Vocabulary-In-Context Questions on the Critical Reading Section

3 quick hints to doing well on these:

1) Come up with your own definition before you look at the choices. This is a great technique on multiple choice questions, because it helps avoid attractive, yet wrong answers. And although it takes a bit of time, it actually helps you solve questions faster overall. Sometimes you might even see your exact word in the answers.

Example text: All bus service was suspended during the snowstorm.

…”suspended” most nearly means

Avoid the temptation to peek at the answers. This is a simple sentence, and “suspended” clearly means “stopped.”

(A) hung
(B) adjourned
(C) dissolved
(D) banned
(E) damaged

Answer (B). This should be a slam dunk if you know the word “adjourn.” Otherwise, use process of elimination. Don’t let fear of a word that you don’t know lead you to a poor decision.


Image by valcomp via Flickr

If you can’t think of a good word, a phrase will do:

Example text: The presidential candidate failed to present a clear explanation of how he planned to improve the economy.

…”clear” most nearly means

If you can’t think of a single word, just say something like “easily understood.”

(A) calm
(B) transparent
(C) absolute
(D) bare
(E) understandable

The answer is obviously (E).

2) Beware the most common definition! On these questions, The College Board isn’t testing whether you’ve memorized a difficult word. Rather, they are testing whether you can recognize the correct meaning of a word that can have more than one definition.

In line 17, “sight” most nearly means

So, if you choose “vision” here, you’ll probably miss. The College Board doesn’t want to let just anyone get their questions right, and a second-grader would choose that.


green eyed girl..

Image by ~no bullshit~ via Flickr


…”company” most nearly means

(A) friends
(B) assembly
(C) objection
(D) business
(E) tribute

Avoid (A) and (D) above.

…”conduct” most nearly means

(A) contribute
(B) lead
(C) transmit
(D) behave
(E) overlook

Avoid (B) and (C) (as in “conduct electricity”) above.

3) Try your answer in the sentence to be safe. If you’ve made a mistake in your thinking, you can catch it here. And if your choice doesn’t fit grammatically, you’ll know it’s wrong.

Example text: Although her advisor made some convincing counter-arguments, Hyun Sook would not allow her resolve to be compromised.

…”compromise” most nearly means

The word “compromise” has an easier definition (to settle or agree by making concessions) and a harder one (to weaken or lower). If you don’t know the more obscure definition, you might really think the answer has to do with the common one, and like answer (A). But when you try it in the sentence, it just doesn’t fit (“allow her resolve to be agreed”), so it must be incorrect.

(A) agreed
(B) combined
(C) weakened
(D) consisted
(E) squeezed

Example text: The practice here at the Green Monkey Lodge is to remove one’s shoes before eating.

…”practice” most nearly means

(A) rehearsal
(B) career
(C) repetition of
(D) convention
(E) constitutional

Did you get (D)? Here, “practice” means something like “the thing a person does.”


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