If two answers are similar, they both can't be right!

When you are searching for the correct answer to a question, take a bird’s eye perspective on all four of the answer choices. Observe the choices. Notice if two (or more) of the choices sound similar or almost the same. In this case, this is a big signal to you that they both are incorrect.



Let’s take a look at an example of how this works in a TOEFL vocab question.


The word spur is closest in meaning to

a. to initiate

b. to help

c. to lend assistance to

d. to cease


Notice how b. to help and c. to lend assistance to are the same? They both cannot be correct. Eliminate these two choices.


Now it’s up to you to select a. or d.


Look at the sentence for context clues:

The author didn’t realize his book would spur subsequent generations’ love of traveling by car and exploring beauteous wilderness.


Let's place the two options "initiate" and "cease" in the sentence.

Initiate love of travel and exploring beauteous wilderness

Or

Cease love of travel and exploring beauteous wilderness


Cease means stop.

Initiate means start.


Correct Answer: A to initiate

By eliminating b and c, you save time and narrow it down between 2 possible choices.


Let’s take a look at how this works in a TOEFL inference question. Read the following paragraph then answer the question.


The man arrived at the corner, sweating and breathless. He had been running for the past five minutes. He looked at his watch. He grunted. He started running again in hopes he could run the last block, dash up the stairs and be there in time.


What can be inferred about the man?

a. He has lost his way.

b. He is not familiar with the territory.

c. He is anxious that he will not make his appointment.

d. He is ambivalent about going to the appointment.


Notice a. and b. are similar. Being lost and not familiar with the territory are almost the same. Eliminate those. Is he anxious about being late? Or, is he undecided about going? He begins to run, so it seems like he wants to get there.


Correct Answer: C He is anxious that he will not make his appointment.


Stay calm and notice your four choices from a bird’s eye perspective. Eliminate choices that are similar.

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