USATestPrep Terms

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This is a version of an original source (such as a diary, an autobiography, or a story) which is modified for a presentation in another form, such as a film, a musical, or a play.


This is the reference to a person, place, or event from history, literature, or religion with which a reader is likely to be familiar.


This verb means to separate a whole into its parts and then look more closely at those parts.

Archetypal Character

This is a character in a work that represents a certain type of person.


The key point made in a passage is called its ____ idea.

Central Argument

This is the dominant and controlling argument.


This is an individual’s mental or moral quality.


This is the combination of ways that an author shows readers what a person in a literary selection is like.


These are the people or animals who take part in a literary work.


This is the notation of a source used for a paper.


Something widely recognized as a model or example of a type of literary work.

Classical Literature

This includes great masterpieces of the Greek, Roman, and other ancient civilizations as well as any writing that is widely considered a model of its form.


This is when you use pieces of information on a subject to base your opinion or make a decision. You draw a ________.


Often, an antagonistic relationship called a ___ drives the plot of a story or novel.


This refers to the feelings and associations that go beyond the dictionary definition of a word.


When we find the meaning of a word (or phrase) by looking at the words and sentences around it, we are using ____ clues.

Context Clues

These are in the text surrounding a word and give hints for the meaning of the word. They are called ___ ___.


The _____ idea of a passage is the idea which is dealt with and recurs throughout the passage

Cultural Elements

This includes language, ideologies, beliefs, values, and norms. These elements help to shape the life of a society.

Cultural Setting

This is the phrase for the set of values, beliefs, and opinions shared by a group and surrounding the author at the time of her writing.


Usually found in a dictionary, this tells you the meaning of a word or phrase.


The literal definition of a word is also called its ______.


This is a piece of information that is used to support a main idea.


These are the words spoken by characters in a literary work.


This is the writer’s choice of words, including the vocabulary used, the appropriateness of the words, and the vividness of the language.

Direct Characterization

When a character is revealed by clear descriptions by the author, this is called _____ characterization.


A character who changes during the course of a story is called a _____ character.


This is the substitution of an agreeable or non-offensive phrase for one that might be unpleasant or offensive.


This word means anything that happens to or is done by a character in a story.


This is the name for what is gathered through the general process of living, or for the process itself.


This is writing that tells about imaginary characters and events.

Figurative Language

This goes beyond the literal meanings of words to create special effects or feelings.


This is a scene, a conversation, or an event that interrupts the present action to show something that happened in the past.

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