SAT Resources

Word- Usage Question Type

Word- Usage Question Type

The Writing and Language Test is the second section on the SAT. The Writing and Language test is like proofreading passages wherein you look for mistakes and correct them by selecting one of the answer choices that is given. 

There are four question types under it. They are:

  1. Grammar Question
  2. Word-usage question
  3. Passage structure based question
  4. Graph Interpretation question

We will go through the Word-usage question type in detail with the help of an example.

Word-usage questions as the name implies, tests your understanding of the correct usage of words. In the passage, you will come across incorrect usage of words which indicates a wrong relationship between sentences or words; or there may be an incorrect conjunction or an incorrect idiomatic expression used. Your task is to identify these faulty usages and replace it with the correct answer choice.

Idioms are group of words that are widely accepted and commonly used, but when the same words are used individually they form a different meaning. For example, Actions speak louder than words is an idiom used commonly, it means people’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than what they say. But when you use the same words individually they mean something else altogether. There are more than 1000 idioms in English but the SAT usually tests you only on some of these idioms.

A typical Word-usage question looks like this:

Transportation planners work closely with a number of community stakeholders, such as government officials and other interested organizations and individuals. 7 Next, representatives from the local public health department might provide input in designing a network of trails and sidewalks to encourage people to walk more. 8 According to the American Heart Association, walking provides numerous benefits related to health and well-being. Members of the Chamber of Commerce might share suggestions about designing transportation and parking facilities to support local businesses.

Select an Answer

7.

  1. NO CHANGE
  2. For instance,
  3. Furthermore,
  4. Similarly,

Following are the steps that you can adopt while approaching a Word-usage Question:

Step 1: Read the passage actively and quickly to understand the topic, point and purpose of the passage.

Step 2: Then read the question to understand what type of question it is that you are going to answer.  Once you determine it’s a Word-usage question look at the question number, match it with the right part of the passage.

Step 3: Read few lines before and after the part that is in question.

Step 4: Determine if the sentence is written correctly. If not, it means answer choice A is eliminated.

Step 5: Go through the other three answer choices and select the one which is the most appropriate.

Let’s solve a grammar question by applying the above steps.

Step 1: Read the passage actively and quickly to understand the topic, point and purpose of the passage.

A life in traffic

Transportation planners work closely with a number of community stakeholders, such as government officials and other interested organizations and individuals. 7 Next, representatives from the local public health department might provide input in designing a network of trails and sidewalks to encourage people to walk more. 8 According to the American Heart Association, walking provides numerous benefits related to health and well-being. Members of the Chamber of Commerce might share suggestions about designing transportation and parking facilities to support local businesses.

The title of the passage is A life in traffic. The above paragraph is a part of a passage, it is not an entire passage. This paragraph talks about transportation planners and the stakeholders who are attached with the planning.

Step 2: Then look at the question to understand what type of question it is that you are going to answer. 

Word-usage questions do not have an explicit question mentioned, you will only see the number and by looking at the options you can say it’s a word-usage question. For example, in the above passage, the word in question is ‘Next’. The answer choices given are: for instance, furthermore and similarly. You can say it’s a word usage question because there are different words given as an option.

Once you determine it’s a Word-usage question look at the question number, match it with the right part of the passage.

Do not get confused if you see a question like the one below, there is no question! You must remember the question is implied, that you should select the best option for the underlined part in question.

Select an Answer

7.

  1. NO CHANGE
  2. For instance,
  3. Furthermore,
  4. Similarly,

Step 3: Read few lines before and after the part that is in question.

Read the above passage.

Step 4: Determine if the sentence is written correctly. If not, it means answer choice A is eliminated.

The word that follows the first sentence and starts off the second sentence must be a transitional word that correctly draws a relationship between the two sentences. The usage of the word ‘next’ implies a sequence. In the above passage, there is no sequence that is being spoken about. The line before the word next talks about the three stakeholders that are involved. Hence, we can eliminate answer choice A.

Now we are left with answer choices B, C, and D.

Among the three answer choices, B, for instance, is the correct word as it correctly forms a relationship between the first sentence and the second. The first sentence talks about the stakeholders and the second sentence gives an example of what the transportation planners are designing for these stakeholders.

Answer choice C is incorrect as usage of the word ‘furthermore’ indicates additional information but in here the sentence is talking about an example.

Answer choice D is incorrect because we use the word ‘similarly’ to draw similarities and compare and that is not what the two sentences are doing.



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