SAT Skills Insight

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Determining the Meaning of Words

Skills needed to score in this band

SKILL 1: Use knowledge of root words to determine the meaning of words needed to complete a compound or complex sentence

SKILL 2: Recognize and understand less common words and specialized vocabulary (terms used in a particular occupation or field of study)

SKILL 3: Use context clues (such as an embedded definition) to select missing vocabulary at the sentence level

SKILL 4: Use the context of a sentence or a short section of text to clarify the meaning of unknown words (when definitions may or may not be embedded in the text) or to select the appropriate meaning of familiar and simple words that have multiple meanings

SKILL 5: Use sentence structure to negotiate the meaning of the sentence

SKILL 6: Make sense of complex sentences with logical constructions that include terms such as but, although, or, if, then, and not

 

  1. 1

    Use knowledge of root words to determine the meaning of words needed to complete a compound or complex sentence

    Example

    The university’s aggressive transformation from a teaching-centered college to a major research institution has brought ------- that teaching is now being -------.

    Answer Choices
  2. 2

    Recognize and understand less common words and specialized vocabulary (terms used in a particular occupation or field of study)

    Example

    His mouth stinging and burning, Virgil hurried to the kitchen for water to wash away the dish’s ------- taste.

    Answer Choices
  3. 3

    Use context clues (such as an embedded definition) to select missing vocabulary at the sentence level

    Example

    Certain plant seeds are able to remain ------- for years, appearing lifeless when in fact they are merely inactive.

    Answer Choices
  4. 4

    Use the context of a sentence or a short section of text to clarify the meaning of unknown words (when definitions may or may not be embedded in the text) or to select the appropriate meaning of familiar and simple words that have multiple meanings

    Example

    "Cloning" is the creation of a new individual from the unique DNA (or genetic information) of another. The successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly in 1997 sparked a debate over the implications of cloning humans. The passage below was written in 1997.

    View Passage

    In line 21, “fair” most nearly means

    Answer Choices
  5. 5

    Use sentence structure to negotiate the meaning of the sentence

    Example

    The author agreed to submit a complete manuscript accompanied by a -------, a brief summary of the overall thesis.

    Answer Choices
  6. 6

    Make sense of complex sentences with logical constructions that include terms such as but, although, or, if, then, and not

    Example

    The spot remover dissolved the concentrated stain but also allowed it to -------, spreading across much of the fabric.

    Answer Choices
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Skills needed to score in the next band

As you read a text, identify a compound or complex sentence. Break it down into smaller parts and think about how those parts work together. How does the structure of the sentence set up relationships among the ideas in the sentence?

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.

As you read a text (such as a newspaper or magazine article) about a subject you aren’t familiar with, look for words that might be part of a specialized vocabulary—that is, words that are primarily used within a certain field—and determine their meaning. Choose a subject and find a book written by a specialist for other specialists in that field, looking for specialized vocabulary words as you read.

 

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