For the next two questions from the following SAT reading passage, we have a question type called Vocabulary in Context. This question type is one of the easiest to improve on, mainly because many students approach this question incorrectly.
What happened in between those two photographs is that I experienced, then overcame, what the poet Meena Alexander has called “the shock of arrival.” When I was deposited at the wrought-iron gates of my residential college as a freshman, I felt more like an outsider than I’d thought possible. It wasn’t just that I was a small Chinese boy standing at a grand WASP temple; nor simply that I was a hayseed neophyte puzzled by the refinements of college style. It was both: color and class were all twisted together in a double helix of felt inadequacy.
Let’s take this first question below.
1. As used in line xx, “deposited” most nearly means
(A) placed into
(B) dropped off
Many look at the word “deposited” and then look straight at the answer choices. DO NOT DO THIS. The question is all about context, which means the words around the word in question. So you must go back to the passage and find the word. Here I’ve excerpted the relevant part of the passage:
When I was deposited at the wrought-iron gates of my residential college as a freshman, I felt more like an outsider than I’d thought possible
Next, put your own word in place of the word in quotation marks. That’s right – ignore “deposited” and come up with your own word. Then, match that word with the answer choices.
Here we can come up with dropped off – that is, his parents dropped him off in front of the school.
Now let’s take a look at another vocabulary-in-context. Let me also point out that typically you will not get more than one vocabulary-in-context question per medium-length passage. This question is also a little harder – give it a shot!
Here is the relevant part of the passage:
I have on the wrong shoes, the wrong socks, the wrong checkered shirt tucked the wrong way into the wrong slacks. I look like what I was: a boy sprung from a middlebrow burg who affected a secondhand preppiness.
1. As used in line xx, “affected” most nearly means
(B) had an effect on
(C) give forth the impression of
(D) approached cautiously
Here the author looks preppy in a second-hand way. He is trying to give forth the impression that he is preppy (in a cheesy way). Therefore the answer is (C).
Do not be drawn to the answer choice because it reminds you of the most common form of the word. In this case, you may think “affected” matches up with (B). If you look at the context – and place (B) where you see “affected”, the sentence will not make sense.
Again, always make sure to go back to the relevant part of the passage when you are doing a vocabulary-in-context question. This is one of those situations where SAT vocabulary flashcards will only help so much and if you spend all your time focusing on simply how to remember SAT vocabulary, you’ll be inclined to jump to all the wrong conclusions.
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About Chris Lele
Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!
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