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Vocab-in-Context Questions

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Vocab-in-Context Questions

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[edit section] Inside SAT Reading Comprehension Guide

  1. Reading a Passage
  2. Basic Comprehension Questions
  3. Analytical Questions
  4. Vocab-in-Context Questions
  5. Advanced Comprehension Questions
  6. Two Passage Questions
  7. More on Analytical Questions
  8. Extension Questions
  9. Summary and Review

[edit section] Vocab-in-Context Questions

Vocab-in-context questions are among the easier ones in the reading comprehension section. Basically, vocab-in-context questions ask you to find the meaning of a common word as employed in a particular context. For example, in the sentence:


I worked up a storm today!


"Storm" carries a very different meaning than in the sentence:


A terrible storm threatened our community.


How do you determine the difference between these two choices? You use the context around the word. In the first sentence, you obviously worked a lot (not a "weather occurrence"), whereas in the second one, such an occurrence would threaten a community.


Of course, the vocab-in-context questions you find on the SAT will be harder, but not by much. Vocab-in-context questions are arguably the easiest way to cash in points on the SAT and should be the "give me's" of the reading comprehension section.


Here is a simple, three-step strategy for vocab-in-context questions:


  • 1. Read the sentence in which the vocab word is found.
  • 2. Identify, in your own words, a synonym for the word.
  • 3. Match your selection with ONE of the answer choices.


As we've said before, these "vocab in context" questions should be the easiest SAT Reading Comprehension questions that you will encounter, so let's go over our "three-step strategy" for a specific example. You may see a question like:


4. On line 7, "construction" most nearly means:


The first thing you need to do is find line 7, locate the word, and then locate the beginning of the sentence. Read the entire sentence. This step is important, because if you only read line 7, you may get the wrong idea. For example:


7 construction is actually quite complex.


This sentence probably leads you to think of a different kind of "construction" than the entire sentence:


5 Even though people find foreign languages

6 very difficult to learn, English

7 construction is actually quite complex.


Now, hopefully we have illustrated the importance of reading the entire sentence. After you have read the sentence and located the word, you will need to apply the second step and define a synonym. In this case, "construction" refers to rules or structures of English. So, let's say our synonym is: "structure."


We will now take a look at the entire question, with choices, and apply the third step.


4. On line 7, "construction" most nearly means:


A. edification

B. building

C. composition

D. assembly

E. comprehension


In the third step we must look for a synonym of our chosen definition, "structure." The only word here that correctly maps to the word "structure" is "composition." A building is a type of structure, but doesn't fit in context.


How about another example? Consider the following question and passage snippet:


6. On line 44, "heated" most nearly means:


A. enflamed

B. loud

C. passionate

D. corrupt

E. tempered


First, you will need to find the text:


43 And it wasn't until then that I

44 had a heated conversation with

45 my former friend; we argued for

46 hours on end.


Second, define a synonym: for example, we would say "high-spirited" or "angry."


Finally, use the answer choice to match your synonym. The nearest choice is C, "passionate."


In the next lesson we will look at more comprehension questions, but try the SAT Reading Comprehension quizzes to check and see if you have mastered vocabulary in context!


[edit section] Additional Resources


[edit section] Inside SAT Reading Comprehension Guide

  1. Reading a Passage
  2. Basic Comprehension Questions
  3. Analytical Questions
  4. Vocab-in-Context Questions
  5. Advanced Comprehension Questions
  6. Two Passage Questions
  7. More on Analytical Questions
  8. Extension Questions
  9. Summary and Review

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