From the day I joined CC in 2003, I have seen this issue debated more than any other. From the mostly ineffective Barron's list to secretive lists such as Test$master's, there is an endless supply of lists pretending to be the Holy Grail for the SAT.
During my first months on CC, I did take the time to post several vocabulary lists. Since I was analyzing the effectiveness of such lists, I thought it would helpful to list the contents. In this thread, I will revive some very old posts from their pixelized grave.
Before you get overly excited, please note that I STILL consider the rote memorization of words to be one of the worst preparation possible. I actually compiled the Barron's list to demonstrate how ineffective and how irrelevant it was to the SAT. The only thing Barron's excels at is to "predict" the words that WERE in past tests. A blindfolded monkey pointing at a few pages of your Webster would probably do better than Barron's by a large margin.
People whose primary language is not English might find some help in READING the lists but I would never recommend to anyone to STUDY the words.
In my opinion, the shorter the list the better. Predicting the words that should show up on future tests is largely an exercise in futility. Every once in a while a blind hog might find an acorn, but repeating the feat is almost impossible.
This said here are links to the old posts with the lists:
For the list of words lovers:College Confidential Discussion
Barron's list Revisited:College Confidential Discussion
This is a copy of a post that appeared on Monday, April 21, 2003. From the date, you'll notice it dates from the older board ... so don't be surprised by the different format
Words that appeared on 10 Real SAT Test:College Confidential Discussion
However, I have also posted many, many disclaimers about the use of wordlists. In a nutshell, while studying extensive lists of words can be beneficial in specific cases, it represents an extremely poor ratio of time and efforts over ... rewards. I have spent considerable time MEASURING the potential effect of knowing every word on the 3500 or even a 5000 word list on subsequent tests. The results were dismal, and this assumed a complete recall of the entire list. Further, this was at a time when analogies still existed. When it comes to the Critical Reading sections, the rote memorization of words is unfortunately a very ineffective way to prepare. In addition, very few CR questions test the direct knowledge of vocabulary.
On the other hand, spending the time to understand the specific structure of the test is critical. In this regard, the conclusion that the questions allow for imprecise and circular answers is often unfounded. Students who are left with two possible and plausible answers typically missed an opportunity to eliminate one of the two answers by changing the Process of Elimination. In many cases, it is much easier finding four incorrect answers than picking the correct --which may simply mean the best-- one with absolute certainty. What is, however, certain is that the answer can be found in the four corners of the document and that no external knowledge is needed.