The following content was updated in 2019.

If you're nervous about being among the first students to take the new SAT, fret no more! has taken a good hard look at the new SAT Reading Test and we've got you covered. Follow this roadmap and your vocabulary will be up to snuff by the time you sharpen your number 2 pencil on test day.

We've created a program that divides the words you'll study into 3 groups: Multiple Meaning Words, The Language of the Test, and Words to Capture Tone. Want to know more about how we created the program? Read our SAT program overview.

You'll practice these words over the course of eight weeks, and supplement your practice with extra time playing The Challenge to brush up on any trouble words. Ready to get started? Just follow our handy roadmap below:


Focus Area Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Multiple Meaning Words
MMW: Part I MMW: Part II MMW: Part III MMW: Part IV MMW: Part V MMW: Part VI MMW: Part VII MMW: Part VIII
The Language of the Test
LoT: Part I LoT: Part II LoT: Part III LoT: Part IV LoT: Part V LoT: Part VI    
Words to Capture Tone
Tone: Part I Tone: Part II Tone: Part III Tone: Part IV Tone: Part V Tone: Part VI Tone: Part VII Tone: Part VIII    
Play The Challenge
(mins. x # of days)
15 x 5 15 x 5 15 x 5 15 x 5 15 x 5 15 x 5 20 x 5 20 x 5
Hours on
2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5

Here are answers to some of the most common questions students have about using to prepare for the new SAT Reading Test.

Why do I need to work on my vocabulary for the new SAT?

Think of the new SAT Reading Test as a reading obstacle course. You will be called upon to perform lots of reading comprehension feats for every reading passage, and you will want to be prepared to encounter any of the vocabulary that may show up along the course. Therefore, as you train for the course, you should not just learn one type of word that will show up on the test. Each week you should train for encountering each of the three types of words we have identified as critical to your understanding of the testing language and of the passages themselves.

How much time should I play each week?

Try to play 2.5 hours each week. You don't have to play the whole 2.5 hours all at once. If you spread it out over the week, then it's only about twenty minutes a day.

What if I don't have eight weeks to prep for the new SAT?

Don't panic. We have prioritized the most vital words up front. So, even if you have only two weeks to bone up on your vocabulary before taking the SAT, we'll make sure that you'll learn the most important words in weeks 1 and 2 of the program.

How do I follow the SAT Roadmap each week?

Depending on how many weeks before the test you begin to study, you will learn a balanced diet of multiple-meaning words, language of the test words, and words commonly used to capture an author's point of view or tone. Each week you will complete practice sessions on three separate 25-word lists, and then dedicate fifteen minutes per day, five days per week to playing the Challenge.

Multiple-Meaning Words: Context is King

What are multiple-meaning words?

Multiple-meaning words are words that take on different meanings in different contexts. Whereas a word like lucrative has only one meaning (producing a profit), a multiple-meaning word like figure is used in a variety of ways, depending on the subject. You might learn about a historical figure in history class, calculate a figure in math class, or analyze a figure of speech in English class.

Why are multiple-meaning words such a big deal on the new SAT Reading Test?

Multiple-meaning words are especially important on the new SAT since you'll have to define them in Words in Context questions.

What are Words in Context questions like?

Words in Context questions will ask you to complete this question stem: "As used in line x, 'word' most nearly means..." You can check one out for yourself here:

College Board sample question, based on the science reading passage Turtles Use the Earth's Magnetic Field as Global GPS

"In 1996, a loggerhead turtle called Adelita swam across 9,000 miles from Mexico to Japan, crossing the entire Pacific on her way. Wallace J. Nichols tracked this epic journey with a satellite tag."

As used in line 2, "tracked" most nearly means:
A) searched for.
B) traveled over.
C) followed.
D) hunted.

While all of the answer options could be synonyms for tracked, followed is the word that most nearly means tracked in this passage, where Nichols is tracking or following the turtle's journey with the aid of a satellite tag. As you can see, finding the correct answer requires both word knowledge of track's multiple verb meanings and the reading skill of accurately picking up on the context clues that lead a reader to choose the meaning "followed" (i.e., "this epic journey," "with a satellite tag").

How will help me prepare for Words in Context questions on multiple-meaning words?

As you learn the multiple meanings of words like track on, we will send you a bunch of sentence-based questions that require the same type of context clue analysis as the previous Words in Context sample. For example, the following is a question for the verb track:

Just like in the previous SAT sample question, this question presents a sentence containing a form of the multiple-meaning word track and then asks you to identify which of four synonyms best captures the meaning of tracking in the sentence. Since scientists are "tracking babies' gazes" in the Scientific American sentence, the only synonym that could make sense in that context is following (the correct answer).

