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This chapter is from the book

Building an SAT Vocabulary

Easily, the best way to ace this portion of the test is to take as much guesswork out of the process as possible. You can arm yourself by building your vocabulary. This next section contains words that you might encounter on the SAT exam. This list is not comprehensive and should not be your only resource. Instead, we offer the list as a means of introducing you to the process of building a large and flexible vocabulary.

We suggest that you commit a few new words to memory every day. Then, do yourself a big favor—use the words in your daily life. That’s really the only way you can take command of these new words—you must use them!

Along with each new word, we include its pronunciation, a definition, any synonyms (when applicable), and an example sentence. To use the guide, begin by saying the word out loud. If you don’t already know the word, break it down and try to determine its meaning by reviewing its root word, prefix, and suffix. Next, review the actual definition and finally, use the word as much as you can during the next few days.

Word Elements

You can’t possibly memorize every word that might appear on the exam. The next best thing is to be familiar with elements. By elements, we mean the pieces that make up each word, such as the prefix, suffix, and root word. Knowing these elements can help you determine an unfamiliar word’s meaning just by breaking it down into these components. Table 3.1 is a list of the most common elements.

Table 3.1 Common Word Elements


without or not


toward; near


relating or pertaining to


both; around


without or not


state of being full of






one who rules


make or pertaining to












against or opposite




against or opposite




a participant or supporter


down, away, or apart




two; away from


speak or say






out; into or in


into or in; to put in


state of being full of






one that bears


to stick


over or beyond


under or below


person who


relating or pertaining to




not; in or into




not or in




act of or state of


within or into




person who


relating or pertaining to


relating, belonging, or tending to; of






to send




manners or behavior






new; nine


the study of




all; also




foot; child




love of






before; preceding




back or again


act of or state of


relating, belonging, or tending to; of


wise, wisdom








act of or state of


taking part


across or change











Learning Cues

It’s hard to associate a word element with anything meaningful, so using them as clues to discerning the meaning of an unfamiliar word can be difficult. There are a few ways to help commit these elements to memory.

Write each element and then list as many words as you can think of that use this element. You might be surprised how easy this technique is once you get started. Often, what seems unfamiliar really isn’t—it’s just temporarily out of context. In other words, you already use these elements all the time within words. You’re just not used to seeing them by themselves. Once you begin to evaluate these elements individually, you’ll find it easier to dismantle unfamiliar words and determine their meanings by reviewing their individual elements. For example, the element "bi" has some familiar words associated with it.

















You probably already know all of these words, but if you didn’t, just knowing that the element "bi" means two would help. For instance, if you know that "bi" means two and "ped" means foot, it’s easy to determine that the elemental definition of the word biped is "two feet."

Use index cards or a dedicated notebook for these lists. Regardless of how you store them, don’t throw these lists away. Once a week, or so, review your lists and add new words as you think of them. Doing so will help further commit these elements to memory.

Some elements can work as a prefix, a suffix, or even a root word. When this is the case, a simple list isn’t always adequate. Write the word in the middle of the index card or notebook page. Then, list the words around the element. The order doesn’t really matter. Visually, what matters is that you see the element surrounded by words.

Vocabulary Words to Learn

To help you in your quest for SAT language mastery, we've supplied some sample words to learn. It's important to realize that this list isn't comprehensive; you'll probably encounter other words on the reading portion of the SAT and use other words in your essay. But we think these words are indicative of the difficulty that the SAT authors will expect you to know. Rather than spend time trying to memorize a list of thousands of vocabulary words, we suggest that you learn a shorter list well and use them where they're appropriate. We italicized sections of some example sentences to help illustrate the word's definition.

aberrantadjective—irregular, unusual; deviating from what's normally expected or accepted.

    Your daughter's aberrant behavior has ostracized her from the entire group.

abridgeverb—shorten, edit, condense; to condense or reduce the length of.

    She realized that reading the abridged version of the Dickens classic was a mistake—there were questions on the test she couldn't answer.

accelerateverb—hasten; to increase speed.

