Unit 12: Words in Context

The most important part of these questions is understanding the overall context of the word in question. A couple of simple tricks will help with these question types.

An example:

Why do gift-givers assume that gift price is closely linked to gift-recipients’ feelings of appreciation? Perhaps givers believe that bigger, more expensive gifts convey stronger signals of thoughtfulness and consideration. According to Camerer and others, gift-giving represents a symbolic ritual.

As used in the text, what does the word “convey” most nearly mean?

A) transport
B) counteract
C) exchange
D) communicate

Strategy:

  1. First, DO NOT LOOK AT THE ANSWERS. Come up with your own word that you would substitute in. Then, check the answers. You may have a match already. If not, then:
  2. Simply re-read the sentence 4 times, each time plugging in a different answer, and eliminating clearly wrong answers.
  3. If you can rule out the other 3 answers, it is OK to choose a word you’re not familiar with.

From our example above:

Perhaps gift givers believe that bigger, more expensive gifts transport strong signals of thoughtfulness. (NO)

Perhaps gift givers believe that bigger, more expensive gifts counteract strong signals of thoughtfulness. (NO)

Perhaps gift givers believe that bigger, more expensive gifts exchange strong signals of thoughtfulness. (NO)

Perhaps gift givers believe that bigger, more expensive gifts communicate strong signals of thoughtfulness. (YES). This is the only answer that makes any sense.

Sometimes you may come across words you aren’t familiar of or aren’t exactly sure of the definition. Think about if you know any other words with the same root or starting letters. For example, if you weren’t sure what “emphatic” meant, you might think about “emphasis” or “emphasize”, both of which are close in meaning.