Building your vocabulary can help you in many ways, from preparing you for standardized tests to improving your understanding of what you read. A slow and steady approach is best for learning words and remembering them long term. Don't try to consume all the words in this list at once -- try learning just one word a day.
Moving forward, the SAT is changing its focus in terms of vocabulary from stranger words to words that students are more likely to use frequently. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to learn as many words as possible, however. Simply having a large vocabulary can help you to express yourself better in writing on the essay portion, and you never know for sure what words you're going to find on the actual test.
If you want to see a sample of the SAT or the other standardized tests to get an idea of some of the words you might encounter, be sure to take a look at the free practice tests for the SAT, ACT, and PSAT available here at Peterson's.
To make sure you learn a word a day, take the following steps:
(1) Read the word over a couple times
(2) Write a sentence using the word
(3) Use the word at some point during your day
(4) Before going to sleep, try reviewing it one more time
Below, you'll find a gross of SAT words, with some particularly esoteric words at the bottom, if you're just looking to tickle your cerebrum.
Noxious - (adj) Harmful; poisonous; lethal.
Nuance - (n) Something subtle; a fine shade of meaning.
Abrogate - (v) Cancel; deny; repeal.
Dormant - (adj) At rest, inactive, in suspended animation.
Flout - (v) To disregard or disobey.
Tremulous - (adj) Trembling; quivering; fearful; timid.
Tautology - (n) Needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word.
Germane - (adj) Relevant.
Partake - (v) To participate; to share.
Lionize - (v) To treat as a celebrity.
Envenom - (v) To cause bitterness and bad feeling.
Hedonist - (n) A pleasure seeker.
Epicure - (n) Someone who appreciates good food and drink.
Tenuous - (adj) Flimsy; not solid.
Adamant - (adj) Forceful; inflexible.
Epistolary - (adj) Concerned with letters; through correspondence.
Debility - (n) Weakness; incapacity.
Thwart - (v) Prevent; frustrate.
Err - (v) To make a mistake.
Largess - (n) Generosity.
Obstreperous - (adj) Noisy and boisterous.
Odious - (adj) Hateful.
Rigor - (n) Thoroughness.
Alacrity - (n) Enthusiasm; quickness.
Ignominious - (adj) Disgraceful and dishonorable.
Intrepid - (adj) Fearless.
Lurid - (adj) Harshly shocking; sensational; glowing.
Invective - (n) Harsh words.
And now, for some of the more bizarre words out there...
Casefy - (v) To become or make cheese-like.
Boffin - (n) A scientist or engineer, especially one engaged in technological or military research.
Sesquipedalian - (adj) Relating to a long word; characterized by using long words.
Dontopedalogy - (n) The talent for putting one's foot into one's mouth.
Bibliobibuli - (n) The sort of people who read too much.
Gradgrind - (n) One who relies solely on scientific measurements and observable facts without taking human nature into consideration.
Illeism - (n) The act of referring to oneself in the third person instead of the first person.
Autoschediastic - (n) Slight; hasty; not fully considered; done hastily or on the spur of the moment.
Peristerophilist - (n) Someone who has a love of, or a fondness for, pigeons; a collector of pigeons.
Logogogue - (n) One who issues laws or rules regarding words.
Sitooterie - (n) A place to sit outside in, as in a gazebo.
Xenoglossy - (n) The ability to speak a language without having learned it.
Blatteroon - (n) A senseless babbler or boaster.
Hebdomadally - (adj) Without missing a week; weekly.
Guddle - (v) To catch fish with the hands, especially by groping under stones or at the banks of a stream.
Epizeuxis - (n) The repetition of words with vehemence or emphasis.
Bardolatry - (n) Excessive worship of William Shakespeare.
Sprachgeful - (n) A sensitivity to what is grammatically or idiomatically appropriate in a given language.
Matutolypea - (n) Ill-humor in the mornings, getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
Quockerwodger - (n) A wooden puppet on a string; or a pseudo-politician, one whose strings of action are pulled by somebody else.
Protologism - (n) A new word one hopes to be used.
Bonnyclabber - (n) Milk which has become thick due to being sour.
Gamomania - (n) An obsessive desire for making bizarre marriage proposals.
Aflunters - (adj) In a state of disorder or confusion.
Dactylonomy - (n) The act of counting using one's fingers.
Hypergelast - (n) One who laughs excessively.
Curglaff - (n) The shock one feels upon first plunging into cold water.
Jobler - (n) One who does small jobs.
Apanthropinization - (n) The resignation of human concerns; withdrawal from the world and its problems.
Bromopnea - (n) Bad breath.
Tartle - (v) To hesitate in recognizing a person or thing, as happens when you are introduced to someone whose name you cannot recall.