    The engines accelerate briefly to change the craft's trajectory.

acuteadjective—keen, discriminating, severe; impossible to ignore.

    The stomach pain was so acute she ended up in the emergency room.

adagenoun—saying, proverb, axiom; well-known or recognized saying with a moral connotation.

    The teacher preferred to spout old adages to make the kids think instead of preaching literal lessons that the kids often found boring.

adversarynoun—enemy, opponent; someone who opposes you; an enemy.

    They are often friendly adversaries in their quest for the perfect chess match.

adversity noun—difficulty, hard times; a state of hardship or misfortune.

    Adversity can build character and integrity—if you survive it.

advocatenoun, verb—supporter, believer, activist; a person who takes up another's cause or lends support to another. The action of taking up another's cause or lending support to.

    Family courts have advocates who represent just the children in each case.

    The principal advocates free lunches for all school children.

aestheticadjective—visual, artistic; concerning the appreciation of beauty or good taste.

    Her designs were always an aesthetic blend of the client's preferences.

albatrossnoun—millstone, burden, impediment; an obstacle.

    Once the prospective employer saw her resume, he rescinded his previous offer, calling her an albatross because so many companies she had worked for had gone out of business.

ambiguous adjective—vague, uncertain; doubtful or uncertain; unclear.

    Her feelings were a bit ambiguous and neither fellow was quite sure where he stood.

ambivalent adjective—undecided, unsure; indecisive; not sure.

    Her ambivalent attitude toward the company made her a bad candidate for the management position.

ameliorate verb—improve, remodel; to improve or make better.

    Management ameliorated some of the plant's infrastructure after gaining a new and rather large client.

amoral adjective—neutral; the state of being neither moral or immoral.

    Many New Age philosophers are amoral and deny the existence of good and evil as opposing energies that rule the universe.

analogy noun—equivalence, parallel, comparison; a statement or story that expresses similar attributes.

    He explained how an airplane flies by using an analogy to show how air escaping from a toy balloon propels the balloon through the air.

anarchy noun—disorder, chaos, lawlessness; the absence of authority.

    Anarchy followed on the heels of the retreating soldiers.

annotate verb—gloss, explain; to add a short explanation or to paraphrase a passage.

    I decided to purchase the book after reading the annotations at the beginning of the first few chapters.

apathy noun—indifference; lack of interest or concern.

    Her apathy toward her fellow students eventually made her an outcast.

archetypenoun—prototype, model, epitome; the original model for an accepted or widely used pattern or thought.

    Psychologists use symbolic character archetypes to explain dream characters and their actions.

articulateverb or adjective—eloquent, clear, fluent; the ability to speak clearly, coherently, and enunciate properly; the act of speaking clearly and coherently.

    She was an articulate speaker, making her the perfect candidate for the debate team.

bevynoun—crowd, horde, multitude; a group.

    The bevy of shoppers pressed against the door waiting for the shop to open.

catalystnoun—method, means, mechanism; what causes change.

    Her mother's caustic remarks were the catalyst to their estrangement.

caustic adjective—cutting, sarcastic, biting; harsh or offensive.

    Her caustic remarks hurt the child more than a spanking.

celestialadjective—extraterrestrial, outer space, heavenly; relating to the sky or heavens.

    The astronomers studied the newly discovered celestial body to determine if it was a planet or an anomaly.

chronic adjective—continual, persistent; constant or frequent recurrence.

    Chronic back pain kept the old woman in a chair most of the time.

coerce verb—bully, intimidate, force; to force thought or action through pressure or intimidation.

    The gang members coerced the younger neighborhood kids into keeping their secrets.

cognitive adjective—thinking, aware; being aware of or knowledge.

    No one knew that the comatose patient was actually cognitive of his surroundings.

coherent adjective—consistent, rational, lucid; parts that stick together in a logical, concise order.

    The prosecutor presented a coherent story, but the jury still found the defendant innocent.

collaborate verb—cooperate; to work together; to share information toward a larger goal.

