New SAT Reading : Basic Vocabulary in Context

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #733 : New Sat

This passage is adapted from Jane Austen, Mansfield Park. Originally published 1814. Fanny has recently moved to live with her relatives at Mansfield Park.

Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old, and though there might not be much in her first appearance to captivate, there was, at least, nothing to disgust her relations. She was small of her age, with no glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty; exceedingly timid and shy, and shrinking from notice; but her air, though awkward, was not vulgar, her voice was sweet, and when she spoke  her countenance was pretty. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram received her very kindly; and Sir Thomas, seeing how much she needed encouragement, tried to be all that was conciliating: but he had to work against a most untoward gravity of deportment; and Lady Bertram, without taking half so much trouble, or speaking one word where he spoke ten, by the mere aid of a good-humored smile, became immediately the less awful character of the two.

As used in the highlighted line, "received" most nearly means 

Possible Answers:

were visited by.

suffered.

welcomed.

collected.

Correct answer:

welcomed.

Explanation:

For any vocabulary in context question, you should first look at the context of the sentence and determine what word or idea would best replace the word you are being asked about. In the context of the first paragraph, the word "received" is being used to talk about when Fanny first meets Sir and Lady Bertram. The only choice that could have the same connotation is "welcomed."

"Were visited by" is close, but consider the context of the sentence. Whatever the verb "received" means, it is something that Sir and Lady Bertram are doing kindly. "Were visited by" is a passive construction, so their kindness can't modify it. Among the other answers, "suffered," is a potential meaning for received, but does not fit in context since you are looking for a positive word and "collected," another potential meaning, does not make sense in the context of the paragraph, since the paragraph is about Fanny meeting Lady and Sir Bertram for the first time.

Example Question #2 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

Passage 1 is adapted from Emma Hart Willard, "Improving Female Education." Originally published in 1819.

As evidence that this statement does not exaggerate the female influence in society, our sex  need but be considered, in the single relation of mothers. In this character, we have the charge of the whole mass of individuals, who are to compose the succeeding generation; during that period of youth, when the pliant mind takes any direction, to which it is steadily guided by a forming hand. How important a power is given by this charge! yet, little do too many of my sex know how, either to appreciate or improve it. Unprovided with the means of acquiring that knowledge, which flows liberally to the other sex- having our time of education devoted to frivolous acquirements, how should we understand the nature of the mind, so as to be aware of the importance of those early impressions, which we make upon the minds of our children? -or how should we be able to form enlarged and correct views, either of the character, to which we ought to mold them, or of the means most proper to form them aright?

As used in the highlighted sentence, “succeeding” most nearly means

 

 

Possible Answers:

next.

triumphant.

replacement.

rotating.

Correct answer:

next.

Explanation:

As with any vocabulary in context question, your job is to look at the meaning of the sentence as a whole and then determine the word that would best replace the word you're being asked about. In this case, Willard is discussing why we should consider mothers when discussing female education, stating that they are in charge of the "succeeding generation" - their children. The correct answer choice will be a word that means that "succeeding generation" will also refer to children. The only answer that fits this is "next." While, "replacement," is close, it doesn't quite fit since, while the mothers and current generation will eventually die and be replaced, that doesn't necessarily only refer to the women's children.

Example Question #21 : Vocabulary In Context

Passage 2 is adapted from Benjamin Rush, "Thoughts upon Female Education". Originally published 1787.

To you, young ladies, an important problem is committed for solution: whether our present plan of education be a wise one and whether it be calculated to prepare you for the duties of social and domestic life. I know that the elevation of the female mind, by means of moral, physical, and religious truth, is considered by some men as unfriendly to the domestic character of a woman. But this is the prejudice of little minds and springs from the same spirit which opposes the general diffusion of knowledge among the citizens of our republics.If men believe that ignorance is favorable to the government of the female sex, they are certainly deceived, for a weak and ignorant woman will always be governed with the greatest difficulty. It will be in your power ladies, to correct the mistakes and practice of our sex upon these subjects by demonstrating that the female temper can only be governed by reason and that the cultivation of reason in women is alike friendly to the order of nature and to private as well as public happiness. 

