SAT vocabulary can be tough. It’s definitely a step above the vocab level that you’re supposed to attain in high school. In fact, the SAT expects you to have a college-level vocabulary in order to get past their critical reading and sentence completion sections.
The last thing that you want on a 25-minute SAT section is to be stumped by some tricky words …
… because vocabulary knowledge and time-management go hand in hand on this test.
At the same time, you don’t want to spend hours copying SAT words and definitions into Quizlet or – worse – onto index cards. Luckily, the internet is here to save you.
Free Online SAT Vocab Tools
These 6 resources are all online, all free, and all AWESOME for SAT vocab prep. Check them out:
This vocab resource is so new that the website is still in beta. And it’s basically the inspiration behind this entire post. I can barely express how useful this site is. I wish I’d had it in high school, college, and grad school … it’s that good.
Here’s the gist: you save ProfessorWord to the bookmarks bar on your desktop, tablet, or phone. Then, when you visit a website with words you don’t know (maybe you’re reading NY Times article for class or something), you click the “Run ProfessorWord!” button on your bookmarks bar.
The app will automatically highlight and define SAT/ACT level words in the article that you’re reading, plus you can click on words you don’t know to see their definitions. When you print the article to read later, the words you selected will show up as footnotes with their definitions. So. Cool.
I love this site, because it makes studying vocabulary more like a game. You answer a few of their online flashcards, and then Vocabulary.com figures out your personal vocab level. They’ll give you words you don’t know, and when you get questions wrong they’ll bring them back later for review.
The more flashcards you answer, the better they understand your strengths and weaknesses. Basically, they’ll teach you only words you don’t know (no boring repetition of words that you’ve known forever) and they don’t let you forget the words that you struggle with. Plus, you can track your progress.
It’s also a nice site to use as an online dictionary. But that’s really the least cool thing about it. And if you’re only looking for an online dictionary, may I recommend …
Their “Word of the Day” from September 26th. It may not be an SAT word, but I’m going to try to work it into daily conversation anyway:
Wordnik is a great online dictionary. Look up any word and you’ll get definitions, lots of examples (often with illustrations and fun cultural references), and huge lists or related words (synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, words used in the same context, and a reverse dictionary). You can also create your own word lists, which is great tool to have when you’re studying for the SAT/ACT.
I love that Wordnik uses a lot of images. They also have audio pronunciations so that you can learn how to say all the fancy new words you’re learning. Good to know before you try out new vocab on your friends and family.
My favorite part of the site is the Word of the Day button at the top of the page. I mean … buttocker? Really? I could have gone the rest of my life without ever knowing this word existed.
Freerice.com allows you to study and alleviate world hunger at the same time. Seriously. Freerice is a non-profit website owned by the UN World Food Programme. Its goals include providing free education around the world, and helping to end world hunger by donating free rice to those in need.
Here’s how it works: you play trivia games on the site. For vocabulary, I recommend the English Vocabulary game. For every question that you answer correctly, the site donates 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Programme. You get smarter and the UN alleviates malnutrition in developing countries – win/win.
Just so you know, the words start off really easy (see “Large” above), but get more difficult as you go along. Just advance through the levels and you’ll start seeing words you don’t know.
Memrise hosts thousands of free courses, including a large number of Advanced English Vocabulary classes. The unique thing about these courses is that they all use interesting science-based techniques to help you memorize new vocab words and their definitions. They call these techniques “mems” – little imaginative or humorous mnemonic devices that make new information easier and more fun to learn.
For example, if you were trying to learn the word, “indent”, you would be shown a picture of a car with a slight dent – or indentation – in it. This visual aid would help you associate the word with a meaning that’s applicable to your own life. You can add your own “mems” to help build the course for yourself and for future students. It’s actually pretty addictive.
Memrise also has an app, so you can study whenever you have a few minutes of free time.
I would be crazy not to recommend the vocabulary resource that we made just for you.
Magoosh SAT flashcards allow you to prioritize your prep based on your current level of vocab mastery. Start with basic words, then work you way up to advanced words. Or, focus your time on the most common words found on the SAT. It’s really up to you and how much time you have to study.
Our flashcards narrow down SAT vocabulary to the 350 most frequently tested SAT words. That way, you don’t waste your time learning lots of new vocab that you’ll never see on the SAT. (Not that learning new vocab is a waste of time – just save those other words for after your SAT.) 🙂
The app is currently available for free download on iPhone and Android, so you can study on the go without an internet connection. Or, you can practice online. It’s up to you.
Happy Studying! Let us know how you like these resources, or if you recommend any others, by leaving us a comment below. 🙂