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Learn SAT Vocabulary With These Easy Tips

aa stack of SAT test prep books and a student in the background studying


If you’re preparing to take the SAT, take a look at this advice for expanding your vocabulary with as little anxiety as possible.

Study the New SAT

Many online sources insist that vocabulary makes up 30-50% of the SAT. They’ll try to sell you books with long, daunting lists of words to commit to memory. In 2016, however, the SAT College Board changed the test and removed the heavy emphasis on a broader lexicon and instead decreased it to two to four questions on specifically difficult vocabulary. Although you should become familiar with the SAT’s list of common words, memorizing hundreds of words is no longer necessary or productive.

Start Early

Though you don’t have to stress over vocabulary as much as you might have thought, the SAT tests on a set of words that pack a heavier punch. Consult multiple sources to get a list with the most crossovers on each and begin studying at least four months in advance. This way, even if you find that you know very few words, you'll only have to go over a few each day, lessening the burden.

Diversify Your Study Methods

Flashcards and memorization probably won’t cut it when it comes to broadening your vocabulary. Knowing a word’s dictionary definition might help, but many experts also stress the importance of mnemonic tricks and word association. Write down the definition of each word and try to seek it out in other sentences. Begin consulting a dictionary when you hear words used by teachers, friends, television shows or songs that you don’t recognize.

Use the Words

Once you’re familiar with the definition of a word and the contextual usages, begin using it in your papers or in conversation. Only then will you be sure that you understand the meaning. Although you might not cover every new word on the SAT, you’ll have a much stronger base before taking the test.

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