2. Dialogs with Sound Confusion

Some of the items in Part A involve a confusion between words that have similar sounds. Here’s how they work: one of the speakers uses a word or phrase that sounds like a word or phrase in one or more of the answer choices. If you don’t hear the word clearly, you might incorrectly choose an option with a sound-alike word or phrase.

Sample Items

You will hear:

M1: I’ve never had this type of fruit before. I don’t even know what to do with it.
F1: You just have to peel it and eat it.
M2: What does the woman mean?

You will read:

(A) She doesn’t feel like eating fruit.
(B) The man should take the pill before eating.
(C) The fruit shouldn’t be eaten until it’s been peeled.
(D) She isn’t familiar with this type of fruit either.

The answer is (C). The word feel in choice (A) sounds like the word peel in the dialog. In a different way, the word pill in choice (B) also sounds like the word peel. Notice that choice (C)–the correct answer–and choice (D) do not contain sound-alike words.

Many sound-alike expressions in Part A are minimal pairs. Minimal pairs are two words that are pronounced alike except for one vowel sound (peel and pill, lack and lake, point and paint) or one consonant sound (peel and feel, vine and wine, mop and mob).

Another sound problem involves two words that sound like one word, such as mark it and market, sent her and center, in tents and intense.

A third type of sound problem involves one word that sounds like part of a longer word, such as nation and imagination, mind and remind, give and forgive.

Hint: If an answer choice contains a word that sounds like a word in the spoken sentence, that choice is probably wrong. For example, if you hear the word spell and you read the word spill in an answer choice, you can eliminate that choice.

When you’re taking Part A during an actual exam, you can use the context of the dialogs to help you solve problems with sound confusion. If you hear and understand all of the dialog, you won’t have much trouble eliminating choices involving sound-alike words. However, if you only understand part of a dialog or if you “mis-hear” one or two words, you may easily choose an incorrect answer.

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