– SAT vocabulary is often the most difficult part for test-takers because the SAT does not limit the topic and number of words to study. So what are the 200 most difficult SAT words?

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Why is SAT vocabulary so difficult to learn?

SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a mandatory test for students who desire to study at universities in the US, which is managed by Educational Testing Service under the name of the non-profit organization College Board. SAT often causes difficulties for students because besides requiring good reading comprehension in English, the SAT also requires test-takers to build a solid foundation of specialized vocabulary to complete the reading comprehension and essays.

For more: Is IB Math AI really difficult?

SAT vocabulary is hard because SAT vocabulary topics focus on the economic field, most of the words are quite unfamiliar, hard to memorize and difficult to remember, especially for Vietnamese students that economics was not familiar in the curriculum before. In addition to the “shocking” economic vocabulary, SAT also spans many other fields in life such as Literature, Law, Culture – Society, Science (Biology, Physics, Chemistry) that require test-takers to maximize their ability to memorize and apply  academic vocabulary to the SAT sections.

Below are the 200 most difficult SAT words that are compiled based on common criteria but cause many difficulties for candidates in the process of SAT preparation.

For more: Top 5 useful SAT exam preparation websites

200 most difficult SAT words

  1. abjure (v): to reject, renounce
  2. abrogate (v.): to abolish, usually by authority
  3. acerbic (adj.): biting, bitter in tone or taste
  4. acrimony (n.): bitterness, discord
  5. acumen (n.): keen insight
  6. adumbrate (v.): to sketch out in a vague way
  7. alacrity (n.): eagerness, speed
  8. anathema (n.): a cursed, detested person
  9. antipathy(n.): a strong dislike, repugnance
  10. approbation (n.): praise
  11. arrogate (v.): to take without justification
  12. ascetic (adj.): practicing restraint as a means of self-discipline, usually religious
  13. aspersion (n.): a curse, expression of ill-will
  14. assiduous (adj.): hard-working, diligent
  15. blandish (v.): to coax by using flattery
  16. boon (n.): a gift or blessing
  17. brusque (adj.): short, abrupt, dismissive
  18. buffet 
    • (v.): to strike with force
    • (n.) an arrangement of food set out on a table
  19. burnish (v.): to polish, shine
  20. buttress
    • (v.) to support, hold up
    • (n.) something that offers support
  21. cacophony (n.): tremendous noise, disharmonious sound
  22. cajole (v.): to urge, coax
  23. calumny (n.): an attempt to spoil someone else’s reputation by spreading lies
  24. capricious (adj.): subject to whim, fickle
  25. clemency (n.): mercy
  26. cogent (adj.): intellectually convincing
  27. concomitant (adj.): accompanying in a subordinate fashion
  28. conflagration (n.): great fire
  29. contrite (adj.): penitent, eager to be forgiven
  30. conundrum (n.): puzzle, problem
  31. credulity (n.): readiness to believe
  32. cupidity (n.): greed, strong desire
  33. cursory (adj.): brief to the point of being superficial
  34. decry (v.): to criticize openly
  35. defile (v.): to make unclean, impure
  36. deleterious (adj.): harmful
  37. demure (adj.): quiet, modest, reserved
  38. deprecate (v.): to belittle, depreciate
  39. deride (v.): to laugh at mockingly, scorn
  40. desecrate (v.): to violate the sacredness of a thing or place
  41. desiccated (adj.): dried up, dehydrated
  42. diaphanous (adj.): light, airy, transparent
  43. diffident (adj.): shy, quiet, modest
  44. discursive (adj.): rambling, lacking order
  45. dissemble (v.): to conceal, fake
  46. dither (v.): to be indecisive
  47. ebullient (adj.): extremely lively, enthusiastic
  48. effrontery (n.): impudence, nerve, insolence
  49. effulgent (adj.): radiant, splendorous
  50. egregious (adj.): extremely bad
  51. enervate (v.): to weaken, exhaus
  52. ephemeral (adj.): short-lived, fleeting
  53. eschew (v.): to shun, avoid
  54. evanescent (adj.): fleeting, momentary
  55. evince (v.): to show, reveal
  56. exculpate (v.): to free from guilt or blame, exonerate
  57. execrable (adj.): loathsome, detestable
  58. exigent (adj.): urgent, critical
  59. expiate (v.): to make amends for, atone
