Tip #8 to Get a Top SAT Critical Reading Score
When I was 17, the word "panache" was on my SAT. I didn't know the word, but I remembered that there was a fancy restaurant near my town called Café Panache. I thought, "What is Panache?" Obviously this fancy restaurant is not called Café Smells\ Bad or Café I Hate You. Some cafes might be called those names, but they are not the places my parents go. So it must be Café Delicious or Café Exciting or Café Good Times. That insight was enough to vibe the word and get the question right. In fact, "panache" is similar to "exciting," it means "flair."
You can use anything around you to vibe out SAT vocab words. "Imperious" is an SAT word that stumps most kids. But you've definitely seen it around. You've heard of "Imperial Stormtroopers" or an "Imperial Cruiser" in Star Wars and the "Imperious Curse" in Harry Potter. From these references you can certainly conclude that "imperious" must mean something like "big" or "grand" or "important," and that's enough to get an SAT question right. "Imperious" actually means "domineering, bossy, or authoritative." Makes sense that, in Star Wars, the Empire would have an Imperial Cruiser or that J. K. Rowling would use the word to describe a curse that gives control over another person!
So when you don't know a word or aren't sure of its definition, see if you can remember seeing or hearing the word anywhere—a billboard, a TV commercial, history class, Spanish class, Harry Potter, a restaurant name, a comic book, or Magic: The Gathering cards. Use anything that you can to figure it out.
Let's look at this question:
Solution: Plucking a word directly from the question, we want a word for "deep connection."
treacle—Who the heck knows the word "treacle"? Maybe you. Remember Ron stuffing his face with treacle tart in Harry Potter? Well, that's enough to get it. "Treacle" means "something too sweet or sentimental."
- fellowship—Don't know the word? What about Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and the gang? "The Fellowship of the Ring." "Fellowship" means "a group or association."
facile—Most people think that they don't know this word, but if you take Spanish or French, it's easy. In Spanish "facil" means "easy," and in English "facile" means "too easy." requiem—Tough word. But how about the Academy Award–winning movie Requiem for a Dream? "Requiem" means "remembrance." alleviation—Seems like a maybe, cause we want a positive-sounding word. But you know this word. It sounds like the pain reliever Aleve, and in fact, it means "making something more bearable."
- Correct answer: B
Here are some great SAT vocab words. Let's see if you can vibe them out. Even if you can't define them, try to come up with an association. That might be enough to know if it's the right or wrong answer on a sentence completion question. The goal here is not just for you to learn 13 new SAT words, but for you to become awake to all the great vocabulary that surrounds you.
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