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Question Type: Vocabulary in Context
The first type of reading question we’ll look at is the vocabulary question. Now, these are very, very important. The vocabulary in context questions ask about a single word or possibly a short phrase. So, they’re very short. These questions are quick and easy to read.
And they’re often very quick to answer too. That makes them very important for the final passage especially, when you need to save time. So, you would answer these questions first, because they’re quick. That doesn’t mean they’re easy. You need to know the definition of a word in the context that it’s used in the passage.
So, that means you need to have a good vocabulary. And you need to understand what the passage says. Now these are very, very common. As I said, they are one of the most important types of questions. You’ll see two to five of them. Usually, you just see two or three or maybe four, but it’s possible that you could get five, which is why I said two to five.
Nonetheless, the point is they’re very high frequency. They are in fact the most common question type in the TOEFL reading. You see more of these than any other type of question. Now, they’re mostly about your vocabulary. They’re partly about context.
But they’re mostly about your vocabulary. That is, if you know the word, then you can answer the question. If you don’t know the word, you might be able to figure out its meaning by the context. But sometimes that’s really difficult or even impossible. The wrong answers are very tricky, and they seem possible in the passage if you don’t know what the word actually means.
Let’s try it. Okay. In order to do this, we’re going to use a question about a passage that we saw in an earlier lesson. Underneath this video, you’ll find a link to the reading passage that this question is about.
Okay. Here’s the question. The word associate in the passage is closest in meaning to. Now, on your actual TOEFL, this word will be highlighted. And it will be highlighted in the passage too, so you can find it quickly. And here’s the sentence.
Although people commonly associate the word clone with modern scientific advancements, its usage in botany is far removed from those developments. And we can actually stop there, and understand what this word means. If you already know the word associate, which you should, then this is great. It’s a quick, easy answer. Now, it’s very possible that the TOEFL will ask about a more difficult word, like, for example, discreet.
In fact, you might see both, because these are very common. Now, if you don’t know the word associate, then this might be a difficult question to answer. Let’s look at our answer choices and see why. The first answer choice is exemplify.
Okay. If we plug that back in and put exemplify here, although people commonly exemplify the word clone with modern scientific ad, advancements, that actually sounds reasonable. People give an example of the word clone with modern advancements, with modern science.
That might be true, but, that’s not what associate means. Associate has a very different meaning. Similarly. Confuse. Okay. People often confuse the word clone with scientific advancements.
That actually makes some sense also. But it’s not the meaning of the word associate. Define. Sounds reasonable, but again, it’s not the meaning of the word. Connect. Now this word actually is a good synonym for associate.
It works in context and it means a similar thing. So we can say that people often connect the word clone with modern scientific advancements. They think of the two pieces together. Clone and science are similar, are related, they are connected, they are associated.
These others might sound okay, but they are not the same meaning.
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