SAT Question of the Day (and ACT): Dec. 13, 2013

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.

If you are seeing this in my blog, do the SAT Question of the Day by clicking on this link: (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 winning strategy for Sentence Completions is to 1) read the sentence while covering the answers, 2) determine the topic of the sentence, 3) predict a word for each blank, 4) find synonyms for your prediction, and 5) check your work by reading the sentence using your answer. (Watch Video #2 for a full explanation and do the related practice questions.)

The answer is B.  This sentence is about ethnic and cultural generalizations which are stereotypes (prediction for the first blank) or some other word related to categorizing people based on a group to which they belong which is compared to the graphic or picture (predictions for the second blank) representations of constellations–think “Big Dipper.” Here’s the cool part: use one of the two predictions to eliminate as many answers as possible before considering the second blank. I started with “stereotype.” Wow!  I got lucky and predicted Answer B and none of the other first words even comes close.  (Sometimes the test writers use synonyms which means you’ve got to check all the words even when you get this lucky.)  The reality is we don’t even need to worry about the second words to get the right answer because none of the other first words makes sense! However, let’s see what’s going on anyway. Check the second blank for B, pictorial. That word is there too.  All done. Circle B in the test booklet and then bubble in your answer.

As a side note, you could have started with the prediction for the second blank, graphic, and there are two possible answers: B and E!  That’s the point I was just making; there can be two or more words that work for one of the blanks.  Then you’ll have to use the other word for that answer as well.   My point is pretty simple: rather than work on answers by considering both blanks at the same time, you can save a lot of time by just using one of the two blanks to eliminate as many answers as possible and then worry about the other blank.

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.

Do you know when I learned the word cumbrous?  When I saw it the first time for this question that has appeared at least four or five times previously as the QotD.  The ACT staff must be able to get outside and play again because they didn’t take the time to develop a new question for us.

The answer is J.  Looking at the context for cumbrous, “If he rounded up the requisite number of compurgators and the cumbrous swearing in very exact form proceeded without a mistake…,”  you can see the process had to followed precisely and accurately.  The only answer that could be substituted for cumbrous and still make sense is burdensome.  That is easy enough.

When faced with these “vocab in context” questions, just substitute the answers and see which one fits best.  You are looking for a synonym.  Be sure you are moving along quickly because the challenge of the ACT Reading Test is speed.  Also, because there’s no guessing penalty as there is on the SAT, be sure you don’t leave any blanks.

If you are taking the ACT tomorrow I wish you the best of luck.  Don’t forget to read my blog about what to eat for breakfast if you haven’t already done so.  Relax tonight.  After dinner you won’t learn anything new that will help.  Use it as a time to clear your mind and get a good night’s sleep.

I hope it’s a lucky day for you, even if  it is “Friday the 13th!”

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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