Strategies for Vocabulary Questions for Praxis I: Pre-Professional Skills Test Study Guide
If you encounter an unfamiliar word when you are reading, you may likely grab a dictionary and look it up. During the PPST Reading test, you can't use a dictionary to check the meaning of new words. However, you can use a number of strategies to figure out what a word means.
Vocabulary questions measure your word power, but they also evaluate an essential reading comprehension skill, which is your ability to determine the meaning of a word from its context. The sentences that surround the word offer important clues about its meaning. For example, see if you can figure out the meaning of the word incessant from this context:
The incessant demands of the job are too much for me. The responsibilities are endless!
The word incessant most nearly means
The best answer is c. The second sentence, The responsibilities are endless, restates the phrase in the first sentence, incessant demands. This restatement, or elaboration, suggests the meaning of incessant: continuing or following without interruption.
If the context of an unfamiliar word does not restate its meaning, try these two steps to figure out what the word means:
- Is the word positive or negative? Using the context of the passage, determine whether the unfamiliar word is a positive or negative term. If a word is used in a positive context, you can eliminate the answer choices that are negative. In the preceding example, you can guess that the word incessant is used negatively. The phrase, too much for me, suggests that the demands of the job are overwhelming and negative. Thus, you can eliminate the answer choices d and e because they represent positive terms.
- Replace the vocabulary word with the remaining answer choices, one at a time. Does the answer choice make sense when you read the sentence? If not, eliminate the answer choice. In the previous example, choice a, inaccessible, simply does not make sense in the sentence. Choice b, difficult, is too general to be a likely synonym. Only choice c, unceasing, makes sense in the context.
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