Top 20 ACT Vocabulary Words

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Worried about ACT vocabulary? Worry no more! We’ve collected the top 20 ACT vocabulary words you should know—along with their definitions and parts of speech—in one place for your studying ease. Without further ado…

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Top 20 ACT Vocabulary Words*

 WordPart of SpeechDefinition(s)
1adhereverbto stick to a surface or substance [or] to follow a practice or belief
2anticipateverbto regard as probable [or] to expect or predict
3characteristicadjectivea special quality of a person, thing, or group
4composeverbto write or create [or] to constitute or make up (e.g. water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen)
5criticaladjectiveexpressing criticism or disapproval [or] relating to the careful judgements of critics (usually about books, art, movies, etc.) [or] using careful judgment about the good and bad parts of something
6determineverbto make an official decision, based on evidence or facts [or] to be the cause or reason for something [or] to learn something by getting information
7differentiateverbto recognize what makes someone or something different [or] to make someone or something appear different [or] to become different in the process of development
8engageverbto occupy or attract someone's interest or attention [or] to participate in something
9glaringadjectivegiving or reflecting a strong light [or] very obvious or conspicuous
10hypothesisnouna supposition or proposed explanation based on limited evidence, used as a starting point for further investigation
11imminentadjectiveabout to happen
12inevitableadjectiveunavoidable [or] when used as a noun, a situation that is unavoidable (e.g. "I don't want to be here when the inevitable occurs"
13intuitionnounthe ability to understand something before using conscious reasoning [or] something that one knows before thinking about it; a "gut feeling."
14justifyverbto show or prove to be right [or] to be a good reason for doing something
15omitverbto intentionally leave something or someone out [or] to leave something undone
16precedeverbto come before in time, order, or position [or] to go in front of or ahead of
17redundantadjectiveno longer useful, superfluous, extra [or] able to be left out without sacrificing meaning or usefulness
18relevantadjectiveappropriate to the matter at hand
19trivialadjectiveof small value or importance [or] a person only concerned with unimportant things
20uniformadjectivenot changing in form or character, or similar in form or character to other things [or] a piece of clothing that is part of a uniform

*As I mentioned in the Top Tips post, the ACT will more commonly test secondary definitions of common words than esoteric or abstruse vocabulary. Bear in mind that the second and third definitions of the words on this list are important, too! If you need more vocab practice, check out Magoosh ACT Prep.

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  • Catrina Coffey

    Catrina graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in English. She’s been helping students prepare for standardized tests since 2011. In her spare time, you can find her reading anything within arms’ reach, playing video games, correcting grammar, or studying word derivations. (Did you know that procrastinate comes from the Latin word cras, which means “tomorrow”?)

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!


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