Context Clues
Context Clues
• Clues to a word’s meaning provided
by the sentence or passage in which
the word is found
• Clues may be found in the sentence
preceding or following the sentence
in which the word is found
LA. A. 1.2.3
The student selects from a variety of
simple strategies including the use of:
»Word structure
LA. A. 1.2.3
»Confirming simple
»Reading and visual clues
»Base words
Strategies and Tips
• Look for prefixes, suffixes, and root words
• Is there any part of the word you recognize
• Look for an answer choice close to that
• Read the sentence with your word choice to see
if it makes sense
Strategies and Tips
• Read the sentence before and after
the sentence that contains the word
• Guess a synonym for the word
• Read the sentence with your
synonym in it to see if it makes sense
Types of Clues
• Definition
• Example
• Synonym
• List or Series
• Antonym
• Cause and Effect
• Comparison
• Inference
The unknown word is equated
to a more familiar word or
phrase. Sometimes the
definition is in the
next sentence.
Signal Words:
• is
• is called
• are
• are called
• was
• is known as
• were
• are known as
• means
Entomology is the study of
By 1700, whales had
become very important for
their blubber. Blubber is the fat
under the skin of the whale.
The meaning is usually right
after the unfamiliar word and
often separated from
the rest of the sentence
with commas, dashes,
or parenthesis.
Signal Words:
• or
• that is
• in other words
• also
• look for…( ) …
Meat eaters, or carnivores, are
at the top of the food chain.
She enjoyed biology
(the study of living things).
The unfamiliar word is shown
to be different from or unlike
another word and is
often an opposite.
Signal Words:
• but
• unless
• however
• instead
• although
• on the contrary
• otherwise
• on the other hand
• not
• while
• no
• never
Mike’s parrot was loquacious
but Maria’s said very little.
The unfamiliar word is shown
to be the same as or like
another word.
Signal Words:
• too
• like
• as
• similar to
• in the same way
My brother is enthralled by
birds in the same way that I
am interested in
The unfamiliar word is
clarified by giving an
Signal Words:
• for instance
• such as
• for example
The archeologist found
different amulets, such as a
rabbit’s foot and bags
of herbs, near the
ancient altar.
List or Series
The unfamiliar word is
included in a series of related
words that give an idea or
the word’s meaning.
List or Series
North American predators
include grizzly bears,
pumas, wolves, and
Cause and Effect
The meaning of an unfamiliar
word is signaled by a cause
and effect relationship
between ideas in the text.
This is a very difficult
type of context clue.
Cause and Effect
Due to a dearth of termites,
the aardvark starved to
The meaning of an unfamiliar word
can be inferred from the description
of a situation or experience. Say
“blank” for the unknown word, fill
another word that makes
and keep on reading.
This is
the most difficult type
context clues.
The hungry campers began
to devour their bread and
cheese quickly and
What is Assessed
Root word
Multiple meanings
• Homophones
• Compound
• Contractions
• Idioms
• Figurative
Passage Attributes
Grades 3-5
• Passages may be literary or informational text.
• Other stimuli include, but should not be limited to,
illustrations, graphics, and charts with captions.
• Passages must contain a word or phrase unfamiliar to
most grade level students, and sufficient on text must be
present to enable students to infer meaning of the word or
phrase. Passages must contain appropriate words to
assess knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, root words,
multiple meanings, antonyms, synonyms, homophones,
compound words and contractions.
Response Attributes
Grade 3
Distracters may include, but are not limited to, the
• Incorrect meaning of words or phrases
• Correct meanings of words or phrases that do
not fit the context
• Words with construct similar to correct response
(e.g. same prefix)
• Incorrect interpretations of contractions
• Items containing antonyms should not include
synonyms as distracters; similarly, items
assessing synonyms should not include antonyms
as distracters
Response Attributes
Grades 4 & 5
Distracters may include, but are not
limited to, the following:
• Incorrect meaning of words or
• Correct meanings of words or
phrases that do not fit the context
• Words with construct similar to
correct response (e.g. same prefix)
Question Type
• Multiple choice
Key Question Phrases
• In which sentence does the word ____________ have the
same meaning as the above sentence?
• Look at the word____________. Use surrounding words
to help you figure out what it means?
• What does _____________ mean?
• Which context clue helps the reader figure out the
meaning of _________?
Sample Question
Read the sentence from the story. “Listen here!” I said.
“This is the most delicious tasting thing in the world!” I
waved the stick and threw it. Go fetch!
When Jordy tells Blooher to “fetch” “the stick, he want
Blooher to
A. get the stick
B. toss the stick
C. hide the stick
D. drop the stick
Sample Question
If a north pole and south pole of the magnet get near
each other, they will snap together. However, two north
poles will repel each other. They will push away from
each other.
The word repel means:
A. dislike
B. attract
C. move apart
D. burn
Sample Question
When penguins are on shore, they cluster
together in a big group called rookeries.
The word that means the opposite of cluster
A. scatter
B. gather
C. run
D. sleep
Sample Question
Half of everything we throw away in the
landfill could be recycled.
What is a landfill?
A. a factory
B. a valley that has been filled
C. a place for garbage
D. a recycling center
Sample Question
He knew for sure the boy would die
without the shot. So the doctor gave him
the vaccine and the boy lived.
What does vaccine mean?
A. vitamin
B. pill
C. prescription
D. shot
Sample Question
These cables are hooked onto towers. The
cables hold the road up so it actually hangs in
mid-air. When it was new, it was the longest
suspension bridge in the world.
What does suspension mean?
A. old
B. working
C. hanging
D. failed
Sample Question
The desert is a harsh environment. It is
extremely hot during the day and then freezing
cold at night.
The opposite of harsh is..
A. warm
B. cold
C. pleasant
D. dry
Sample Question
The dog snarled at the mailman as he
tried to deliver the package to the house.
What does snarled mean in this sentence?
A. jumped
B. stuck in traffic
C. barked
D. growled
Sample Question
At first the running was easy. But somewhere around
the 20 mile mark, I seemed to hit the wall. I felt like I
could not move another step!
What does “hit the wall” mean?
A. you hit a brick wall
B. your body becomes paralyzed and can’t
C. your mind stops functioning
D. your body reached a point that where it
can’t go on anymore
Sample Question
Johnny was quite a character! He would do
things to make everyone laugh and was always
playing practical jokes!
What does character mean in this passage?
A. a person in a story
B . a person who is different from
C. a person who is angry
D. a person who laughs

Chronological Order