SAT Skills Insight
Select a score band
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
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 wordsExample
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.
A reading passage Line Number Text Yesterday had been her last day on the paper. She had
felt queer about that thing of taking her last assignment,
though it was hard to reach just the proper state, for the
last story related to pork-packers, and pork-packing is
Line 5 not a setting favorable to sentimental regrets. It was just
like the newspaper business not even to allow one a little
sentimental harrowing over one’s exodus from it. But the
time for gentle melancholy came later on when she was
sorting her things at her desk just before leaving, and
Line 10 was wondering what girl would have that old desk—if
they cared to risk another girl, and whether the other poor
girl would slave through the years she should have been
frivolous, only to have some man step in at the end and
induce her to surrender the things she had gained through
Line 15 sacrifice and toil.
In line 11, “poor” most nearly means
Understand how syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence) influences the relationship among words and ideas within a sentence
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.