SAT Skills Insight

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Select a score band

Determining the Meaning of Words

Skills needed to score in this band

SKILL 1: Use context clues when selecting missing vocabulary at the sentence level

SKILL 2: Use knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes when selecting missing vocabulary at the sentence level

SKILL 3: Use the context of a sentence or a short section of text to clarify the meaning of unknown words or to select the appropriate meaning of familiar and simple words that have multiple meanings

  1. 1

    Use context clues when selecting missing vocabulary at the sentence level

    Example

    Some fans feel that sports events are ------- only when the competitors are of equal ability, making the outcome of the game -------.

    Answer Choices
  2. 2

    Use knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes when selecting missing vocabulary at the sentence level

    Example

    Unable to discover how the fire started, the inspectors filed a tentative report stating that the cause was -------.

    Answer Choices
  3. 3

    Use the context of a sentence or a short section of text to clarify the meaning of unknown words or to select the appropriate meaning of familiar and simple words that have multiple meanings

    Example

    The paragraph below is an excerpt from a longer passage discussing the possibility of locating intelligent life on other planets. The passage has been adapted from a 1999 book on the history of the universe.

    View Passage

    In line 10, “ran” most nearly means

    Answer Choices
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Skills needed to score in the next band

When you come across an unknown or difficult word in your reading, look at the word to see if it contains a root word that you know.

When you come across an unknown or difficult word in your reading, try to find out if that word is jargon, or the specialized vocabulary of a specific field.

When you come across an unknown word or a word with multiple meanings in your reading, look at the context of the sentence for clues to what the word means.

In your reading, pick out a long sentence and break it down into smaller parts. Think about how the structure of the sentence creates relationships among the ideas in the sentence. Think about how words like but, although, and also create certain relationships.

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