be of different opinions
To disagree is to have a different opinion than someone else over an issue. The SAT often asks you to read about issues and people who disagree over them and to identify the sides in the debate, and to decide whether one side in the debate would agree or disagree with a certain statement. Tracking disagreements can start with looking for words that are opposites, antonyms, or nearly opposites, from one another — so look for the words that go against each other first.
bring before the public for the first time
To introduce is to present something for the first time. This is a word you'll see a lot of on the SAT referring to the first few paragraphs of a passage, where the main ideas are raised for the first time, establishing what the passage is about. Over the course of a passage, new people or ideas may be met, and they will be introduced too. The way things are introduced can be a clue as to how the author feels about the subject being introduced.
make plain and comprehensible
When you try to make something understandable to someone, you are explaining it to them. Sometimes what we say is unclear, and we have to reword it, or use a lot more words, or examples from the real world, to try to argue a point. These are all ways of explaining. On the SAT reading passages, it's good to keep track of things that need explaining and the efforts to explain them. Knowing how those two things fit together will help you see the organization of a reading passage.
making something plain or intelligible
An explanation seeks to take an idea and make it easier to understand. An explanation can start with things you know your reader understands, and relate those ideas to the difficult ones you are trying to explain. The SAT contains ideas and explanations of those ideas; look for those patterns in the readings, because there are often questions about them.
a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn
Information is the total of the facts and data we have on a topic. Information is not limited to words or descriptions, but can also be taken from graphs and charts and other representations. On the SAT, information can be presented to you in any of its many forms, including those charts and graphs, and you have to use the information given to answer the questions. Resist the temptation to rely on background knowledge as you work your way through the Reading Test.
a piece of information about events that have occurred
A fact is a piece of information about something that actually took place. Facts can be used to support a theory about something in the world, as a type of evidence. On the SAT, you may be asked to identify facts in a reading passage that support a specific conclusion you have drawn or to support a central claim in an argument. Be on the lookout for facts and how they are used as evidence in arguments.
anything that contributes causally to a result
Factors are things that matter in what you are considering. Telling the difference between what counts and what doesn't is important on the SAT. Is the factor you are considering related to what the passage is talking about? Sometimes you will see the word
factor used as meaning "cause" on the SAT. For example, you may be asked to identify one of the factors that contributed to a specific outcome in a reading passage.
explain the meaning of a word
To define a word is to give its meaning.
Define can also mean to make something that is confusing a little clearer. On some parts of the SAT you will be asked to choose a word that best defines a word from the accompanying reading passage. On other parts of the test you may see
define pop up in an answer choice connecting a word to what it means.
tell in advance
Psychics claim to predict the future, which means they say they can tell you what is going to happen in advance, before it actually happens. On the SAT, we predict that you will see the word
predict on the Reading Test, most likely in an answer option. A passage may predict a particular outcome. An example of foreshadowing may predict an event in a literature passage. Or, scientists may predict or make an educated guess about the results of an experiment (in a science passage).
take exception to
challenge means to question whether something is right or true. The SAT reading passages sometimes present opinions that are in conflict with one another, and
challenge is a word for this kind of disagreement. In a paired passages section, for example, you may conclude that one passage challenges the point of view expressed in the other passage.
examine and note the similarities or differences of
On the SAT you will examine the similarities and differences between two ideas or two passages, and when you do this, you compare them. These ideas could be different approaches to the same problem or different opinions on the same issue. You may, for example, compare a central claim in a text with a graphic representation of data that accompanies that text, trying to determine if the data supports the claim or refutes it.
having a good chance of being the case or of coming about
Likely is one of those words test writers love to use, including SAT test writers. It usually shows up in the expression
most likely. For example, you may see a question like, "On which of the following points would the authors of both passages most likely agree?" You can't talk to the authors and definitely find out the answer, so you are expected to make an educated guess based on the evidence in the passages.