    The teams were ordered to collaborate until they found a solution to the company's financial difficulties.

compensate verb—reimburse, pay; to balance; to allow for.

    Her attitude more than compensated for her lack of ability.

comply verb—obey, conform; to follow a suggested or mandated set of instructions or wishes.

    It was easy to comply with her mother because they both wanted the same thing.

componentnoun—part, section, piece; a part of a bigger whole.

    All the components you need are stored in our warehouse.

connotativeadjective—meaning; the association of a feeling with a word.

    The word mother isn't connotative of home, hearth, and apple pie to every one; some of us don't like our mothers.

consolidateverb—To combine or unite into one group, unit, or system.

    The two small companies consolidated their resources against a larger competitor.

contendverb—compete, challenge; argue, assert; assert something to be true.

    The judge contended that the prisoner was innocent and declared a mistrial.

contingentadjective—dependent, conditional; dependent on circumstances; conditional.

    The outdoor wedding is contingent on fair weather.

contraryadjective—adverse, opposed; opposed to or opposite in position.

    She found her new daughter-in-law's behavior very contrary but was gracious nonetheless.

controversynoun—argument, debate; a serious argument or problem usually in the public domain.

    The alderman's stand on polygamy started quite a controversy in the usually quiet community.

counterpartnoun—corresponding, equal; a person performing or serving in a similar role.

    Her counterpart at the competition received a higher salary and even had an assistant.

covertadjective—secret, clandestine, stealthy; concealed or secret.

    The elite squad was trained in covert activities.

crucialadjective—significant, vital; very important; vital or of value to.

    Those reports are crucial to the department; they can't be late.

curtailverb—limit; to cut short or reduce.

    He had to curtail his campaigning activities long enough to recover from the flu.

deceptiveadjective—misleading, dishonest; to hide the truth.

    The defense lawyer was able to expose her deceptive testimony.

decimateverb—destroy; to destroy, or use up completely.

    The hungry children quickly decimated the plate of Christmas cookies.

decipherverb—translate, interpret, decode; interpret illegible script.

    Deciphering ancient script was the librarian's real expertise.

deemverb—believe, judge; believe to be true.

    Our forefathers deemed that all men were created equal, although they failed to put that belief to practice.

deficitnoun—shortage, arrears; lack of something; having less than required.

    The company's third quarter reports showed a deficit, and layoffs would definitely follow.

deleteriousadjective—harmful, deadly, lethal; having a harmful effect.

    Bee stings are deleterious to Neal—he might die within seconds if he doesn't receive an antidote.

demeanornoun—behavior, character; one's behavior or attitude.

    Her demeanor was usually childlike, but stomping her feet was immature.

demisenoun—end, death; the death or end of something or someone.

    His dreams of being a famous writer came to a quick demise after reading the editor's insulting remarks on his manuscript.

demure adjective—modest, shy, reserved; modest in behavior and dress.

    The demure girl hesitated to remove her hat and gloves in public.

denoteverb—to name, designate, or represent.

    John used different colored pushpins to denote sales regions on the map.

depletionnoun—reduction, weakening; a reduced amount or size.

    Some environmentalists feel we are depleting our natural resources too quickly.

derideverb—scoff, mock, disparage; to ridicule or laugh at in a menacing manner.

    The editor derided the young author's work, without consideration of the author's lack of experience.

deriveverb—get, obtain; to gain or obtain; to determine.

    Deriving his real intent, she soon dropped any hopes of an engagement.

designateverb—select, delegate, allocate, assign; to indicate or otherwise specify or point out.

    The committee designated a student monitor for each hall.

detrimentnoun—disadvantage, damage; personal harm or undoing.

    To his own detriment, he continued his rant against his boss in front of his colleagues.

disparageverb—belittle, mock, ridicule; to speak of negatively or disrespectfully.

    Disparaging your boss at the weekly meeting is not a good idea, no matter how badly the boss is running things.

disperseverb—dissolve, separate, diffuse; to distribute or divide.

    The remaining funds will be dispersed equally among the departments.

emigrateverb—To leave your country, move abroad.

