Should I Study SAT Vocabulary?

How am I ever going to finish memorizing these 1000 vocabulary words for the SAT?  Is this even important for the SAT??? The SAT vocabulary used to be a large part of SAT prep. After all, if you could confidently memorize all those SAT words, you could have a perfect score on the SAT vocabulary section. Yet, nowadays, with analogies and antonyms gone from the SAT, studying for the SAT vocabulary only become directly important for the Sentence Completion part under Critical Reading. It seems that vocabulary has become less important in the SAT.

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[Continue reading to find out whether studying SAT vocabulary is important…]

However, this is definitely not true. “SAT Test Prep” should not exclude vocabulary prep! Here are some reasons why you should study that SAT vocabulary list so that you can add extra points to your SAT score!

  1. At least one-third of the Critical Reading section is based on vocabulary. From the Critical Reading section, 37.5% of the 800 points (-300 points) from this section are directly related to the vocabulary, and much more indirectly related as well. Are you willing to let those 300 points go? Probably not, when they can change your final score from 2000 to 2300!
  2. Most students don’t study the vocabulary. Many students have a strong resistance to studying the SAT because they believe that it won’t be helpful to them and, of course, it’s incredibly boring to be memorizing more than a 1000 words. Yet, if YOU take the effort to memorize those extra words, this will help you to grasp those extra points and get a leg up on the rest of the students taking the SAT. Many students will be able to answer the easy vocabulary questions, but will probably struggle with the hard ones. Given that you’re benchmarked against the other students taking the SAT then, this strategy is probably a good idea if you want to do really well!
  3. A good vocabulary helps you to ace the other parts too! It would definitely be helpful on the Essay section to have a large arsenal of more advanced vocabulary words that would add to the depth of your essay, provided that you are able to use those words accurately. Also, according to decades of research, it has been proven that the more vocabulary you know, the faster you are able to read and comprehend. This means that learning the vocabulary well will also help you in the other parts of Critical Reading!

In conclusion, if you weigh the costs and benefits of learning those extra words for the SAT vocabulary, it becomes clear that you should take that extra effort! Additionally, if you know that your math or writing sections are weaker, it might help significantly to secure all those vocabulary points. Those extra points might make a difference in college admissions or scholarships!

Good luck and keep on working hard! :)

About the author: Shimin Ooi is a junior in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs department. She has a strong interest in economic and health policy and has recently returned from a semester of study at Hertford College, Oxford. In high school, her extensive research on standardized tests helped her achieve a near perfect SAT score and perfect scores on each of her SAT Subject tests. Through these blog posts, she hopes to help others achieve test-taking success as well!

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