SAT VocabIf memorization isn’t a student’s strength, then she’d more than likely dread the vocabulary portion of the old-style SAT. Fortunately in spring 2016, students won’t have to worry about memorizing a bunch of tired definitions of words from an SAT prep list (that they’d probably never use) and instead would need to use context to determine the meaning of a word.

The current exam may display a question like this:

There is no doubt that Larry is a genuine ——- : he excels at telling stories that fascinate his listeners.

(A) braggart

(B) dilettante

(C) pilferer

(D) prevaricator

(E) raconteur

Okay, who in the world uses (B), (C), (D), or (E) in everyday language?

But the new version will appear like this:

[. . .] The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.

As used in line 55, “intense” most nearly means

A) emotional.

B) concentrated.

C) brilliant.

D) determined.

Now that’s a more realistic way to learn words and how to use them.

Professor Margaret G. McKeown of the University of Pittsburgh says, “We don’t need to have a bunch of memorized definitions in our head. It’s an integration of the sentence and the word that’s going to help us. The more they have to integrate, the more that reflects what you need to do with a vocabulary as a reader.”


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  • Brad

    My understanding is that SAT and ACT scores are not a reliable judge of how black students with perform in college.

  • Me

    um… that 2nd example is way harder than the old version. i could see students getting tripped up on what they mean by clustering, bloated, infrastructure, and stymied. so i think this way forces them to actually know MORE vocabulary. oh & for the 1st example, it just shows why kids should learn other languages throughout school because at least 2 of those words have french roots (the answer is e btw) & knowing other languages would at least help the kids to figure it out even if they didn’t know the answer beforehand. pros & cons to both.