SAT Vocabulary


One of the key changes of the redesigned SAT scheduled to be rolled out in the spring of 2016 is in vocabulary requirements. According to the College Board, the new focus will be on relevant words in context. It claims that no longer will there be obscure words. But what then are these so-called obscure words that are prevalent in the current SAT format and what will be the likes of the new “relevant words in context”? From their further descriptions, it appears to me that the new SAT vocabulary will really be just a same old same-old.

To me, vocabulary has always been a main pillar in the SAT and will remain so comes spring 2016 and beyond. Based on what’s published so far, it smells like nothing more than repackaging. There’s still no magic pill for SAT vocabulary mastery. Granted, there may be a minor shift but vocabulary is vocabulary and good old basics like reading widely, looking up and memorizing unfamiliar words earnestly will apply forever. If anything, vocabulary development rocks nowadays. With online dictionaries, complete with audios, thesaurus, synonyms & antonyms and example sentences and so forth, no one has an excuse.

As in any material of written text, the link between vocabulary and comprehension is indisputable across the respective components of the SAT. It forms the bedrock of sentence completion in Critical Reading, and surely not any less so in any way within the passage reading sections. In Writing, the Essay, Error ID and Sentence/Passage Improvement can only be powered soundly by a strong command of vocabulary. Even in Math, clear vocabulary proficiency is fundamental, albeit at a lower tier.


Arcane or esoteric words of which we often don’t know the meaning are anything but obscure. In reality, their definitive precision within their specific domains inherently render them irreplaceable by other lower-tier substitutions. Actually, vocabulary development should be a continuous life-long habit. We may not be as active or intent in its pursuit after SAT but it can only be good if we would only continue to take the trouble – Vocabulary for Life.

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