Acing the Verbal PSAT Tips for Success
The Two Parts of the Verbal Section • Critical Reading Section --Sentence Completion --Reading Comprehension Passages • Writing Section --Sentence Errors --Improving Sentences --Improving Paragraphs
Critical Reading Section • Sentence Completion • Reading Comprehension Do Reading Comprehension section last. Both rely heavily on vocabulary! Study SAT favorites, root words and READ!
Single Blank Sentence Completion Tips • Questions are ordered from easiest to hardest. • Guess if you can eliminate even one choice. • Use all context clues! They’re not just there for ornamentation!
Sentence Completion Method • Read the sentence carefully and underline all clue words; ie. “however,” “contrary” • Fill in the blank with a word from your own vocabulary before looking at the other answer options. • In the answer options, look for a match for your word. • Read the sentence with the selected word.
Sentence Completion Example Although some of the revelations in the movie star’s memoirs will surprise even his most ardent fans, much of his story is quite ____. • significant B. familiar • impressive D. explicit • thorough
Key Words • The clue in this sentence is the word “although” because it shows a shift in the sentence’s direction. • Another clue is “some…revelations…will surprise” which signals the rest of his story would be the opposite of surprising….or familiar.
Double Blank Sentence Completion Tips • Read the sentence for clues. • Decide which blank is easier and fill in the blank with your own word. Usually that’s the second blank. • Scan and eliminate obvious wrong choices. • Move to the remaining blank. Repeat steps two and three.
What to do if you have no clue? • Use strategies for decoding the words, such as using Latin cognates such as “mal” or “bene”. • Trust your instincts. If an answer sounds wrong for any reason, drop it. • If all else fails, select the answer that has the strangest words in it.
Reading Comprehension Questions • Know the directions, so you don’t have to waste time reading them. They remain constant from exam to exam. • Rely only on the content of the passage. Never use outside knowledge to answer the question. • Always guess! You have the answer right in front of you.
Types of Reading Comprehension Passages • Long Passages---450-800 words. • Short Passages---100 words or so. Topics range from the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and fiction.
Reading Comprehension Strategies • Read the passage once looking for the main ideas, rather than the minor details. • Underline key points • Write the main idea of each passage • Do not read the questions first • Return to the passage if necessary
Types of Reading Comprehension Questions • Big Picture • Little Picture • Inference • Vocabulary in Context
How to Ace the Writing Section You must demonstrate your ability to recognize the elements of good writing: basic grammar, sentence structure, word choice and paragraph construction
Types of Writing Section Questions • 14 Identifying Sentence Errors • 20 Improving Sentences • 5 Improving Paragraphs
Identifying Sentence Errors • Several parts of a sentence will be underlined and lettered. • If there is an underlined part, you are to bubble that letter. • Some sentences have no error and you will bubble “E.”
Sentence Error Sample • Even though he had to supervise a A B large staff, his salary was no greater C than a clerk. No error. D E
Improving Sentences • In each of the sentences, part of the sentence or the entire sentence is underlines. • Beneath each sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined part. • Choice (A) is always the original; the other four are different. • Your choice should be the clearest, most precise sentence.
Improving Sentences Sample To the surprise of the school’s staff, the new freshman class at Ravenswood High being larger than last year’s. • being larger than last year’s. • is large more so than last year • which is larger than the one last year • is larger than last year’s. • by far larger than the last.
Improving Paragraphs Questions • Read the sentence, listening for a mistake, and awkward spot, something that just doesn’t sound right. • Identify the error. • Check the answer choices.
Most Common Error Types • Subject-Verb Agreement • Pronoun Errors: Case, Number, Ambiguous Reference • Idioms • Faulty Comparisons • Adjective and Adverb Errors • Double Negatives • Fragments and Run-Ons • Coordination and Subordination Errors • Misplaced Modifiers • Faulty Parallelism