Vocabulary Builder
The Target Model
If you took a snapshot of your vocabulary knowledge right now, it would look a bit like a target. We call this the Target Model:
The words you know cold and use all the time are in the center circle. One ring out are the words you know fairly well but rarely use—in other words, you recognize their meanings. The next ring out are words you feel less confident about but that you could probably label as “negative” or “positive” words. Outside the target are all the words you don’t know well enough or don’t know at all.
The goal is to increase the area of each of the inner target circles. While we do want you to gain as much control over as many words as possible, even partial knowledge can help you eliminate answer choices and gain points on the SAT. Learning words will increase the area of the center circle; learning roots, suffixes, and prefixes will expand the area of the outer circles.
Building your vocabulary will not only help you with Sentence Completions and Vocabulary-in-Context questions. The greater your vocabulary, the quicker and more accurately you’ll be able to:
  • Decipher higher-level meaning in the Critical Reading section’s short and long reading passages.
  • Recognize misused words in the Writing section’s multiple-choice questions.
  • Generate an appropriate and forceful essay.
Finally, what you learn here will apply to your post–SAT life. A large vocabulary helps you communicate more effectively in school, at work, and at home.
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