So the SAT will forever be done away with vocabulary come Mar. 2016, right? Well, not exactly. Sure, the ten-dollar words you can impress your grandma with will have been consigned to the dustbin of SAT has-beens (move over “analogies” and make some room). However, the SAT writing section will still test vocabulary in context, though this vocabulary will fall into a special category: commonly confused words.
In English, words either sound or look very similar and so we are likely to confuse them. The SAT writing passage might decide to slip the incorrect word in there, because this word sounds very similar to the correct word. Your job is to know the difference. The question type isn’t super common, though you’ll probably see it once per section (that’s 44 questions).
Below are a few commonly confused words that it’s important to be able to tell apart.
Accept – to receive
He accepted the job in New Jersey.
Except – not including
I’m going to do all the chores except vacuuming the floor.
Precede – to come before
The reading section on the New SAT will precede the math sections.
Proceed – to move forward
Before we can proceed with the investigation, we’ll need to determine who the suspects are.
Allusion – a reference, usually to literature or something learned
By calling them “two star-crossed lovers” he made an allusion to Romeo & Juliet.
Illusion – something that exists only in the mind
My crazy Uncle Jack was under the illusion that he was the mayor of Cleveland, even though he lived in California and had never even been to Ohio.
Allude (v.) – basically the verb form of allusion, allude means to refer to something
The professor alluded to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, though his audience—mostly stay-at-home moms—had no idea what he was talking about.
Elude (v.) – to avoid capture
The fugitive could no longer elude police and had to give in.
Discrete – broken into distinct groups
Major League baseball is broken into discrete leagues, and only within the last couple decades or so has there been interleague play outside of the championship game.
Discreet – careful to avoid drawing unnecessary attention
The spy chose a discreet outfit that matched that of the locals of the country she hoped to glean intelligence on.
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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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