Without a sufficient understanding of diverse vocabulary words, college-bound students may struggle to express their thoughts or understand their peers. A robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication, such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Developing an extensive vocabulary requires reading publications covering various subjects and texts, including magazines, textbooks, and novels. To help broaden your student’s vocabulary, we’ve compiled a list of 20 common vocabulary words that appeared on the SAT in 2020.
Antipathy (noun) – a strong feeling of dislike, repugnance
Example: The protestors expressed their antipathy for the local government by vandalizing the Town Hall building.
Apex (noun) – the top or highest point of something, peak
Example: The lion is one of Africa’s apex land predators.
Austere (adjective) – severe or strict, extremely plain, bleak
Example: Even though she looked austere, my English teacher was always kind to her students.
Buttress (verb) – to support, hold up, reinforce
Example: To buttress his lecture, the Professor created an in-depth PowerPoint presentation outlining the difficult subject material.
Cacophony (noun) – a hard or disharmonious sound
Example: The cacophony erupting from the crowd drowned out the speaker’s announcement.
Cognizant (adjective) – having or showing knowledge or understanding or realization, aware, mindful
Example: Many teenagers will not become cognizant of the value of a dollar until they begin working at a job.
Ebullient (adjective) – overflowing with excitement, enthusiastic
Example: The ebullient song sounded so uplifting that everyone in the room started to dance.
Engender (verb) – to cause or bring forth, create, generate
Example: The massive amount of homework engendered high levels of stress among the students.
Ephemeral (adjective) – anything short-lived, fleeting, temporary, transient, momentary
Example: Due to her ephemeral memory, the older woman forgets important details all the time!
Erudite (adjective) – learned or scholarly, educated
Example: Having completed many years at medical school, James became quite erudite on the subject of virology
Fortuitous (adjective) – occurring by happy chance, lucky, fortunate
Example: The collapse of several rival companies brought fortuitous gains to the marketing agency.
Grandiose (adjective) – excessively grand or pretentious, pompous
Example: After touring the grandiose eight-bedroom house, the couple decided it was way too big for their small family.
Gregarious (adjective) – drawn to the company of others, sociable
Example: Dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers, make very gregarious pets.
Impetuous (adjective) – acting hastily without thinking, rash, impulsive
Example: His impetuous behavior caused him to suffer severe legal consequences.
Mitigate (verb) – to make less severe, moderate, alleviate
Example: To mitigate any negative publicity, the brand manager offered a full refund to customers who purchased the faulty item.
Neophyte (noun) – any new or inexperienced participant in some activity, a novice or beginner
Example: As a newly elected Congresswoman, Alexandria was viewed as a neophyte by the senior members in Congress.
Ostentatious (adjective) – designed to impress others, excessively showy, glitzy
Example: Despite regularly donating to charities, many news outlets still chastised the rock star’s ostentatious lifestyle.
Recalcitrant (adjective) – stubbornly resistant to authority or control, defiant
Example: Attempting to train the new recalcitrant puppy proved quite a challenge
Servile (adjective) – having a willingness to serve others, submissive, subservient
Example: The cruel queen and her servile handmaidens entered the masquerade.
Tenacious (adjective) – keeping a firm grip on, determined, persistent
Example: Not wanting to let a meal escape, the hawk seized its prey in a tenacious grip.