Top 100 Digital SAT® Reading & Writing Vocabulary Words Every High Schooler Should Conquer

Illustration of a student standing on books holding a megaphone explaining the top 20 most common Digital SAT vocabulary words.

A robust vocabulary is indispensable for excelling in the Digital SAT® Reading and Writing section. This section tests your ability to comprehend and analyze short passages that are under 150 words covering a variety of subjects, including literature, history, and social sciences. The passages contain vocabulary words students are likely to encounter in college and career reading, which could be challenging if you are unfamiliar with them. Building a strong vocabulary facilitates quicker and more accurate reading comprehension of the passages, which is crucial for achieving success in this section.

If you are stressed about Digital SAT vocab prep, then we’re here to help! We’ve curated a list of the top 100 vocabulary words specifically chosen for their frequency in SAT® reading passages, ensuring you invest your time where it matters most. This Digital SAT vocabulary list also aligns with the updated Reading and Writing section of the Digital SAT, so keep it handy when you’re prepping for the digital test format. We’ve also explained how context clues, prefixes, and suffixes can help students infer the meaning of unfamiliar terms.

Understanding Vocabulary in the Digital SAT Reading and Writing Section

The Digital SAT Reading and Writing short passages are chosen to evaluate student comprehension and analytical skills. We’ve classified general SAT vocabulary tips into a few categories based on the types and frequency of words you may see on the test. Understanding these groups can help you understand what kinds of words may appear on the test and how to decipher the meaning of any words that are unfamiliar.

  1. Common SAT vocabulary

    Most Digital SAT reading and writing passages include a typical selection of vocabulary words you’ll frequently encounter regardless of their subject areas. These words are flexible, as they can function in various contexts, conveying distinct meanings in each. Words like “delegate,” “foil,” “spike,” “stream,” and “bank” are a few examples of common SAT vocabulary that you should expect to see throughout the Digital SAT’s reading and writing passages.
  2. Subject-specific vocabulary

    The Digital SAT Reading and Writing section includes passages from various subject areas and materials, such as academic journals, historical documents, or literary works. These passages incorporate technical and advanced vocabulary specific to their respective disciplines. Let’s look at a couple of examples below:

Example

Passage:
Although leprosy typically develops after a 5-year incubation period, it can take as long as 20 years to show symptoms. The disease’s impact is also progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse over time. Although curable, if left untreated, its later stages can be marked by large skin ulcerations, paralysis of the hands and feet, and facial disfigurement.

The passage above was selected from a medical case study on Leprosy. As you can see, words like “incubation” and “ulcerations” belong to the subject area from which the passage was chosen. To get familiar with advanced and specialized vocabulary, you should read texts from various subject areas and sources where these words are commonly used.

  1. Context clues

    The Digital SAT emphasizes understanding words in context, discerning meaning from the passage, and being able to use context clues. Context clues are an efficient way to decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words. As you read each of the passages on the Digital SAT, you must analyze their tone, structure, discipline, and writing style to determine the meaning of any tricky words. You may also see passages with footnotes or annotations that provide further context. Use these context clues to understand the overall purpose of the passage and the sentences within it. Once you’ve done that, the only thing left is to note any words you’re struggling with and guess their meaning. Let’s try with one example below:

Example

Passage:
Brain research suggests that new memories go through a period where the memory is likely to change (a labile state) before becoming a lasting (consolidated) memory. Scientists previously believed that—once consolidated—a memory became resistant to change, but recent findings have strongly established that a consolidated memory can re-enter a labile state through a process called memory reactivation, a deliberate recalling of a long-term memory.

Many students can find the word “labile” difficult to understand. But, as you can analyze from the passage above, “a labile state” has been used as an antonym for “consolidated” memory. If you already know the meaning of “consolidate” (something solid and whole), you can guess that it is the opposite of something that is not “solid.” In the context of brain and memory, this word can refer to something dynamic and unstable. Therefore, even if you do not know the exact dictionary meaning of “labile,” you can still guess it.

  1. Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots

    Using word parts like prefixes and suffixes can provide clues about the meaning of a word, even if you have never encountered it before. Here’s how:
    • Prefixes:
      Prefixes always occur before the root of a word. For example, in the word “uncommon,” “un” is a prefix. Some common prefixes are:
      1. “un-” (not)
      2. “re-” (again)
      3. “pre-” (before)
      4. “dis-” (not, opposite of)
      5. “Con-” (with)”post-” (after)

    A thorough knowledge of standard English prefixes can help you understand unfamiliar words easily! For example, if you come across the term “conjoin” and are unsure of its meaning, remove the root word “join.” Now, if you use your knowledge of the prefix “con-,” which means “with,” you will understand that the word “conjoin” means “to join with,” which further points to describing a thing or things that are joined together.

