ACT & SAT Question of the Day: Feb. 3, 2014

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email. (This link takes you to today’s question. If you use my archive, you will see the question related to my SAT explanation for that date.)

The answer is B.  Once again the SAT staff made their explanation more difficult than the actual question!  After reading their approach the question, let’s consider the Wizard’s strategy.

Whenever the test writers give you only variables and not numbers, follow the rules they give you and “change the variables to numbers,” or “substitute the abstract with the concrete,” or “change the algebra to arithmetic.”  They are all the same.  All you need to do is substitute numbers for the unknowns.  Let’s use my strategy for this question.

Substitute 1 for AB, 2 for BC, 3 for CD, and 4 for DE.  (Any other numbers will work as long as you follow the rule they give you that says each segment gets progressively larger.)  Now just substitute the numbers into the answers.  Only Answer B works because AC is 3 and CE is 7.

Why does this strategy work so easily?  The answer is, “The world of math is a world of patterns.”  In this case, the pattern is each segment gets longer than the previous one.  So no matter what numbers you use that follow the rule, CD has to be longer than AB and DE has to be longer than BC.

I find my strategy faster and more accurate.  Numbers are easier to manipulate than variables; you’ve been doing it since kindergarten.  You are also less prone to making silly mistakes with numbers.  How hard is it to add 1 plus 2 and 3 plus 4 in today’s question?  Not very.  Finally, if the numbers require using a calculator (and you shouldn’t pick ones that do), you can use your calculator and it is difficult to put variables into your calculator.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have for us today.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day.

The answer is C.  However, you’ll never see a question like this on the ACT!  They quit putting similar questions on the test in 2005, when they started allowing calculators.  There are tricks you can use to decide if a number is divisible by a given single digit number like 3.  In the case of 3, the digits in the number have to add up to a number that is a multiple of 3!  Answer C, 4,482, has digits that add up to 18; therefore, it is divisible by 3.  But you would easily use your calculator to answer this question and that is why you won’t see it on the test anymore.

The ACT folks need to get rid of their old questions because I’ve seen this one and others like it that aren’t on the test anymore.  Why are they wasting our time?  Maybe they are just too lazy.  I would think they’ve got lots of time because the weather in Iowa is keeping them indoors.  They sure aren’t outside playing in the corn fields.  C’mon, guys, do some work.

Well, the commercials and food were good as I enjoyed watching the game with some friends.  The football game wasn’t much fun.  It was way too lopsided.  Even if the Broncos had lost by a little bit, that would have been okay.  It just wasn’t interesting to watch.  Seattle sure proved it is a fantastic team and my hat goes off to them.

The SAT & ACT Wizard

About Bob Alexander

Bob has been a professional educator starting with teaching biology, becoming a school administrator, and then working as an education lobbyist in Washington, DC. He got his start in national testing by becoming a consulting test writer, later joining Kaplan as a director, and finally starting his own business in 1995. He has written numerous books, consulted for school districts and colleges, developed his website and been featured on a DVD set. He offers SAT and ACT prep classes and tutors individuals and small groups of students in central Florida.
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