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Quiz on Commonly Confused SAT Words

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One of the more frustrating aspects of the SAT is its fondness for making students choose between pairs of commonly confused words. SAT Reading section answers frequently include words that are very similar in spelling and/or meaning in a deliberate attempt to make students pick the wrong choice. What follows is a short quiz on some of the most commonly confused pairs of words found on the SAT. Take your best guess between the choices offered in parentheses, and then check the end of the quiz for the correct answers and explanations.

  1. The fugitive managed to (allude / elude) capture for several weeks.
  1. Many residents of Cobb County are (averse / adverse) to the location of the Brave’s new stadium.
  1. Having vowed to give up worldly pleasures, the monks of the temple choose to live an (ascetic / aesthetic) lifestyle.
  1. The mayor’s insensitive remarks at the press conference only served to (aggravate / irritate) tensions within the community.
  1. The SAT exam has (discreet / discrete) sections for Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.
  1. The detectives failed to (elicit / illicit) a confession from the suspect.
  1. The committee (censured / censored) the Senator for his unethical conduct.
  1. Experiencing a crisis of faith, the man sought the (council / counsel) of his church’s pastor.
  1. Jim had to decide (between / among) going to the party with his friends and staying home to finish his essay.
  1. The ideal arbiter is a (disinterested / uninterested) third party with no stake in the outcome of a dispute.
  1. European explores often carried diseases that the (indigent / indigenous) inhabitants of the nations they visited had no resistance toward.
  1. A lack of sleep can negatively (affect / effect) your performance on the SAT.
  1. Although it never states it outright, the book strongly (implies / infers) that the boy is the protagonist’s son.
  1. Often seen driving expensive cards and wearing custom-tailored suits, Michael had a reputation for (flaunting / flouting) his wealth.
  1. Mark (apprised / appraised) John of what the teacher covered while he was sick.
  1. Emily was openly (contemptuous / contemptible) of people who thought that the rules did not apply to them.
  1. Distrustful of strangers, Rachel is (circumspect / circumvent) in answering questions about herself from people she does not know.
  1. Rogers is (adapt / adept) at handling difficult students.
  1. Jenny bought Renee a bracelet with an (epigraph / epitaph) of their wedding date for their anniversary.
  1. Lisa’s (irreverent / irrelevant) attitude towards religion offended Joe’s conservative family.

Answers and Explanations

  1. Correct answer: elude. Allude means to imply. Elude means to evade. The suspect managed to evade capture by the police.
  1. Correct answer: averse. Averse means having a strong dislike of or opposition to something. Adverse means preventing success or development; harmful; unfavorable. Many Cobb Country residents are strongly opposed to the idea of a new Braves stadium being built just outside the perimeter of I-285.
  1. Correct answer: ascetic. An ascetic lifestyle is characterized by severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence. Aesthetic pertains to ideas of beauty. The monks have chosen to abstain from all forms of indulgence as part of their religious vows.
  1. Correct answer: aggravate. Aggravate means to make worse. Irritate means to annoy. The mayor’s insensitive remarks actually made a tense situation worse.
  1. Correct answer: discrete. A discreet individual is one who is careful in their words or actions. Discrete refers to the separate parts of a whole. The SAT has separate sections designed to measure Reading, Writing, and Math aptitude.
  1. Correct answer: elicit. Elicit means to extract something. An illicit action is one that is unlawful or unethical. The detectives failed to extract a confession from the suspect.
  1. Correct answer: censured. A censure is a formal rebuke or expression of disapproval. Censoring a work involves suppressing offensive or objectionable speech. The committee formally rebuked the Senator for behaving in an unethical manner.
  1. Correct answer: counsel. A council is a governing body or other type of group in a position of authority. When you counsel someone, you provide guidance or advice. The man experiencing a religious crisis sought advice from his minister.
  1. Correct answer: between. Use between when referring to two persons, places, or things. Use among when referring to three or more. Jim has only two options to choose between.
  1. Correct answer: disinterested. A disinterested individual is truly impartial; he or she is not prejudiced one way or the other. An uninterested individual is simply not interested in the subject matter at hand. An ideal arbiter in a dispute cares about the outcome but is not biased toward any party involved in the dispute.
  1. Correct answer: indigenous. Indigent means extremely poor. Indigenous refers to the native people of a certain area. The native peoples of the lands that Europeans visited frequently had no immunity to the diseases carried by the explorers.
  1. Correct answer: affect. When you affect something you cause it to change. That change is the effect that you have caused. The amount of sleep you have before the SAT will cause your performance on the exam to change.
  1. Correct answer: implies. When you imply something, you hint at or suggest it without stating it directly. You infer an opinion by piecing together the facts or by reasoning it out logically. The novel hints that the boy is the protagonist’s son but does explicitly say so.
  1. Correct answer: flaunting. To fault means to ostentatiously display something. Flout means to disobey openly or scornfully show contempt. Michael’s friends believed that he liked to show off his wealth through his choice of cars and wardrobe.
  1. Correct answer: apprise. When you apprise someone, you make them aware of what has happened. To appraise something is to assess the value of it. Mark made John aware of what he missed while he was out sick.
  1. Correct answer: contemptuous. A contemptuous individual displays scorn of someone or something. A contemptible action is downright despicable. Emily showed scorn for people who felt they were above the rules.
  1. Correct answer: circumspect. A circumspect individual is one who is careful in what they do or say. To circumvent means to try to avoid or get around someone or something. Rachel was careful about revealing too much about herself to people whom she did now know.
  1. Correct answer: adept. To adapt to something means to adjust to a new situation. An adept individual is one who is highly-skilled. Mrs. Rogers is highly-skilled at dealing with difficult students.
  1. Correct answer: epigraph. An epigraph is an engraved inscription on some object. Epigraph refers exclusively to an inscription on a tombstone or monument in memory of the person buried there. Jenny gave her wife Renee a bracelet with an engraved inscription commemorating their wedding anniversary.
  1. Correct answer: irreverent. An irreverent individual shows a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously. An irrelevant matter is not connected with or related to the subject at hand. Lisa’s disrespectful attitude towards religion offended Joe’s conservative parents.

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