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CliffsTestPrep The NEW*SAT
By Jerry Bobrow
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7645-5916-8
Chapter OneIntroduction to the Critical Reading Section
The Critical Reading sections (formerly called "verbal reasoning" sections) of the new SAT consist of two basic types of questions: sentence completions and critical reading (short and long passages).
Two Critical Reading sections are 25 minutes in length and one is 20 minutes in length. Since one section of the test is experimental (although you won't know which one), you could have an additional Critical Reading section.
Although the order of the sections and the number of questions may change, at this time the three sections total about 65 to 70 questions that count toward your score. These three sections generate a scaled critical reading score that ranges from 200 to 800. About 50% right should generate an average score.
The sentence completion questions are generally arranged in a slight graduation of difficulty from easier to more difficult. Basically, the first few questions are the easiest; the middle few are of average difficulty; and the last few are difficult. There is no such pattern for the critical reading passages or questions.
You will have approximately 19 total sentence completions spread through the critical reading sections of the exam. In each section, the sentence completions will basically be arranged in order from easy to difficult.
This question type tests your ability to complete sentences with a word or words that retain the meaning of the sentence and are structurally and stylistically correct.
Basic Skills Necessary
Good reading comprehension skills help in this section, as does a good twelfth-grade vocabulary. Some vocabulary building books can be helpful, although the best way to build a vocabulary is to read, read, read.
Each blank in the following sentences indicates that something has been omitted. Consider the lettered words beneath the sentence and choose the word or set of words that best fits the whole sentence.
Analysis of Directions
1. Note that you must choose the best word or words.
2. In cases where several choices might fit, select the one that fits the meaning of the sentence most precisely.
3. If the sentence contains two blanks, remember that both of the words corresponding to your choice must fit.
Suggested Approaches with Samples
Think of Words You Would Insert as the Answer
After reading the sentence and before looking at the answer choices, think of words you would insert and look for synonyms of them.
1. Money _____________ to a political campaign should be used for political purposes and nothing else.
How would you fill in the blank? Maybe with the word given or donated? Now look at the choices and find a synonym for given or donated.
Contributed is the nearest synonym of given or donated and makes good sense in the sentence. The best choice is C.
2. Although it was not apparent at the time, in _____________ we can see how Miles Davis's performances in the 1970s were _____________ by what was happening then in popular music.
A. retrospect ... influenced
B. effect ... modified
C. fact ... unchanged
D. foresight ... endangered
E. time ... engendered
After reading the sentence, you may decide that the phrase not apparent at the time would suggest looking back for the first blank and that the second word needs to be affected. You could read the sentence "Although it was not apparent at the time, in looking back we can see how Miles Davis's performances in the 1970s were affected by what was happening then in popular music." Now, looking for synonyms for looking back and affected gives you choice A, retrospect ... influenced. The best choice is A.
Look for Signal Words Connecting Contrasting Ideas
Some signal words, such as however, although, on the other hand, but, instead, despite, regardless, rather than, and except, connect contrasting ideas.
1. Can public opinion be influenced so that it _____________ rather than encourages the proliferation of the sale of firearms?
The clue here is rather than encourages. You need a verb whose object is proliferation and that means the opposite of encourages. The best choice is impedes, which means obstructs or retards. To invert is to turn upside down. The best choice is D.
2. Most candidates spend _____________ they can raise on their campaigns, but others wind up on election day with a ______________.
A. all ... debt
B. whatever ... liability
C. everything ... surplus
D. every cent ... deficit
E. nothing ... war chest
But signals that the first half of the sentence contrasts with the second half. The fact that most candidates spend everything (and end up with nothing) contrasts with those who end up with a surplus. The best choice is C.
3. The critic praised the scenery of the film enthusiastically, but ____________ her enthusiasm when she discussed its plot and characterizations.
But signals that you need a verb denoting something different from the enthusiasm of the first part of the sentence. Choices A, B, and C contradict but. The verb tempered (moderated, reduced in intensity) is both more suitable in meaning and more idiomatic than D. The best choice is E.
Notice Signal Words Connecting Similar Ideas
Other signal words, such as in other words, besides, and, in addition, also, therefore, furthermore, and as, often connect similar ideas.
1. We need experiments to discover whether the systems that we have designed that work in theory also work in ____________, in other words, in the real world.
The key words here are in other words, which tell you that your choice must be similar to the real world. The terms in fact and in the real world both refer to similar ideas in this sentence. The best choice is B.
2. This treatise is concerned only with the process unique to the period in question; therefore, no attempt has been made to ____________ phenomena _____________ to that era. A. include ... unrelated
B. omit ... irrelevant
C. re-create ... germane
D. discuss ... essential
E. evaluate ... pertinent
The words in the first half of the sentence that are especially related to those to be filled in in the second half are is concerned only and unique to the period. The verb in the first blank is parallel to is concerned and describes the contents.
Choices A, include, D, discuss, and possibly E, evaluate, are possible. The second blank needs an adjective that will make the phrase to that era parallel to unique to the period. Choice B, irrelevant, would work, but only A has the correct first word. The best choice is A.
Focus on Signal Words that Help Define Other Words
Some words or phrases will actually give you a definition or point you to the definition of the word needed.
1. The tools found in the New Mexico excavation are _____________, as a single implement might have several edges, each with a different use.
The tools the sentence describes have several edges and several uses, and the missing adjective should fit these conditions. Versatile means capable of many things. The best choice is D.