    • Suffixes:
      As opposed to prefixes, suffixes come after the root word. For example, “recital” uses the suffix “-al” after the root word “recite.” There are a few common suffixes used in standard English grammar, among others:
      1. “-acy” (state or quality)
      2. “-al” (act or process)
      3. “-dom” (place or state of being)
      4. “-ism” (belief system)
      5. “-ity” (quality of something)
      6. “-ment” (condition of something)

    So, next time you encounter words like delicacy (delicate + acy), judgment (judge + ment), or endorsement (endorse + ment), be sure to memorize the list of suffixes and their meanings. Doing so will help you decipher the meaning of many tricky words. 

    • Roots:
      Roots are the core building blocks that make up words and often carry each word’s primary meaning. Some common roots include:
      1. “Ambi” (both)
      2. “Aqua” (water)
      3. “Bio-” (life)
      4. “Multi” (many)
      5. “Port-” (carry)
      6. “Form” (shape)

You may encounter words like “conform,” “aquatic,” “multifarious,” and “portable,” which consist of root words. Use what you know to navigate the core meaning of any unfamiliar word, along with context clues to crack open the meaning of any tricky word you may encounter on your Digital SAT test.

Top 100 Common Digital SAT Vocabulary Words You Need to Know

Words Word Forms Meaning
Abate Abating
Abater
To reduce in intensity; to lessen
Abet Abetment
Abettor
To support or encourage
Abhor Abhorrer To hate something
Abnegate Abnegation To deny or to give up the right or privilege to something
Abscond Absconder To escape, run away, or let go of something
Advocate Advocation
Advocative
Advocator
To support or argue for a cause
Allue Allusion To refer to something indirectly; commonly used in literature.
Ambiguity Ambiguous Something that can be understood or interpreted in more than one manner
Analogy Analogous
Analogousness
A comparison of two otherwise unalike things based on resemblance of a particular aspect; widely used in literature
Apprehend Apprehension
Apprehensibility
To arrest someone recognize the meaning of an idea or a thing
Articulate Articulative
Articulator
To explain something clearly
Words Word forms Meaning
Bane Something capable of causing destruction or ruin
Bereft Lacking something needed, wanted, or expected; a person grieving the death of a loved one
Bias Biasness To possess an inclined outlook towards an object or an idea
Berate To scold someone strongly
Brevity Brief Something or event that is short in length or duration
Words Word forms Meaning
Cache Caching A secure place that is used to store objects secretly
Capitalize Capitalization To profit from a resource or an opportunity
Capitulate Capitulation To surrender on terms agreed upon in advance
Credible Credibility Something that can be trusted on the basis of logic or rationale
Corroborate Corroboration
Corroboratory
Corroborative
To support with evidence or authority
Complacent Complacency Accepting something after being self-satisfied
Construe To construct or interpret meaning out of a sentence or words
Contentious Contentiousness Inclined towards argument or dispute
Covet Covetable
Coveter
Want or desire
Words Word forms Meaning
Dearth Lack or absence of something
Debunk Debunker To expose the falseness of a fact
Defunct Extinct or no longer functioning
Didactic Didactical
Didacticism
Something that is intended to be taught
Delegate Delegation
Delegatee
Delegator
A representative; to entrust work or responsibility to another person
Dispel To drive away something (can also be a belief system or a myth)
Doctrine Indoctrinate Principles or rules that create a belief system
Dogma Dogmatic Something considered an established opinion (can be a belief or a set of moral codes)
Words Word forms Meaning
Eclectic Composed of elements drawn from various sources; can be used to refer to a person who pursues an eclectic method or approach
Embezzle Embezzled
Embezzlement
To take something (usually money or property) dishonestly for one’s own use
Elicit Elicitation
Elicitor
To draw out an answer or explanation often by skillful questioning or discussion
Empirical Something capable of being derived, verified, or disproved by observation or experiment
Emulate Emulator To try to be like or better than something
Espouse Espouser To take up and support as a cause; to marry someone
Extort Extortion To take something forcefully from a person
Expedite Expedition To speed up the process or progress of an event
Extraneous Extraneousness Alien; something that exists or comes from outside
Equivocal Equivocality Something that is unclear or uncertain in its meaning
Words Word forms Meaning
Foil A very thin sheet of metal; something or someone that serves as a contrast to another
Fallacy Fallacious A false or mistaken idea
Fortuitous Fortuitousness Fortunate or lucky
Flagrant So bad as to be impossible to overlook
Words Word forms Meaning
Grandiloquent Grandiloquence A lofty, extravagant, or bombastic style, especially used in literature
Gratuitous Gratuitousness Something that is required by the circumstance but done or provided freely
Words Word forms Meaning
Hapless Haplessness Unfortunate
Hegemony Hegemonic The social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group
