Posts Tagged ‘Vocab’

I Meant Spurious…Not Specious (whoops)

Email exchange with PWNtheSAT while on phone with very nice supervisor of credit report website.

Attempting to get charges reversed:

Me (to PWN): Is this the proper use of specious?

PWNtheSAT: I wouldn’t say specious for that…specious is really more about arguments.


Uh Oh.  Whoops.  Hopefully she didn’t notice.


Me: What about spurious

PWNtheSAT:  :) yeah that works


Spurious charges now reversed, I can return to the reason for this blog post:


What’s the Best Way to Learn Vocabulary for the SAT?


In a line:  Make abundant use of the words in your everyday life.

And if your brain refuses to remember a word?  Ask the smartest person you know to use this word in a personalized sentence for you, with real life context. Then free associate.

Below are a few of my free association words that I couldn’t remember for the life of me, until I employed this “Smart Friend Real Life Context” strategy:


Now? Seared, forever. <3

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis


That It Should Come To This!*

I may have been the only one in the audience of Hamlet last week noting the plethora of SAT rich and erudite vocabulary words that were ballyhooed on stage, over the course of the evening:**

Auspicious and chary, circumscribed, confound, conjecture, dearth and discord; equivocal, pernicious, tenable, anomaly, irascible, invidious…..

…..and on and on and on —  hundreds of SAT words — all in one play — an embarrassment of riches.


Though This Be Madness, Yet There Is Method In ‘t                                                     — Hamlet (Act II, Scene II)


*Hamlet (Act I, Scene II).

**See Akil Bello comment below for explanation of phrase change.  I agree with him.

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis




Olfactory:   Adj. or Noun.     Concerning the sense of smell.


“Heading into NYC.  Am anticipating an olfactory wonderland out there. I may distract myself diagramming sentences from today’s paper.”


No idea whether this word shows up on the SAT, but I like it anyway.


Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis




Adjective or Noun

Dyscalculia or math disability is a specific learning disability involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending simple mathematics. It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning math facts, and a number of other related symptoms (although there is no exact form of the disability). Dyscalculia occurs in people across the whole IQ range.

Symptoms include:

  • Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting
  • Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late or early
  • Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences
  • Difficulty navigating or mentally “turning” the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage
  • Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks


As in: “I am starting to wonder if I’m dyscalculic because I can’t seem to improve my math SAT score, despite all of my studying.”


Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

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What Is Not to Love About SAT Vocabulary?

From what I can tell, the SATs are universally loathed.

But I ask you, what is so wrong with learning some new vocabulary words? Or even just bringing back into rotation some long forgotten or infrequently used words?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Jejune — “There was something innocent about it, something ill-formed and jejune, the fingernails bitten to the quick like a child’s.” — The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (curtesy of @AnnLeary)

Perspicacious — “There is something not quite right about Will Sheff playing a solo show. Across six albums – the latest, I Am Very Far, is released in May – his band Okkervil River have blossomed into a thrillingly dynamic outfit who embed their leader’s prolix, perspicacious lyrics in muscular rhythms and surprisingly playful melodies.” — The Guardian

Opprobrium — “Now, perhaps Republicans calculated that Katie Couric’s opprobrium would cause voters to punish Republicans for a shutdown. Not an unreasonable calculation.” — National Review by Peter Kirsanow

Jingoistic— “Call me jingoistic or pollyannaish, but tax day is one of my favorite days of the year. I have no problems ponying up to Uncle Sam, and my personal politics aside, I’m pretty sure that whatever the case may be, dodging the IRS is never a good idea. — by Clifton Yates Washington Post

Raiment — “The former army officer’s change in raiment and rhetoric has helped boost him into first place in polls ahead of the first round of voting April 10.” — Bloomberg News

(Is this not fun for everyone?) Would LOVE to hear YOUR favorite words.

Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis