THE LANGUAGE OF IDEAS: VOCABULARY FOR SAT EVIDENCE-BASED READING
1. The Language of Ideas and Learning
2. The Language of Argument, Reasoning, and Persuasion
3. The Language of Dissent, Criticism, and Rebellion
4. The Language of Power and Submission
5. The Language of Language and Literature
6. The Language of Judgment
7. The Language of Extremism and Exaggeration
8. The Language of Care and Restraint
9. The Language of Freedom
10. The Language of Change and Force
11. The Language of Dullness and Stasis
12. The Language of Truth, Truthfulness, and Beauty
13. The Language of Deceit, Error, and Confusion
14. The Language of Creativity and Productivity
15. The Language of Mystery, Surprise, Adventure, and Discovery
16. The Language of Harm, Deficit, and Decline
17. The Language of Kindness, Favor, and Benefit
18. The Language of Wisdom, Strength, and Skill
19. The Language of Capital and Wealth
20. The Language of Passion, Emotion, and Sensation
The Power Roots and Affixes for the SAT
The SAT Reading Test: Vocabulary
Why is vocabulary important on the SAT Reading, Writing, and Essay tests?
Although the SAT no longer includes strictly vocabulary-focused questions—such as antonym, analogy, or sentence completion questions—vocabulary-building is still an essential component of improving your SAT Reading, SAT Writing, and SAT Essay scores. The new SAT assesses your effective vocabulary by asking you to comprehend, analyze, and write about extended college-level passages that may include vocabulary from the humanities, like iconoclast, aesthetic, and colloquial; vocabulary from the physical and human sciences, like catalyst, catharsis, andanomaly; and vocabulary from rhetoric, like apologist, polemic, and advocate.
According to the College Board, numerous SAT Reading and Writing questions will assess
whether students are able to interpret the meanings of relevant words and phrases in context and/or analyze how word choice influences meaning, shapes mood and tone, reflects point of view, or lends precision or interest.
Sound intimidating? It’s not. Here’s how to build an effective vocabulary for the SAT:
• Spend one hour per week making 30 flashcards of new words and/or roots from this chapter, using the formats described below.
• Spend 10 minutes per night, at least three nights per week reviewing the flashcards.
Daily Flashcard Study Methods
Sentence Method: Your friend reads you the word, and you give its definition and use it in a sentence different from the one on the front of the card. Try to come up with a different sentence each time.
Root Method: Your friend reads you the word, and you identify and define its roots and affixes and give examples of other words that share the root or affixes.
Crossword Method: Your friend reads you the definition and first letter of the word, and you give the word.
Mnemonic Method: For obscure words, teach your friend a clever mnemonic trick—like a crazy picture or sound association—for remembering its meaning.
1 THE LANGUAGE OF IDEAS AND LEARNING
abstract (adj) ab- away + tractus pulled
existing as an idea but not as a tangible experience : For over a thousand years, mathematicians regarded subtracting a large number from a small one as impossible because the concept of negative numbers was too abstract.
Form: abstraction = something that exists only as an idea
Root family: [tract] retraction (a pulling back), protract (to extend in time), tractor (vehicle that pulls farm instruments), detract (reduce the value of someone or something), tractable (manageable)
anthropology (n) anthro human + -ology study
the study and comparison of human cultures : The Amazon basin has long been a focus of anthropological research because of its many isolated indigenous tribes.
Root family: [anthro] misanthrope (one who distrusts all people), philanthropy (generosity to charitable causes), anthropomorphic (having human form), anthropocentric (pertaining to the belief that humans are the center of the universe)
Don’t confuse with: archaeology (the study of ancient civilizations), paleontology (the study of fossils)
comprehensive (adj) com- together + prehendere to grasp
thorough and complete; covering all relevant subjects : My doctor gave me a comprehensive physical examination.
