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(This mini-article on the “SAT vocabulary myth” is part 3 of my 7-part series on the differences between the SAT and the ACT.)

The SAT doesn’t test vocabulary much more than the ACT does

Just as a lot of test-takers mistakenly think that the ACT science section tests your knowledge of science significantly more than the SAT does, a lot of them also think that the SAT Critical Reading section tests your vocabulary knowledge more than the ACT does.

There are a lot of reasons why this isn’t true, but here’s the clearest one: SAT-takers routinely miss sentence Completion questions in which they know all of the relevant words, and they frequently answer questions correctly even without knowing all the words.

Here’s another reason why it isn’t true: On most days it’s possible to miss several sentence completion questions and still make a reading score in the 750+ range.

The SAT uses vocabulary in the same way that the ACT uses science: as a medium for evaluating your ability to use your reasoning skills (and your reading skills!) to work your way through an uncertain situation.

Next: Differences Between SAT Math And ACT Math