New SAT Vocabulary (2016)

The following lists can also be downloaded as a PDF

While the majority of the vocabulary on the redesigned SAT is tested in the context of reading passages, the Writing section also tests diction and usage, frequently in the form of commonly confused pairs of words. The following first reflects the types of words likely to be directly tested on that section.

Commonly Confused Words  (Writing and Language Test)

Accept – Verb, Receive
Except – Excluding

Access – Verb, Gain entrance to; Noun, The right to enter or approach
Excess – Noun, Adjective, Too much

Advice – Noun, Recommendation, suggestion.
Advise – Verb, To make a recommendation or suggestion.

Affect – Verb, To have an impact
Effect – Noun, impact

Aisle – Space between a row of chairs
Isle – Island

Allusion – Reference
Illusion – Fantasy

Allude (to) – Refer (to)
Elude – Avoid, Evade

Ascent – Noun, Upward movement
Assent – Agreement

Brake – Device that has a slowing/stopping effect
Break – Rest or relief

Breadth – Size, Width
Breath – Noun, What comes out your mouth when you breathe
Breathe – Verb, To inhale and exhale

Censor – Remove offensive or inappropriate parts
Censure – Punish

Cite – Verb, Reference
Site – Noun, Location
Sight – Noun, Ability to see

Collaborate – Work with
Corroborate – Confirm, make certain

Conscience – Noun, Inner sense of right and wrong (Noun form = conscientious)
Conscious – Adjective, Awareness (Noun form = consciousness)

Council – Noun, Governing body
Counsel – Noun, Advice/opinion; Verb, To advise

Creak – Harsh or squeaking sound
Creek – Small body of water

Desert – Dry, sandy region
Dessert – A sweet

Device – Noun, Object with a specific function
Devise – Verb, Invent, come up with

Decent – Adjective, Respectable, fair
Descent – Noun, Go down
Dissent – Noun, Go against popular opinion

Elicit – Draw out
Illicit – Illegal, not permitted

Eminent – Well-known
Imminent – About to occur

Emit – Give off, discharge
Omit – Remove, leave out

Fair – Just, ethical
Fare – n., (1) Particular type of food; (2) cost of a travel ticket, e.g. bus fare; (3) v. To manage (in a difficult situation), make do

Faze – To be disturbed
Phase – Period, length of time

Find – To locate
Found – To establish

Formally – In a refined manner
Formerly – In the past

Hardly – Barely
Heartily – Without restraint, energetically

Heard – Past tense of hear
Herd – Group of animals

Imply – Suggest.
Infer – Draw a conclusion

(In)credible – (Un)believable
(In)credulous – (Dis)believing

Influence – Effect 
Affluence – Wealth 

Later – Adverb, Afterward
Latter – Adjective, The second thing mentioned (e.g. Between chocolate and vanilla ice cream, I prefer the latter.)

Lay – Set an object down. This verb is followed by a noun, e.g. To lay a book on the table.
Lie – To recline. This verb is not followed by a noun, e.g. I am going to lie down for a few minutes before dinner.

Led – Past tense of “to lead”
Lead – 1) Infinitive form of “to lead;” 2)

Lessen – Verb, Reduce
Lesson – Noun, Something that is taught

Loose – Adjective, roomy
Lose – Verb, The opposite of win

Manner – Behavior or way of acting
Manor – Estate

Passed – Past tense of to pass
Past – Noun, Earlier time

Peace – Calm, harmony
Piece – Section, portion

Peak – Noun, Highest point
Peek – Verb, To look quickly, glimpse

Plain – Adjective, Simple, not fancy
Plane – Noun, Flat surface or airplane

Persecute – Harass or torment a person because of their characteristics or beliefs
Prosecute – Conduct legal proceedings against someone

Perspective – Point of view
Prospective – Potential

Precede – Come before
Proceed – To go forward, carry on

Pore – Verb, To read or study with great attention (pore over) 
Poor – Adjective, Lacking money
Pour – Verb, To send a liquid flowing (e.g. pour a glass of milk) 

Principal – Most important
Principle – Accepted rule 

Reign – Noun, Period of rule
Rein – Noun, Leather straps used to control a horse; Verb, To control or curb (rein in) 

Respectfully – In a polite manner 
Respectively – Pertaining to individuals in sequence, e.g. The book and magazine belong respectively to my brother and sister. This means that the book (mentioned first) belongs to the brother (mentioned first) and the magazine (mentioned second) belongs to the sister (mentioned second). 

