SAT Vocabulary—Ribald

This Week’s Word: Ribald
/ˈrɪb əld/    [rib-uh ld]
adj.

Ribald describes particularly lewd speech or humor. Something that is ribald may be irreverent or vulgar to the point of being abusive.

Synonyms: indecent, obscene, scurrilous

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen  is quite well-known for his willingness to play the most ribald characters to the extreme.

Actor Sacha Baron Cohen is quite well-known for his willingness to play the most ribald characters to the extreme.

Origin: While ribald is most often used as an adjective, it can also denote one who engages in licentious behavior; both uses of the word came into Middle English by way of the Old French ribaud/ribauld, from the Frankish riben, which literally means “to rub” but has various other meanings that you can probably guess. This is cognate of the Old High German riban, which also has some colorful connotations.

Sample 1: Mercutio’s ribald behavior was meant to amuse the groundlings, Shakespeare’s low-class audience members.

Sample 2: At first, Mrs. Fletcher thought Mr. Herring might have murdered his daughter-in-law, whose reputation for being anywhere from inappropriate to downright ribald at business meetings had cost his firm business on many occasions.

Ribald is part of your Test Masters SAT & PSAT Vocabulary list. Students have either been tested on this word during past SAT/PSAT exams, or it has a very high chance of appearing on an exam in the near future.

Ask-Test-Masters

Have a question? Ask the experts at Test Masters!

 

 

Miss the last SAT vocabulary word? Check it out here!

Interested in SAT Sample Questions? Check them out here!

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged | Leave a comment

SAT Vocabulary—Histrionic

Actresses playing Lady MacBeth may find it hard not to be overly dramatic given the histrionic nature of the character.

Actresses playing Lady Macbeth may find it hard not to over-act, given the histrionic nature of the character.

This Week’s Word: Histrionic
/ˌhɪs triˈɒn ɪk/    [his-tree-on-ik]
adj.

Originally a noun used to identify an actor, histrionic is now most often used to describe overly dramatic behavior. It can also be used in a broader sense to describe something relating to actors/acting.

Synonyms: melodramatic, theatrical

Word Facts: Derived from the Latin histrio, later histrionicus, meaning “actor,” the word was adopted into the English language in the middle seventeenth century (just after Shakespeare’s day, otherwise I’m sure he would have used it). It is antiquated to use the word as a noun in substitution of the word “actor”; however, the noun histrionics can now be used to refer to overly dramatic displays of emotion. Continue reading “SAT Vocabulary—Histrionic” »

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

College Profile: Austin College

One of the oldest schools in Texas.

One of the oldest schools in Texas.

The college search is nothing if not daunting, and with many universities it’s clear even in the application process that you will be integrated into their system merely as a number. For some, the big, state school model is ideal; after four years of the quintessential college experience—cheering at football games, switching majors, pulling all-nighters, joining an intermural sports team, etc.—you’ll get a degree that employers will probably pretty readily know the value of (for better or for worse).

But for those of us looking for something a little different, it can be hard to find those little hidden gems of schools tucked away in the most unassuming towns in the country. A while ago, we posted a blog about one such school, Ohio Northern Univeristy, and now, we’ve decided to keep shining the spotlight on some of those small schools for our savvy College Compass readers. Today’s university of choice is Austin College, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Texas still operating under its original name and charter. Continue reading “College Profile: Austin College” »

Posted in College Profiles | Tagged | Leave a comment

SAT Vocabulary—Bucolic

This Week’s Word: Bucolic
/byuˈkɒl ɪk/      [byoo-kol-ik]
adj. :: noun

Bucolic describes something that pertains to a country setting. It can also be used as a noun to reference a pastoral poem.

Synonyms: pastoral, agrarian, arcadian

More like "buCOWlic."

More like “buCOWlic.”

Origin: Originally from the Greek bous, “cow,” combined with the suffix -kolos (tender of), the word for herdsman eventually took on another suffix to become boukolikos, meaning “pastoral” or “rustic.” The word was adopted into Latin, bucolicus, and by the early seventeenth century was adopted into early modern English as bucolical. 

Sample: The poet’s bucolic odes exhibit such sumptuous diction—a quality which is not apparent in her love poetry.

