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
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
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.