    Many Russian Jews emigrated from the Pale during the early twentieth century.

    Don't confuse emigrate and immigrate. To immigrate means to enter a country legally. Emigrate means to leave a country.

empathynoun—understanding, sympathy, compassion; sharing feelings through thought or imagination rather than experience.

    The nurse was empathic to the victims' pain, and it was difficult for her to maintain her composure during the worst of the disaster.

empiricaladjective—experimental; based on observation or experience.

    The theory is backed up by empirical evidence gathered in the field.

endangerverb—jeopardize, imperil; to put in danger.

    Social services felt the mother had endangered her children by leaving them alone.

endorseverb—support, sanction, approve; to give approval of or support; to recommend.

    Our representatives endorsed the new bill, but it still didn't pass.

entrenchverb—establish, embed, ingrain; to take up a strong position.

    The EPA protected the entrenched bats, even though they were destroying the historic church.

epidemicnoun—plague, outbreak, scourge; rapid spread or growth.

    The flu epidemic during the early twentieth century killed millions of people around the globe but is seldom remembered in historical discussions.

eradicateverb—eliminate, exterminate; to destroy completely.

    The crabgrass was eradicated by the weed killer.

excerptnoun—passage, extract, selection.

    Her performance was predicable, having chosen a well-known excerpt from Shakespeare.

excursionnoun—outing, jaunt, expedition; a short pleasure trip.

    The class took an excursion to the community college.

exonerateverb—absolve, acquit; to clear of wrong doing.

    Susie was exonerated when Mikey confessed to eating the cookies.

expertisenoun—skill, proficiency; a high level of knowledge or specific skill.

    Her expertise in technical jargon made her a good candidate for documenting the new software.

exuberantadjective—enthusiastic, excited, lively; very energetic and happy.

    Her exuberance was catchy, and soon all of her friends were learning the new dance.

facilitateverb—help, aid, assist; to make easier or to assist.

    The U.S. military was on hand to facilitate food distribution after the hurricane.

ferventadjective—passionate, zealous; feeling much passion or enthusiasm for.

    The beauty queen said her fervent wish was for world peace.

fratricidenoun—killing a sibling.

    You might say that Cain invented fratricide when he slew his brother Abel.

fundamentaladjective—basic, essential; relating to the foundation or base; an essential part of something.

    Students must learn fundamentals, such as reading and writing, before they can tackle more complicated subjects.

genesisnoun—origin, beginning, birth; the time when something comes into being; the origin.

    Listening to my mother sing while she washed dishes was probably the genesis of my love for my music.

geneticsnoun—heredity; the study of how characteristics are passed on from the parents to their offspring.

    Many doctors and scientists are studying genetics in hopes of someday preventing birth defects.

genocidenoun—killing an entire group or race.

    His entire family was gone—victims of genocide during the Civil War.

hierarchynoun—pyramid, ladder; a serial and ordered group.

    Peons are at the bottom of the company's hierarchy.

honeverb—sharpen; to perfect or complete.

    She spent hours on the court, honing her tennis skills.

hyperbolenoun—exaggeration; figure of speech that exaggerates something in order to emphasize or make a point.

    A good essay has little room for hyperbole—always use the most accurate and appropriate terms possible.

hypothesisnoun—theory, premise, supposition.

    Other experts ridiculed his hypothesis on kinetic energy.

impendingverb—imminent, looming, awaiting, approaching, coming; going to happen soon.

    Folks decorated their houses and yards in preparation of the impending festival.

incentivenoun—motivation; expectation that motivates you toward specific action.

    Management offered a bonus as incentive for working so much overtime.

incognitoadjective—disguised, undercover, anonymously, secretly.

    She slipped into the boardroom incognito; no one suspected a caterer of industrial sabotage.

incrementnoun—increase, augment; something added; one of a consecutive series.

    Increments of .01 percent will be added to each inoculation until the dosage reaches full potency.

indictverb—accuse, charge; to accuse of wrongdoing; bring charges against.

