The SAT French Subject Test

Part II

Subject Review

3    Vocabulary

4    Vocabulary Review

5    Grammar Review

6    Reading Comprehension

7    French Listening

Chapter 3


This chapter gives you several techniques to boost your score on Part A of the SAT French Subject Test. First, get acquainted with the format and structure of the vocabulary section of the test. If you understand how the test writers think, you can get a question right even if you don’t know the answer. Then you’ll learn additional strategies that will get you more points—tactics to use depending on how well you understand the question. What do you do if you are not sure of the answer? What if you do not know the meaning of the sentence? What if you do not know all the words in the answer choices? Just follow the simple steps we give you, and you’ll be ready to handle any of these situations.


The first part of the test consists of approximately 20 to 26 vocabulary completions. Each question is a sentence containing a blank. Each of the four answer choices provides a word that could fill in the blank. The correct answer is the one that best completes the sentence in terms of the meaning of the word. (All choices will be grammatically correct.)

Here are the directions for this section as they appear on the test. Become familiar with these directions now so that you don’t waste valuable time when you take the test.

Part A

Directions: This part consists of a number of incomplete statements, each having four suggested completions. Select the most appropriate completion and fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.

The questions are arranged roughly in order of difficulty.

If your vocabulary needs
work, short, frequent
study sessions will help
you more than long, infrequent
ones. Your brain will
be able to absorb only a
small amount of information
at a time. Ten minutes
a day between now and
the test will make a big


Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary. If your vocabulary is not strong, start working on it right away. In Chapter 4, Vocabulary Review, there are several techniques designed to boost your vocabulary.

Drill 1

Test your vocabulary by writing the English translations of the following words. Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

une usine


la honte




en vouloir à






la foule








se méfier de


se débarrasser de


If you missed more than three of the words, you may need to give vocabulary work extra attention (Chapter 4).


Fill in Your Own Word

As you read through the sentence, fill in your own word in English before you look at the answer choices. Cover the answer choices with your hand, if need be.

Le film était tellement amusant qu’elle … sans cesse.

If something is funny, what does someone do?

Now let’s look at the answer choices and see which one is closest to the English answer you decided on:

(A) dansait

(B) mangeait

(C) riait

(D) lisait

If you thought of the word “laughed” or “smiled,” you can eliminate dansait, which means “danced,” mangeait, which means “ate,” and lisait, which means “read.” The correct answer is riait, “laughed.”

If you understand most of the words in the question, you’ll have no problem filling in the blank.

Cover the answer choices and fill in a word for the following examples.

Jean-Pierre a mal … parce qu’il a trop mangé.

(A) à l’oreille

(B) au ventre

(C) aux genoux

(D) à la tête

If someone ate too much, he would probably have a pain in the “belly.” You could then eliminate (A), which means “the ear,” (C), which means “the knees,” and (D), which means “the head.” Choice (B), meaning “the abdomen,” is the correct answer.

La banque se trouve … le supermarché et la poste.

(A) dans

(B) sur

(C) pendant

(D) entre

The word in the blank should give the position of the bank in relationship to the supermarket and the post office: “between” or “near.” You can eliminate (A), which means “inside,” (B), which means “on,” and (C), which means “during.” Choice (D), which means “between,” is the correct answer.

Watch Out for Trap Answers

Don’t immediately pick the first word that seems right. Look at all the answer choices, and leave in only those that might work. Then carefully compare the remaining choices before selecting an answer.

Si tu n’as pas assez d’argent pour acheter le livre, tu peux le trouver à …

(A) la librairie

(B) l’épicerie

(C) la bibliothèque

(D) la papeterie

If you don’t have enough money to buy a book, you will probably go to a “library.” If you know the vocabulary, you might immediately identify the right answer. If not, eliminate (B), which means “grocery store,” and (D), which means “stationery store.” Is the answer librairie orbibliothèque? Which means “library?” The answer in this case is the less obvious one: (C), bibliothèque. Librairie means “bookstore.” See “Common Mix-Ups.”

On average, each Part
A section contains one
question that tests your
knowledge of words
for body parts and one
question that tests the
words for different types
of stores.


Sometimes you’ll be able to fill in a word, but you won’t be sure which answer choice matches the word you picked. The following guessing techniques will improve your odds of picking the correct answer.

Use Process of Elimination (POE)

First, clear out the obviously wrong options. Eliminate answer choices that you are sure do not match the word you chose. With the remaining choices, try to guess what each means.

Use Your English

Although it is your knowledge of French that is being tested, your own native language can often help you. Many English words are derived from French, so it makes sense that some words are nearly identical in both languages (but, again, watch out for those traps). How hard is it to guess what régulier means? Transporter? Bière?

