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SAT Idioms

Updated February 19, 2010

This is a test

When studying for the Sentence Error questions of the SAT you are bound to come across these confusing little words. "Idioms" are grammatical constructions that signal a word of phrase is meant to be taken figuratively, not literally. The biggest challenge with idioms is that since most people have used them since birth, they take them for granted and rarely think about them.

While it would be fantastic to offer you a magical tip, with idioms, that simply isn’t possible. Idioms just have to be learnt through study and practice. Here are some suggestions to make your studying easier.

  1. Learn which other grammatical errors are tested on the SAT. This will help via process of elimination; if you can tell the underlined phrase is free from all other grammatical errors, you’ll know this is an idiom problem.
  2. Memorize idioms that are frequently tested. Not sure what those are? Check out the list below.
  3. Recognize and correct what you may have learnt wrong. If one of the idioms on the list sounds awkward, it’s because you’ve likely being saying in wrong your entire life. To correct your bad behaviour, write out the correct phrase and repeat it aloud 5 times. Next, try to use that idiom (correctly) once a day for the next week.

Here are some idioms that appear frequently on the SAT:

  • according to
  • agreed to
  • a critic of
  • originating in
  • regarded as
  • planning to
  • provide for
  • complain about
  • conform to
  • consist of
  • blame on
  • evolved from
  • disintegrates into
  • popular with
  • impressed with
  • necessary to
  • attributed to
  • protested against
  • far from
  • inconsistent with
  • in a world where
  • listening to

For practice, try this SAT Idiomatic Expressions Test .

Good luck!