Monday, April 27, 2009

Topic: Vocabulary (6)

10-second review: Some tips on completing antonym and analogies vocabulary tests successfully

Title: “Building Word Knowledge.” Raymond Stopper. Teaching English, How To…. Xlibris. 2004.

SAT’s previous use of vocabulary tests: antonyms, analogies, sentence completions.


I remember in reading the instructions for how to take the antonym test (word opposites), the makers of the test pretty much said, “You either know the word or you don’t.” You just have to remember that you are looking for the opposite, which is not the usual pattern in a vocabulary test. If your vocabulary test involves antonyms, just practice. And build up your vocabulary in the manner I have suggested: through looking up unfamiliar words before reading assignments, working with Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Easy, and by collecting individual cards with the unfamiliar words you meet in your reading.


The analogy is traditionally stated as follows: Topic: Discourse:: A. title: play; B. subject: digression; C. guideline: policy; D. theme: essay; E. footnote: text.

Normally, students read the analogy problem as, “Topic Is to Discourse” as “A. title is to play”; “B. subject is to digression”; “C. guideline is to policy”; “D. theme is to essay”; and “E. footnote is to text.”

The first step in attacking an analogy is to state precisely in a sentence the relationship between the two given words: “The topic is the subject of the discourse” and then follow through with the exact same statement of the relationship with the rest of the test items.

The topic is the subject of the discourse as A. the title is the subject of the play; B. the subject is the subject of a digression; C. the guideline is the subject of the policy; D. the theme is the subject of the essay; and E. the footnote is the subject of the text.

Although D. The theme is the subject of the essay is close, the more precise answer is A. The title is the subject of the play.The theme of an essay might not be the same as the topic. The topic might be automobile accidents, the theme, why do they happen?

As in this analogy, if you put the given words (Topic: Discourse) into a sentence stating their relationship, “The topic is the subject of the discourse,” you will quickly eliminate most of the choices. Usually that will bring you to two possible choices and, if you are not sure, guess. In the old SAT, you only lose ¼ of a point for each mistaken answer and you gain a whole point if you guess right. You need to practice this method for solving analogies. If you are pressed for time, try a half hour a day.

I used to take the SAT each time it was offered. My practice with analogies gave me an almost perfect score almost all of the time.

But here’s the point. I found that students had no trouble in solving the analogies using my suggested method (taken from the directions offered by the SAT in its instructions) but would miss the analogies because they did not know the words in the analogy.

Build up your vocabulary by keeping a record of unfamiliar words you encounter in your reading assignments, by working with Norman Lewis’s Word Power Made Easy and by keeping a record of unfamiliar words in your reading in all your subjects and in your leisure reading. Even if the analogies are not part of the SAT today, there is still the Miller Analogies test needed for graduate school.

No comments:

Post a Comment