Role – Noun, Part or character 
Roll – Verb, Move on a wheel 

Statue – Three-dimensional work of art 
Statute – Law or regulation 

Tenant – Person who lives in a particular dwelling 
Tenet – Principle or doctrine 

Than – Used for comparisons. My brother is two years older than I am.  
Then – Used to indicate sequence. We went to the movie, and then we went home. 

Wave – Move back forth, flutter 
Waive – Give up one’s right to something

 

Vocabulary for Passages (compiled primarily from released College Board exams) 

Aesthetic (sometimes sp. esthetic) – Relating to beauty or appearance

Affluent – Wealthy, well-off

Aggregate – Compilation, formation of particulars into a whole

Alienated – Estranged

Anomaly – Exception, outlier

Antipathy – Intense dislike

Apt – Appropriate, fitting

Array – Verb, To place in proper order

Authoritative – Carrying the weight of authority, trustworthy

Belie – Give a false impression

Benevolent – Kindly

Calibrate – Adjust information against a standard in order to determine its accuracy

Candid – Clear, direct

Cognitive – Relating to the brain

Combatant – Fighter

Conceive – Imagine

(In) Concert – Together (e.g. working in concert = working together)

Condone – Quietly accept illegal or immoral behavior

Consensus – Agreement

Constitution – Composition, makeup

Contemplate – Think about

Contest – v., protest, dispute

Contingent – Dependent on

Conviction – Strong belief

Crux – Central problem or idea of a discussion, argument, etc.

Cultivate – Develop and improve

Curious – Odd

Demographic – Specific segment of the population with the same characteristics

Demur – Object, raise doubts

Desolate – Bare, empty

Discord – Disagreement

Disdain – Look down on

Disenfranchised – Oppressed

Disparity – Gap, difference

Disseminate – Spread

Diverge – Separate, go away from

Doctrine – Set of policies or teachings

Domestic – Relating to one’s home or country

Dubious – Doubtful, questioning

Earnest – Serious

Efficacious – Effective

Endeavor – Attempt

Exalted – Elevated, noble

Expenditure – Expense

Exponent – Proponent of an idea or theory

Extant – Existing

Faculties – Mental/physical abilities

Feasible – Doable

Fiscal – Relating to money

Florid – Fancy, decorated

Foment – Rile up, incite

Galvanize – Energize

Grievance – Complaint

Gross – Total amount

Ignominious – Publicly shameful

Immune – Unaffected by

Immure – Confine or enclose

Indifferent – Not caring

Inevitable, Inexorable – Unavoidable

Kudos – Praise

Liaison – 1) Close bond or relationship; 2) Go-between, intermediary

Malice – Evil intent

Moral – Concerned with the distinction between right and wrong; ethics

Parity – Equality

Pathogen – Harmful microorganism

Perchance – Perhaps

Peril(ous) – Danger(ous)

Perish – Die, disappear

Phenomenon – Occurrence

Piety, Pious – Dutifully fulfilling religious obligations

Poignant – Touching

Populist – Appealing to the interests of ordinary people

Posterity – Future generations

Postulate – Set forth an argument

Prevail – Win, overcome

Pristine – Flawless

Ramp (up) – Increase

Raw – Pure, unfiltered

Reconcile – Bring together, make up with

Redress – Remedy, correction for a wrong

Religiously – Strictly

Remedy – Cure

Repel – Push away

Reverie – Dreamy state

Rhetorical – Relating to terms/language used to persuade

Sanction – Authorize OR penalize, depending on context. Sanctions = punishments

Scrutinize – Examine closely

Skeptical – Questioning, suspicious

Spawn – Give rise to

Speculate – Theorize

Sphere – Particular environment or world (e.g. the professional sphere, the athletic sphere)

Stipulate – Require (often used in a legal context)

Subjugate – Oppress

Subordinate – Lower-ranking

Subversive – Rebellious, going against the establishment

Suffrage – Right to vote

Summit – Highest point

Susceptible – Vulnerable, capable of being affected

Synthetic – Fake

Temper – Verb, To moderate

Traction – Grip, adhesion

Transgress – Violate, go beyond

Tyranny, Tyrant – Cruel and oppressive rule(r)

Ubiquitous – Ever-present

Uniform – Same, identical

(Un)becoming – (Un)attractive, (un)fitting

Venerable – Deeply respected

Versatile – Flexible

Viable – Workable, capable of surviving

Wrest – Pull away with effort

Yield – Give in