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Reading Tip – Why Pay Attention To Connotation And Context?

The new SAT is different from the old SAT. The old SAT tested obscure vocabulary words that simply needed to be memorized. The new SAT is more concerned with you discerning meaning from context. You will have everything you need to define the word right there in the passage, you simply need to know how to interpret the meaning within the passage.



Going Deeper

Often when we read, we gloss over words we don’t know. We can usually grasp the larger meaning of an article, novel, or other material, without fully understanding every word. However, when we do that, we may miss some of the nuance and deeper meaning within the text. The SAT wants to ensure that you can decipher meaning from words you may not know. To accomplish that, you will have to pay attention to connotation and context.


Connotation refers to the feeling or mood of the reading. Is there sarcasm or metaphor? What is the author’s tone? Is it explanatory or opinion? Does the word within its surrounding phrases have an implied meaning that it may not have in other situations? You will have to have a feel for interpreting the text as you read to grasp the connotation of specific words.


Context means what’s around the word. What is the sentence that contains the word? What is the paragraph that contains the sentence? You should be able to decipher the meaning of the word from its place within the text. Many words have multiple means so you need to know what each word means within its particular situation.

Practice Reading

The best way to hone these to skills is to read. Don’t read to just get through the material, read to thoroughly understand it. Each time you don’t quite understand a word, stop and make a guess at what it might mean. Then check your accuracy by looking the word up in the dictionary. Does it have multiple meanings? Did you guess the right meaning? The more time you spend practicing using connotation and context to interpret texts, the easier and faster it will become for you. You will be able to do this with confidence on every passage included in the SAT. This invaluable skill will stick with you throughout your life and make reading and learning easier.


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