Unit 16: Word Choice

Word choice questions give you a sentence with a blank and ask you to pick the choice that best completes the sentence with a precise and logical word or phrase.

For example:

In recommending Bao Phi’s collection Song I Sing, a librarian noted that pieces by the spoken word poet don’t lose their ______ nature when printed: the language has the same pleasant musical quality on the page as it does when performed by Phi.

A) scholarly
B) melodic
C) jarring
D) personal

Strategy:

  1. Read the full sentence carefully and visualize what it is describing. Pay attention to the context clues.
  2. Predict what word fits the blank based on the sentence structure and clues BEFORE looking at the choices.
  3. Review the answer choices offered, looking for a match with your prediction. Eliminate clearly wrong choices.
    • Watch for trap answers that seem plausible but don’t quite match the context precisely.

Let’s apply this strategy to the practice question from above.

The sentence describes the musical, pleasing language of a spoken word poet’s written work. Based on the sentence structure and context clues, we might predict something like “lyrical” or “melodious” to fit into the sentence. Now, looking at the answer choices, we see that answer C, “melodic” is most similar to what we predicted. Reading back the sentence with the word in it, the sentence flows and makes sense. Thus, we would choose choice C as our answer.

Watch for traps! Answer D, “personal” may seem tempting, but the word is too vague and does not precisely capture the tone of the sentence. Remember, we are looking for the best answer that fits.

With practice, you’ll get better at using strategic context clues and precision of meaning to ace SAT word choice questions. Don’t rush – take time to fully understand the sentence before making your final choice.