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Chris Lele

New SAT Video: High Utility Academic Words Part III

Click here for Part 1 of this series and here for Part 2.

New SAT Vocabulary High Utility Words Part III

Here are some more useful words that are likely to pop up in either the reading or the writing section of the SAT. They are useful words that every high schooler should know the definition to. They are definitely words you’ll need to use effectively.


Infer is all about reaching a conclusion based on the information you have. It’s sort of an informed guess. If you turn on the television and see a bunch of mopey players finishing out the last inning of a baseball game, you can infer that they are the losing team.

Infer should not be confused with the word imply, which means to suggest usually in a subtle sense. This is a commonly confused word pair, one the SAT is likely to exploit test day. Or at least I’m inferring that based on what I’ve seen of the practice tests so far.


This word might be familiar to you from “commencement ceremony”, that magical day where beaming faces walk on stage to accept diplomas. That whole graduation angle, however, can be a little bit confusing—does commence mean to begin (we are beginning something new) or to end (bye bye middle school). It actually means the first, as in to begin. So when you graduate, you are commencing a new trip.

The word doesn’t have to refer to momentous occasions. In fact, you might want to commence studying more high-utility vocabulary if these ones are throwing you for a loop.


Whether up and down, positive and negative, fluctuate is all about change. Take the stock market. Nobody knows just what its going to do from one day to the other. Indeed, it fluctuates by the hour, even the minute. Abstract things can fluctuate (moods, attitudes) or tangible things (one’s wealth). As for your SAT score, if it’s fluctuating it is going up and down, which isn’t necessarily a good thing unless there is a general upward growth.


The sub- is a giveaway that this a word dealing with something below. What might not be as obvious is that the word can be both a verb and a noun. A subordinate (n.) is a person who has a very low ranking. An office subordinate, for instance, is at the beck and call of managers. If a VP says “jump!”, the subordinate says, “How high?”.

To subordinate (v.) is to place in a lower position, or demote. If you were a star quarterback but then suffered a major shoulder injury, you’ll likely be subordinated to a different position on the team. Place kicker, anybody?


About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.

You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog!

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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