SAT & ACT Question of the Day: Feb. 21, 2014

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to sat.collegeboard.org below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email.

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?questionId=20140221&oq=1 (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.  Go ahead and read the test writer’s explanation and you’ll see why I write my blog!  Their way of doing the questions is often a very complicated and time-consuming approach.  Yes, you can do it that way, but why would you?

What do you know about the test?  The diagrams are all drawn to scale on the SAT unless they tell you otherwise.  Take a look at the diagram.  Each section, AB, BC, and CD, is the same length; so let’s treat them all as a length of 1 and the whole segment is a total of 3.  (You could substitute 2 or any other number but be easy on yourself when using my strategy “change the abstract to the concrete.”  1 works just fine.)

Now let’s take a look at the Roman Numeral answers using 1 for each section:

1. 1 + 1 = 3
2. 1 + 1 = 3 – 1
3. 2 – 1 = 3 – 1

Any first grader could do that question!  Only the second one is true.  That’s Answer B.

Okay, so you’ve done the question.  So what?  It isn’t going to be on the test.  So why bother?  Well, let’s review what you’ve learned about the test that can help on test day.  First, remember diagrams are drawn to scale unless they tell you otherwise.  Second, when they don’t give you numbers, you can make them up using the information in the question.  I not only call this strategy “change the abstract to the concrete,” but I also call it “change the algebra to arithmetic” and “change the variables to numbers.”  What should you call it?  Whatever helps you remember to do it!  It is common to see about 20% of the math questions on the test for which this is a very helpful strategy.

I wonder what the ACT folks have up their sleeves this morning!

Are you tired of seeing this question yet?  I’ve been doing my daily QotD blog for about 15 months.  I’ve seen this question at least 4 times.  In any event, let’s use it to see what we can learn about the actual test and not hammer the people who do the QotD website for being lazy and not posting some new questions.

The answer is F.  In Experiment 1, we are told, “1 meter of its length was left above ground.”  Then in Experiment 2, we are told, “the student repeated Experiment 1.”  That means the stick is 1 meter above the ground in both experiments.  That was easy.  What does this question tell us about the ACT Science Test?

First, you’ll never predict the science knowledge that will be on the test; so don’t worry about reviewing science information as part of your test prep.  Second, they’ll explain the science on the test which is all the more reason to not review science topics.  Third, this is a science reasoning test.  You need to apply scientific principles and the most important skill is analyzing and interpreting data.  That is what you need to practice prior to the test.  Get your hands on some actual ACT Science Tests and study the way the test writers present data and ask questions about the charts and graphs in those tests–the more the better.  The Real ACT Prep Guide is the best source of questions because it is the only book with actual ACT tests in it.  Work on your speed because that is the major challenge of the test.  Let’s get to work!  Only practice will raise your score.

I received an interesting email from Pam.  She heard about me on the the Channel 6 News the other night and wondered if I have a program in her area.  The answer is “No, but we can sure start one.”  Have you been wondering the same thing?  If so, let me know and I’ll explain how simple it is to get my program started at your high school or somewhere else in your community.  There’s time to get things going for the late spring test dates.  (By the way, it would look good on your college application that you took the initiative to become a leader and start a program like this for the other students in your area!  Colleges like to see leadership on applications.  It isn’t only about GPAs and SAT scores.)

Enjoy your day.  Hug somebody and tell them how much you love and appreciate them.  Who just came to mind?  Great.  Go do it!

Bob Alexander, the “SAT and ACT Wizard”