Saturday’s Class – 9 am!

Don’t forget that we are meeting in AH 317 from 9:00 to 12:00. I will be downstairs at the main doors at 9:00 to let you guys in — if you arrive a bit late, text me at (254) 717-1979 and I’ll send someone down to let you in. 

See you tomorrow!


Preparing for Class Tomorrow

As an English professor, I am not particularly keen on SparkNotes, but their guide to the SAT is actually quite helpful. Here is a link to the Critical Reading section.


Read a bit, and tell me what you think — is it easier to understand, or more difficult, than the SAT study guide that we are using?

For Class on Saturday

This website lists the top 100 SAT words, defines them, and uses them in sentences. Not only might they show up as answer choices, they will also show up in the test as words in passages or as part of the multiple-choice questions (as opposed to the answers!), so LEARN THEM.

One of the things that was on the agenda for last Saturday was the essay prompt, which I discussed here. We will go over the steps on Saturday, but the most important things to remember are that you must have:

  • a clear thesis, or main point that you are arguing
  • supporting points (usually 3) that are reasons why you believe your thesis
  • examples that illustrate your points — draw examples and details from your life experience and from books.

Read that post and take notes on anything that confuses you — we will address your fears or concerns in class.

Vocabulary, as I have mentioned, is CRUCIAL. In addition to knowing the words posted on the site, you will also need to know the second vocabulary list, which is available here.

Come to class on Saturday armed with questions about reading comprehension and grammar. Please review chapters 5 & 6 in the SAT study guide.

Vocabulary List #2

Vocabulary List #2 – Thursday, 12 September

(I handed this sheet out on the 12th and the 17th, but most of you were not there to receive it)

Advocate – n. supporter; v. to support
The counselor acted as an advocate for the girl who was accused of cheating.
The counselor will advocate for the troubled teenager when she goes to court.

Vindictive – bitter, mean
Don’t be vindictive towards your enemies; turn the other cheek and forgive them.

Articulate – adj. eloquent, well-spoken; v. to speak clearly
When he was on the debate team, the student was articulate and won many competitions.
I can’t quite articulate what is bothering me, but I will do my best to explain.

Collaborate – to work together
Our classes will have to collaborate on the fundraiser, so we must divide the tasks fairly.

Terminate – to end (‘term’-words often refer to time in some way)
Abrupt – brief, sudden
I hate to terminate this conversation so abruptly, but I have to go to work.

Misinterpret – misunderstand (‘mis’-words often imply that something is done incorrectly)
Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, but I think you should change your clothes before we go out.

Reconcile – settle, bring into agreement
We need to reconcile the misunderstanding between you and your friend, because you have been friends too long to fight over silly things.

Selective – careful, choosy
When you shop for a used car, you should be very selective and do plenty of research beforehand.

Mitigated – made less severe
The judge mitigated the longer prison sentence that had been suggested, so the thief only had to serve five years instead of ten years.

Insightful – perceptive, excellent (in this case, ‘in’ means ‘towards,’ as in ‘towards being sightful,’ or ‘towards understanding.’)
Your insightful review of the play shows that you really understand drama.

Assessment – analysis, judgment
Indignant – angry, upset
When my brother read your harsh assessment of his ideas, he became very indignant.

Inconclusive – uncertain (‘in’-words often [BUT NOT ALWAYS] carry a negative meaning, and sometimes even mean ‘not’-, as in ‘invisible,’ or ‘not visible’)
The results of your blood test were inconclusive, so the doctor will have to run them again to determine what is wrong.

Inadequate – not enough (like ‘inconclusive,’ the ‘in’ of ‘inadequate’ means ‘not,’ so it is ‘not adequate.’)
The amount of water that I added to the koi pond was inadequate, so I will have to add 60 gallons more in order to fill it.


Class this morning

I was sorry that none of you were able to make it this morning. I will post some of what we would have covered later on today, and I will suggest some study options for you to pursue during the week.

Unless the situation should change, I will see you next Saturday morning. You can always contact me through this site or via email (

Have a good week!


In case you missed Thursday’s note, I have changed the class time and day, so we are now meeting from 9 am to 12 noon on Saturdays, still in AH 317. We will have a couple of breaks so that you don’t fall asleep, or so you can get up and stretch.

Don’t forget to bring your study guides!


I will be waiting by the front doors at 9:00 to let you in, since the building is locked up. If you arrive after 9:00, call (254) 717.1979, as the door stays locked.

The Dreaded Comprehension Passage

One of the most difficult sections of the SAT for everyone — but particularly for non-native speakers of English — is the reading comprehension passage. Context and textual clues are your best tools for deciphering the passages and their questions.

The factual or informative passage
The topic sentence is your friend. Identify as soon as possible what the main point of the passage is, and underline it. Read the passage with this point in mind. Underline or mark other sentences that support or explain this point. Focus your reading on understanding this point. If you encounter unfamiliar vocabulary words, and you can’t figure out what they mean based on prefix or root word, move on. If you encounter an unfamiliar word and it seems to be the main point of the sentence, do not despair.

This is where context comes in. If the word is “apartheid,” and you have no idea what it is but it seems to be the main focus of the passage, then look at the other terms that the passage uses to talk about the idea. Segregation (which you NEED TO KNOW — it is the legal prevention of a group of people from taking part in some public activity or service based (usually) on racial background or ethnic association) should be one word used. It should also be discussing the idea that a group of people are not permitted to take part in certain activities or social roles. Once you get the idea that the legal system is being used to prevent a certain group of people from having a set of rights that are granted to others, you are getting an idea of what apartheid means. But you must understand the rest of the passage in order to be able to make a guess.

If there is a word that occurs once in a passage that you do not understand, and it is not followed by a discussion of that word, then it is probable that it will not be the focus of the passage and you can move on.

Read the last section of the paragraph — often it will repeat or restate the main point of the passage, which will help you identify what the paragraph is talking about. When you answer the questions, READ the directions thoroughly and make sure you understand what the answer choices are saying. You will occasionally have to make an educated guess based on the passage — for example, some questions will ask you to predict what the next paragraph will be about. If that is the case, you will have to re-read the last part of the passage and see which option BEST MATCHES that part.

When you are reading, make notes on the passage in question, if that helps you. Sometimes restating what the writer is saying in your own words can help you keep track of the meaning.