Synonyms – Best Grammar Review



When taking your test, you may come across questions that ask you to find synonyms. Synonyms are words that have similar meaning. They don’t always have the exact same meaning because there are nuances, or little differences, between words that may have overlap in their meanings.

As you’re looking at the word and you’re looking at the options below, one of the test-taking strategies that you may find helpful is to go through the choices that you have and immediately eliminate those that you know cannot be the possible answer. That narrows the scope down until you get closer to the actual meaning. Obviously, if you know the answer, you always go with what you know. If you’re uncertain as to what the correct answer is, then this little strategy can be helpful.

You’re not looking for a perfect synonym, you’re looking for something that is a close synonym. Something that has a similar meaning or overlapping meaning, even if there are some slight nuances or little differences between the words.

I’ve got an example here; we’re going to go over this just to try to illustrate this briefly, and hopefully this will help you understand the test-taking strategy of looking for the close or nearly-perfect synonym if there’s not one that’s an exact match. We have the word “coward”, and we’re looking for a word with similar meaning.

Here are our choices:

  1. Gutless
  2. Boor
  3. Judge
  4. Brave

As you’re looking at the word “coward”, and you’re looking at the choices, we can automatically eliminate one because it’s not a synonym. It’s an antonym. It’s something with the exact opposite meaning. “Brave” can be ruled out automatically. We know someone who is a coward is not brave, so you’ve got three choices left. Think of the word “coward”. It’s not the word “judge”, so we are absolutely certain on this one.

Now we’re left with two answers. We’ve already narrowed the field, and we’ve got a 50% chance if we just had to outright guess. When we think about the word “coward”, we think, “Well, the word ‘gutless’ comes pretty close to coward. It’s not a perfect match, but it’s closer than boor.” Maybe you don’t know what a boor is, but you know that “gutless” has some overlap and it’s close.

Once again, we’re not certain of the answer. We’ve been able to narrow down by eliminating the choices that we know are not correct and when we were left with two, we’ve been able to narrow it further by saying, “I know there’s enough overlap between coward and gutless that we’re going to go with choice A. Once again, this is just an example to illustrate a test-taking strategy when you’re taking your test and you come to the portion that has synonyms.

If you automatically know the right answer, go with the right answer. If you’re uncertain, just start looking at the answers and eliminate the ones that you know it cannot possibly be until you’ve narrowed it down to the ones that are possibilities. Then, start looking for overlap in meaning, because often on these tests they’re not testing your ability to find a perfect synonym. They want you to be able to realize the relationship between words and the nuances between words, so that you can say, “This is close to that meaning. This is the one that has at least some overlap even though it’s not a perfect match.”

So, we’re looking for nearly-perfect synonyms, not the perfect synonym when we take these tests. That’s part of what the testers are trying to gauge. Making sure you understand the subtle differences between words, not just the one that’s a perfect match like a definition. I hope this has been helpful for you as you take your test. Think through synonyms, look for the one that’s closest or has some overlap in meaning (not a perfect match but a close match), and remember the strategy of eliminating answers that you know cannot possibly be the right one.

Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation

Last updated: 04/19/2018
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