The first two posts in our new Word Clusters series focus on recognizing roots of words to enable you to kill many vocab birds with a single stone. Another highly effective memorization strategy is to group words by synonym rather than alphabetically (as many books unfortunately do). You know how your brain works: sometimes you remember exactly where on the page you read something (e.g., the lower left-hand side) or which words are above and below the word you’re trying to remember. Say you’re working with a list of words organized alphabetically or perhaps randomly, and say you remember the words above and below the word you’re trying to recall. They provide no help whatsoever. But say the words above and below the word you’re trying to remember all mean roughly the same thing, and say you can remember any one of them. You’re golden!
So here is a list of SAT words that, while having slightly different meanings (denotations) and uses (connotations), all mean roughly “to make better.” The next time you have an occasion to use one of them in conversation, see how many of its synonyms you can rattle off!
FYI, the two most common antonyms for these words on the SAT are AGGRAVATE (which does not mean to irritate) and EXACERBATE, both of which mean–you guessed it–to make worse. 🙂