New SAT Reading : Technical Vocabulary in Context

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #722 : New Sat

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.

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

Possible Answers:

ostentatious.

ornamental.

small-scale.

of good quality.

Correct answer:

small-scale.

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. The paragraph in question is discussing chromosomal rearrangements, so whatever the correct answer is should be able to describe those rearrangements. Choices "ornamental", "ostentatious", and "of good quality" all deal with the quality of the rearrangements, which doesn't make sense in this context - the rearrangements either happened or they didn't. Only "small-scale" makes sense, as a new piece of equipment could make finding "small-scale" changes to the genome easier.

Example Question #731 : New Sat

The passage is adapted from Ngonghala CN, et. al’s “Poverty, Disease, and the Ecology of Complex Systems” © 2014 Ngonghala et al.

In his landmark treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus argued that population growth will necessarily exceed the growth rate of the means of subsistence, making poverty inevitable. The system of feedbacks that Malthus posited creates a situation similar to what social scientists now term a “poverty trap”: i.e., a self-reinforcing mechanism that causes poverty to persist. Malthus’s erroneous assumptions, which did not account for rapid technological progress, rendered his core prediction wrong: the world has enjoyed unprecedented economic development in the ensuing two centuries due to technology-driven productivity growth.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “enjoyed” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

avoided

experienced

delighted

wanted

Correct answer:

experienced

Explanation:

In this example, we need to contextualize the use of “enjoyed,” as the term itself could carry several different meanings. In context, “enjoyed” seems to mean that the world has “experienced” economic development. So, our correct answer is “experienced.” The world may very well have “taken delight” in this development (the primary definition of “enjoyed,”) but contextually, we only know that it experienced this growth. In fact, though “delighted” might sound convincing, it actually implies a completely different and illogical meaning, seeming to imply that the word “delighted” or brought joy to economic development. “Wanted” and “avoided” are also both illogical, and change the meaning of the sentence in question.

Example Question #732 : New Sat

The passage is adapted from Ngonghala CN, et. al’s “Poverty, Disease, and the Ecology of Complex Systems” © 2014 Ngonghala et al.

The economics literature on poverty traps, where extreme poverty of some populations persists alongside economic prosperity among others, has a history in various schools of thought. The most Malthusian of models were advanced later by Leibenstein and Nelson, who argued that interactions between economic, capital, and population growth can create a subsistence-level equilibrium. Today, the most common models of poverty traps are rooted in neoclassical growth theory, which is the dominant foundational framework for modeling economic growth. Though sometimes controversial, poverty trap concepts have been integral to some of the most sweeping efforts to catalyze economic development, such as those manifest in the Millennium Development Goals.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “catalyze” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

impede

foster

stop

curb

Correct answer:

foster

Explanation:

In this example, we’ll need to use context cluse and process of elimination to identify the best alternative to the word “catalyze.” Earlier in the paragraph, the context cites economic growth, so we know that efforts are being made to encourage or accelerate growth. Here, the only option that aligns with this meaning is “foster.” Even if you weren’t quite familiar with the meaning of “foster” in its context, we can use process of elimination to identify the correct answer. “Impede,” “curb,” and “stop,” all clearly give the opposite meaning of what we’re looking for, and can thus be eliminated. We’ll also want to be wary of cases where two or more answer choices seem to provide the same meaning, as they do here. Since they cannot all be the correct answer, there’s a far better chance that something is problematic about all options, and they can thus be eliminated.

Example Question #1 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

The passage is adapted from Ngonghala CN, et. al’s “Poverty, Disease, and the Ecology of Complex Systems” © 2014 Ngonghala et al.

 In his landmark treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus argued that population growth will necessarily exceed the growth rate of the means of subsistence, making poverty inevitable. The system of feedbacks that Malthus posited creates a situation similar to what social scientists now term a “poverty trap”: i.e., a self-reinforcing mechanism that causes poverty to persist. Malthus’s erroneous assumptions, which did not account for rapid technological progress, rendered his core prediction wrong: the world has enjoyed unprecedented economic development in the ensuing two centuries due to technology-driven productivity growth. 

