PSAT/SAT Critical Reading – The Cheap Seats2 min read

The Peanut Gallery
“This is an even worse production of Scrambled Feet than the one with all those penguins.”

SAT Critical Reading is all about vocabulary and identifying key words and phrases. Following College Compass’ PSAT and SAT Critical Reading Sample Questions will familiarize you with the type of questions you can expect on the PSAT and SAT and give you an idea of how to go about answering them.

Example Problem:

The Musical Scrambled Feet —— the —— of the theatrical world, poking fun at actors, directors, playwrights, and audiences alike.

(A) Glorifies … heroes

(B)  Spoofs … genres

(C)  Avoids … pitfalls

(D) Satirizes … denizens

(E)  Neglects …foibles

Explanation: The key words and phrases in this sentence are “poking fun,” and the list of various groups associated with theater, “actors,” “directors,” “playwrights,” and “audiences.” The missing verb will be an equivalent of “poking fun.” Of the available answer choices only “spoofs” and “satirizes” fit that criterion. By identifying the equivalent meaning for the missing verb, we have eliminated the majority of possible answer choices.

Of the two answer choices left we must now decide which word, “genres” or “denizens,” best describes the list of groups associated with theater. This is where a strong knowledge of vocabulary comes in handy; the correct answer is “denizens” because denizens means inhabitants or people who frequent a particular place. “Genres,” on the other hand, refers more broadly to categories and specific types or classes of things. If, for instance, the list referred to types of plays like comedies, dramas, musicals, etc. then the correct answer would be genres; however, because it is a list of specific types of people associate with the theater, the correct answer is “denizens.”

The correct answer is thus (D).

Here are the definitions (according to part of speech) of some of the more unusual answer choices:

Glorifies: To give glory, honor, or high praise; to exalt. To cause to be or seem more glorious than is actually the case. To give glory to, especially through worship.

Spoofs: To deceive. To do a spoof of; satirize gently.

Genres: A type or class. A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content.

Pitfalls: An unapparent source of trouble or danger; a hidden hazard. A concealed hole in the ground that serves as a trap.

Satirizes: To ridicule or attack by means of satire.

Denizens: An inhabitant; a resident. One that frequents a particular place.

Foibles: A minor weakness or failing of character. A fault.

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