Vocabulary Practice Questions

Standardized test that have a Vocabulary Section:

Nursing:  HOAE
High School:  TACHS,  Nelson Denny,  ISEE and SSAT


Practice Questions

1. Choose the best definition of headstrong.

    a. Doesn’t listen
    b. Stubborn
    c. Willing
    d. To disbelieve

2. Choose the best definition of oblique.

    a. Direct
    b. Indirect
    c. Sharp
    d. Straight

3. Choose the best definition of temper.

    a. To make worse
    b. To aggravate
    c. To soften
    d. None of the Above

4. Choose the best definition of cryptic.

    a. Building in a graveyard
    b. Difficult to understand
    c. Printed in code
    d. None of the above

5. Choose the best definition of curtail.

    a. To cut short
    b. To arrive early
    c. To lengthen
    d. To give back

6. Choose the best definition of heed.

    a. To ignore
    b. To listen
    c. To advise
    d. To pay

7. Choose the best definition of oblivious.

    a. Far Away
    b. Believable
    c. Unbelievable
    d. Totally unaware

8. Choose the best definition of podium.

    a. Speaker
    b. Raised platform
    c. Brief lecture
    d. None of the above

9. Choose the best definition of boorish.

    a. Bad tempered
    b. Bad mannered
    c. Bad looking
    d. Bad smelling

10. Choose the best definition of heresy.

    a. Against the orthodox opinion
    b. Same as the orthodox opinion
    c. An unusual opinion
    d. To have no opinion

11. Choose the best definition of respite.

    a. A drink
    b. Intermission
    c. A rest stop on highways
    d. A device


Answer Key

1. B
Determined to do as one pleases, and not as others want.

2. B
Not straightforward; indirect; obscure; hence, disingenuous; underhand; perverse; sinister.

3. C
To moderate or control.

4. B
Mystified or of an obscure nature.

5. A
To shorten or abridge the duration of something; to truncate.

6. B
To mind; to regard with care; to take notice of; to attend to; to observe.

7. D
Lacking awareness; unmindful.

8. B
A platform on which to stand, as when conducting an orchestra or preaching at a pulpit.

9. B
Behaving as a boor; rough in manners; rude; uncultured.

10. A
A controversial or unorthodox opinion held by a member of a group, as in politics, philosophy or science.

11. B
A brief interval of rest or relief.




Preparing for a Vocabulary test 

Vocabulary.com  (Huge selection of word lists)

Academic Word List (Over 3000 Academic words)

More about improving your vocabulary

Hurdle the Big Words

Most Vocabulary tests are Multiple Choice – Help with Multiple Choice


More information about Vocabulary from Wikipedia.

Written by: Brian Stocker MA, Complete Test Preparation Inc.


  1. October 20, 2015

    Temper is not Soft. Temperate*, however, is?

    • Complete Test Prep
      October 21, 2015

      To moderate is to soften. Temperate is showing moderation or self-restraint, which could also mean soften.

      Point taken though – perhaps the question could be clearer. thanks!

  2. Andrew Kerper
    March 16, 2016

    I thought tempering (heat treating) steel hardens it?

    • Complete Test Prep
      March 17, 2016

      Hi – here are the 2 definitions of temper:

      1. improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it.
      2. serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something).

      • January 5, 2017

        thanks for the info

  3. Dawn
    May 1, 2017

    Question three would benefit from some changes.

    The answer given, C, states “to soften” while the justification for this in the answer key is “to moderate or control”. These two answers do not carry the same connotation, nor are they good definitions of “temper”. If we are arguing the Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temper) definitions of the word “temper”, they are as follows:
    1. a: heat of mind or emotion : proneness to anger
    b: calmness of mind : composure
    c: state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion
    d : a characteristic cast of mind or state of feeling
    There are 3 other definitions of the word stated, but none that could arguably be “to soften” or “to moderate or control” with the exception of the archaic definition of the word: “a suitable proportion or balance of qualities : a middle state between extremes”.

    • Brian
      May 3, 2017

      thank you. Not sure about the Merriam-Webster, the definition is valid where temper is used as a verb:

      serve as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something).
      “their idealism is tempered with realism”

  4. Ryan
    January 7, 2019

    #3 Give the BEST definition of temper. I think you should clarify noun or verb as well as rule out synonyms. to Soften is nothing more than a “down the list” synonym that does not represent the definition of the word given properly. I would be more inclined to choose answer D. None of the above for the BEST answer. The answer should be (to harden) or (to improve hardness) since this definition is used in both the noun and verb form.

  5. Bob
    June 24, 2019

    To “temper” something is to make it harder; not to “soften” it.
    You temper a sword to make it harder. You temper steel to make it harder.
    The answer to #3 should have been D – none of the above.

    • Brian Stocker
      June 24, 2019

      Certainly that is ONE of the definitions, here is another way the verb form can be used

      act as a neutralizing or counterbalancing force to (something).
      “their idealism is tempered with realism”

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