Synonyms: exhaustive, encyclopedic
Root family: [prehens] reprehensible (morally objectionable), apprehensive (fearful)
Don’t confuse with: comprehensible (understandable)
Mnemonic: To avoid confusing comprehensive with comprehensible, focus on the roots and, especially, the suffixes. Recall that –ible or –able means “able to be”; for instance, defensible means “able to be defended.” Therefore, comprehensible means “able to be grasped by the mind (prehendere = to grasp), while comprehensive means “encompassing (or grasping) everything relevant.”
construe (v) con- together + struere to build
to interpret in a particular way : Some opinion polls are unreliable because their biased phrasing encourages people to construe issues to conform to the ideology of the pollster.
Form: misconstrue = to interpret incorrectly
Root family: [con-, co-, com-, col-] conjecture (guess), consensus (general agreement), conspire (to plot together), coalesce (to come together), coherent (forming a united whole), compliant (willing to obey), confluence (a place at which two things merge)
Root family: [stru, stroy, stry] destroy (put an end to by attacking), instruct (to teach), industry (manufacturing activity), obstruct (impede)
Don’t confuse with: construct (to build)
discerning (adj) dis- apart + cernere to separate
showing a keen ability to distinguish subtle elements : Elena has a very discerning palate for olives and can even tell in what region of Italy they were grown.
Forms: discern = to recognize and distinguish, discernment = keen judgment, discernible = perceivable
Synonyms: discriminating, judicious, astute, percipient, perspicacious
Root family: [dis-] disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disseminate (to cast widely), disperse (to spread or scatter), diffuse (spread over a wide area)
Root family: [cern, cert, cret, cre] ascertain (find something out for certain), certain (known for sure), certify (formally attest or confirm), discretion (behavior to avoid offense or revealing private information; freedom to make decisions)
discriminating (adj) dis- apart + crimen judicial decision
showing good taste or judgment : Our interior designer has a discriminating eye for bold fabrics.
Forms: indiscriminate = done without careful judgment
Synonyms: discerning, judicious, astute, percipient, perspicacious
Root family: [dis-] disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disseminate (to cast widely), disperse (to spread or scatter), disputatious (argumentative), dispel (to drive away; to eliminate), diffuse (spread over a wide area)
Root family: [crim] criminal (one who commits a crime), recrimination (counteraccusation), crime (illegal act)
Usage: The word discrimination generally has a negative connotation because of its association with unfair practices like racial or sexual discrimination and because of its connection, via the Latin root crimen (judicial decision) with words like crime and criminal. Discriminating, however, has a generally positive connotation because it is associated with an expert’s judicious ability to distinguish good things from bad.
disseminate (v) dis- widely + semen seed
to cast (something, usually information) widely, as seed is scattered : The rumor was disseminated almost instantaneously over the Internet.
Form: dissemination = the process or act of spreading information widely
Synonyms: promulgate, propagate, circulate
Root family: [dis-] disconcerting (unsettling), disparate (very different; variegated), discrepancy (a lack of compatibility between facts or claims), disperse (to spread or scatter), dispel (to drive away; to eliminate), diffuse (spread over a wide area)
Root family: [semin] seminary (a college to prepare clergy), seminal (serving as a primary influence on later works), seminar (a discussion-based class)
Don’t confuse dissemination with disinformation (incorrect or misleading information)
Mnemonic: Picture a farmer casting seed widely (dis = widely + semen = seed).
erudite (adj) e- not + rudis untrained, unwrought
having or showing great learning or knowledge : Professor Jacoby could be engagingly erudite without seeming pompous.
Form: erudition = an expression of great learning or knowledge; the quality of having great learning or knowledge
Root family: [rud] rudiment (a most basic element or undeveloped first form of something), rudimentary (basic or undeveloped), rude (ill-mannered)
Synonyms: scholarly, cerebral, learned
Don’t confuse with: eradicate (to destroy completely)
indoctrinate (v) in- in + docere to teach
to teach someone to accept a set of beliefs uncritically : The parents were concerned that the guest speaker was going to indoctrinate their children.
