20 Critical Words Every Student Should Learn

Perhaps your state requires homeschool students to take nationally standardized tests. Maybe you are preparing a high school student for the ACT or SAT. Preparing students for standardized tests can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming since the content can vary so much from test to test. Fortunately, there is one commonality between all standardized tests that you can easily prepare your children for and that is “critical words.”


Critical words are exactly what they sound like – words that are crucial for a student’s comprehension and ability to answer the question at hand.


As you work through different subjects with your upper elementary and high school children, be sure to intentionally incorporate these words into short answer questions, quiz questions, and essay prompts. If a student is struggling with remembering the meaning of one of these “critical words,” begin incorporating that word more frequently into questions and conversations in various learning contexts to help the student gain a deeper understanding of the word’s meaning. These are academic words that a student needs to be know how to use rather than simply memorizing definitions.


While there are certainly more than 20 critical words, the words included below are high frequency terms commonly used on ALL types of tests. Knowing how to answer questions that contain these words will most certainly help prepare students for test-taking (and critical thinking) success!

Blog Post written by:

Stacey Jarzynka

Stacey Jarzynka