It’s hard to know which vocab is most useful or common. Here is some strong vocab for all levels that is good for both speaking & writing. I give short definitions and a few examples, but you should still look up the words in a dictionary.
I highly recommend buying INSTANT WORD POWER to increase vocab and help you figure out the meanings of new words you hear and read in conversation or testing situations.
ABSTRACT – lacking definition
His explanation was a bit abstract.
TO ADAPT/ADAPTABILITY – to adjust
It was difficult for me to adapt to this environment.
I am very adaptable.
Adaptability is one of my strengths.
ARBITRARY – lacking reason
Why are we required to wear neckties in the school? It seems kind of arbitrary.
ABSURD – illogical, ridiculous
His accusations were pretty absurd.
TO COAGULATE/COAGULATED/COAGULATION – to solidify or form into solid chunks
The blood started to coagulate on his skin.
CONFLICTED – at odds with oneself and/or showing uncertainty
He seems conflicted.
CONSIDERABLY/CONSIDERABLE – a large amount
If he studies harder, he will improve considerably.
The car had considerable damage after the crash.
CONTINGENT (TO BE CONTINGENT ON)/CONTINGENCY – necessary/dependent on
My success is contingent on my performance in school.
CREDIBLE – reliable
I heard this information from a credible source.
DEPENDABLE – trustworthy/reliable
My grandfather is pretty dependable. He’s usually 10 minutes early for all of his appointments.
DISPOSITION – attitude
Why do you always have such a negative disposition?
DIVERSE/TO DIVERSIFY/DIVERSIFIED/DIVERSIFICATION – variety
I want to go to a more diverse school.
I have to diversify my portfolio.
The academic program here is pretty diversified.
This place needs diversification.
TO EVOKE/EVOCATIVE – cause
This movie evokes a wide range of emotions.
The painting is pretty evocative.
TO EXACERBATE – to make worse
He exacerbated his leg injury when he started playing soccer again.
FOUNDATION – first necessary preparation
I have a great foundation in English.
The school’s academic program has a strong foundation.
The building almost collapsed because it had a weak foundation.
FRUITFUL/FRUITION (TO COME TO FRUITION) – good results
Hopefully, my education will be a fruitful investment.
Hopefully, my dreams will come to fruition.
HOMOGENOUS/HOMOGENIZED/TO HOMOGENIZE – mixing/forming into one
The population here is very homogenized.
ILLUSIVE – difficult to find, catch or see
Allen is very illusive on the basketball court.
INDICATIVE/TO INDICATE – imply
His progress in the class is indicative of his attendance.
His test scores indicate that he has not been focusing in class.
TO INFLUENCE/AN INFLUENCE – affect
Chris is a bad influence on me because he makes me want to eat foods that make me fat.
She is under his influence.
He influenced her to start skipping class.
MALLEABLE – bendable, easily influenced, changeable
Some metals are more malleable than others.
MODEST – humble
He knows he’s an amazing athlete, but he’s pretty modest about it.
PARAMOUNT – necessary, the very important
Graduating from college is paramount to my success as a businessman.
PARTICULAR – specific
I like most jeans, but this particular brand is never comfortable enough for me.
PERPLEXED/PERPLEXING – confused/confusing
I was really perplexed by how his behavior suddenly started changing.
The way his behavior changed was kind of perplexing.
TO PROVOKE – to irritate or make something happen
John is usually a calm person, but Lindsey kept provoking him until he lost control.
QUAGMIRE – confusion, complication, disorganization
What a quagmire!
I thought this company would be organized, but it’s a total quagmire.
REASONABLE – sufficient, logical
He spent a reasonable amount of time on his homework.
He’s very argumentative and selfish; not very reasonable at all.
RETICENT – hesitant
After getting hit hard, he was reticent about getting back in the boxing ring again.
SOURCE – origin
In this relationship, the source of the problem is his mother.
TIMID – shy, hesitant
He was timid in the beginning, but came out of his shell and started talking more after a couple of weeks.
VAST – large amount or size
The school has a vast amount of resources.
It’s easy to get lost in the desert because it’s so vast.
It’s a vast wasteland…
VERSATILE/VERSATILITY – able to do many things
He can play many positions in basketball, so he’s pretty versatile.
He has a lot of versatility.
He has a lot of different skills; it would be nice to have someone that versatile working for us.
VISCERAL – vivid, visually strong
The killing scenes in that movie were so visceral.
That painting is so visceral.
TO VISUALIZE – to imagine
I tried to visualize what would happen next.