SAT CRITICAL READING
BUILDING YOUR VOCABULARY
Tips on Building Your Vocabulary
Acquaint Yourself with Word Parts—Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots—to Expand Your Vocabulary
One good approach to expanding your vocabulary is to learn how to build up (and tear apart) words. A basic knowledge of roots, prefixes, and suffixes and their meanings can help you determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.
Consider the word magnanimity, a correct answer choice on a published SAT. It comes from two Latin words—magnus (great) and anima (spirit). Magnanimity is greatness of spirit, openhearted generosity.
Most modern English words are derived from Latin, Greek, and Anglo-Saxon (Old English). Because few students nowadays study Latin and Greek (and even fewer study Anglo-Saxon!), the majority of high school seniors and juniors lack an important tool for unlocking the meanings of unfamiliar words.
Build your vocabulary by mastering basic word parts. Learning 30 key word parts can help you determine the meanings of over 10,000 words. Learning 50 key word parts gives you access to the meanings of over 100,000!
A list of basic word parts appear towards the end of this section.