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Chris Lele

Common SAT Words

Why does the SAT love to test certain words over and over again? Are these the words that the SAT people actually use in everyday conversation. “Hello John, you are looking sanguine today.” (Sanguine means cheerful, by the way).

While the SAT people may very well speak this way, the reason they tend to test certain words over and over again is these words seem as though they mean one thing, but they actually mean something completely different. So the SAT knows it will trap most students if they throw in a word such as ‘prosaic.’

Okay, so there are literally thousands of words you could run into on test day. I’m not going to list those here, as you can find them all over the internet. Check out our free SAT vocab flashcards or Wordnik, Quizlet, and for those lists. They’re seriously good resources. Also, if you’re itching for some higher level vocabulary, check out the GRE vocabulary flashcards. These words might be a bit more esoteric than SAT words, but they’re great to know for the test!

Anyway, here are three of the most common SAT words, including prosaic, that the SAT loves to test repeatedly. So make sure you know them, then you can move on to the less common SAT words!



For some reason students think this word means something positive. It doesn’t. Desultory means doing something in a random fashion. You know, when you don’t really care much for something you are just going through the motions. And that better hopefully not apply to SAT prep. The desultory studier never does well.



This word has nothing to do with fast. And you better not quickly forget it. Fastidious means fussy and detailed-oriented. We all know such a person. You can never seem to please them, because something or another is always left awry. When a fastidious person enters the room, you better leave. Fast.



Nope, it’s not a mosaic, which is beautiful and inspired by creativity. Prosaic means uninspired, dull, lacking creativity. That’s right—the very opposite of what you would expect. Again, the SAT has a penchant to choose a word that most students think means one thing, when it means something very different.

Obviously this is just a small taste of what you’ll face on the actual exam, but I feel pretty confident that you’ll encounter at least one of these words on your test. Check the links below if you want to begin expanding your vocabulary range.

More Common SAT Words

Top Five SAT Words
Top 25 SAT Vocabulary Words
Top Five Common SAT Words

P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
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 10 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!

One Response to “Common SAT Words”

  1. semaria says:

    What are the most important things I should do when a month is left to take the examination?

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