  60. expunge (v.): to obliterate, eradicate
  61. extant (adj.): existing, not destroyed or lost
  62. extol (v.): to praise, revere
  63. fallacious (adj.): incorrect, misleading
  64. fastidious (adj.): meticulous, demanding, having high and often unattainable standards
  65. fatuous (adj.): silly, foolish
  66. fecund (adj.): fruitful, fertile
  67. feral (adj.): wild, savage
  68. fetid (adj.): having a foul odor
  69. florid (adj.): flowery, ornate
  70. fractious (adj.): troublesome or irritable
  71. garrulous (adj.): talkative, wordy
  72. grandiloquence (n.): lofty, pompous language
  73. gregarious (adj.): drawn to the company of others, sociable
  74. hackneyed (adj.): unoriginal, trite
  75. hapless (adj.): unlucky
  76. harangue 
    • (n.) a ranting speech
    • (v.) to give such a speech
  77. hegemony (n.): domination over others
  78. iconoclast (n.): one who attacks common beliefs or institutions
  79. ignominious (adj.): humiliating, disgracing
  80. impassive (adj.): stoic, not susceptible to suffering
  81. imperious (adj.): commanding, domineering
  82. impertinent (adj.): rude, insolent
  83. impervious (adj.): impenetrable, incapable of being affected
  84. impetuous (adj.): rash; hastily done
  85. impinge 
    • (v.) to impact, affect, make an impression
    • (v.) to encroach, infringe
  86. implacable (adj.): incapable of being appeased or mitigated
  87. impudent (adj.): casually rude, insolent, impertinent
  88. inchoate (adj.): unformed or formless, in a beginning stage
  89. incontrovertible (adj.): indisputable
  90. indefatigable (adj.): incapable of defeat, failure, decay
  91. ineffable (adj.): unspeakable, incapable of being expressed through words
  92. inexorable (adj.): incapable of being persuaded or placated
  93. ingenuous (adj.): not devious; innocent and candid
  94. inimical (adj.): hostile
  95. iniquity (n.): wickedness or sin
  96. insidious (adj.): appealing but imperceptibly harmful, seductive
  97. intransigent (adj.): refusing to compromise, often on an extreme opinion
  98. inure (v.): to cause someone or something to become accustomed to a situation
  99. invective (n.): an angry verbal attack
  100. inveterate (adj.): stubbornly established by habit
  101. jubilant (adj.): extremely joyful, happy
  102. juxtaposition (n.): the act of placing two things next to each other for implicit comparison
  103. laconic (adj.): terse in speech or writing
  104. languid (adj.): sluggish from fatigue or weakness
  105. largess (n.): the generous giving of lavish gifts
  106. latent (adj.): hidden, but capable of being exposed
  107. legerdemain (n.): deception, sleight-of-hand
  108. licentious (adj.): displaying a lack of moral or legal restraints
  109. limpid (adj.): clear, transparent
  110. maelstrom (n.): a destructive whirlpool which rapidly sucks in objects
  111. magnanimous (adj.): noble, generous
  112. malediction (n.): a curse
  113. malevolent (adj.): wanting harm to befall others
  114. manifold (adj.): diverse, varied
  115. maudlin (adj.): weakly sentimental
  116. mawkish (adj.): characterized by sick sentimentality
  117. mendacious (adj.): having a lying, false character
  118. mercurial (adj.): characterized by rapid change or temperamentality
  119. modicum (n.): a small amount of something
  120. morass (n.): a wet swampy bog; figuratively, something that traps and confuses
  121. multifarious (adj.): having great diversity or variety
  122. munificence (n.): generosity in giving
  123. myriad (adj.): consisting of a very great number
  124. nadir (n.): the lowest point of something
  125. nascent (adj.): in the process of being born or coming into existence
  126. nefarious (adj.): heinously villainous
  127. neophyte (n.): someone who is young or inexperienced
  128. obdurate (adj.): unyielding to persuasion or moral influences
  129. obfuscate (v.): to render incomprehensible
  130. oblique (adj.): diverging from a straight line or course, not straightforward
  131. obsequious (adj.): excessively compliant or submissive
  132. obstreperous (adj.): noisy, unruly
  133. obtuse (adj.): lacking quickness of sensibility or intellect
  134. odious (adj.): instilling hatred or intense displeasure
  135. officious (adj.): offering one’s services when they are neither wanted nor needed
  136. opulent (adj.): characterized by rich abundance verging on ostentation
