Harry Potter and the Secrets of the SAT

SAT Prep

Most students are surprised to hear us recommend the Harry Potter books for studying vocabulary on the SAT. But J.K. Rowling, creator of the boy wizard and his magical world, uses vocabulary words throughout the series, particularly in later books when Harry is nearing graduation from Hogwarts. Many of these vocabulary words have a high occurrence rate on the SAT.

Consider the list of words from Chapter 1 of the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

sumptuously: luxuriously, splendidly
ornate: elaborately decorated
gilded: covered in gold
threshold: entrance
palpably: noticeably
ferocity: fierceness
infiltrated: moved into
subjugate: to bring under control
eschewing: avoiding
maliciously: with intentional harm
throng: crowd
sniggered: laughed with disrespect
professed: declared openly
constricted: squeezed
impassive: emotionless
mirth: amusement and laughter
hilarity: cheerfulness
imperceptibly: without being seen
deadpan: a face without any expression
canker: a source of disease and corruption
impassioned: with intense feeling or passion
contempt: scorn or open disrespect
resounding: echoing loudly

Twenty three vocabulary words from just a single chapter! If all 37 chapters are as packed with vocabulary, you have the opportunity to learn over 850 new words while reading a very entertaining book! We recommend that you keep a pen and paper in the book, and write down each new word with which you are unfamiliar. You can use the context surrounding each word to craft a definition or use a dictionary to define all of the words when you complete each chapter. Many of our former students report that reading these books or classic novels just before a test helps with vocabulary retention, and vocabulary is tested on both the Sentence Completion and Reading Comprehension portions of the Critical Reading section of the SAT. 


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