2. The unique world of the film is _____________, both wholly recognizable and unfamiliar.
The second part of this sentence, both wholly recognizable and unfamiliar, is a perfect example of the word needed, contradictory. The words recognizable and unfamiliar contradict each other (are opposites). The best choice is A.
Watch for Contrasts between Positive and Negative
As you read the sentence, watch for contrasts between positive and negative words. Look for words like not, never, and no.
1. A virtuous person will not shout _____________ in public; he or she will respect the _____________ of other people.
The first blank is obviously a negative word, something that a good person would not shout; the second blank is a positive word, something that a good person would respect. Here are the choices:
A. obscenities ... feelings
B. loudly ... comfort
C. anywhere ... presence
D. blessings ... cynicism
E. insults ... threat
Choice B is neutral-positive; C is neutral-neutral; D is positive-negative; E is negative-negative. Only choice A offers a negative-positive pair of words. The best choice is A.
2. The chairperson was noted for not being obstinate; on the contrary, the members praised her _____________.
The correct answer must describe a praiseworthy quality opposite to obstinacy. Although B and C are good qualities, only flexibility, E, means pliancy, the quality of being flexible. The best choice is E.
Be Aware of the Direction of the Sentence
Negative words can change the direction of the sentence, sometimes making the logic of the sentence more difficult to follow.
1. Tamino's choice of the quest to rescue Pamina is _____________ not accidental, and he undertakes it with _____________ and steadfastness.
A. considered ... trepidation
B. circumstantial ... valor
C. intentional ... reluctance
D. deliberate ... courage
E. fortuitous ... ardor
The adjective must be the opposite of accidental. The better choices are the synonyms of A, C, and D-considered, intentional, and deliberate. Choices B and E do not fit this context. The second blank requires a noun that is like steadfastness or describes a sterling quality. Choice A, trepidation, means fear or hesitancy, and choice C, reluctance, means unwillingness. Neither will do, but choice D, courage, is what is needed. The best choice is D.
2. The room was in an advanced state of disrepair; not only were the velvet draperies _____________, but they were also mottled and _____________.
A. bright ... torn
B. old ... clean
C. faded ... frayed
D. new ... mangled
E. tattered ... original
The logic of this sentence could be difficult to follow because of the negative wording. State of disrepair tips you off that both blanks must be filled with negative words. Choice C, faded ... frayed, is the only negative pair. The words also fit the meaning of the sentence. The best choice is C.
Attempt Questions One Word at a Time
Questions with two words missing should be attempted one word at a time.
1. The _____________ predictions of greatly decreased revenues next year have frightened lawmakers into _____________ budget reductions.
A. encouraging ... sizeable
B. convincing ... minute
C. alarming ... negligible
D. optimistic ... huge
E. dire ... drastic
Notice that trying the first word will help you eliminate answer choices A, B, and D. If the predictions are of decreasing funds and frightening to lawmakers, the first adjective must be either alarming, C, or dire, E, (fearful, dreadful). Now try the second choice to get the correct answer. Since the lawmakers have been scared into action, you can infer that the reductions are drastic, E, rather than negligible, C. The best choice is E.
2. The government _____________ that the new laws are necessary to prevent unscrupulous business owners from _____________ off the profits while the workers are underpaid.
A. implies ... dilating
B. anticipates ... privatizing
C. infers ... acquiring
D. requires ... living
E. contends ... siphoning
The only first words that make sense in the sentence are choices A, implies, B, anticipates, and E, contends. But the second word in choice E, siphoning, is the only one that fits. "Siphoning off profits" is a common phrase and is something that unscrupulous business owners might try to do. The best choice is E.
Work from the Second Blank First
Sometimes it is more efficient to work from the second blank first.
1. Her parents were _____________ when, despite losing the first three games, Sally _____________ to win the set by a 6-3 score.
A. surprised ... failed
B. relieved ... came back
C. puzzled ... refused
D. alarmed ... attempted
E. delighted ... was unable
There are no clues here to tell you which of the first words describes the reaction of the parents. Any of the five might work. But if you deal with the second blank first, you can see that the word despite makes it clear that Sally must win the set. Choice B, came back, looks like the best choice, although D is possible. That B is better is confirmed by the first word, as relieved is better than alarmed. The best answer is B.
2. The merger will eliminate _____________ and provide more ____________ cross-training of staff.
A. profit ... and more
B. paperwork ... or less
C. duplication ... effective
D. bosses ... wasteful
E. competitors ... aggressive
The second blank is something that is provided. Chances are that the something provided is a positive word, and effective seems like a good choice. Reading choice C into the sentence, you will find that it makes good sense and is stylistically and structurally correct. The best choice is C.
Read in Each Choice
If you don't spot any signal words or you don't know the meaning of some of the choices (or if you're just stumped), quickly read each answer choice in and see which sounds best. Sometimes this last method will help you at least eliminate some of the choices so that you can take an educated guess.
1. The fertile and productive fields are located at the _____________ of the Gila and the Arizona Rivers and are ____________ by waters from both.
A. junction ... desiccated
B. confluence ... irrigated
C. bank ... drained
D. source ... submerged
E. end ... inundated
The first word probably refers to the place where the rivers are close, since the fields are watered by both. Except for C, any of the four nouns is possible. Confluence means a flowing together, the place where two waterways come together. The past participle must refer to the watering of these fertile lands. So desiccated (dried up) or drained can be eliminated. If the fields are productive, irrigated (supplied with water) makes better sense than inundated or submerged, which suggest destructive flooding. The best choice is B.
Excerpted from CliffsTestPrep The NEW*SAT by Jerry Bobrow Excerpted by permission.
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