Season of the SATs

Not only is it back-to-school season, it’s the season of the SATs.

The SAT Reasoning Test attempts to measure writing, reading, and math skills, and is required by many colleges and universities. The math section includes multiple choice and open-ended questions, while the writing section includes an essay and multiple-choice questions that ask test takers to “recognize sentence errors,” “choose the best version of a piece of writing,” and “improve paragraphs.”

It’s in the critical reading section that one’s vocab mettle is tested. While the analogies portion of the test has been dropped, the questions still ask test takers to identify main and supporting ideas; understand authors’ purposes; understand the structure and function of sentences; and, our favorite, determine the meaning of words in context.

If you’re a regular Wordnik-user, you’ll know that not only do we provide definitions of words, we provide those words in context through examples from both classic and modern texts. For example, today’s word of the day, laconic, means “expressing much in few words, after the manner of the ancient Laconians; sententious; pithy; short.” Pretty clear, right? However, these examples liven it up:

Eastwood is never showy, but his laconic simplicity has never been so sly. – David Ansen, “Go Ahead, Take My Prez,” Newsweek, July 11, 1993

[The book, I Know How to Cook] been adapted by Clotilde Dusoulier of the blog Chocolate & Zucchini and an unnamed posse of experts who filled in some of Mathiot’s “laconic” instructions, reduced cooking times, and lightened up on the butter. – Mike Sula, “Books for Cooks,” Chicago Reader, December 10, 2009

To the Persian command to give up their weapons, the “laconic” reply was given by Leonidas, “Come and get them.” – George Park Fisher, Outlines of Universal History, 1853

Another way to learn the meaning of a word is to understand its etymology. Laconic comes from the Greek Lakōn, a Spartan, from the idea that Spartans are well-known for their brevity of speech.

Word lists are a great study aid as well, and we have plenty:

We’ve also tagged a whole slew of common SAT words for you.

Finally, if you want to practice using this week’s SAT-themed words of the day (whether or not you’ll actually be taking the test), participate in our Perfect Tweet WotD Challenge for your chance to appear on our blog and to win a set of Pocket Posh Word Power dictionaries.

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