    After reviewing the evidence, the prosecutor began to suspect that he had indicted the wrong man.

indigenousadjective—native, aboriginal.

    The indigenous people still practice most of their spiritual beliefs, despite centuries of attempts by the conquering government to convert them from their old ways.

indoctrinateverb—brainwash, persuade; to repeat an idea or belief frequently in order to influence or persuade.

    The activist used short films and speeches to indoctrinate his followers.

infanticidenoun—killing an infant or child.

    Some tribes still practice infanticide today, especially if the child is a girl.

inferverb—conclude, deduce, conjecture.

    Mikey inferred from his mother's angry glance that he should not have eaten all the cookies.

infiltrateverb—penetrate; to pass secretly or undiscovered.

    Security on the base was so lax that Bill was easily able to infiltrate its deepest sectors.

ingestverb—eat, swallow, consume; to take food or liquid into the stomach.

    You must ingest this medication—you can't take it by injection.

inherentadjective—natural, intrinsic, innate; a natural and permanent attribute; born with; belonging to from the beginning.

    Her inherent ability to see the future had always spooked her friends and family.

insidiousadjective—sinister, dangerous, menacing; spreading harm in a malicious manner.

    The cult's insidious influence was victorious, and she broke all ties with friends and family.

insomnianoun—sleeplessness; the condition of being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.

    Money worries were giving me insomnia at night.

integrateverb—assimilate, combine; to join or unite.

    It was difficult for the drill sergeant to integrate himself with nonmilitary society after he retired.

interimadjective—interval; the time between two events.

    Before getting a real job after graduation, Joe filled the interim by traveling across Europe.

interstateadjective—involving more than one state.

    Interstate issues are usually controlled at the federal level.

intramuraladjective—involving members of one school, college, or university.

    She enjoyed intramural sports but never tried out for a conference team.

intrastateadjective—relating to or existing within the boundaries of one state.

    Intrastate issues are usually controlled by state and local governing bodies.

introspectionnoun—contemplation; the act of spending time in private thought.

    Choosing between the seminary and a state college took months of introspection.

introvertnoun—shy, recluse; a person who's shy and keeps to themselves.

    We suspected that she was just an introvert, but many accused her of being conceited.

intuitionnoun—perception, insight; the ability to know without reasoning.

    My intuition told me that he couldn't be trusted.

irrelevantadjective—extraneous, unimportant.

    Cinderella was irrelevant both in her stepmother's household and in her thoughts.

lateraladjective—sideways; situated at or on the side.

    The restructuring caused lots of lateral personnel changes, but no promotions or demotions.

laudableadjective—admirable, worthy, commendable; deserving or worthy of praise.

    Laudable results were demanded by her talented and successful family.

malicenoun—hatred, malevolence, meanness.

    The victim's mother hoped for the death penalty, even though she no longer felt any malice toward the convicted killer.

mandatoryadjective—compulsory, obligatory; required or commanded to comply.

    Many thought a mandatory gym class was a waste of time.

maritimeadjective—marine, nautical, naval, sea; relating to the sea.

    The maritime unit was on call during the hurricane.

minusculeadjective—tiny, diminutive; very small.

    The raise was miniscule and made the workers angry.

narcissismnoun—vanity, conceit, egotism; excessive love of oneself.

    Her narcissism made her a bad candidate for motherhood.

notoriousadjective—well-known in a negative way.

    The inspector was notorious for taking bribes to look the other way.

nuancenoun—shade, trace; subtle difference.

    The nuances of browns and maroons created a sense of lush comfort.

omnipotentadjective—all-powerful, invincible, supreme; having unlimited power or authority.

    The early Egyptians thought the pharaoh was omnipotent and consequently granted him a godlike status.

omniscientadjective—all-knowing; knowing all events and decisions in all times.

    Sue's omniscient mother always seemed to know about Sue's mistakes before Sue could even confess.

opulentadjective—luxurious, rich, affluent, wealthy, lavish.

    Celebrities often live opulent lifestyles that seem obnoxious and wasteful to many.

overtadjective—obviously, explicit; not hidden, in the open; obvious.

