I. Passage Completion: 10%
Graduating seniors can throw their flash cards on the celebratory bonfire next year. When students sit down to try their
pencils at the redesigned SAT in spring 2016, the questions about vocabulary are going to be different—remodeled and revised,
and for champions of obscure words, perhaps 1 .
Students will no longer be rewarded for the rote memorization of semi-obscure definitions. Instead, the words that the
SAT will highlight in vocabulary questions will be “high utility” words that students are likely to encounter in life and reading
beyond those four hours in the testing location. Even the most studied students won’t be able to 2 vocab sections,
matching a word with a certain definition by reflex; they’ll have to read and gather from the passage exactly what a word
means. Here is an example of an old-style SAT question that students will not be seeing on the new exam: There is no doubt that Larry is a genuine______ : he excels at telling stories that fascinate his listeners.
( A ) braggart ( B ) dilettante ( C ) pilferer ( D ) prevaricator ( E ) raconteur You may have identified that 3 would be the right answer, which comes from the old French word for relate. But
answering such a question won’t be expected of 4 high school students in the future.
One reason is that the one-sentence question provides little context, so it tests knowledge of knowing a word’s definition,
not necessarily how to gather meaning from reading something. As Jim Patterson, executive director of assessment, says,
“Students might well only know the word’s meaning from studying it in isolation, perhaps from an unofficial SAT preparation
word list.” And memorization skills, the kind that would also put students in the position to know the definitions of the wrong
answers in the above question, are not the skills the College Board wants to be testing.
In materials released today, the College Board says they’ll be concentrating on what are known as Tier Two words. That
terminology comes from academics at the University of Pittsburgh, particularly Professor Margaret G. McKeown and Isabel
Beck, who devised a system for classifying words into one of three tiers. Tier One words are those that kids will encounter
naturally as they’re beginning to talk, like mother, ball, food, run, walk, sit or bed. Tier Three words usually teach a new concept,
are relevant only in a particular discipline and have one meaning, like isotope or 5 or even piano. Tier Two words go
across domains and might have many meanings in different contexts. They appear more in text than in conversation, and
they 6 concepts a child could understand on a basic level with more nuance.
In sample questions released today, the College Board gives this example: [. . .] The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number
of bigger cities and city-regions. Some regions could end up bloated beyond the capacity of their infrastructure, while
others struggle, their promise stymied by inadequate human or other resources.
As used in the passage above, “intense” most nearly means _______.
( A ) emotional ( B ) brilliant ( C ) concentrated ( D ) determined
And the best answer is 7 . The key point, as far as the College Board is concerned, is that intense is not only a word that students will regularly
encounter but one that could mean ( A ), ( B ), ( C ) or ( D ), depending on the context. The redesigned test will focus on deeply
understanding more common words rather than being familiar with 8 .
Though not consulted, Professor McKeown applauds the SAT shift. The method of teaching that she has 9 for more
than 30 years is that students need to go through three stages to learn a word: be taught a definition, be shown how the word is
used and then use it themselves. She believes such words as intense are the ones that kids should be taught in school, given there
is no “infinite time or brain space.”
Ben Zimmer, executive producer of Vocabulary.com, a site with the mission of expanding vocabularies, also sees worth in
the SAT changes. He is sympathetic to the College Board’s explanation that they can only test students on so many words and
being able to understand the many meanings of intense is more pressing than understanding the single meaning of dilettante.
“It’s necessary for them to be a little selective in what they emphasize,” he says. “You really need to appreciate the full range of
meanings that a word can have.”
Zimmer, like the College Board, emphasizes that eliminating such words as lachrymose or obsequious or punctilious from
the SAT doesn’t 10 the value of knowing such words. But it does mean that students will have to be inspired to want to
know those words without necessarily getting points in return.
(E). E (AB). facetious (AC). aspirational (AD). embryonic (AE). breeze through (BC). denigrate (BD). academic jargons (BE). asphalt (CD) repackage (CE). lexical etymology (ABC). edge out (ABD). transmogrified (ABE). linguistic gems (ACD). undervalued (ACE). coincide (ADE). championed