one of several distinct subdivisions of a text
A paragraph is a few sentences about one particular aspect of the general topic in a reading passage. You can easily spot a paragraph since there is extra space at the beginning of a paragraph. SAT questions often refer to the paragraphs by number, although the reading passages are organized by line numbers as well. A question may ask you to look at the second paragraph, the final paragraph, etc. However, most often, the question will ask you to look at specific lines within a paragraph.
have as a part; be made up out of
When you include something, you incorporate it into a larger something. On the SAT, you may be asked why an author most likely chose to include certain details in his or her argument; it will be your job to infer why that decision was made. The opposite of
exclude, which means "to rule out or prevent from joining."
an item of information that is typical of a class or group
An example is something used to prove a point. On the SAT, you may be asked to identify examples that support an argument's claim. Examples can also be used to highlight properties — a fire engine, a strawberry, and a stop sign are all examples of red things.
any strong feeling
Emotion isn't about book smarts or facts but about how you feel. Authors of arguments will often use emotional appeals to persuade their readers. The SAT can ask you to put your finger on exactly what parts of a reading passage can trigger certain emotions in a reader, whether that emotion is patriotism, anger, love, or many others.
the act of conducting a controlled test or investigation
An experiment is an investigation of a theory. An experiment is careful and controlled to make sure the test is done properly. The SAT has descriptions of experiments of all kinds, but the common factor is the scientists who conduct these experiments have set up ways to research an aspect of life and have an idea they are examining to see if it is true.
Experiment can also be used non-scientifically, to mean to try things out, like when an artist experiments with a new style.
recognize as being
To identify something is to recognize it. When writing the SAT essay, you may identify a rhetorical device in the related reading passage and describe it. However, on the SAT Reading Test, test writers will most likely identify something and then ask you to interpret or analyze it. For example, they might identify an interesting example of word choice and then ask you to try to figure out why it was used and its effect on the reader.
a state involving dealings between people, parties, or ideas
Some questions about the reading passages on the SAT address how one part of the passage relates to another, or how two different passages relate to one another. Does idea number 2 provide evidence for idea number 1? Does idea number 2 cause the reader to doubt the conclusion reached in idea number 1? Or, the question could be more general. For example, a question could ask: "Which statement best describes the relationship between the passages?"
give or supply
This isn't the
yield on the road sign that's a triangle.
Yield is a word that means to produce. If a field yields corn, it has produced it.
Yield is a word that is concerned with outcomes, with results. Yield can be about physical results, like the corn, or more abstract, like a discovery yielding scientific opportunity. On the SAT, you will most likely see
yield in a variety of contexts (e.g., yield value, yield data, yield products, etc.).
an expression consisting of one or more words
A phrase is a bit of text that is made up of more than one word. A phrase can be as short as two words or as long as a sentence. On the SAT, the word
phrase is usually used to refer to the text that the question will be asking about. For example, a question could begin, "The author uses the phrase 'x y' to most likely..." You will most likely see this word in questions that quote the phrase itself.
the quality that renders something desirable
When something is important or has worth for someone, it has value. In SAT questions, you may see expressions containing
value — such as "moral values" or "traditional values." Values can be personal, like someone whose moral values tell them not to steal, or shared (we all agree that money has value).
Value can also mean prizing or holding something dear, as in "I value our friendship."
give a statement representing something
When you describe something, you are using language to create a representation in the mind of your reader. Descriptive words can range from physical traits like
yellow to emotional states like
angry. Being able to describe something (to point out the characteristics of a given thing) comes up a lot on the SAT, and you will often be asked to pick a word or phrase that best describes a character or event.
a statement that represents something in words
A description uses language to illustrate the physical or emotional characteristics of a person or thing. Descriptions add up to paint a picture inside a reader's mind of what something looks or feels like. Descriptions usually involve adjectives, adverbs, or phrases that involve them. On the SAT, it is good to recognize the difference between regular phrases and descriptions: "he left" reports an action, but "he left angrily" describes that action.
the quality of being unlike or dissimilar
Difference has many meanings, but they all describe things that are not the same. On the SAT Reading Test,
different will often be used when comparing paired passages or differing points of view on an issue. On the math side of things, the number that is the result of a subtraction problem is called "the difference" because it is the difference between two values.