Now Is the Time to Beef Up Your SAT and ACT Vocabulary - Student Research Foundation

Now Is the Time to Beef Up Your SAT and ACT Vocabulary

What is the single most effective way to improve the scores that you or a student will earn on the PSAT, SAT and ACT tests that are coming up in the new year?

There are many answers to that question, and most involve spending money on costly tutoring programs. But there is another way to dramatically improve the chances of earning a higher score on those tests – and it will cost you very little . . .

Build a better vocabulary

Why is a bigger vocabulary a key to earning a higher score on standardized tests? The simple answer is that if a student doesn’t know what a word means when taking one of those tests, that lack of knowledge can hurt the student’s performance in one of these three ways:

  1. If an unknown word shows up in a reading passage
  2. If an unknown word shows up in a question
  3. If an unknown word shows up in one of the suggested answers to a multiple-choice question

Summer is a good time to build vocabulary. Students can use off time, travel time, vacation time, and more.

Good Vocabulary-Building Options

There are basically two ways for students to improve vocabulary. One is to study online. Many options are available, including a list of vocabulary words at

But for a number of reasons, opting for books or flashcards can make more sense. They are easy to pack. They offer a study option a student can use when riding in a car or a plane, or when sitting on the beach or at a pool. They just integrate better into summer life. Here are some options to consider. All are available from and other booksellers.

  • The Seberson SAT New Vocabulary Workbook offers an interactive way to add up to 700 new words to a student’s working vocabulary. Rockridge Press, $15.99.
  • SAT Vocabulary: A New Approach by Larry Krieger and Erica L. Meltzer helps students add words to their working vocabulary by learning them in context, not in dry lists. Critical Reader Publications, $15.75.
  • Barron’s SAT Vocabulary Building Flashcards by Sharon Weiner Green offer a fun and different way to build a powerful SAT working vocabulary. Barron’s, $16.99.

A Simple Way to Get New Words to “Stick”

For most students, the most effective way to remember what words mean is to use them. Even though peppering conversation with words like internecine, nescient and crepuscular can make a normal kid sound pretentious, that is a small price to pay in the pursuit of a higher score on the PSAT, SAT or ACT. A higher score would be, well, salubrious, right? You bet it would.

To Learn More about College and Career Options

Teachers, we invite all your students to explore their career options by participating in our career and college research studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities matched to their interests.

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