As used in the highlighted line, “reason” most nearly means 

Possible Answers:

practicality. 

sanity.

knowledge.

justification.

Correct answer:

knowledge.

Explanation:

For any vocabulary in context question, look to find the context of the sentence first and then determine which answer choice best completes the thought being expressed in the sentence. In this case, Rush states that women can only be controlled by reason and that the "cultivation of reason" is good for public happiness. Since the entire passage is about women's education, it is logical to assume that Rush is arguing for the cultivation of women's education. Based on this information, the only logical answer is, "knowledge." "Justification" and "practicality" don't fit because they don't refer to education, and "sanity" doesn't fit because it is too literal - while Rush may argue that sanity is good for education, his focus here is on the education itself, not on whether its subjects are sane.

Example Question #4 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

This passage is adapted from Adam K. Fetterman and Kai Sassenberg, “The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists", first published in December 2015 by PLOS ONE.

While we imply that these effects may be exacerbated by social media, the data cannot directly speak to this. However, any one of a number of cognitive biases may add support to this assumption and explain our findings. For example, it may be that a type of availability bias or pluralistic ignorance of which the more vocal and critical voices are leading individuals to judge current opinions as more negative than reality. As a result, it is easy to conflate discussions about direct replications with “witch- hunts” and overestimate the impact on one’s own reputation. Whatever the source may be, it is worth looking at the potential negative impact of social media in scientific conversations.

As used in the highlighted line, “critical” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

analytical.

serious.

judgmental.

crucial. 

Correct answer:

judgmental.

Explanation:

For all vocabulary in context questions, look first at the context of the sentence and then consider which answer choice best fits in the sentence. The passage states that more "critical" voices lead people to believe that opinions on social media are more negative than they really are. This implies that "critical" needs to mean something that can mean a negative opinion. The only answer choice that fits this is, "judgmental". While, "analytical," may be close, it doesn't have the negative connotation of judgmental and must therefore be eliminated.

Example Question #21 : Vocabulary In Context

The following passage is adapted from Ricki Lewis, "Did Donkeys Arise from an Inverted Chromosome?", originally published 2018 in PLOSOne Blogs.

The researchers used Chicago HiRise assembly technology to up the quality of Willy’s genome sequence. “This new assembly allowed us to identify fine chromosomal rearrangements between the horse and the donkey that likely played an active role in their divergence and, ultimately, speciation,” they write.

The bigger pieces enabled them to zero in on DNA sequences where chromosomes contort, such as inversions (where a sequence flips) or translocations (where different chromosome types exchange parts). These events could have fueled the reproductive isolation of small populations that can expand into speciation.

As used in the highlighted sentence, "zero in" most nearly means

Possible Answers:

narrow.

reduce.

adjust.

find.

Correct answer:

narrow.

Explanation:

As with any vocabulary in context question, your job is to determine the scope of the sentence and then find the word that would best replace the word in question. In this case, the passage states that the new technology allowed them to look more closely at certain genetic sequences. "Reduce" and "adjust" can be dismissed as irrelevant since they do not involve looking more closely at something. The correct answer is "narrow". In order to look more closely at something, you narrow the range over which you are looking. "Find" is a close second. However, the researchers are looking more closely at the sequences, not necessarily finding them.

Example Question #6 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

The following passage is excerpted from a speech delivered by Susan B. Anthony in 1873. The speech was delivered after Anthony was tried and fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election.

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people— women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government—the ballot.

For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government had no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured, but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household—which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.

As used in the highlighted sentence, “just” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

confirmed

lawful

exact

partial

Correct answer:

lawful

Explanation:

With vocabulary in context questions, we need to focus on the context used in the passage. In the sentence, if we were to take out the word “just,” and replace it with something else, “lawful” would be the best fit. The surrounding paragraph addresses that current voting laws are “unlawful,” so suggesting that the government has no “lawful” powers fits our context perfectly. While “exact” and “confirmed” match other meanings for the word just, they do not align with the context of the passage, and would change the meaning. Keep in mind, vocabulary in context is a context question, not a vocabulary memorization question, so our job is generally to take common terms and find the meaning of those terms that best matches with the context.

