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Question

Dear Mitch,

I hate to be one of those annoying kids who keeps asking for SAT hints day after day so they can collect as many as they can before the PSAT test in October, but, well, would you mind just a few more? They really are cool.

Thanks,

Andrew Mitchell

Racine, WI

Answer

Dear Andrew,

I like your last name! (Though, I realize it may not really be your name because many people change their name slightly as they're shy about having it appear on the small screen, and I can understand that.)

Anyway, sure, here is a quickie, but students who have tried it seem to find it effective:

This tip is for the verbal sections. There are times when you have a multiple choice question that requires you to pick a synonym for the word in the question. It comes in different forms, of course, and is sometimes linked to a reading passage, like this:

In line 14, the author's use of the word "domicile" can best be replaced by the word/phrase:

A) twine

B) string

C) elephant

D) home

E) pachyderm

Now, here's the thing. Logically out of the five choices, four are considered wrong, yet NEVER is there more than one choice that is considered correct. Therefore, if two choices are synonyms with each other, they cannot both be correct. So they must both be WRONG. Incidentally, it can be argued (and I often feel this way myself), that there is no such thing as a perfect synonym, or there would be no need for the language to have the two words rather than one. No, each word means something slightly different, even if just in subtle connotation, but for the purposes of this test the term synonym means, of course, two words that mean the same thing. Choices A and B are basically the same thing. So, since there aren't 2 correct answers, they are both wrong. Likewise, elephant and pachyderm both refer to the same animal with a long trunk that eats peanuts and can fly with their big ears when named Dumbo. So, since no two are correct, they are incorrect, or WRONG. The remaining choice, home, is the correct answer. Try it...you never know!

Oh, one last thing: Sometimes it can help a lot to use this concept on the math section as well. For example if it says x + y =

A) 3 + 3 + 3

B) 18/2

C) 10 – 1/2 - 1/2

D) 17

E) Q x B

Well, since choice A, B, and C are equal quantities (9), all three are wrong. The answer is either D or E. And from the stupid problem I provided, that is all we can say. But if you were given even a bit more information, this tip would help narrow things down.

Hope this helps,

Mitch