SAT Skills Insight

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Determining the Meaning of Words

Skills needed to score in this band

SKILL 1: Use the context of a sentence or larger section of text to determine the meaning of unknown words or to differentiate among multiple possible meanings of words

SKILL 2: Understand how syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence) influences the relationship among words and ideas within a sentence

SKILL 3: Demonstrate increased comprehension of specialized vocabulary

 

  1. 1

    Use the context of a sentence or larger section of text to determine the meaning of unknown words or to differentiate among multiple possible meanings of words

    Example

    The following paragraph is part of a longer excerpt from a 1909 novel. Georgia, the main character, is a reporter in an otherwise all-male newsroom.

    View Passage

    In line 11, “poor” most nearly means

    Answer Choices
  2. 2

    Understand how syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence) influences the relationship among words and ideas within a sentence

    Example

    Contemporary Inuit sculpture merges traditional carving techniques with current subject matter; thus, it ------- an Inuit practice while ------- a modern cultural identity.

    Answer Choices
  3. 3

    Demonstrate increased comprehension of specialized vocabulary

    Example

    “Hawaii” refers both to the group of islands known as the Hawaiian Islands and to the largest island in that -------.

    Answer Choices
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Skills needed to score in the next band

As you read a text about a topic with which you are unfamiliar, look for words that you know to help you determine what any unknown words might mean.

When you come across an unknown word or difficult word in your reading, look it up in a dictionary that provides information on the word’s origins and history.

When you come across a difficult section of text in your reading, break down the ideas in it sentence by sentence and even within sentences. Think about how the ideas work together.

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