New Scrabble Game with letters arranged as it comes from the factory

Tampa SAT Tutor’s SAT Vocabulary Tips

Posted on 4th March 2011 in Tampa SAT Preparation

Tampa Sat Tutor’s Vocabulary Tips

Got vocabulary? If not, you’ll need it to score well on all three tests of the SAT, not to mention later in life– unless, of course, your dream job is toll collector.

Fifty percent of the SAT is based on vocabulary, according to Megan Dorsey, owner and instructor of College Prep, LCC ( So whether you’re still in middle school and being pushed by Mom and Dad to learn your vocabulary words, or getting close enough to graduating that you’re starting to visit colleges, you need to brush up on your vocabulary.

I’ll show you how. The best time to start adding words to your vocabulary is in middle school, according to SAT tutor Dorsey. If you’re still in middle school or just starting high school, take your course work seriously, especially as it pertains to learning new words. Here are some techniques to ensure you’re getting the most out of your studies.

Unlock Your SAT Word Power: Read!

This might seem obvious. However, like a dieter who fails because he or she gives up every pleasurable food, you probably won’t improve your vocabulary if you read books that aren’t palatable (if this word looks unfamiliar to you, look it up, it’s going to be on the test!).

Read about subjects you enjoy. Do you like sports? Current events? Pop culture? Cross-knit crochet? Read newspapers, magazines, and books about your favorite subjects. “Reading widely and actively is the key to expanding vocabulary,” said Eric Anderson, a private SAT tutor in New Tampa.

And don’t just read the material. As you read, underline and enter into your laptop, iPad, or voice recorder the unfamiliar words and find their meanings (how about palatable, do you need to enter this one?). Have a dictionary handy (you know, a book) or an online dictionary bookmarked so you can find the meaning quickly. Enter your new word and its meaning and study it later. Sometimes, just the act of jotting something down is enough to commit it to memory.

Learn Vocabulary and Have Fun?

All this studying and prep work for college does not have to be dull. Make it fun by involving some friends. Get together and play Scrabble or Boggle, paying particular attention to the meaning of new words.

New Scrabble Game with letters arranged as it comes from the factory

A SAT Vocabulary building favorite: Scrabble. This image created by Elliot Moore and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. See more of Elliot's photos at

Use Word Clustering to Master SAT Vocabulary

The 2010 edition of Barron’s Hot Words for the SAT includes the concept of clustering words with similar meanings. This way you can learn and retain dozens of words in a fraction of the time it would take to do it without clustering. This method is based on an educational/psychological theory called apperception (this word won’t be on the test, so relax), whereby you use familiar concepts to acquire new skills or learning. Go on, give it a try!

Here are some sources to help you get a leg up on vocabulary for scoring well on the SAT and doing well in your chosen career.

Hot Words for the SAT: The Words You Need to Know to get a high Critical Reading SAT score, by Linda Carnevale, M.A. This book not only contains the hot words, but also includes plenty of practice exercises. ( Check out this online dictionary. It even comes with an app for your mobile device.


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (based on Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition). This smaller edition is small enough to fit in your backpack and still contains all the words you’ll ever see on the SAT.

Stetson University graduate Eric Anderson is the owner of (, a private tutoring company serving students in New Tampa, Lutz, Wesley Chapel, and Odessa, Florida. This article created by freelance writer Neil Moran.