Archive for September 2012

Complacence vs. Complaisance

I must admit that I've confused these two words - complacence and complaisance - many many times over the years.

I always had to look them up to make sure I had the right one, which is why I came up with this little method of keeping them straight in my head.


Complacent refers to someone who is pretty satisfied with himself and his life. It's often used to describe complacent rich kids or the complacent 1%. I just remember that compl-ACE-nt has the word ace in it, because it means you think that you're pretty ace!

If the word looks French to you, then this tip will be easy! Complaisant refers to someone who is eager to please - or in French plaisir - other people. Even though it's pronounced just like complacence - the two words are homophones - when I'm on my own, I tend to say complaisance with an exaggerated French accent to help me remember which word I'm referring to.

Daily SAT-ACT Reader: Edition #5

Today's Daily SAT-ACT Reader features articles from National Geographic. This was one of my favorite magazines growing up. It was so much fun to read and it's also a great source of SAT/ACT vocabulary words!

1. "Liliger" Born in Russia No Boon for Big Cats
National Geographic, 9/21/2012

SAT/ACT Vocabulary Word Count: 14

National Geographic: "Liliger" Born in Russia No Boon for Big Cats

This adorable "liliger" - the offspring of a liger mother (yes, that's right - Napoleon Dynamite's favorite animal) and a lion father is causing serious controversy. Read more and learn vocabulary words like advocates, hybrid, irrelevant, mechanisms, ornery, solitary, and speculate.

Sagacious vs. Salacious

These two words - sagacious and salacious - look so similar and yet their definitions couldn't be more different!


Just remember that sagacious is related to sage - which is just a fancy vocab word for mentor or wise man/woman. Sage also refers to an herb that is incredibly yummy in a butter sauce with gnocchi, but I'm guessing that's not the usage that you'll be tested on for the SAT/ACT.

Technically, salacious is related to being lecherous or lustful. However, I like to remember it in the context of salacious celebrity gossip. I'm not talking about People or E! or US Weekly. I'm talking about the likes of TMZ, Hello!, and Star - where you can always find the real (and sometimes fabricated) dish on your favorite celebs. On these sites, the more tawdry and salacious the gossip, the better!

Daily SAT-ACT Reader: Edition #4

Today's Daily SAT-ACT Reader features articles from The New Yorker - a great source for reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, and fiction that are very similar to the reading passages that you will encounter on the SAT and ACT.

1. After “Harry Potter,” J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults
The New Yorker, October 2012

SAT/ACT Vocabulary Word Count: 27 (on first page)

New Yorker: After “Harry Potter,” J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one excited about J.K. Rowling's upcoming adult novel! Check out this profile of one of the world's most beloved authors and learn vocabulary words like evoke, figurative, idyllic, introspective, parody, suppress, and wary.

SAT/ACT vocab words from Harry Potter Spells

Harry Potter: Expecto Patronum with Legos

It probably comes as no surprise that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan.

One of the things that I loved the most about the series was how J.K. Rowling was able to weave her love of words into the magical world of Hogwarts. So I'm happy to report that all of those hours you spent playing Harry Potter: Spells on your iPhone can be counted as studying!

Here is a sampling of the SAT/ACT vocabulary words that you can learn from Harry Potter Spells:


The Confundo spell confuses or confounds people - just like how the lecturer confounded her audience with her convoluted logic or the ragtag football team confounded sports pundits by beating the top-ranked team.


The Crucio spell causes excruciating pain, probably similar to what it might feel like to be literally crucified on a cross or figuratively crucified by the press.