303 Important SAT Vocab Words

It is normal enough for students to think of vocabulary when they hear SAT. So the question is, how essential are SAT vocab words for doing well on the test? If you plan for a high score, you will surely want to allocate more time for learning key SAT words.

This guide gives you a complete list of the  most important and common SAT vocabulary words. 

How Exactly is Vocabulary Tested on the SAT? 

In , the SAT received a severe redesign, and after that, the vocabulary has become a far less critical part of the test. This all happened because fewer vocabulary questions on the current SAT compare to those on the old SAT. This does not matter if you are targeting a high or a perfect score. Learning SAT vocab words is only going to benefit you.

All SAT vocab words we have mentioned are about the medium difficulty and are tested in the context of reading passages.

Context clues make remembering SAT vocab words less critical on the current SAT than on the old SAT. Earlier, you had to memorize several mysterious words and answer questions that dealt with isolated sentences, also known as “Sentence Completion problems.” This all made vocab questions hard since you were given minimal context to solve them.

Have a look at the Official SAT Practice Test see vocab questions on Writing and Language

303 Important SAT Vocab Words You are about to see on Test Day 

Our team has dug through the official SAT practice test to compile the list. We look into the Reading and Writing sections, not just the questions but also the answer choices and passages. We have also mentioned SAT words from other online vocab lists.

However, it is difficult to memorize all the words mentioned below. Still, you can get familiar with most of the terms, which will help you better identify the tones of passages and make you effective at answering questions correctly on SAT Reading and Writing.

Our list includes words that are important and quite difficult in SAT Reading and Writing.

  1. abject

of the most shameful kind

  1. aberration

a state or condition markedly different from the norm

  1. abjure

formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief

  1. abnegation

the denial and rejection of a doctrine or belief

  1. abrogate

revoke formally

  1. abscond

run away, often taking something or somebody along

  1. abstruse

difficult to understand

  1. accede

yield to another's wish or opinion

  1. accost

approach and speak to someone aggressively or insistently

  1.  Accretion

an increase by natural growth or addition

  1. acumen

shrewdness showed by keen insight

  1. adamant

impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason

  1. admonish

scold or reprimand; take to task

  1. adumbrate

describe roughly or give the main points or summary of

  1. adverse

in an opposing direction


  1. advocate

a person who pleads for a person, cause, or idea

  1. affluent

having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value

  1. aggrandize

embellish; increase the scope, power, or importance of

  1. alacrity

liveliness and eagerness

  1. alias

a name that has been assumed temporarily

  1.  ambivalent

uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow

  1. amenable

disposed or willing to comply

  1.  amorphous

having no definite form or distinct shape

  1. anachronistic

chronologically misplaced

  1.  anathema

a formal ecclesiastical curse accompanied by ex-communication

  1. annex

attach to

  1. antediluvian

of or relating to the period before the biblical flood

  1. antiseptic

thoroughly clean and free of disease-causing organisms

  1. apathetic

showing little or no emotion or animation

  1. antithesis

exact opposite

  1.  apocryphal

being of questionable authenticity

  1.  approbation

official acceptance or agreement.

  1. arbitrary

based on or subject to individual discretion or preference

  1.  arboreal

of or relating to or formed by trees

  1.  arcane

requiring secret or mysterious knowledge

  1.  archetypal

of an original type after which other things are patterned

  1.  arrogate

seize and take control without authority

  1.  ascetic

someone who practices self-denial as a spiritual discipline

  1.  aspersion

a disparaging remark

  1. assiduous

 marked by care and persistent effort

  1.  atrophy

a decrease in size of an organ caused by disease or disuse

  1.  bane

something causing misery or death

  1. bashful

self-consciously timid

  1. beguile

influence by slyness

  1.  bereft

lacking or deprived of something

  1.  blandishment

flattery intended to persuade

  1.  bilk

cheat somebody out of what is due, especially money

  1.  bombastic

ostentatiously lofty in style

  1.  cajole

influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

  1.  callous

emotionally hardened

  1. calumny

a false accusation of an offense

  1. camaraderie

the quality of affording comfortable familiarity and sociability

  1. candor

the quality of being honest and straightforward

  1.  carouse

engage in boisterous, drunken merrymaking

  1. carp

any of various freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae

  1.  caucus

meet to select a candidate or promote a policy

  1. cavort

play boisterously.