    His overt overtures embarrassed her.

panaceanoun—cure-all, cure, solution, answer; a remedy for all diseases or problems.

    Good works aren't a panacea for all the world's problems.

panoramanoun—view, landscape; the unbroken view of the surrounding area.

    She bought the old place just for the panorama of the surrounding valleys.

paraphrase —verb—summarize, rephrase; to restate, usually summarizing a passage of text.

    It's a good idea to paraphrase a passage when being quizzed on its content.

passiveadjective—submissive, inert; submitting with little or no resistance.

    People living under a tyrannical dictatorship are often passivemaking no attempt to correct the situation out of fear.

pedestalnoun—dais, platform, podium; a raised and supported area for standing or display.

    Elegant pedestals were used to display the antique sculptures.

perceiveverb—distinguish, recognize, identify, sense; to see or become aware of.

    I perceive your displeasure, but you brought it on yourself.

perplexverb—confuse, bewilder, baffle.

    She was perplexed to find a sink full of dishes, knowing that she'd just washed them all.

perspectivenoun—viewpoint, outlook, side; one particular way of thinking or considering.

    From her perspective, the business trip was coming at a bad time.

pervasiveadjective—invasive, persistent.

    Bamboo is quite an invasive plant and not recommended for the average backyard.

philosophynoun—beliefs, viewpoint; the science that deals with life principles.

    Great philosophers shake things up too much and, as a result, are seldom appreciated by their peers.

podiumnoun—platform, dais, pedestal; a platform used for speaking.

    Professor Marks always spoke from a podium, whereas Professor Tatum preferred to walk about the class

precedentnoun—example, model, guide.

    Courts give great weight to precedent—using these cases as a template for subsequent trials.

precipitousadjective—abrupt, steep; to happen suddenly or unexpectedly.

    The precipitous phone call was just a warning of things yet to come.

predictverb—forecast, foresee, foretell; to suggest or know what will happen in the future.

    You didn't have to be a psychic to predict Bill's big win after seeing his supporters at the rally.

prejudiceverb, noun—bigotry, chauvinism; 1. To unfairly influence an opinion; 2. A presumed opinion, without evidence.

    Many college professors prejudice their impressionable young students against conservative policies.

    Her prejudice against the smaller girls on the team was unwarranted as they were great players.

preserveverb, noun—protect, conserve, save; 1. To prevent decay or damage; to keep something in its original state; 2. A place where natural resources are protected.

    She was unable to preserve her seat on the school board.

    Hunting on the preserve was prohibited by law.

pristineadjective—unspoiled, untouched, immaculate; free from change; remaining in its original state without dirt or decay.

    Many thought the pristine wilderness was worth saving and worked diligently to see it preserved.

ratifyverb—sanction, authorize.

    The legislative body ratified the new bill despite public resistance.

rationalizeverb—deduce, reason; to explain or reason.

    Bill was unable to rationalize his need for more office space, so management turned down his request.

relinquishverb—surrender, renounce; to give back or surrender.

    After hearing the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, the father sadly relinquished control of his business to his sons.

repercussionnoun—consequence, effect, outcome, ramification; reaction to or result of.

    Failing to study for his midterms had repercussions he hadn't considered.

repudiateverb—disclaim, renounce, deny; reject as untrue.

    The jury repudiated the testimony of the eyewitness after the defense attorney exposed him as a liar.

ruraladjective—country, pastoral, rustic; relating to the country; opposite of urban.

    The rural route was a welcome change of scenery after hours on the boring interstate.

sectornoun—segment, area; a group or division.

    After the civil unrest, a few sectors of the city remained unstable for a while.


    The secular committee refused to accept the minister's nomination on the grounds that he might be religiously biased.

sedentaryadjective—inactive; very little or no physical movement.

    The old woman's sedentary lifestyle exasperated her heart condition.

suburbanadjective—suburbs, uptown; relating to a residential district located on the outskirts of an urban area.

