New SAT Video: High Utility Academic Words Part I

New SAT Vocabulary

Think vocabulary is dead on the New SAT? Well, think again! Vocabulary is still part of the test, only know it’s a slightly different breed and goes under the annoying title “high-utility academic words” (what’s with the College Board and titles—“Heart of Algebra”, really?).

What you have to know with high-utility academic words is that you already sort of, kinda know them. Or at least you’ve heard of them, but you might not be able to notice if they are being used slightly incorrectly, let alone be able to comfortably use them in a sentence. They are words that you’ll encounter throughout college and so you are actually better off knowing exactly what they mean, unlike, say the word perfidious (which I’ve yet to hear anybody outside of an SAT classroom utter).

Imply – to not state something exactly

Sometimes people confuse this word with infer, which means to conclude something without having all the facts. Imply, on the other hand, means to not state directly. Let’s say you have been wearing the same clothes for two days in a row. A blunt friend might say, “Yo, take a shower!”. Most are more tactful and won’t tell you directly but will imply that you should probably change your clothes: “Hey, I wonder what I’m going to wear tomorrow…what about you?”.

Maintain – assert

When you hear this word, you might think of maintenance, as in you need to maintain that six-pack bro, so lay off the pizza. But the maintain the SAT cares about means to assert. So if you maintain that the Internet seems to know your every move, posting ads for the very thing that you wanted to buy, you are using maintain in an SAT sense (now close that browser!).

Context – surrounding text; circumstances that form the backdrop for a situation

Context is everything. If you say, “you are totally crazy”, you might mean your friend is silly, somewhat amusing, or plain nuts. So if you are friend is dancing like a monkey because they are bored, you’ll find that either of the first two apply. If your friend, during a trip to the zoo, actually tries to sneak into monkey cage to do the monkey dance, then “you are totally crazy” has a different context. And your friend should probably get out of the monkey cage asap.

Conceive – to think up an idea

You might think of making babies, but the SAT doesn’t care about that kind of conceive. To conceive means to think up or imagine. Can you conceive of a world in which you don’t have to study for tests (SAT be damned!) and you can come home whenever you want? It’s called adulthood. Though I’m sure from your conception (noun form of conceive) of what it means to be an adult such a life isn’t free of worries. Especially, once the first definition happens and you have your own little kiddos running around.


  • Chris Lele

    Chris Lele is the Principal Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh. Chris graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and has 20 years of experience in the test prep industry. He's been quoted as a subject expert in many publications, including US News, GMAC, and Business Because. In his time at Magoosh, Chris has taught countless students how to tackle the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, MCAT (CARS), and LSAT exams with confidence. Some of his students have even gone on to get near-perfect scores. You can find Chris on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!

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

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