  137. ostensible (adj.): appearing as such, seemingly
  138. palliate (v.): to reduce the severity of
  139. pallid (adj.): lacking color
  140. panacea (n.): a remedy for all ills or difficulties
  141. paragon (n.): a model of excellence or perfection
  142. pariah (n.): an outcast
  143. parsimony (n.): frugality, stinginess
  144. pathos (n.): an emotion of sympathy
  145. paucity (adj.): small in quantity
  146. pejorative (adj.): derogatory, uncomplimentary
  147. pellucid (adj.): easily intelligible, clear
  148. penurious (adj.): miserly, stingy
  149. perfidious (adj.): disloyal, unfaithful
  150. perfunctory (adj.): showing little interest or enthusiasm
  151. pernicious (adj.): extremely destructive or harmful
  152. perspicacity (adj.): shrewdness, perceptiveness
  153. pertinacious (adj.): stubbornly persistent
  154. petulance (n.): rudeness, irritability
  155. pithy (adj.): concisely meaningful
  156. platitude (n.): an uninspired remark, cliché
  157. plethora (n.): abundance, excess
  158. polemic (n.): an aggressive argument against a specific opinion
  159. portent (n.): an omen
  160. precocious (adj.): advanced, developing ahead of time
  161. prescient (adj.): to have foreknowledge of events
  162. primeval (adj.): original, ancient
  163. probity (n.): virtue, integrity
  164. proclivity (n.): a strong inclination toward something
  165. promulgate (v.): to proclaim, make known
  166. propensity (n.): an inclination, preference
  167. propitious (adj.): favorable
  168. prosaic (adj.): plain, lacking liveliness
  169. proscribe (v.): to condemn, outlaw
  170. protean (adj.): able to change shape; displaying great variety
  171. prurient (adj.): eliciting or possessing an extraordinary interest in sex
  172. puerile (adj.): juvenile, immature
  173. pugnacious (adj.): quarrelsome, combative
  174. pulchritude (n.): physical beauty
  175. punctilious (adj.): eager to follow rules or conventions
  176. quagmire (n.): a difficult situation
  177. querulous (adj.): whiny, complaining
  178. quixotic (adj.): idealistic, impractical
  179. rancor (n.): deep, bitter resentment
  180. rebuke (v.): to scold, criticize
  181. rectitude (n.): uprightness, extreme morality
  182. replete (adj.): full, abundant
  183. reprobate (adj.): evil, unprincipled
  184. reprove (v.): to scold, rebuke
  185. repudiate (v.): to reject, refuse to accept
  186. rescind (v.): to take back, repeal
  187. restive (adj.): resistant, stubborn, impatient
  188. ribald (adj.): coarsely, crudely humorous
  189. rife (adj.): abundant
  190. ruse (n.): a trick
  191. sacrosanct (adj.): holy, something that should not be criticized
  192. sagacity (n.): shrewdness, soundness of perspective
  193. salient (adj.): significant, conspicuous
  194. sanctimonious (adj.): giving a hypocritical appearance of piety
  195. sanguine (adj.): optimistic, cheery
  196. scurrilous (adj.): vulgar, coarse
  197. serendipity (n.): luck, finding good things without looking for them
  198. servile (adj.): subservient
  199. solicitous (adj.): concerned, attentive
  200. transient (adj.): passing through briefly; passing into and out of existence
For more: SAT exam preparation center in HCMC

All SAT vocabulary is leveled from medium to higher difficulty and is applied, assessed, and tested based on the context of the passage. Therefore, you should immediately pocket the tips to learn SAT vocabulary for reference such as:

  • Learning vocabulary according to the level of easy – medium – advanced: Many of you mistakenly think that when studying for the SAT, you should jump right into memorizing difficult words first and then medium and easy, this is completely wrong! Learning easy vocabulary first will motivate you to study and help you form the habit of learning vocabulary and how to associate words with context, then increase the difficulty and number of words.
  • Learn vocabulary by preparing for the SAT from the real test: Learning vocabulary by taking the SAT can help you remember words better, make up for a poor vocabulary, reinforce learned vocabulary, and enhance in practicing how to solve the SAT exam. – A place to share all the experiences of Test Prep exams (SSAT, SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, etc.) for students preparing to study abroad. If you have any questions, please contact us directly via email or hotline for free advice.