WORD LISTS

The New SAT: Words to Capture Tone

September 21, 2016
On the New SAT, all of the Reading Test questions are multiple choice and are based on reading passages that may be taken from literature, science, the social sciences, or a US founding document (or a text inspired by such a document). Many of the reading comprehension questions meant to assess a student’s understanding of those passages will require students to choose words that best describe the writer’s tone or point of view, words like the 200 words you see on this list. Learn them here so when you see them in an SAT answer choice, you’ll know what they mean!Here are all of our word lists to help you prepare for the new SAT (debuting March of 2016): The Language of the Test, Multiple-Meaning Words, and Words to Capture Tone.
admonish
In their opening remarks, they admonished the jury to consider only evidence presented in the trial.
New York Times (Jul 8, 2015)
audacious
A maximum security prisoner is back behind bars in Australia after staging an audacious escape.
BBC (Aug 18, 2015)
bellicose
Lewis is a magnetic and intimidating Henry VIII, accomplishing more with a harsh whisper than he does with a bellicose tantrum.
Washington Post (Apr 3, 2015)
callous
Like death, his father’s presence was cold and often callous, but it was real- brutally honest, inescapably dependable.
Blood of Olympus
candid
It's odd to hear such a candid admission from the chief of a company whose trade has always been exaggeration and excess.
The Verge (Sep 5, 2015)
caustic
Saint-Saëns was on speaking terms with practically all of them, even if his prickly temperament and caustic wit tended to discourage close friendships.
New York Times (Jul 20, 2012)
cavalier
“The prime minister is cavalier in his disregard of international law and agreements when it comes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” she told reporters.
Washington Times (Sep 3, 2014)
deference
"I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions - absent the full story."
Reuters (Jun 15, 2015)
derisive
In the darkness, the players spent Saturday morning as punching bags for the coaches’ derisive comments.
Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream
despondent
Tiger's despondent press conferences will persist, and the press will hang on his words to see if there's even a glimmer of hope.
Golf Digest (Oct 16, 2013)
diffident
His manner is diffident and reserved, but the music-making is intense, full of character and rendered on the highest technical level.
Washington Post (Mar 30, 2015)
earnest
[He] seemed overly slow and overly earnest, like a man explaining the government to toddlers.
Washington Post (Jun 24, 2015)
elegiac
It’s an elegiac message of farewell—whether to a romantic partner who is leaving or do life itself is subject to the listener’s interpretation.
Los Angeles Times (Jun 29, 2015)
facetious
"We have a very facetious Liverpool sense of humour, laughing at things which are stupid," says Wells.
The Guardian (Jul 21, 2012)
flippant
“Any reprimand has to be taken seriously, so I don’t want to come across as flippant about it,” he said.
Washington Post
incredulous
In the case of Guzmán, many Mexicans are particularly incredulous as this was his second escape from a supposedly high-security prison.
The Guardian (Aug 7, 2015)
irreverent
She continues with a irreverent speech that blends slightly off-color jokes with sincere praise and gratitude.
Time (Jan 26, 2015)
jovial
"We're not pushing a hardcore agenda. The events tend to be very friendly and jovial, but safety is our No. 1 concern."
Los Angeles Times (Aug 20, 2015)
laudatory
And yes, as we've read in laudatory profiles and seen in TV spots, the rookie is smart, studious, humble, and looks fantastic in denim.
Slate (Oct 16, 2012)
lyrical
Supreme Court rulings are typically dry legalistic documents, but Friday’s decision recognizing gay marriage nationwide was more lyrical than most.
Time (Jun 26, 2015)
obstinate
An obstinate captive raven nearly brought photographer Vince Musi to tears last week when the bird refused to stand still for a picture.
National Geographic (Aug 8, 2015)
placid
She clasped her hands in her lap and her face was placid, the worries from a few moments ago having transformed to a deep calm.
New York Times (Jul 9, 2015)
poignant
But a series of poignant, heart-wrenching tweets from Parker’s boyfriend laid bare the tragic human consequences of the horrific episode.
Salon (Aug 26, 2015)
rancorous
The brothers had a rancorous split and have essentially not talked since.
New York Times (Sep 5, 2013)
reverent
And while typically you speak in a reverent voice in respect for the dead, tonight, feel free to speak up and ask questions.
Washington Times (Sep 6, 2015)
sanguine
As the sanguine reaction from investors indicates, amid the gloom there may be some reason to be optimistic.
BusinessWeek (May 2, 2014)
supercilious
Except for their accents, these people are identical to a certain class of spoiled, supercilious New Yorkers who exude a smug sense of entitlement.
New York Times (Jun 26, 2014)
vehement
Folks tend to be either hardcore cloud “fans” or vehement cloud “detractors”, and often there is not much middle ground between them.
Forbes (Jul 17, 2015)
vexed
These are questions that for years have vexed the courts, which have struggled to define the difference between permissible and illegal computer use.
Washington Times (Sep 9, 2015)
zealous
A zealous prosecutor, Elizabeth Scheibel, went on a crusade, bringing criminal charges against six teenagers that held them directly responsible for causing...death.
Slate (Apr 10, 2014)

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