Example Question #7 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

The following passage is excerpted from a speech delivered by Susan B. Anthony in 1873. The speech was delivered after Anthony was tried and fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election.

For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government had no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured, but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household—which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation. 

Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office. The one question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women are citizenswomen in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as is every one against African Americans.

As used in the highlighted sentence, “abridge” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

shorten

enhance

diminish

restore

Correct answer:

diminish

Explanation:

With vocabulary in context questions, we need to focus on the context first and foremost. In the sentence, if we were to take out the word “abridge,” and replace it with something else, “lessen” or “take away from” would be the best fit. So, “diminish” makes a lot of sense in context, and is our correct answer. While “shorten” might be the most common association we would make with “abridge” without the context, it doesn’t fit what we’re looking for in context, as it would not make sense to “shorten” privileges or immunities. Finally, restore and enhance both directly conflict with the context, and cannot be our correct answers. Keep in mind, vocabulary in context is a context question, not a vocabulary memorization question, so our job is generally to take common terms and find the meaning of those terms that best match with the context.

Example Question #743 : New Sat

The following is an excerpt from Agnes Grey, an autobiographical novel by Anne Bronte that follows the life of a governess working in wealthy British households in the 19th century.

To avoid trouble and confusion, I have taken my pupils one by one, and discussed their various qualities; but this can give no adequate idea of being worried by the whole three together; when, as was often the case, all were determined to ‘be naughty, and to tease Miss Grey, and put her in a passion.’ 

Sometimes, on such occasions, the thought has suddenly occurred to me—’If they could see me now!’ meaning, of course, my friends at home; and the idea of how they would pity me has made me pity myself—so greatly that I have had the utmost difficulty to restrain my tears: but I have restrained them, till my little tormentors were gone to dessert, or cleared off to bed (my only prospects of deliverance), and then, in all the bliss of solitude, I have given myself up to the luxury of an unrestricted burst of weeping. But this was a weakness I did not often indulge: my employments were too numerous, my leisure moments too precious, to admit of much time being given to fruitless lamentations.

As used in the highlighted sentence, “deliverance” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

liberation

arrival

unhappiness

appearance

Correct answer:

liberation

Explanation:

With vocabulary in context questions, we need to focus on the context used in the passage. In the sentence, if we were to take out the word “deliverance,” and replace it with something else, “freedom” (or liberation) would fit our context nicely and maintain the original meaning of the sentence. While “unhappiness” matches the tone of the surrounding paragraph, it would not make sense to replace “deliverance” with “unhappiness,” as the passage is suggesting that this time is her only escape or freedom from the challenges of her job. Additionally, while “appearance” and “arrival” fit *a* meaning of the word deliverance, they would not make sense in the context of the highlighted sentence. Keep in mind, vocabulary in context is a context question, not a vocabulary memorization question, so our job is generally to take common terms and find the meaning of those terms that best matches with the context.

Example Question #9 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

The following is an excerpt from Agnes Grey, an autobiographical novel by Anne Bronte that follows the life of a governess working in wealthy British households in the 19th century.

I particularly remember one wild, snowy afternoon, soon after my return in January: the children had all come up from dinner, loudly declaring that they meant ‘to be naughty;’ and they had well kept their resolution, though I had talked myself hoarse, and wearied every muscle in my throat, in the vain attempt to reason them out of it. I had got Tom pinned up in a corner, whence, I told him, he should not escape till he had done his appointed task. Meantime, Fanny had possessed herself of my workbag, and was rifling its contents—and spitting into it besides. I told her to let it alone, but to no purpose, of course. ‘Burn it, Fanny!’ cried Tom: and this command she hastened to obey. I sprang to snatch it from the fire, and Tom darted to the door. ‘Mary Ann, throw her desk out of the window!’ cried he: and my precious desk, containing my letters and papers, my small amount of cash, and all my valuables, was about to be precipitated from the three-story window. I flew to rescue it. Meanwhile Tom had left the room, and was rushing down the stairs, followed by Fanny. Having secured my desk, I ran to catch them, and Mary Ann came scampering after. All three escaped me, and ran out of the house into the garden, where they plunged about in the snow, shouting and screaming in exultant glee.