  1. circumlocution

an indirect way of expressing something

  1. circumscribe

draw a geometric figure around another figure

  1.  circumvent

surround so as to force to give up

  1. clamor

 utter or proclaim insistently and noisily

  1. cleave

separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument

  1. cobbler

a person who makes or repairs shoes

  1.  cogent

powerfully persuasive

  1. cognizant

having or showing knowledge or understanding or realization

  1. commensurate

corresponding in size or degree, or extent

  1.  complement

something added to embellish or make perfect

  1. compunction

a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed 

  1. concomitant

following or accompanying as a consequence

  1.  conduit

a passage through which water or electric wires can pass

  1.  conflagration

a very intense and uncontrolled fire

  1.  congruity

the quality of agreeing; being suitable and appropriate

  1.  connive

form intrigues (for) in an underhand manner

  1.  consign

give over to another for care or safekeeping

  1.  constituent

one of the individual parts making up a composite entity

  1.  construe

make sense of; assign a meaning to

  1.  contusion

an injury in which the skin is not broken

  1.  contrite

feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses

  1.  contentious

showing an inclination to disagree

  1.  contravene

go against, as of rules and laws

  1.  convivial

occupied with or fond of the pleasures of good company

  1.  corpulence

the property of excessive fatness

  1.  covet

wish, long, or crave for

  1. cupidity

extreme greed for material wealth

  1.  dearth

an insufficient quantity or number

  1.  debacle

a sudden and complete disaster

  1.  debauch

a wild gathering involving excessive drinking

  1.  dbunk

expose while ridiculing

  1.  defunct

no longer in force or use; inactive

  1.  demagogue

a leader who seeks support by appealing to popular passions

  1.  denigrate

attack the good name and reputation of someone

  1.  derivative

a compound obtained from another compound

  1.  despot

a cruel and oppressive dictator

  1.  diaphanous

so thin as to transmit light

  1.  didactic

instructive, especially excessively

  1.  dirge

a song or hymn of mourning as a memorial to a dead person

  1.  disaffected

discontented as toward authority

  1.   discomfit

cause to lose one's composure

  1.  disparate

fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind

  1.  dispel

cause to separate and go in different directions

  1.  disrepute

the state of being held in low esteem

  1.  divisive

causing or characterized by disagreement or disunity

  1.  dogmatic

pertaining to a code of beliefs accepted as authoritative

  1.  dour

showing a brooding ill humor

  1.  duplicity

the act of deceiving or acting in bad faith

  1.  duress

compulsory force or threat

  1.  eclectic

selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas

  1.  edict

a formal or authoritative proclamation

  1.  ebullient

joyously unrestrained

  1. egregious

conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

  1.  elegy

a mournful poem; a lament for the dead

  1.  elicit

call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response

  1.  embezzlement

the fraudulent appropriation of funds or property

  1.  emend

make corrections to

  1.  emollient

a substance with a soothing effect when applied to the skin

  1.  empirical

derived from experiment and observation rather than theory

  1.  emulate

strive to equal or match, especially by imitating

  1.  enervate

weaken physically, mentally, or morally

  1.  enfranchise

grant freedom to, as from slavery or servitude

  1.  engender

call forth

  1.  ephemeral

anything short-lived, as an insect that lives only for a day

  1.  epistolary

written in the form of letters or correspondence

  1. equanimity

steadiness of mind under stress

  1. equivocal

open to two or more interpretations

  1.  espouse

choose and follow a theory, idea, policy, etc.

