TOEFL Preparation: Lesson 9 - Memory

Updated: Aug 10

Target Words 1. acquisition

2. anomaly 3. consciously

4. degrade 5. gap 6. indisputable

7. intervene 8. intuitively 9. recede

10. retrieve


Definitions and Samples

1. acquisition n. The act of taking possession of something Our recent acquisition of over 2,000 books makes ours the biggest library in the region. Usage tips Acquisition is often followed by of.

Parts of speech acquire v

2. anomaly n. Something unusual White tigers get their beautiful coloring from a genetic anomaly.

3. consciously adv. With awareness of one’s actions He may have hurt her feelings, but he never would have done so consciously. Parts of speech consciousness n, conscious adj 4. degrade v. To reduce in value or strength The roads in cold or wet areas of the United States degrade faster than those in warm, sunny regions. Parts of speech degradation n, degradable adj


5. gap n. Opening; a difference in amount or quality The small gap between the walls in the old house caused cold drafts to come in.


6. indisputable adj. Beyond doubt; unquestionable The members of the jury found her guilty because they found the facts of the case indisputable.

Parts of speech indisputably adv


7. intervene v. To come between A good mediator intervenes only as much as necessary to settle a dispute between other parties.

Parts of speech intervention n

8. intuitively adv. By means of a natural sense about things that are hard to observe Many mothers know intuitively when something is wrong with their children. Parts of speech intuition n, intuitive adj


9. recede v. To move back or away from After the age of 30, his hairline began to recede further back from his forehead. Parts of speech recession n, recessive adj


10. retrieve v. To bring or get back Most dogs can be trained to retrieve objects that their owners have thrown. Parts of speech retriever n, retrievable adj TOEFL Prep I

Match the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to the opposite of each word in the left-hand column. 1. degrade (a) stay out of a dispute 2. anomaly (b) improve 3. recede (c) questionable 4. intervene (d) the norm 5. indisputable (e) come forward TOEFL Prep II

Choose the word that best completes each sentence.

  1. A huge (anomaly/gap) between the wealthy and the working class often leads to social unrest.

  2. The new computers enable us to (intervene/retrieve) information more quickly.

  3. Although she wasn’t qualified for the job, she (indisputably/intuitively) felt that she should apply.

  4. When he joined the military, he did not expect the officers to (degrade/recede) him.

  5. The art in the foyer was an important (acquisition/consciousness) for the museum.


TOEFL Success

Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the question that follows.

Like other functions of the human mind, perception and memory are imperfect. When we tell a story about something that we witnessed, we may intuitively believe that our recollection is accurate. However, several factors bias our memories of events. To study this anomaly, let us look at the three steps of memory creation: acquisition of memory, storing of memory, and retrieval. At every stage of memory formation, distortion can occur. At the first stage, acquisition of memory, events are perceived and bits of information are prepared for storage in the brain. However, it is impossible for us to remember every single thing we observe. Through processes that are both conscious and unconscious, people determine which details they will focus on. In its second stage, storage, memories can become further distorted. Over time, our memories degrade, as we forget portions of events. To compensate, we may even creatively fill in the gap created by the recession of long-term memory. Additionally, an individual’s memory can be altered during the storage stage by intervening occurrences, which can be subconsciously combined with previously stored memories. Last but not least, we search our memory to locate information. During recall, emotion also seems to play a part in memory distortion. In sum, our memories may not be the indisputable source of information that we would like them to be.

Bonus Structure— In sum means “to summarize; to give a short version of what has been stated.”

An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the three answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Memory provides an imperfect record of events.

a. People purposefully present a slanted version of events. b. Memories can be altered at any point in memory creation.

c. People naturally cannot recall everything they observe. d. Memories are an indisputable source of fact. e. Time and emotion contribute to memory degradation. f. Past occurrences often displace current memories.

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