SAT Skills Insight

Register Next Tests:
10/11 , 11/8

Select a score band

Determining the Meaning of Words

Skills needed to score in this band

SKILL 1: Understand familiar words in unfamiliar contexts and differentiate among multiple possible meanings for words in unfamiliar contexts

SKILL 2: Understand sophisticated and specialized vocabulary

SKILL 3: Determine the meaning of a word when there is little or no supporting context

SKILL 4: Negotiate complex syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases in a sentence), and integrate ideas within and across sentences

 

  1. 1

    Understand familiar words in unfamiliar contexts and differentiate among multiple possible meanings for words in unfamiliar contexts

    Example

    The paragraphs below are excerpted from a longer passage taken from a novel set in early twentieth-century England. Mrs. Deverell is the widow of a shopkeeper who lived and worked in Volunteer Street; their daughter Angel has become a best-selling novelist. Here, Mrs. Deverell finds herself in a new home that she and Angel share in the prosperous village of Alderhurst.

    View Passage

    In line 26, “perplex” most nearly means

    Answer Choices
  2. 2

    Understand sophisticated and specialized vocabulary

    Example

    Doug was both ------- and -------: he possessed penetrating acuity and discernment and was also extremely humble.

    Answer Choices
  3. 3

    Determine the meaning of a word when there is little or no supporting context

    Example

    Since other seabirds customarily nest in colonies on ocean cliffs and islands, the marbled murrelet’s ------- nesting in forests many miles from the sea must be considered -------.

    Answer Choices
< Prev Skill Group | Next Skill Group >

Skills needed to score in the next band

As you read a difficult text, look for familiar words that are used in ways that are unfamiliar to you.

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 a difficult word in your reading, use the context of the sentence and surrounding sentences to determine the word’s meaning. Also consider the context when determining how a word is being used. For example, does the rest of the sentence indicate that a word is being used with a certain connotation?

To improve your vocabulary, read a difficult text and look up the words you don’t know in a dictionary that provides information on the origins and history of a word.

Buy Together, Get $10 Off

Buy Together & Get $10 Off
Study Guide
Online Course

The online course includes explanations and auto essay scoring for the Study Guide's 10 practice tests.

The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests™: 
Second Edition

Subject Test Study Guide

Get ready for test day with a brand new edition of our best-selling SAT Subject Test Study Guide! Brought to you by the test-maker, this is the ONLY study guide with actual, previously administered tests for all 20 SAT Subjects Tests™ to provide you with the real test-taking experience.

See Inside