    Most people tend to move to suburban areas once they gain a little success.

surpassverb—exceed, outdo; to go beyond the limit; to exceed.

    The class far surpassed the teacher's expectations.

temporaladjective—sequential, of time; referring to a specific time period.

    Jules Verne's time machine was a temporal device that carried its passenger into the past or future.

transpireverb—happen, occur.

    The eyewitness told her account of what transpired on the night in question.

ubiquitousadjective—omnipresent; seeming to be everywhere at once.

    We laughed as the exhausted grandmother shared some of her grandson's ubiquitous antics with us.

urbanadjective—city, municipal, inner city; related to a city or city life.

    The urban areas had more to offer the immigrants than the countryside.

vehementadjective—fervent, intense, passionate; strong or forceful feelings.

    Mel was vehemently opposed to the new living arrangements.

verbatimadjective, adverb—precise, word for word; repeating using the exact words.

    She was asked to repeat, verbatim, the teacher's instructions before beginning the exam.

verboseadjective—wordy, talkative; using more words than necessary—wordy.

    She was generally a succinct writer and disagreed with the editor's suggestion that she was verbose.

vicariousadjective—taking part through others' experiences via feelings rather than participation.

    Many parents make the mistake of living vicariously through their children when they fail to fulfill their own dreams.

virulentadjective—contagious, contaminated; capable of causing disease.

    Early small pox vaccinations were a virulent inoculation of the live virus.

wallowverb—surround; to overindulge in or to completely immerse oneself.

    Wallowing in self-pity simply distracts from the task at hand—that of fixing the problem.

Learning Cues

The larger your vocabulary, the less time you’ll spend on this section of the exam. There’s simply no substitute for actually knowing the words on the exam. That’s why we’re including the vocabulary list. You can spend a lot of time trying to memorize all these words by rote, but that’s not the best way. The best way to truly integrate these words into your vocabulary is to learn them and use them. To do so, try one of the following methods to help speed things up:

  • Transfer each word to an index card—that’ll take a bit of work, but the simple process of writing the words and their definitions will go a long way toward committing them to memory. Then, each day, choose a few cards and carry them with you. Review them often and try to use these words in your conversations. Later in the evening, write the words and their meanings without using the index card or the list in this book. Compare your unassisted definition with the index card or the list in this book. Depending on how many words you tackle each day, write a sentence or paragraph that uses each of the new words.

  • Make an audio tape or CD of the list. Play the tape while riding in the car, waiting in line or at a doctor’s office, or anytime you have a few minutes. Just stop and go as you can. After listening to a new word, try to use it in subsequent conversations. Later in the evening, write the words and their meanings without using the audio aid or the list in this book. Compare your unassisted definition with the audio aid or the list in this book. Depending on how many words you tackle each day, write a sentence or paragraph that uses each of the new words.

  • As you learn new words, add them to the appropriate elemental lists created in the previous section.

  • This next cue is for only those students who insist that they learn better if they study while music is playing. When studying your vocabulary words, listen to some of your favorite music. Later, when reviewing the words, listen to the same music. The explanation is more complicated than we have time for here, but it really does work—but only with people who find background music helpful. If you find music or noise distracting, skip this cue.

  • Don’t stop with our list. Anytime you encounter a word that you don’t know, take the time to learn it. If it isn’t possible to stop right then, jot it down and look it up later. Create an index card for it or add it to your audio aid. Incorporate each new word into your routine using the techniques outlined in this chapter.

  • Create visual clues to help you remember difficult words. For example, to help you remember the word "abduct," you might visualize a man kidnapping a duck.

Once a week or so, review the words you’ve already tackled. You may find that you’re actually using these words consistently now—they’re no longer mystery words. These new words will probably become part of your everyday vocabulary, and that’s good. When this happens, you have full command of these words and you should have no difficulties if you encounter them on the exam.

On the other hand, don’t worry if you’re not using every new word in everyday conversation—that would be a lot to expect and it just wouldn’t be natural. However, if none of the new words are making their way into your vocabulary, you may not actually be learning them and you may forget them before exam time.

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