SAT Reading Tips and Tricks: Opposite Answers

SAT Prep

The makers of the SAT are constantly testing your confidence. OppositesThey like to take advantage of your uncertainty on all of the areas of the SAT, but in the Reading section, this is never more apparent than in their most common trap, the Opposite Answer.

This evil strategy occurs in all question types, but is easy to see in the Sentence Completion questions when the correct answer choice also has an antonym among the choices. Consider an example:

If you were to prephrase the answer to this question, you’d likely choose a word like “complicated” or “difficult” to fill in the blank. And you would be correct. We need a word with a similar meaning to complete this sentence.

But this is where some test takers are led astray. Their vocabulary might not be as strong as they’d like, so they do not see any answer choices that immediately jump out at them as meaning “complicated.” They do, however, see the Opposite Answer, the antonym straightforward. Students who are not confident in their test-taking abilities may follow a line of reasoning that goes something like this: “Well, maybe I was on the right track and just read the question wrong and this is the actual answer.” No, no, no, no! Never second guess yourself on the SAT! Immediately eliminate the Opposite Answer of your prephrase, even if you do not understand all of the vocabulary words in the list.

Some students might be tempted to select urgent as the answer. This answer trap, the “Kind Of” Answer, is for another blog on another day! But we would challenge those students and ask “Since when does urgent mean the same thing as complicated?”

You should also be able to eliminate irrelevant and therapeutic as neither word is closely related to complicated. This leaves convoluted, which does happen to mean complicated, so (D) is correct. You can answer this question without ever having to define the right answer!

PowerScore Practice Prep:

Can you avoid the wrong, Opposite Answer while finding the correct answer?

  1. The battle between ------- and imitation rages on in the technology sector; while some companies seek to advance through technological breakthroughs, others are content to progress by copying the products of others.

    (A) novelty
    (B) allocation
    (C) reproduction
    (D) regulation
    (E) substance

  2. Although he was initially ------- by most of the scientific community for his far-fetched theory, the professor was later vindicated when irrefutable proof ------- his hypothesis.

    (A) reprimanded . . discredited
    (B) confronted . . negated
    (C) commended . . confirmed
    (D) endorsed . . emphasized
    (E) criticized . . corroborated

Need more tips about wrong answer choices? Check out the free chapter of the PowerScore Reading Bible, or better yet check out the complete Reading Bible here!

Photo: "Opposite sign," courtesty of Kirsty Hall

Answers: 1) A and 2) E