Dealing With and Defeating Synonym Questions on the SAT and ACT


The SAT Writing & Language and the ACT English sections test vocabulary in almost exactly the same way: With questions that ask you to choose a word or phrase that best replaces an underlined portion of a sentence. Often, your possible answers include synonyms.

Take authorize, approve, release and allow, for example. Look up any one of those in a thesaurus and you'll see the other words listed as synonyms. However, the word synonym is itself a bit of a misnomer (an incorrect name), particularly on a standardized test. In fact, the SAT and ACT will often specifically choose words that seem interchangeable based on meaning alone. To correctly solve these, you'll have to pay attention to the context and usage to find the one the best fits.

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