New SAT Vocabulary

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The new version of the SAT includes an updated method of measuring students' vocabulary skills. Learn how these skills are tested, and get tips for preparing for vocabulary questions on the new SAT.

SAT Vocabulary: Context is King

While the previous version of the SAT gauged vocabulary skills by asking for definitions of difficult words, the new test requires students to understand the meaning of more widely used words within real-world contexts. Mastery of vocabulary will be measured in both the reading and the writing and language sections of the new SAT. For example, the writing and language section now includes questions that ask test takers to use their mastery of vocabulary to clarify or correct an existing sentence. Questions within the reading section, meanwhile, may require students to identify the meaning of a word based on how it's used within a written passage.

Preparing for SAT Vocabulary

Unlike pre-2016 test takers, students preparing for the new SAT need not memorize definitions. The best long-term strategy to ace SAT vocabulary is to read ardently in order to develop an understanding of how words are used within a text. You might also want to consider reviewing the content of the SAT's reading and writing and language sections and taking practice tests.

Prep Courses

Practice and prep courses designed to help students improve their performance on the SAT could also prove useful.'s SAT Prep: Practice & Study Guide course includes chapters that focus on developing the reading, writing and vocabulary skills test takers will need to perform well on the new SAT. The course is taught via easy-to-follow video lessons and includes practice exams covering such topics as essay writing, sentence structure and clarity, grammar, literary terms and methods for interpreting reading passages.

Other lessons you might find helpful when preparing for the vocabulary questions on the new SAT include How to Strengthen Your Vocabulary and Using Reference Materials for Vocabulary.