We can help you get into your dream school.

Sign up for Magoosh SAT or Magoosh ACT Prep.

Chris Lele

SAT Vocab Monday: Really Common SAT Vocabulary Words


When people say the SAT verbal section is impossible because you have to memorize thousands of words, I am always quick to put them in their paces. Sure, thousands of words come up on the verbal section, most of which you know (just try reading an SAT passage knowing only 70% of the words).

But what makes this comment even more misleading is that it overlooks the fact that there are about 250 SAT words that pop up over and over again (and no don’t run off and memorize the flashcards from the big prep companies; they sometimes include words that many students—though they can’t define perfectly–have a sense of). I’m talking about meaty words like “equivocate”, “ephemeral”, and “diffident”. These are words in which students almost always completely off when guessing the definitions.

Below are some of these 250 words (and “recluse”, which is actually going to show up next week in a very interesting format!).


This word means social and flocking. The word comes from the bird kingdom: gregarious birds flock together and non-gregarious ones, presumably, fly solo. Gregarious should not be confused with talkative (though social people tend to be talkative) nor that other high-frequency g-word, garrulous, which does mean talkative.


Imparting a lesson or trying to instruct, but that sometimes comes across as patronizing. As in, “okay, listen up now, this is how you do things, got it”. And yes, I tend to be didactic in almost every post.


The juicy, unpleasant details are the sordid ones. Justin Bieber got arrested is hardly a sordid detail. He was running in his underwear-less through the streets at 3 in the morning…now that’s a sordid detail.


Okay, not that difficult, but as I said it’ll be part of an interesting “format” coming soon. A recluse is a person who shuns the company of others. “Leave me alone; I want to live in my cabin deep in the woods” is something a recluse might say (though they don’t, by definition, live in a cabin deep in the woods). You might have noticed that this word is the opposite of gregarious.

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!

Leave a Reply

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!