Nonetheless, for the billion people who still languish in chronic extreme poverty, Malthus’s ideas about the importance of biophysical and biosocial feedback (e.g., interactions between human behavior and resource availability) to the dynamics of economic systems still ring true. Indeed, while they were based on observations of human populations, Malthus ideas had reverberations throughout the life sciences. His insights were based on important underlying processes that provided inspiration to both Darwin and Wallace as they independently derived the theory of evolution by natural selection. Likewise, these principles underlie standard models of population biology, including logistic population growth models, predator-prey models, and the epidemiology of host-pathogen dynamics.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “languish” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

enjoy

excel

suffer

dialect

Correct answer:

suffer

Explanation:

In this example, we’ll need to utilize the surrounding context to understand the meaning of the term in question. In this case, the context refers to those who “languish,” in extreme poverty. This context alone tells us that “excel” and “enjoy” certainly don’t fit the bill. Additionally, “dialect” is completely illogical, and has been included to distract readers who might be tempted to misunderstand “languish” given the similarity of the root of the word to “language.” Thus, our only reasonable answer, and the one we would likely route to if we “filled-in-the-blanks” with our own term, is “suffer.”

Example Question #5 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

The passage is excerpted from Carter G, Leffer L (2015) “Social Grooming in Bats: Are Vampire Bats Exceptional?” © 2015 Carter, Leffer

Patterns of social grooming among categories of individuals also differed between the two species. In the Bechstein’s bat, adult female social grooming was not detectably symmetrical, and was predicted by kinship, occurring mostly between adult mothers and daughters, sometimes between sisters, and only rarely between non-kin. In vampires, female social grooming was highly symmetrical and relatively common among non-kin, where it correlated with co-roosting association and food sharing.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “symmetrical” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

proportional

different

unique

parallel

Correct answer:

proportional

Explanation:

Using context clues, we can see that “symmetry” in social grooming essentially means that there is a predictable a proportional relationship between how much time is spent when the second animal grooms the first, and when the first grooms the second. This leads us to the correct answer, “proportional.” “Different” and “unique” are both too similar to one another to be differentiated (and thus, are unlikely to be correct answers), and express a meaning entirely counter to the one presented in the passage. Parallel is also illogical, and attempts to distract us with our understanding of the visual meaning of “symmetrical.” However, only “proportional” could be placed where the term in question is located in the text without changing the meaning.

Example Question #6 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

The passage is excerpted from Carter G, Leffer L (2015) “Social Grooming in Bats: Are Vampire Bats Exceptional?” © 2015 Carter, Leffer

It is not entirely clear if vampire bat social grooming is typical or exceptional when compared to other bats or non-primate mammals. One hypothesis is that social grooming in vampire bats is exceptional in quantity and quality, because it is related to their uniquely cooperative food sharing behavior. Like many primates, reciprocal patterns of vampire bat food sharing and social grooming extend beyond mother-offspring bonds, suggesting they may provide both direct and indirect fitness benefits. Among bats, the common vampire has an extraordinarily large brain and neocortex for its body size. In primates, increased neocortex size has been linked to higher metrics of social complexity, such as social grooming network size and strategic deception.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “exceptional” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

irregular

benevolent

above average

 

infrequent

Correct answer:

irregular

Explanation:

In this challenging example, we’re asked to use context to identify the meaning of the word “exceptional,” and thus, which option maintains that meaning. What makes this question tricky, is that the term exceptional could carry a number of different meanings, depending on the context. Here, we want the meaning of exceptional that contrasts “typical,” as this is how the term has been used in the passage. “Atypical,” or a term with a similar contextual meaning should come to mind. Of our options, only “irregular” matches to that meaning of atypical or unusual. Benevolent certainly misses the mark in terms of context, even though we might sometimes use the word “exceptional” to describe something or someone that is especially good. “Infrequent” and “above average” also describe *a* meaning of the term exceptional, but would be completely illogical when placed in the context of its contrast to typical.

Example Question #11 : Vocabulary In Context

The passage is excerpted from Carter G, Leffer L (2015) “Social Grooming in Bats: Are Vampire Bats Exceptional?” © 2015 Carter, Leffer

Alternatively, the apparent distinctiveness of vampire bat social grooming might stem from purely ecological factors. Social grooming may be more obvious in vampire bats due to higher levels of ectoparasite infestation. Bat fly density has been linked to species-level grooming rates and the two vampire species that were observed ranked 5th and 6th place out of 53 neotropical bats for average number of parasitic streblid flies per bat. A sampling bias could also over-emphasize social grooming in vampire bats, because there is much effort focused on studying vampire bat social behavior and a lack of data on social grooming in other bats.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “bias” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

aversion

partiality

fairness

dislike

Correct answer:

partiality

Explanation:

In this example, we’re tasked to use context to understand the meaning of “bias” in the term “sampling bias.” The context later in the sentence addresses that a sampling bias could over-emphasize a certain group. So, we’re meant to interpret that a sampling bias expresses a partial or unfair distribution in the sample. This aligns with our correct answer, “partiality.” This context directly contrasts with “fairness,” and while a bias could lead someone to have a preference for one component and an aversion to or dislike of another, the answers “dislike” and “aversion” also don’t fit the given context, as the bias has been said to over-emphasize a particular species. Keep in mind that even if you were uncertain of the meaning of the term “partiality,” process of elimination is a great tool to eliminate clearly incorrect answers and arrive at our correct option!