Drill 2

Decide what English words the following French words remind you of: Answers can be found in Chapter 8.



























Using English can help you make an educated guess about the meaning of a word. Based on that guess, you can decide to keep the word or eliminate it, narrowing the field of choices and improving your odds. Don’t automatically pick the first word that reminds you of the English word you are looking for.

On easy questions (the
first third of the section),
the right answer will not
be a tough vocabulary
word. On hard questions
(the final third), the right
answer will not be the
answer that reminds you
of the word in English that
you are looking for.

Use this technique with caution on hard questions. On difficult questions (especially the last five questions), use this technique only to eliminate wrong choices, not to pick the right answer. On tough questions, if an answer choice reminds you strongly of the word you’re looking for in English, it’s practically guaranteed that it’s a trap answer.

27. ------- des étudiants sortant de l’école a rompu le silence du quartier.

(A)   Le martelage

(B)   La chatière

(C)   Le ramassage

(D)   Le bavardage

This is a tough question. If you understand the sentence (“The ____ of the students leaving school broke the silence in the neighborhood.”), you know you’re looking for a word that means noise, talk, or chatter. Even if you weren’t sure of the whole sentence, you might have seen “silence” and known that you were looking for a word that relates to silence. Which answer is a trap?

On hard questions, be
wary of trap answers but
don’t psych yourself out!
If you know the meaning
of all the words, the right
answer is still the right
answer. Don’t cross off
the right answer because
you’re afraid it’s too “obvious.”
Trap answers have a
specific feel to them.

Choice (B) looks like the English word “chatter.” Since this is a hard question (from the final third), you know it’s a trap. La chatière actually means “the ventilation hole.” The correct answer is (D), which means “the chatting.” (A) means “the hammering” (un marteau is a hammer), and (C) means “the gathering.” On difficult questions, don’t pick the answer that reminds you of the word you’re looking for in English.

Look for Easier Versions of Words

On difficult questions (or if your vocabulary isn’t very strong), you can sometimes figure out an easier version of the answer choices. For example, in the verb feuilleter you may see the word feuille, meaning “leaf” or “sheet of paper.” Could there be a verb meaning “to leaf”? Yes, just as in English, you can “leaf” through a book.

Find as many opportunities
as possible to hear
and speak French. Check
your TV or radio guides for
programs in French, rent
French movies, and go
to websites in French,
such as

What easier words do you see in the following words?









Well? In prochainement, you probably saw prochain, which means “next,” so prochainement probably has something to do with being next. (It means “in a short while” or “coming up next.”) You probably see porter, which means “to carry,” in emporter, so you might be able to guess thatemporter has a similar meaning. It means “to carry away.” And what about parapluie? Recognize the word pluie, “rain”? So parapluie is likely to be “umbrella.” Retarder has the word tard, or “late,” in it, so it’s a safe bet that retarder means “to slow or delay.”

Avoid Look-Alike Answers

The College Board sometimes tries to trick you by providing answers that look like either the correct answer or a word that appeared in the sentence.

Je dois réparer ma montre; elle ne … plus.

(A)   casse

(B)   montre

(C)   donne

(D)   marche

If something needs to be fixed, what doesn’t it do anymore? Most likely, it doesn’t work. Which answer choice means “to work”? Answer choice (B) is a look-alike trap here. Montre, meaning “show,” is identical to the word montre, meaning “wristwatch,” in the sentence. It’s a trap! Eliminate it. The correct answer is (D) marche. The verb marcher used with an inanimate object means “to work or function correctly.”


Word Association

Even if you’re shaky on the exact meaning of the sentence, you can still make an educated guess for the answer. Go through the words in the sentence that you do know and see if any of the answer choices are in some way associated with those words.

You often don’t need the
whole sentence to figure
out what word you’re looking
for. Usually one or two
key words in the sentence
point to the answer.

Drill 3

For the following incomplete questions, pick the answer choice that makes the most sense given the words that are shown.

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

1. xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx légumes xxxx xxxxx …

(A)   cheminée

(B)   jardin

(C)   gazon

(D)   quartier

2. xxxx xxxxxxx x tombé xxx xxxx …

(A)   envolée

(B)   échappée

(C)   cassée

(D)   attrapée

3. xx x xxx xxxxx chaises xxxx … xxxx xx xxxxx.

(A)   assommer

(B)   s’asseoir

(C)   assurer

(D)   associer

4. xxxx ne se sent pas bien xxxxx xxx …
      doesn’t feel well

(A)   une fièvre

(B)   une armoire

(C)   un verger

(D)   une annonce

5. xxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx mangé xxx xxx …

(A)   soutenir

(B)   emporter

(C)   avaler

(D)   évaluer

Practice Section

Answers can be found in Chapter 8.