  1.  evanescent

short-lived; tending to vanish or disappear

  1.  evince

give expression to

  1.  exacerbate

make worse

  1. exhort

spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts

  1. execrable

unequivocally detestable

  1.  exigent

demanding immediate attention

  1.  expedient

appropriate to a purpose

  1.  expiate

make amends for

  1.  expunge

remove by erasing or crossing out or as if by drawing a line

  1. extraneous

not belonging to that in which it is contained

  1.  extol

praise, glorify, or honor

  1.  extant

still in existence; not extinct or destroyed or lost

  1.  expurgate

edit by omitting or modifying parts considered indelicate

  1.  fallacious

containing or based on incorrect reasoning

  1.  fatuous

devoid of intelligence

  1.  fetter

a shackle for the ankles or feet

  1.  flagrant

conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible

  1.  foil

hinder or prevent, as an effort, plan, or desire

  1.  forbearance

good-natured tolerance of delay or incompetence

  1.  fortuitous

lucky; occurring by happy chance

  1.  fractious

easily irritated or annoyed

  1.  garrulous

full of trivial conversation

  1.  gourmand

a person who is devoted to eating and drinking to excess

  1. grandiloquent

lofty in style

  1. gratuitous

unnecessary and unwarranted

  1. hapless

unfortunate and deserving pity

  1. hegemony

the dominance or leadership of one social group over others

  1. heterogenous

consisting of elements that are not of the same kind

  1. iconoclast

someone who attacks cherished ideas or institutions

  1. idiosyncratic

peculiar to the individual

  1. impecunious

not having enough money to pay for necessities

  1. impetuous

characterized by undue haste and lack of thought

  1. impinge

infringe upon

  1. impute

attribute or credit to

  1. inane

devoid of intelligence

  1. inchoate

only partly in existence; imperfectly formed

  1. incontrovertible

impossible to deny or disprove

  1. incumbent

necessary as a duty or responsibility; morally binding

  1. inexorable

impossible to prevent, resist, or stop

  1. inimical

not friendly

  1. injunction

a judicial remedy to prohibit a party from doing something

  1. inoculate

inject or treat with the germ of a disease to render immune

  1. insidious

working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way

  1. instigate

provoke or stir up

  1. insurgent

in opposition to a civil authority or government

  1. interlocutor

a person who takes part in a conversation

  1. intimation

a slight suggestion or vague understanding

  1. inure

cause to accept or become hardened to

  1. invective

abusive language used to express blame or censure

  1. intransigent

impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason

  1. inveterate


  1. irreverence

a mental attitude showing lack of due respect

  1. knell

the sound of a bell rung slowly to announce a death

  1. laconic

brief and to the point

  1. largesse

liberality in bestowing gifts

  1. Legerdemain

an illusory feat

  1. libertarian

an advocate of freedom of thought and speech

  1. licentious

lacking moral discipline

  1.  linchpin

a central cohesive source of support and stability

  1. litigant

a party to a lawsuit

  1. maelstrom

a powerful circular current of water

  1. maudlin

effusively or insincerely emotional

  1. maverick

someone who exhibits independence in thought and action

  1. mawkish

effusively or insincerely emotional

  1. maxim

a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits

  1. mendacious

given to lying

  1. modicum

a small or moderate or token amount

  1. morass

a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot

  1. mores

the conventions embodying the fundamental values of a group

  1. munificent

very generous

  1. multifarious

having many aspects

  1. nadir

the lowest point of anything

  1. negligent

characterized by undue lack of attention or concern

  1. neophyte

any new participant in some activity

  1. noisome

offensively malodorous

  1. noxious

injurious to physical or mental health

  1. obdurate

stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing

  1. obfuscate

make obscure or unclear

  1. obstreperous

noisily and stubbornly defiant

  1. officious

intrusive in a meddling or offensive manner

  1. onerous

burdensome or difficult to endure

  1. ostensible

appearing as such but not necessarily so

  1. ostracism

the act of excluding someone from society by general consent

  1. palliate

lessen or to try to reduce the seriousness or extent of

  1. panacea

hypothetical remedy for all ills or diseases

  1. paradigm

a standard or typical example

  1. pariah

a person who is rejected from society or home

  1. partisan

a fervent and even militant proponent of something

  1. paucity

an insufficient quantity or number

  1. pejorative

expressing disapproval

  1. pellucid

transparently clear; easily understandable

  1. penchant

a strong liking

  1. penurious

excessively unwilling to spend

  1. pert

characterized by a lightly saucy or impudent quality

  1. pernicious

exceedingly harmful

  1. pertinacious

stubbornly unyielding

  1. phlegmatic

showing little emotion

  1. philanthropic

of or relating to charitable giving

  1. pithy

concise and full of meaning

  1. platitude

a trite or obvious remark

  1. plaudit

enthusiastic approval

  1. plenitude

a full supply

  1. plethora

extreme excess

  1. portent

a sign of something about to happen

  1. potentate

a powerful ruler, especially one who is unconstrained by law

  1. preclude

make impossible, especially beforehand

  1. predilection

a predisposition in favor of something

  1. preponderance

