ways that writers communicate through tone and language use. This is particularly useful when you need to be able to identify what an author's perspective might be.
Why Is Reading Important for the SAT?
Students who have taken a practice SAT known as a PSAT will concur that the bulk of the verbal section is about reading. While you will be asked to identify words by their meaning as has been discussed above, you will also need to show that you understand what you are reading and that you understand when an author is presenting fact, and when he or she is giving an opinion. This is not always as straightforward as it seems, so it is wise to do as many reading comprehension exercises as you are able.
You will also need to be able to infer or identify the meaning of a line, a phrase or even a whole paragraph. While you will be required to identify the meaning, you won't be asked to come up with it from a subjective perspective. You will only be required to select the closest meaning to what the phrase says from a list of multiple choices. You may similarly be asked to state the desired effect of a particular word or phrase.
You will also probably be asked questions about the tone, attitude and voice of the author. The test may ask you to identify what the author's opinion or position on the issue at hand seems to be. This will require you to understand the author's approach to the material and his or her overall style. You may also be asked to explain the author's position. For example, is he or she writing from the perspective of an observer or a participant in what is being discussed?
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.