Exercises for the New SAT: 1

The reading section of the new SAT, which all students will take starting in June of 2016, will feature many of the same types of questions. However, it will differ from the old in the following ways:

  • It will test vocabulary ability by asking students to decode the meaning of words from context.
  • It will ask students to provide evidence for some of the answers they give.

Here are some elementary exercises that will help to develop students’ skills in these areas. These are appropriate for students in 5th-7th grade.

Decoding Exercises

Provide a synonym (word or phrase) for each of the following underlined words. Also, underline the parts of the sentence that provide a clue to the meaning. Sometimes the clue is not any particular phrase but rather the nature of the situation described.

  1. Mrs. Rachel knocked smartly at the kitchen door and stepped in when bidden to do so.
  2. But the dishes were everyday dishes and there was only one kind of cake, so the expected company could not be any particular company.
  3. “What on earth put such a notion into your head?” she demanded disapprovingly.
  4. This had been done without her advice being asked, and must perforce be disapproved.
  5. Matthew is getting up in years, you know — he’s sixty — and he isn’t so spry as he once was.

Reading Comprehension

Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place LIVING at all.

“It’s just STAYING, that’s what,” she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It’s no wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren’t much company, though dear knows if they were there’d be enough of them. I’d ruther look at people. To be sure, they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they’re used to it.

Question: What does Rachel Lynde mean by the difference between “living” and “staying”? Identify 2–3 pieces of evidence for your explanation.


Decoding Exercises

  1. told (it sounds like she is fulfilling an order)
  2. ordinary (“only one,” “not any particular company”)
  3. idea (“in your head”)
  4. of necessity (“must”; it also helps to know that the speaker likes to tell others what to do)
  5. active, lively (“getting up in years”)

Reading Comprehension

For Rachel, “living” means having people to talk to, while “staying” means living separately from others and thus unable to talk with them.


  • “barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated”
  • “‘Trees aren’t much company’”
  • “‘I’d ruther look at people.’”
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