What must I do? If I followed them, I should probably be unable to capture one, and only drive them farther away; if I did not, how was I to get them in? And what would their parents think of me, if they saw or heard the children rioting, hatless, bonnetless, gloveless, and bootless, in the deep soft snow?

As used in the highlighted sentence, “vain” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

successful

exceptional

conceited

futile

Correct answer:

futile

Explanation:

With vocabulary in context questions, we need to focus on the context used in the passage. In the sentence, if we were to take out the word “vain,” and replace it with something else, “unsuccessful,” :doomed,” or “futile”  would fit our context nicely and maintain the original meaning of the sentence. “Successful” completely changes the meaning of the context, as would “exceptional, and “conceited” would just be outright illogical. Keep in mind, vocabulary in context is a context question, not a vocabulary memorization question, so our job is generally to take common terms and find the meaning of those terms that best matches with the context.

Example Question #10 : Basic Vocabulary In Context

This passage is adapted from “Flagship Species and Their Role in the Conservation Movement” (2020)

Until recently, two schools of thought have dominated the field of establishing “flagship” endangered species for marketing and awareness campaigns. These flagship species make up the subset of endangered species conservation experts utilize to elicit public support - both financial and legal - for fauna conservation as a whole. 

The first concerns how recognizable the general public, the audience of most large-scale funding campaigns, finds a particular species, commonly termed its “public awareness.” This school of thought was built on the foundation that if an individual recognizes a species from prior knowledge, cultural context, or previous conservational and educational encounters (in a zoo environment or classroom setting, for instance) that individual would be more likely to note and respond to the severity of its endangered status. However, recently emerging flagship species such as the pangolin have challenged the singularity of this factor. 

Alongside public awareness, conservation experts have long considered a factor they refer to as a “keystone species” designation in the flagstone selection process. Keystone species are those species that play an especially vital role in their respective habitats or ecosystems. While this metric is invaluable to the environmentalists in charge of designating funds received, recent data has expressed the more minor role a keystone species designation seems to play in the motivations of the public. 

Recent scholarship has questioned both the singularity and the extent to which the above classifications impact the decision making of the general public. Though more complicated to measure, a third designation, known as a species’ “charisma,” is now the yardstick by which most flagship species are formally classified. Addressing the charisma of a species involves establishing and collecting data concerning its ecological (interactions with humans/the environments of humans),  aesthetic (appealing to human emotions through physical appearance and immediately related behaviors), and corporeal (affection and socialization with humans over the short- and long-terms) characteristics. This process has been understandably criticized by some for its costs and failure to incorporate the severity of an endangered species’ status into designation, but its impact on the public has been irrefutable. While keystone and public awareness designations are still often applied in the field because of their practicality and comparative simplicity, charisma is now commonly accepted as the most accurate metric with which to judge a species’ flagship potential.

In the context of the passage, the word “fauna” in paragraph one most nearly means

Possible Answers:

conservation

flagship

all

animal

Correct answer:

animal

Explanation:

Here, the paragraph speaks about the role of flagship species in the conservation of animals. Thus, using context, we can conclude that the word “fauna” must mean animal. While the paragraph as a whole speaks about conservation and ends with the phrase “as a whole,” it would not make sense to take out the word “fauna” and replace it with any of our other answer options. With vocabulary in context questions, we need to focus on finding the term (using process of elimination and/or anticipating the correct answer by filling in the blanks ourselves) to find the correct contextual meaning to the term.

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