SAT Vocabulary Word Lists for Middle School

SAT vocabulary word lists for middle school students are a way to help prepare students to take this important test. The SAT is designed to assess how successful high school students will be once they get to college. Students traditionally take a practice SAT (known as the PSAT) in 10th grade and the actual SAT in 11th grade; however, preparation can begin much earlier. Word lists are vital for SAT and PSAT preparation. Here, we’ve assembled a list of words suited for middle schoolers’ needs.

SAT Word List for Middle Schoolers

Each of the words listed below is not only linked to the corresponding definition page, but we’ve also provided the part of speech and brief definition in this table.





Abet (v.)

To help, especially with crime

Lethargic (adj.)

At a slow pace, sluggish

Abound (v.)

To have many of

Malady (n.)

Ailment, disease

Balk (v.)

To block, to prevent

Mellow (adj.)

Calm, smooth

Beacon (n.)

Something, especially a light, that warns or guides

Nomadic (adj.)

Traveling from place to place, without a permanent home

Berserk (adj.)

Out of control, raging

Pantomime (n.)

Performance with elaborate gestures but no words

Braggart (n.)

Someone who boasts about themselves

Pessimism (n.)

The state of expecting the worst

Cache (n.)

A safe, hidden supply

Piecemeal (adj.)

Done bit by bit or in pieces

Celestial (adj.)

Having to do with the sky or heavens

Precaution (n.)

A protective action done in advance

Chasten (v.)

To punish or correct

Prose (n.)

Spoken or written language that isn’t poetry

Civil (adj.)

Having to do with civilization; polite

Prosecute (v.)

To pursue or attack, especially a crime in a court of law

Clarification (n.)

The act of making clear

Puncture (n., v.)

A small hole, or to make a small hole

Coherent (adj.)

Holding together

Quest (n.)

A search to achieve a certain goal

Confiscate (v.)

To take a thing away

Random (adj.)

Without order or reason

Data (n.)

Information, especially in a computer

Rant (v.)

To complain at length

Dawdle (v.)

To move slowly or hold back

Reinforce (v.)

To increase in amount or make stronger

Despondent (adj.)

Very sad, despairing, hopeless

Retaliate (v.)

To strike back against something done to you

Detract (v.)

To belittle, to take away from

Seclusion (n.)

Isolation, privacy

Embezzle (v.)

To steal something entrusted to your care

Sham (adj.)

Not real, false

Encore (n.)

An additional performance called for by the audience

Status (n.)

A person’s standing or relative social position

Encounter (v.)

To meet, especially unexpectedly

Thwart (v.)

To stop from happening, to hinder

Epic (adj.)

Heroic, grand

Turmoil (n.)

Chaos, confusion

Etymology (n.)

Study of word origins

Uncouth (adj.)

Clumsy or impolite

Evade (v.)

To avoid, to escape from

Underscore (v.)

To emphasize, especially by underlining

Heartrending (adj.)

Causing grief or sorrow

Wholesome (adj.)

Healthy or proper

Leisurely (adj., adv.)

At a slow, comfortable pace

Wistful (adj.)

Full of sad desire, yearning

Finding More Word Lists

Taking on the SAT can be intimidating, especially at such a young age. Thankfully, many online resources exist to serve your needs.

  • VocabTest offers free SAT vocabulary training for students beginning in grade 6 and going through high school. Each grade level vocabulary test offers 15 units of study. Vocabulary learning modules include learning definitions, sentences, synonym and antonym practice, parts of speech, spelling, and reverse sentences.
  • offers vocabulary lists, resources and lesson plans in addition to fun games that students can use to learn vocabulary words. The more ways that students interact with language, the better they will understand and learn the material for long term usage.
  • Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power by Sam Burchers is a book series meant to help students learn SAT vocabulary words. Several of the books are designed with SAT vocabulary words in particular. Burchers gives the word and a definition as well as a funny cartoon that will help students remember the word through picture/word association.

Explore our SAT writing prep activities and vocabulary flashcards for more help mastering the words you need to score well on the SAT.

Preparing for the SAT

There’s no way to know what will be on the SAT your middle school students will take. Teaching for the SAT in middle school also ignores the very real possibility that students won’t attend college, or will attend but won’t bother with the test. The best preparation for the SAT, then, is to instill in students a rich vocabulary, a love of words, and a healthy approach to studying.

Direct Instruction

No indirect approach can beat teaching kids face-to-face. That said, simply teaching words and definitions by rote is neither memorable nor engaging.

Instead, focus on context. Start with our vocabulary flashcards linked above. Then, ask students to build sentences and sort words based on their implications. Use our lists of words to describe colors, places, and behavior to help them see how their vocab words fit into language and make meaning. We also have several SAT practice exercises to help students prepare for the big test.

Study Habits

As much as we might want to, we can’t take our kids’ tests for them. Instilling good study habits is as important as - maybe more important than - memorizing the topics of the test. Give students daily challenges: 10 spooky words, for example, or five words in their vocabulary list that could describe the United States. By reinforcing vocabulary this way, you help your students with discipline and focus.


Reading isn’t just for a test, or even just for school. Regular reading helps people, not just kids, live richer, more fulfilling lives. It also maximizes test scores.

Three Little Letters

In good news for students who work hard to keep their grades up but struggle with the standardized grind, the SAT has been given less and less priority by colleges as a factor in admissions. That said, the score still matters and preparation is key. Here at YourDictionary, our middle school vocabulary list and linked articles are designed with the needs of students like yours in mind.

For more help with the SAT, take a look at our list of the 100 most common SAT words, or for some fun study help, check out our SAT vocabulary word games.

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