Question of the Day: September 10, 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 answer is D.  The test writer’s explanation is just one way to do this question.  You could do this by substitution using the values in the Roman Numerals.  Doing so gives you a negative value on the left side of the equation for I because a -1/3 divided by 3 is going to be negative and when you square it, the right side of the equation is positive.  Roman Numeral I can’t be right and is eliminated.  Roman Numeral II works since 0/3 is 0 and 0 squared is 0–the equation balances.  Roman Numeral III also works.  1/3 divided by 3 is 1/9 and 1/3 squared is 1/9.  The answer is both II and III, D.

Let’s use what we know about our opponents the test writer to do this question.  It makes it much quicker.  They use numbers that are easy to play with.  You know that dividing by 3 on the left side of the equation is the same as multiplying by 1/3.  Then Roman Numerals I and III involve both negative and positive 1/3.  Roman Numeral I cannot be right because multiplying (or dividing) a negative number (-1/3) by a positive on the left side cannot equal the positive number we have to get on the right when square -1/3.  Roman Numeral II has to work since dividing into 0 and squaring 0 has to be zero.  III is fine because we recognize it, 1/3, as what I mentioned above.  x/3 is the same as x times 1/3.  That’s the same as x squared.  All done.  It took just a few seconds to think through this even though it took a while to type it.  You will find that using your head to reason through some of the math questions will be lots faster than turning the math crank  on many questions.

Let’s move on to ACT.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day. (If you’ve read the following two paragraphs before, skip down two paragraphs to where I start with “The answer is …) The ACT staff will no longer allow me to display their webpage in a frame. I wish they would use their time to improve the ACT Question of the Day page rather than worry about issues like whether I help you to easily navigate the Internet by using a frame. They do a better job in some respects than the SAT. However, they could easily do a few minor tweaks and have a much better Question of the Day page than the SAT. Right now they are lagging behind.

For example, the ACT staff does not put a date on their questions so if you click one of my archived blogs, you’ll get today’s ACT question and my original explanation. Sorry. The SAT staff has dated their questions; so, their archive is helpful. If you click on an archived explanation for the SAT, you’ll see the original SAT question no matter how old it is! Wonderfully helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that for you even though they could.

The answer is B.  They tell you in the previous sentence, “In 1926, …”  Then in this sentence they tell you the “Law of 1927…”  That is a year later, not “years later.”

Again, their questions reveal the serious flaw, if not deception, in their “directions” which tell you to read the whole passage before doing the questions.  Why?  Usually just reading the sentence that has the underlining is sufficient.  In this case, you had to read the previous sentence to get it right.  Poo on their directions!  Read the passage and when you come to an underlined portion, answer the question.  That’s quicker than their “directions” and will improve your score.

I’m excited about today, we are starting another class in Bartow.  See you all later.  What has you jazzed about your day?



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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