Part A

Directions: This part consists of a number of incomplete statements, each having four suggested completions. Select the most appropriate completion and fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.

  1. Il fait froid dehors. Est-ce que toutes les … sont fermées?

(A)   chambres

(B)   cheminées

(C)   fenêtres

(D)   notes

  2. Ne fais pas de bruit; les enfants sont …

(A)   venus

(B)   endormis

(C)   partis

(D)   tristes

  3. Est-ce que ces fleurs sont de votre …?

(A)   peinture

(B)   garage

(C)   jardin

(D)   verger

  4. Ce manteau n’a pas de … où mettre mon porte-monnaie.

(A)   manches

(B)   portes

(C)   poches

(D)   monnaie

  5. Jeanne s’est réveillée … pour voir le lever du soleil.

(A)   bas

(B)   haut

(C)   tard

(D)   tôt

  6. Le train est parti … à midi.

(A)   du garage

(B)   du toit

(C)   de l’histoire

(D)   de la gare

  7. Au repas du dimanche, nous mangeons un … avec des pommes de terre.

(A)   rôti

(B)   ruban

(C)   régime

(D)   rôle

  8. Les tartes qui sont vendues dans cette … sont délicieuses.

(A)   pâtisserie

(B)   pharmacie

(C)   épicerie

(D)   librairie

  9. Tu peux te laver maintenant. La salle de bains est …

(A)   gratuite

(B)   libre

(C)   livrée

(D)   seule

10. Mon … pour la classe est de traduire un poème de Rimbaud.

(A)   destin

(B)   composition

(C)   droit

(D)   devoir

11. Le bruit dans un club peut être tellement fort qu’on a mal …

(A)   aux oreilles

(B)   aux orteils

(C)   à l’orgueil

(D)   à la gorge

12. La lune est si … que je ne peux pas imaginer que l’homme y soit allé.

(A)   longue

(B)   fade

(C)   loin

(D)   immense

13. Ce n’est pas nécessaire de sortir la poubelle; Jean l’a … fait.

(A)   hier

(B)   ce matin

(C)   déjà

(D)   d’un côté

14. Nous passerons Noël avec mes grands-parents …

(A)   cet été

(B)   cet automne

(C)   cet hiver

(D)   ce printemps

15. Vous avez déjà fait vos devoirs? Cela …

(A)   m’admet

(B)   me fait mal

(C)   me trompe

(D)   m’étonne

16. N’avez-vous pas … d’avoir fait cette bêtise?

(A)   courage

(B)   joie

(C)   hâte

(D)   honte

17. Ce tissu est … comme la peau d’un bébé.

(A)   mouillé

(B)   nu

(C)   doux

(D)   cru

18. Le renard a … aux chasseurs.

(A)   ramassé

(B)   enfui

(C)   échappé

(D)   couru

19. Le film commence à 8 heures exactement; soyez …

(A)   à l’heure

(B)   au courant

(C)   au loin

(D)   à présent

20. Il y a trop de monde ici; je préfère des cafés moins …

(A)   doués

(B)   chargés

(C)   tranquilles

(D)   fréquentés

21. Il n’y a pas assez de preuves pour … cet homme.

(A)   indiquer

(B)   inquiéter

(C)   insinuer

(D)   inculper

22. Mon frère est …; il ne veut jamais m’aider à nettoyer la cuisine.

(A)   serviable

(B)   paresseux

(C)   redoutable

(D)   affolé

23. Le vase que j’ai laissé tomber s’est …

(A)   perdu

(B)   tricoté

(C)   évanoui

(D)   brisé

24. Vous pouvez trouver la robe de mariée de votre grand-mère si vous cherchez dans …

(A)   le plancher

(B)   le grenier

(C)   l’atelier

(D)   le magasin

25. Elle s’est débarrassée de ses vêtements …

(A)   âgés

(B)   déprimés

(C)   abîmés

(D)   achetés

26. Diane s’est coupé les … pour être plus à la mode.

(A)   chevaux

(B)   chiffres

(C)   cheveux

(D)   chemins

27. Pour établir la validité de sa théorie, l’homme de science a fait …

(A)   un échec

(B)   une expérience

(C)   un résumé

(D)   un résultat


To increase your score, keep the following tips in mind.

·        If you know all the words in the sentence

·        eliminate obviously wrong answer choices

·        examine remaining choices (to avoid obvious traps)

·        pick your answer

·        If you are not sure of the meaning of the sentence

·        use word association

·        read the question again, and see if there are any obvious traps

·        If you do not know all of the answer choices

·        use your English to eliminate wrong answers

·        try to figure out the roots of the words

·        Guess after you have eliminated as many obviously wrong answers as possible.