Forms: doctrine = a set of beliefs held by a political, philosophical, or religious group
Synonyms: proselytize, inculcate, propagandize
Root family: [in-] inundate (to flood), incisive (showing keen judgment), ingratiate (to curry favor), inherent (existing as an inseparable element), infiltrate (to gain access secretly)
Root family: [doc, dox] doctrinaire (seeking to impose rigid doctrine), orthodox (conforming strictly to traditional teachings), docile (compliant and easy to instruct), paradox (a self-contradictory statement or situation)
insular (adj) insula island
isolated from cultural and intellectual influences outside one’s own experience : The farming village was too insular for Madeleine, who wanted to experience the outside world.
Form: insularity = the quality of being culturally isolated
Root family: [insula] insulation (the state of being protected from loss of heat, electrical conduction, or unpleasant effects, or the materials or situations that provide such protection), isolate (to set apart from others), island (land mass surrounded by water), peninsula (land mass surrounded on three sides by water)
Mnemonic: An insular community is insulated from outside influences.
orthodox (adj) orthos right, straight + docere to teach
conforming strictly to traditional teachings : Doctor Altbaum is respectfully skeptical of treatments that have not been tested via orthodox trials.
Forms: orthodoxy = authorized theory or practice, unorthodox = straying from conventional teachings
Root family: [ortho] orthogonal (at right angles), orthopedics (the branch of medicine dealing with correcting bone and muscle deformities), orthodontics (the treatment of the misalignment of teeth)
Root family: [doc, dox] doctrinaire (seeking to impose rigid doctrine), indoctrinate (to teach someone to accept a set of beliefs uncritically), docile (compliant and easy to instruct)
pedantic (adj) pedante schoolmaster (< pais child)
inclined to show off one’s learning or knowledge; acting like a know-it-all : Jennifer’s pedantic displays in class earned her the scorn of her classmates.
Forms: pedant = a know-it-all; pedantry = the quality or practice of being a know-it-all
Root family: [ped] pediatrician (a children’s doctor), pedagogy (the art of teaching)
Mnemonic: The word pedant derives from pedagogue (schoolmaster, or literally “leader of children”), so a pedant is anyone who acts like a know-it-all schoolmaster. Or, for a wacky visual mnemonic, picture a gigantic pet ant that comes to school and raises his hand all the time because he knows all the answers.
Don’t confuse words that derive from ped (foot)—like pedestrian, podiatrist, and pedal—with words that derive from pais (child)—like pediatrician, pedagogy, and pedant.
peruse (v) per- thoroughly + use use
to read thoroughly and carefully : Pitifully few of the congressmen perused the bill before signing it.
Form: perusal = the act of reading thoroughly
Root family: [per-] perfect (as good as can be), perpetuate (to help to continue for an extended period of time), perfunctory (carried out with a minimum of effort), perturb (to make uncomfortable or anxious)
Don’t confuse with: carouse (drink alcohol abundantly, merrily, and boisterously), pursue (to follow in order to catch or attack)
Mnemonic: It’s common to mistake perusal with cursory (casual) reading when in fact it means careful reading. Remember that it derives from per which means “thoroughly,” so to peruse means to “use thoroughly.”
[POS chew late] assume the existence or truth of something as a basis for reasoning : Copernicus postulated that the simplest explanation for planetary motion was probably the best explanation.
Form: postulate (n) [POS chew let] = an assumption made for the purpose of reasoning
Synonyms: posit, presume, hypothesize
Don’t confuse with: pustule (a small pimple)
unsophisticated or narrow-minded; particular to the narrow views of an isolated community : Glen’s comments reflected his provincial political views rather than an understanding of the national interest.
Form: provincialism = narrow-mindedness or lack of sophistication
Don’t confuse with: providential (opportune; involving benevolent divine intervention)
Mnemonic: A province is a small region within an empire, so someone who has never been beyond his or her province is provincial.
a fact revealed in a surprising way : The biography provided many interesting revelations.
Form: revelatory = revealing something previously unknown
Don’t confuse with: revelry (noisy festivities)