exceeding in heaviness; having greater weight

  1. presage

a foreboding about what is about to happen

  1. probity

complete and confirmed integrity

  1. proclivity

a natural inclination

  1. profligate

unrestrained by convention or morality

  1. promulgate

state or announce

  1. proscribe

command against

  1. protean

taking on different forms

  1. prurient

characterized by lust

  1. puerile

displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity

  1. pugnacious

ready and able to resort to force or violence

  1. pulchritude

physical beauty, especially of a woman

  1. punctilious

marked by precise accordance with details

  1. quaint

attractively old-fashioned

  1. quixotic

not sensible about practical matters

  1. quandary

state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options

  1. recalcitrant

stubbornly resistant to authority or control

  1. redoubtable

inspiring fear

  1. relegate

assign to a lower position

  1. remiss

failing in what duty requires

  1. reprieve

postpone the punishment of a convicted criminal

  1. reprobate

a person without moral scruples

  1. rescind

cancel officially

  1. requisition

an authoritative demand

  1. rife

excessively abundant

  1. sanctimonious

excessively or hypocritically pious

  1. sanguine

confidently optimistic and cheerful

  1. scurrilous

expressing offensive, insulting, or scandalous criticism

  1. semaphore

an apparatus for visual signaling

  1. serendipity

good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries

  1. sobriety

the state of being unaffected or not intoxicated by alcohol

  1. solicitous

full of anxiety and concern

  1. solipsism

the philosophical theory that the self is all that exists

  1. spurious

plausible but false

  1. staid

characterized by dignity and propriety

  1. stolid

having or revealing little emotion or sensibility

  1. subjugate

make subservient; force to submit or subdue

  1. surfeit

indulge (one's appetite) to satiety

  1. surreptitious

marked by quiet and caution and secrecy

  1. swarthy

naturally having the skin of a dark color

  1. tangential

of superficial relevance, if any

  1. tome

an extensive and scholarly book

  1. toady

a person who tries to please someone to gain an advantage

  1. torpid

in a condition of biological rest or suspended animation

  1. travesty

a composition that imitates or misrepresents a style

  1. trenchant

having keenness and forcefulness and penetration in thought

  1. trite

repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse

  1. truculent

defiantly aggressive

  1. turpitude

a corrupt or depraved or degenerate act or practice

  1. ubiquitous

being present everywhere at once

  1. umbrage

a feeling of anger caused by being offended

  1. upbraid

express criticism towards

  1. utilitarian

having a useful function

  1. veracity

unwillingness to tell lies

  1. vestige

an indication that something has been present

  1. vicissitude

a variation in circumstances or fortune

  1. vilify

spread negative information about

  1. virtuoso

someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field

  1. vitriolic

harsh, bitter, or malicious in tone

  1. vituperate

spread negative information about

  1. vociferous

conspicuously and offensively loud

  1. wanton

a lewd or immoral person

  1. winsome

charming in a childlike or naive way

  1. yoke

join with stable gear, as two draft animals

  1.  zephyr

a slight wind

  1. wily

marked by skill in deception

  1. tirade

a speech of violent denunciation

Tips to get the most out of your SAT vocab studies. 

You have got your long list of the words, now what is the best way to study them.

Use Flashcards and Waterfall Method

The best way to study SAT vocab words is to use flashcards; with this, you can control which SAT words you study and even randomizes them not accidentally to memorize words in a predetermined order.

We also suggest using the waterfall method to study your flashcards. With this technique, you will get to easily see all the words in your deck, going over the Most challenging words more often than the ones you already know or sort of know.

We recommend making your flashcards, and you can also buy pre-made ones. We suggest buying Barron's 1100 Words You Need to Know, a series of exercises to master keywords and idioms, or Manhattan's GRE flashcards if you are looking for a challenge. 

Learn the Words You Don’t Know

If you do not want to study the whole list and only want to focus on the SAT words you do not know, you can prepare your vocab list.

So if you know a word on test day, skip it and instead focus on the info you have the most trouble remembering. After creating your list, use the waterfall method to study it.

Take the Official SAT practice test

After you have studied all SAT words, you can put your knowledge to the test by taking an Official SAT practice test. This will help you know the meanings of the words and whether you can get the right answers in the context of a full-length real SAT.

To Conclude: Significance of Studying SAT Vocabulary 

You will indeed have some questions on both the Reading and Writing sections that will test your knowledge of SAT words, so it is crucial to study those most likely to appear on test day.

The perfect way to study SAT vocabulary is to make flashcards and use the waterfall method. 

The vast list of words we have mentioned above comes from official SAT practice tests, so you are guaranteed to come across them in some form. Regardless of how you set to study SAT vocab words, be sure to test out what you have learned in the situation of full-length practice tests.

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