Sample 2: The bucolic environment of his cousin’s ranch provided George with the peace and quiet he needed after his nervous breakdown.

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stanford Dreams on a Junior College Budget

stanford_logoGood news! Stanford has announced that, in an continual effort to make college more affordable, students from families with an annual income of less than $125,000 will no longer have to pay tuition! Additionally, Student’s from families making less than $65,000 will not have to pay room and board.

Stanford’s decision is part of a growing trend among big-ticket schools, increasing the amount and cut-off limit of need-based financial aid. According to a statement from Stanford provost John Etchemendy, “Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

While this is exciting news for Stanford applicants, it should be noted that several equally competitive schools have been putting similar policies in place with comparable limits. Harvard and Yale, for example, do not expect contributions from families making less than and annual $65,000. At Princeton, students whose families make less than $140,000 a year are given free tuition, and room and board is covered for students from families making less than $60,000.

Hopefully this trend among top-tier universities will encourage other expensive schools to follow suit. According to US News & World Report, in 2013 average student debt began approaching $30,000, with 70% of graduates leaving school with an average debt of $28,400.

Posted in Financial Aid | Leave a comment

SAT Vocabulary–Artifice

Although they were fierce  warriors, the Greeks ultimately beat the Trojans via the artifice of the Trojan horse.

Although they were fierce warriors, the Greeks ultimately beat the Trojans via the artifice of the Trojan horse.

This Week’s Word: Artifice
/ˈɑr tə fɪs/ :: [ahr-tuh-fis]
noun

April fool’s day seems like the perfect day to learn a synonym  for trickery. Artifice can refer to a particular deceit or stratagem or the trait of cunning itself. However, the word artifice does not necessarily connote deceit done with malicious intention; fooling an audience for the purpose of entertainment is still artifice.

Synonyms: duplicity, guile, craftiness, wile

Etymology: The word artifice was borrowed into English from Middle French shortly before the Elizabethan period (circa 1530s). The word comes from adding the Latin ars (art) and facere (make or do—also the root for facetious) and originally referred more to craftsmanship or skill in a trade rather than craftiness in terms of deceit.

Sample: The artifice with which the play was written makes the actors’ jobs easy; the artful dialogue makes for compelling and convincing characters.

Sample 2: Although she was not happy about washing the sticky honey out of her hair, Latrice had to admire Tyrone’s prank for its artifice.

 

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Extra Hard SAT Math Question – Combinations

Surely, with all those fencing lesson they didn't have time for math...

Surely, with all those fencing lesson they didn’t have time for math…

At the end of every SAT Math section, the test makers try to come up with an extremely difficult problem that will leave even the cleverest students scratching their heads. The really evil part, though, is that even these problems can be solved in under a minute without a calculator – if you know what to do. This means that once you “figure out the trick,” these difficult problems become easy. So, while those test makers are busy cackling with sadistic glee, let’s see if we can’t beat them at their own game.

Consider the following problem:

King Louis XIII must pick a team of 5 musketeers to investigate one of Cardinal Richelieu’s nefarious schemes. If there are 10 musketeers to choose from, what is the probability that four of them (Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d’Artangan, of course) will be selected?

A) 1/2

B) 1/10

C) 3/5

D) 1/42

E) 5/252

To solve this problem, we must first remember that the probability of any event is calculated by taking the number of desired outcomes over the number of possible outcomes. In this case, figuring out the number of desired outcomes is not too difficult. We know who four of the five musketeers should be, so the only variable is the remaining musketeer. We have already used 4 out of the 10 possible musketeers, so there are 6 possibilities left for the remaining musketeer. If we let P, Q, R, S, T, and U represent the unknown musketeers, then we could represent the desired outcomes like so:

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and P

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and Q

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and R

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and S

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and T

Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artangan, and U

That leaves figuring out the total number of possible outcomes. You could try to write down all the possible combinations of five musketeers, but with 10 musketeers to choose from that’s going to take a long time, and there would be many opportunities for making mistakes. What we are trying to figure out here is how many possible combinations of 5 musketeers we could make from a group of 10. To calculate this, all we need is a little formula that you might remember from math class:

Where n is the number of items to choose from and r is the number of items to be selected. Combinations and permutations are occasionally tested on the SAT, so you would do well to memorize this formula and other relevant formulas before test day. Using the formula, we find that the total number of ways to select a group of 5 from a group of 10 is:

Thus, the number of desired outcomes over the number of possible outcomes is:

All for one, and one over forty-two!

