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Cheat Sheet

SAT Vocabulary For Dummies

From SAT Vocabulary For Dummies by Suzee Vlk

The vocabulary section of the SAT can be less intimidating if you adopt good study habits ahead of time and use some simple tips to figure out SAT word definitions. Do your best to lodge some of the most common prefixes, roots, and suffixes in your cranium, and you'll have few problems.

How to Figure Out Vocabulary Definitions for the SAT

You can come through the vocabulary section of the SAT with flying colors if you can prepare for the test by grouping words into logical clusters. During the test, you can figure out word definitions from word parts and use context to give you clues to a word's meaning.

Considering connotation clusters

Unless you have a photographic memory, you probably don't remember words in alphabetical order, straight off the pages of a dictionary. You need another way to recall not just one word at a time, but groups of words together. The following suggestions can help:

  • Group words according to their meanings, such as words about personal appearance, words about intelligence, words about work, and so on.

  • Remember words as synonyms (erudite, omniscient = knowledgeable) and antonyms (nescient, dolt = ignorant)

  • Use three or four words instead of one in conversation and personal writing, such as "She was pulchritudinous, comely, and svelte" or "We suffered from lethargy, torpor, and sluggishness on the weekend."

Benefiting from building blocks

Think of the roots, prefixes, suffixes as the building blocks you use to construct your vocabulary. Using these blocks efficiently and effectively helps you to maximize your word gain and minimize your brain strain.

  • Use prefixes to determine whether a word is positive (eu– = good; pro– = big or much) or negative (caco– = bad; de = down from, away from, or to put down)

  • Use roots to get the gist of the word (phon = sound; culp = guilt)

  • Use suffixes to fine-tune the definition (–ous = full of; –ate = to make)

  • Put everything together to define hard words: euphonious = full of good sound (good-sounding, like a pleasant voice); exculpate = make away from blame (free from guilt, declare blameless)

Contemplating contextual clues

Very rarely in your life does someone approach you and say, "Quick: What does somnolent mean?" Instead, you encounter words in stories, articles, or speeches. You can remember words by recalling where you read or heard them.

  • Review words in the context of stories.

  • Remember where you learned a word by recalling the tale.

  • Define a word in a way that's close enough by recalling how it was used in an anecdote.

Study Suggestions for SAT Vocabulary

After you're introduced to new SAT vocabulary words, just how are you going to fix them permanently in your brain? Use the ideas in the following list to help:

  • Put roots, prefixes and suffixes on color-coded (positive, negative) flash cards and memorize them.

  • Associate words with friends and situations ("Somnolent — sleepy — Sam"; "Vivacious — energetic — Vicky").

  • Identify similarities between difficult English words and easier words in another language (facilitate in English; facil in Spanish).

  • Enlist the help of family and friends to use these words around you as much as possible.

  • Keep a card file of groups of words (happy/sad; fun/boring); add new words as you encounter them in your studies.

Vocabulary Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes for the SAT

Your time with the vocabulary section of the SAT will be easier if you take the time to master some basic prefixes, roots, and suffixes ahead of time. Knowing these word parts can help you determine the meaning of unfamiliar words. Do your best to add the word parts in the following tables to your knowledge base.

Prefixes
a–, an– = not, without circum– = around peri– = around
ab– = away from co–, con–, col–, cor– = with poly– = many
ad– = toward, addition contra–, counter– = against post– = after
anim– = life, spirit de–, ex– = out of, away from pre– = before
ante– = before extra– = beyond, outside pro– = big, much
anti– = opposite hetero– = other re–, retro– = back, again
auc–, aug– = increase homo– = same se– = apart
aud–, aur– = hear hyper– = above sub–, suc–, suf– = below
auto– = self hypo– = under super–, sur– = over, above
ben–, bon–, eu– = good il–, im–, in–, ir–, non– = not syn–, sym– = together, with
brev– = short inter– = between trans– = across, beyond
caco–, dys– = bad, abnormal intra– = within ultra–, outr– = beyond
ceiv–, cept–, capt– = take mal–, mis–, ne– = bad vice– = in place of
Roots
ambu = walk, move fract, frag, frai = break pug = war, fight
andro = man gnos = knowledge rupt = break
anthro = human grad, gress = to go sanct = holy
bellu, belli = war, fight greg = group, herd scien = knowledge
carn = flesh gyn = woman senti = feeling
clam, claim = shout her, hes = to stick somn, sop = sleep
clin = lean, bend jac, ject = to throw son = sound
clud, clus, claus = close loq, log, loc, lix = talk soph = wise
cred = trust, belief luc, lum, lus = light, clear spec = look
demo– = people meta, mut = change term = end, boundary
dog, dox = thought, idea morph = shape terr = earth
duc, duct = to lead, pull narco = sleep theo = God
ev = time, age omni = all ven = come
fac = to do, make oper = work vid, vis = to see
fiss = break, part pac, plac = peace, calm voc, voke = call
flict = strike path = feeling vol = roll, turn
fort = strength phon = sound xen = stranger
Suffixes
–able, –ible = capable of –cide = to kill –ist = a person
–ate, –ify,–efy, –ize, –ise = make –cis = cut –logy, –ology = study
–cess, –cede = to go, yield –ette, –illo = little –ous = full of
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