The SAT is infamous for its tough vocabulary words. Many students before you have wondered why they need to know what ‘acrimonious’ means, and I get it: it’s not likely you use that word on a regular basis. Well, it seems that the College Board has heard these criticisms. The new SAT rolls out in the spring of 2016 and, according to the College Board’s website, one of the “Eight Key Changes” will be an increased focus on “Relevant Words in Context.”
“No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their pencils down,” the College Board says. Instead, vocabulary-based questions will focus on the interpretation of a word based on its context in a passage.
This is indeed a welcome change, especially because this is how we understand words both in reading and in everyday conversation: based on the context. Imagine that your math teacher announces a test that both you and a friend had forgotten about. When your friend says, “Oh, well this is great,” how would you know what he means? You would know, based on the context of his statement, that he didn’t mean “great” but its opposite. Future SAT vocabulary questions will be a bit tougher to figure out, but will work on the same principle. You will need to understand that words have multiple connotative meanings, and which one is most correct depends on the word’s context.
For now, however, the current format of the SAT stands. To help you master the vocabulary-based questions on the SAT—or the ACT, SSAT, or ISEE—make sure to check out our list of the 365 Most Frequently Tested Vocab Words.
Learning vocabulary is still important, and not only because the new SAT isn’t here quite yet. Even on the new test, knowing tough words will only help you, even if the answer depends more on the sentence than on the dictionary definition of the word. So check out our list. Just as important, however, do some reading. Reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary. Why? Because it’s also enjoyable. Fill in the gaps of your knowledge with our official list, but make sure you have some fun too.