Example Question #8 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

Dr. Ginny Bolton, examining roundworm samples collected in Borneo, noticed that the heatworm’s tiny cilia (hairlike organelles) appeared to beat in a single direction, aiding in the expulsion of food. Dr. Bolton later determined that the cilia also made it much easier for the heatworm to live in the stifling confines of tree bark. The cilia project from a cuticle that is made of keratin, a protein that protects the worm’s epidermis from drying out and overheating. The cilia help regulate the proliferation of the keratin, and the force of the cilia’s movements varies as the external temperature changes, allowing for a highly responsive thermostatic system, constantly adjusting the amount of keratin so that the worm would be neither overexposed nor stifled.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “proliferation” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

size

production

force

regulation

Correct answer:

production

Explanation:

In this example, we’re tasked to use context to understand the use of “proliferation” in the context of the highlighted sentence. Here, we’re told that the cilia aids the worm in understanding how much keratin is appropriate to produce given the temperature. So, the cilia help regulate the “production” of keratin. While force, regulation, and even size seem on-topic, none of them would fit the meaning if we simply replaced the term proliferation with any of those options. Be careful not to let similarity to the surrounding words trip you up - we’re looking for a term that would maintain the meaning if we directly swapped it with the word in question, and only “production” does so here.

Example Question #9 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

Dr. Ginny Bolton, examining roundworm samples collected in Borneo, noticed that the heatworm’s tiny cilia (hairlike organelles) appeared to beat in a single direction, aiding in the expulsion of food. Dr. Bolton later determined that the cilia also made it much easier for the heatworm to live in the stifling confines of tree bark. The cilia project from a cuticle that is made of keratin, a protein that protects the worm’s epidermis from drying out and overheating. The cilia help regulate the proliferation of the keratin, and the force of the cilia’s movements varies as the external temperature changes, allowing for a highly responsive thermostatic system, constantly adjusting the amount of keratin so that the worm would be neither overexposed nor stifled.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “stifled” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

smothered

extinguished

quieted

encouraged

Correct answer:

smothered

Explanation:

In this example, we’re tasked to use context to understand the use of “stifled” in the context of the highlighted sentence. The term is directly contrasted with the term “overexposed,” so contextually, we’re looking for a negative outcome that is the opposite of leaving the worm overexposed. If the keratin is providing balance to the worm, it’s ensuring the worm is neither overexposed, nor smothered. Essentially, the keratin ensures it doesn’t lack enough keratin, but also makes sure the keratin isn’t so abundant that it impedes the worm. So, “smothered” makes sense in this context. While “quieted” and “extinguished” fit other definitions of the word “stifled,” they don’t make sense in this context, and “encouraged” is completely misaligned with the context.

Example Question #10 : Technical Vocabulary In Context

Genetic testing showed that the blueworm and the heatworm were not merely structurally similar; to the scientists’ surprise, the worms were identical. This was startling, not only because of their vastly differing habitats, but also because of the difference in size. The answer again was to be found in the keratin, a tough substance that normally inhibits growth, keeping the hydrostatic pressure very high within the worm. The relatively large worm found in the rainforest molts as it grows, allowing the worm to increase its volume a very small amount each time it does, but the smaller worm cannot afford this much exposure. The freezing temperatures trigger the production of keratin so quickly that the worm has little chance to grow, thus keeping its volume approximately one-fourth that of the larger worm.

In the context of the highlighted portion of the passage, “inhibits” most nearly means

Possible Answers:

exhibits

impedes

reverses

accelerates

Correct answer:

impedes

Explanation:

In this example, we’re tasked to use context to understand the use of “inhibits” in the context of the highlighted sentence. If the substance, keratin, “inhibits” growth, and later context clarifies that keratin creates a situation in which “the worm has little chance to grow, thus keeping its volume approximately one-fourth that of the larger worm” we can see that inhibit must mean that it gets in the way of or “impedes” growth. While exhibits might sound similar, its meaning does not align with the context at all. Additionally, reverses and accelerates both take things too far, as the context does not imply that the keratin actively reverses the size of the worm, and instead just gets in the way of or “impedes” its further growth.

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