Heterogenous Heterogeneity Something originating from an outside source; something consisting of different elements from various sources
Hubris A heightened sense of self-pride or overconfidence
Words Word forms Meaning
Idiosyncrasy Idiosyncratic A way of behaving or thinking that is characteristic of a person
Impetuous Impetuousness Impulsive
Impute Imputable
Imputability
To blame someone unjustly
Incumbent Incumbency Someone who occupies a particular position or place
Incite To move to action; to make something happen
Insurgent Insurgency Someone who revolts against civil authority or an established government; a rebel
Words Word forms Meaning
Licentious Licentiousness Someone who disregards moral, ethical or legal restraints
Linchpin Someone or something that holds together multiple pieces or people together
Litigate Litigation, Litigancy To decide and settle in a court of law
Words Word forms Meaning
Maxim Universal truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct, or proverb
Multifarious Something or an event that has multiple variety
Words Word forms Meaning
Nadir The lowest point of something
Noxious Noxiousness Something that is harmful or destructive
Words Word forms Meaning
Opine Opinion To put forth one’s point-of-view about something
Ostensible Ostensibility To demonstrate or exhibit
Ostracism Ostracize The state of being outcasted ot barred from a community or group
Words Word forms Meaning
Paradigm Paradigmatic An example showing how something is to be done; a model
Partisan Partisanship A person who is strongly devoted to a particular cause or group
Pejorative A word or phrase that has negative connotations
Penchant Having persistant knack or interest in something
Placid Placidity Free of disturbance; calm
Prerogative An exclusive or special right, power, or privilege
Prompt Something that asks someone to do or operate; being ready and quick to act
Prosecute Prosecution To carry on a legal action against an accused person to prove his or her guilt; to follow up to the end
Words Word forms Meaning
Quaint Something marked by beauty, skillful design or being strikingly old-fashioned
Quixotic Impractical especially in the foolish pursuit of ideals
Words Word forms Meaning
Refute To deny or disregard
Relegate Relegation To banish or send into exile; to carry out a decision
Requisition Requisite To require or demand something, especially by an authority
Words Word forms Meaning
Sanctity Sanctum The quality of being holy or sacred
Sanctuary A safe or a sacred place
Sanguine To be sure and certain of something; something that has the color of blood
Serendipity Serendipitous The gift of finding valuable things not looked for
Solicit Solicitous
Solicitation
To approach with a request or plea, to make a petition to, especially a judicial body
Spur Impulsive; to move to action
Surreptitious Done, made, or acquired by stealth and secrecy
Words Word forms Meaning
Tirade A long violent angry speech
Torpid Torpidity Someone lacking in energy or enthusiasm
Torrent Torrential A violent or forceful flow of wind or water
Travesty An inferior imitation of something
Words Word forms Meaning
Ubiquitous Existing or being everywhere at the same time
Undermine To weaken or ruin secretly or gradually
Utilitarian Utilitarianism Someone who believes that the value of something lies in its usefulness
Words Word forms Meaning
Veracity Veracious
Veraciousness
Being true
Vestige Vestigial A trace or mark left by something
Vilify To utter slanderous and abusive statements against
Words Word forms Meaning
Warrant Warranty To give proof of the authenticity or truth of something

Simple ways to build up your vocabulary before your Digital SAT test date

This “Digital SAT vocabulary list” includes words students will likely encounter on other college preparatory exams and later as they pursue their academic and career journey. Students can also benefit from building a robust vocabulary by reading widely and critically, encountering diverse texts, and practicing with Digital SAT-style questions to understand how words function in context. When you encounter words that are unfamiliar to you, look up the definition and make a note of this information. Creating flashcards can help you test your ability to recall the meaning of unfamiliar words.

Conclusion

Remember that a strong vocabulary could not only accelerate your comprehension of passages but also enhance your accuracy in answering questions. Our Top 100 Vocabulary Words list has been curated to align with the specific requirements of the Digital SAT in 2024. By investing your time in learning these frequently encountered words, you are strategically positioning yourself for improved performance.

As you delve into your Digital SAT vocabulary preparation, don’t forget to leverage essential strategies such as utilizing context clues, prefixes, and suffixes to decipher the meaning of unfamiliar terms.

Score a 750+ on Digital SAT Reading & Writing
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Explanation of how to paraphrase.

References

(2022, Summer). The Digital SAT® Suite of Assessments Specifications Overview. College Board. https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/digital-sat-test-spec-overview.pdf

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