Got any tips for answering Words in Context questions correctly?

The tricky part about Words in Context questions is that the answer probably won't be the meaning that you usually associate with the word in question. It will be the answer that best fits the context of the reading passage. So, take a minute and revisit the word in the reading passage before going with your gut!

Language of the Test: Learn to Speak "SAT"

What are Language of the Test words?

Language of the Test words are academic vocabulary terms that frequently show up in SAT "test talk." They are not the words that may show up in the reading passages; they are the words that show up everywhere else. In fact, we just used a Language of the Test word in the previous sentence. Find it? If you guessed reading passage, you're right.

Why is knowing the Language of the Test important on the new SAT Reading Test?

You can't do well on the new SAT if you don't fully understand the academic language being used in the test directions, in the questions, and in the answer options. Take a look at the following SAT Reading Test sample and imagine interpreting the question without understanding the meaning of the word graphic.

College Board sample question, based on the science reading passage Turtles Use the Earth's Magnetic Field as Global GPS

"It can reasonably be inferred from the passage and graphic that if scientists adjusted the coils to reverse the magnetic field simulating that in the East Atlantic (Cape Verde Islands), the hatchlings would most likely swim in which direction?"

A) Northwest
B) Northeast
C) Southeast
D) Southwest

Test tip: When you see the word graphic in a test question, then head for the pictures that go along with the reading passage!

[In this case, examining the graphic (two circular images) to determine that the turtles were swimming in a southwest direction is key to figuring out the reverse direction required to answer the question correctly (B Northeast).]

How will help me learn the Language of the Test?

For each word on our Language of the Test lists, we give you an explanation of how we expect the word to be used on the SAT. A Language of the Test word list is not just a learnable list of words you may run across on the SAT Reading Test; it's words and test tips all in one.

An Example: claim

We selected the word claim for our top-priority Language of the Test list (List #1) due to the new SAT's emphasis on claim as it relates to argumentative writing. Here is the explanatory note we include for claim, to help you understand how the word is used specifically on the new SAT Reading Test:

" Claim has many meanings but if you spot it on the SAT, it will most likely refer to an argument's main point -- what the writer is trying to persuade you to believe. There could be more than one claim in an argument, but the reading passages on the SAT will most likely have one central (or main) claim that is supported by different types of evidence."

Words to Capture Tone: Getting Inside the Author's Head

What types of words capture tone?

The new SAT Reading Test is full of questions that will ask you to figure out an author's attitude about the subject of a reading passage (e.g., What tone does the author establish? What point of view?). And since the Reading Test is a multiple choice exam, each question offers four answer options that are full of words that can be used to establish tone and point of view. These are the types of words you'll learn on our Words to Capture Tone lists.

Why are Words to Capture Tone such a big deal on the new SAT Reading Test?

Even if you understand a reading passage, you could still miss questions on the passage if you don't understand the words that the SAT test writers have used to describe the author's tone or point of view in the answer options.

As an example, read the following SAT Reading Test sample question and identify all of the challenging vocabulary words that appear in the answer options.

College Board sample question, based on a literary reading passage adapted from Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome.

The author includes the descriptions of the sunset, the clouds, and the hemlock shadows (lines 77–82) primarily to:

A) suggest the peacefulness of the natural world.
B) emphasize the acuteness of two characters' sensations.
C) foreshadow the declining fortunes of two characters.
D) offer a sense of how fleeting time can be.

As you can see, this question not only requires you to get inside the author's head to try to determine his or her purpose, it also requires knowledge of the vocabulary terms used to describe the possible intentions and attitudes of the author. Was the author out to emphasize or to foreshadow or to suggest or to offer? Were the character's sensations acute? Did the characters have declining fortunes? Was time portrayed as fleeting? If you are unsure of these various words' meanings, it would be difficult to choose the correct answer to capture the tone suggested by the author's descriptions -- even if you did understood the descriptions when you read them! (the answer is B, by the way).

How will help me master Words that Capture Tone?

By practicing the Words that Capture Tone lists, you'll learn words like acerbic and laudatory in questions using real sentences from a variety of news and lit sources. And, if you miss questions the first time you see them, don't sweat it. You'll see those same questions again -- plus new ones. You won't waste your time memorizing definitions; you'll be learning words in various contexts -- like you'll see on the new SAT.

Why do I have to play the Challenge on top of practicing the word lists?

Playing the Challenge a little bit every day will give you more review on those words that gave you trouble during list practice. Also, you'll keep learning words while playing the Challenge that might show up in your reading. knows what words you need to learn, so the more you play, the stronger your vocabulary will become and the more prepared you'll be for understanding the complex reading passages that will show up on the new SAT.