All for one, and one over forty-two!

Thus 1/42, choice D, is correct. If you know what to do, it takes only about 30 seconds to solve this problem. So you see, with practice, even the hardest problems on the SAT become easy. Check back here each week for more extra hard problems and the tricks you need to solve them! Also, remember that you can find out all the tricks from experts like me with a Test Masters course or private tutoring. Until  then, keep up the good work and happy studying!

Posted in Advice, Advice for Freshmen, Advice for Juniors, Advice for Seniors, Advice for Sophomores, Miscellaneous, Sample Questions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SAT Vocabulary–Ennui

This Week’s Word: Ennui
/ɑnˈwi, ˈɑn wi/ [ahn-wee, ahn-wee]
noun

Ennui is best described as a state of boredom resulting from a complete lack of interest, but it is often used to connote that particular type of tedium that is a result of being completely satisfied (#FirstWorldProblems).

Victorian period literature is characterized by the ennui that plagued England throughout the era.

Victorian period literature is characterized by the ennui that plagued England throughout the era.

Synonyms: Boredom, lassitude, listlissness

Origin: Unsurprisingly, ennui is a French word meaning, you guessed it, “boredom.” Actually, the term has an interesting history; the Latin phrase mihi in odio est, which means, “it is hateful to me,” shortened to in odio was borrowed into Old French as anoier (v) and anoi (n). Both words survive in French as ennuyer and ennui, respectively. The former made its way into middle English and eventually became “annoy,” while the latter was borrowed into English in the late 17th century. 

Sample: The writer enjoyed the success of his latest novel for a while, but one gets the sense that his failure to start a new project has left him in a state of ennui.

Sample 2: Lucretia tried not to stare at the clock, but the general sense of ennui that pervaded the office made Thursday afternoon interminable.

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SAT Vocabulary—Convivial

The festivities of Oktoberfest reflect the convivial nature of the celebration's founder, King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

The lively festivities of Oktoberfest reflect the convivial nature of the celebration’s founder, King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

This Week’s Word: Convivial /kənˈvɪv i əl/ adj.

Convivial can be used to describe your one friend who is not shy and always ready to party. It can also be used to convey a particularly festive, lively, or amiable mood.

Synonyms: Friendly, amiable, festive, merry

Etymology: Convivial comes from the Latin convivialis, which describes something that is fit for a convivium, or “feast.” If we break down the word further, we find that it is a combination of the roots con, which (you might know from Spanish class) means “with,” and vivere, meaning “live,” so the original Latin, convivere, merely meant to live or carouse together.

Sample: The hostess was praised for her ability to create a convivial atmosphere with such short notice.

Sample 2: Lydia loved Xander’s conviviality; no matter where the two went, people were captivated by his genial spirit and ability to have a good time.

 

Posted in Vocabulary | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips—Illogical Comparison

We’re all familiar with the old adage “you can’t compare apples and oranges.” The phrase is so ubiquitous, in fact, that “Apples to Apples” is now a popular party game. If you think about it, the title fits—you can only compare your red cards because you’ve related them all to the same green card. As the saying implies, any time we compare things we have to compare like terms.

If you grew up in the South, you KNOW this is an illogical comparison because Coca-cola is superior.

If you grew up in the South, you KNOW this is an illogical comparison because Coca-cola is superior.

Is this a lesson for a six-year-old? you may be asking yourself. But you’d be surprised at how easy it is to make an illogical comparison—and even more surprised at how hard it can be to spot one. As with many of the other errors you’ll be tested over, illogical comparisons have become commonplace in some of our more colloquial ways of phrasing things. Since our brains are able to fill in the correct information, we rarely notice the flaws associated with some illogical comparisons, but that doesn’t make them logical.

Let’s look at some examples of how they might appear on the SAT: Continue reading “SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips—Illogical Comparison” »

Posted in Grammar Crammer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment