Unit 39: Standard English Conventions

Another trick the SAT pulls is to give you homophones (similar-sounding words) and hope you confuse them.  Some they have used in the past or might use in the future:

WordMeaningWordMeaningWordMeaning
AffectVerb, causationEffectNoun, result
ThenTimeThanComparison
MaybeAdverb, perhapsMay beConditional verb
WearyTiredWaryCautious
InsureProtect from lossEnsureMake certain
PrescribedRecommendedProscribedForbidden
Subject toConditionalSubjected toDefinitely happened
SceneA placeSeenPast tense of saw
StationaryNot movingStationeryWriting materials
PrincipleFundamental rule or beliefPrincipalHead of school
LooseUnfastenedLoseTo be unable to find
ElicitDraw out a replyIllicitIllegal
AcceptTo agreeExceptNot including
SiteA placeSightAbility to seeCiteGive credit to (citation)
TheirPlural possessiveThey’reThey areThereA place
ItsSingular possessiveIt’sIt isIts’NEVER CORRECT
EmittingGiving offRemittingReturningOmittingLeaving out
ImminentAbout to happenEminentFamous

An Example:

Though hiring an I/O psychologist is an expense a company (1) maybe wary of taking on, it pays off:  an investment in the expert guidance of an I/O psychologist can yield process improvements, increased job satisfaction among employees, and cost savings. 

A) NO CHANGE
B) maybe weary
C) may be wary
D) may be weary

This is a particularly tricky one, as they’ve included two homophones!  We can start with either, but the first step is to pick either maybe / may by, or weary / wary and narrow it down to 2 answers.  Then, perform the same step again with the other one to arrive at the correct answer.

Don’t answer these questions too quickly!  The test makers are counting on your ear deceiving you.  Think through exactly what the different words mean, and choose the one most appropriate for the context.