20 SAT Vocabulary Words to Master in 2020

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20 SAT Vocabulary Words to Master in 2020


When preparing for the SAT, high school students are fully aware of the challenge rapidly approaching, and the hard work it entails. With so much riding on securing an impressive SAT score, college-bound students must harness all the skills in his or her toolkit such as revisiting essential math formulas, reviewing helpful test-taking strategies, and updating vocabulary repertoire.

The SAT underwent some changes back in 2016, placing less emphasis on vocabulary-based questions. So while students won’t tackle questions asking to list definitions, building a diverse vocabulary can still prove beneficial for SAT success. Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, once said, “The limits of my language is the limit of my world.” Without a rich vocabulary, students may struggle to accurately broadcast verbal or written thoughts and arguments. But studies show that creating an extensive vocabulary can help students better articulate ideas in a more engaging way without relying on repetitive words.

That being said, students will confront complex words on the SAT in the context of reading passages. This means that ambitious students need to dust off that dictionary and start mastering new words. Here are some SAT vocabulary words that high school students can expect to see in 2020.

Crucial SAT Vocabulary For High School Students

By expanding vocabulary prowess, students can complete the Reading and Writing sections of the SAT with more confidence. Here is a list of 20 vocabulary words to study for the upcoming SAT exam!

  1. Abate(verb) to reduce in amount, degree, intensity, etc.; to lessen; to diminish
  2. Ambivalence(noun) the state of being uncertain or stuck between two or more options
  3. Brevity(noun) shortness of time or duration; briefness; the quality of expressing much in few words
  4. Decree(verb) to command, ordain, or decide with authority
  5. Entrench(verb) to encroach; trespass; infringe (usually followed by on or upon)
  6. Feasibility(adjective) the practicality or possibility of something
  7. Galvanize(verb) to startle into sudden activity; stimulate
  8. Ignominious(adjective) publicly shameful or humiliating
  9. Imposition(noun) an unnecessary burden
  10. Nuance (noun) a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, etc.
  11. Omnipotent(adjective) almighty and all-powerful
  12. Opine(verb) to openly express an opinion
  13. Oust (verb) to remove or expel from a place or position occupied
  14. Petulant(adjective) cranky, pouty, irritable
  15. Promulgate(verb) to put into law or formally declare
  16. Quirk(noun) a strange habit
  17. Retention(noun) the act or power of remembering or keeping things
  18. Scrupulous(adjective) punctiliously or minutely careful, precise, or exact
  19. Undulate(verb) to move as ripples or in a wavy pattern
  20. Viability(noun) the capacity to operate or be sustained

The Types Of SAT Vocabulary Questions Students Will Face

The first type of vocabulary-based question students will notice on the SAT involves matching a word with its correct meaning. For these types of questions, students will read a passage and a word to focus on. Although the context will grant students a better understanding of the term’s definition, these questions often require students to know the alternative meaning of relatively familiar words.

The second type of question requires students to select a word or phrase to paraphrase or clarify a part of a given passage. For these types of questions, it will be helpful to know the definitions of common SAT vocabulary words like the ones listed above.

The third type of question that students will see on the SAT surrounds replacing a specific word in a passage. Memorizing a word’s definition may prove helpful, but recognizing how to use a word in conversation will ultimately prove beneficial for longer-lasting results and higher scores.