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Lucas Fink

Megalo-mnemonical SAT Vocab: Animal Associations

Of course, the SAT won’t test you on the names of animals, but knowing a few might get you a couple points if you associate them with SAT words. We’ve discussed before why mnemonics are so helpful, so without further ado, here are a few SAT vocab words you may see on your test matched up with animals that you won’t.



The meaning: To be boorish is to be not only rude, but to be so in an unsophisticated way. A boorish person isn’t necessarily malicious, but they have no manners and are generally pretty offensive because of it. They’re socially—or even physically—clumsy.

The animal: Take the root of the word, boor, and replace it mentally with boar. How would a boar act at a party? Can you imagine a boar with a napkin on his lap? Of course not. He’d have a sandwich half skewered on each tusk and punch-purple stains on his lips. He’d be yelling across the room at people to tell them they have lame haircuts. He’d be boorish, in short.



The meaning: In order to protect against attacks from Mongolians and others, the Chinese built a series of bulwarks across their northern borders that we call the Great Wall. They are walls that are built entirely for defense, rather than containment. There’s a figurative meaning, as well. Any measures taken to protect against something might be considered a bulwark, even if they aren’t part of a physical wall.

The animal: Imagine yourself in the pen of a bull. Make that an aggressive bull. He’s stomping his feet, lowering his head, and making deep huffing sounds that make you think smoke should be pouring out of his nostrils. What would you want? A sword and a red cape? Personally, I’d take a bulwark, which sounds a little like a “bull wall.”



The meaning: Nobody socializes with pariahs. They’re social outcasts, dismissed by the members of some group of others who have decided that the pariahs just don’t match the standards. Pariahs are different from loners, though, in that loners may choose to be alone. Pariahs have no choice.

The animal: There aren’t many words that look like this, so you probably guessed we were going to think about piranhas, and you’d be right. What fish do you think other fish have the least interest in getting to know better? They’re ugly as sin, they’re mean, and they don’t brush their teeth so you can be the meat breath is a problem.


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About Lucas Fink

Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

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