Vocabulary Review for Firefighter Exam Study Guide
Many firefighter exams test vocabulary. There are two basic kinds of questions.
- Synonyms: Identifying words that mean the same as the given words
- Context: Determining the meaning of a word or phrase by noting how it is used in a sentence or paragraph
A word is a synonym of another word if it has the same or nearly the same meaning as the other word. Test questions often ask you to find the synonym or antonym of a word. If you are lucky, the word will be included in a sentence that helps you guess what the word means. If you are less lucky, you will just get the word, and then you have to figure out what the word means without any help.
Questions that ask for synonyms can be tricky because they require you to recognize the meaning of several words that may be unfamiliar—not only the words in the questions but also the answer choices. Usually the best strategy is to look at the structure of the word and to listen for its sound. See if a part of a word looks familiar. Think of other words you know that have similar key elements. How could those words be related?
Try your hand at identifying the word parts and related words in these sample synonym questions. Circle the word that means the same or about the same as the italicized word. Answers and explanations appear right after the questions.
- incoherent answer
- not understandable
- not likely
- ambiguous questions
- covered with debris
- good excuses
- transparent material
- scattered rubble
- protective material
- inadvertently left
- exorbitant prices
- compatible workers
- belligerent attitude
The explanations are just as important as the answers because they show you how to go about choosing a synonym if you don't know the word.
- a. Incoherent means not understandable. To cohere means to connect. A coherent answer connects or makes sense. The prefix in- means not.
- d. Ambiguous questions are vague or uncertain. The key part of this word is ambi-, which means two or both. An ambiguous question can be interpreted two or more ways.
- c. Debris is scattered fragments and trash.
- a. Inadvertently means by mistake. The key element in this word is the prefix in-, which usually means not, the opposite of.
- d. The key element here is ex-, which means out of or away from. Exorbitant literally means "out of orbit." An exorbitant price would be an outrageous one.
- c. Compatible means harmonious.
- a. The key element in this word is the root belli-, which means warlike. The synonym choice, then, is hostile.
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