The SAT doesn't drill you on word meanings for the fun of it. Nor do they expect college, or life, to be full of pop vocab tests. They know you're going to need that vocabulary! Every book you read, paper you write, meeting you attend, interview you go on--they all depend on the ability to comprehend and effectively use language. If you're composing an email, writing a review, or introducing a speaker, a broad vocabulary leaves a lasting impression. For more substantial works or longer speeches, command of the language gives you access to nuance and persuasion that are unavailable with a more limited repertoire. A bigger vocabulary also increases our ability to think in the abstract, understand complex issues and participate in civic life. And it can be passed down! Studies show that young children who are exposed to a variety of words learn to read and comprehend faster, giving them needed confidence for school. A good vocabulary is not a panacea, but there are very few areas of life that it doesn't touch.
Improving vocabulary doesn't have to be tedious. While reading, notice where the author chooses a synonym to avoid repetition. When looking up a word, don't skip the etymology, the history of where that word comes from. It can lead some interesting places. "Disaster" and "astronomy" both come from the Greek word for "star," a legacy which hints at where people used to place the blame for the mishaps and catastrophes in their lives! Of course, testing your skills with quizzes like this one also gives your brain a chance to flex its muscles. So let's get started!