Vocabulary Builder
Vocabulary on the New SAT
The new SAT places greater importance on testing the meaning of words in the context of a sentence, paragraph, or passage. That’s why Analogies, the dreaded question type that tested vocabulary knowledge in a vacuum, were dumped for the new version of the SAT. Analogies looked something like this:
2. EVIL : DIABOLICAL ::
(A) good : devilish
(B) good : angelic
(C) bad : beneficent
(D) bad : amoral
(E) immoral : saintly
(The answer, by the way, is B; just as a diabolical person does evil, an angelic person does good.)
On the new SAT, your knowledge of vocabulary is now directly tested in the Critical Reading section via Sentence Completions and a Reading Passage question type called Vocabulary-in-Context. Here’s an example of each:
Sentence Completions
3. Recipes for watercolor paint caution against adding too much pigment, lest the paint become -------, resulting in watercolors that are too thick and sticky to work with properly.
(A) translucent
(B) ponderous
(C) malleable
(D) glutinous
(E) vitiated
The answer is D; glutinous means “having the quality of glue; gummy; sticky.”
Reading Passages
The relevant lines of text from the passage are excerpted directly below.

During his drip-paintings period, Jackson Pollack worked both feverishly and deliberately, flinging paint with abandon, but always according to a loosely preconceived scheme.

4. As used in line 19, “feverishly” most nearly means
(A) sickly
(B) haphazardly
(C) languidly
(D) actively
(E) carefully
The answer is D; feverishly means “with intense emotion or activity.”
In both cases, vocabulary is tested within sentences. Context matters and can help you figure out the proper meaning. But context clues are only a part of the story.
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