ACT and SAT Question of the Day: Feb. 10, 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.  As usual, figure out the topic and make predictions for the two blanks before looking at the answers.  The sentence is about the manager’s reaction to falling sales.  For the first blank, it is pretty easy to predict a word that means “unhappy.”  For the second blank, the manager “blamed” or “accused” our department for its lack of effort.

I started with the first blank and was attracted to  “intolerant” but the second word didn’t make any sense at all.  Even though “intolerant” expresses a sense of being upset, I had to eliminate it  because the second word reflected an attitude of acceptance for the department’s behavior.  The first words for Answers A and D didn’t make any sense which left me with Answer B, “indignant.”  Then I checked the second word, “upbraided” for Answer B and it worked just fine.  The second word for Answer D, “castigated,” does as well but the first blank for D has already eliminated it from the running.  That left me with B even though I really didn’t like the first blank, “indignant,” very well.  I picked B because it was not a great answer but it was the best answer!

Why don’t I like B?  “Indignant” has a sense of being offended.  It means the person takes a personal affront for being treated or spoken of unfairly.  I don’t think the manager would feel offended by the lack of effort.  However, that is the best answer because “indignant” certainly means “upset” or “unhappy” which works with my prediction.  I just don’t agree with the motive for the unhappiness.  She was upset by dropping sales not a personal attack by the department.  Oh, well.

Why is all this important on test day?  It points out the importance of using my strategy that is explained on my free website and on the Video #200 series.  Your scores on the SAT and ACT  will increase by using skills and strategies because strength of vocabulary simply isn’t sufficient.  (Sometimes strategies even help you get the right answer when you don’t know what the words mean.  They also help avoid traps when you do know what the words mean.)  For this question, I knew the meaning of every word but had to think my way to the answer.  That is why less than 40% of the students are getting it correct.  Some of the words are a little challenging but the big deal is how to think your way to the “best” answer (even though it isn’t a really good answer in my opinion due to the nuances of the word “indignant.”)

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 G.  The sense of the passage by this point is that the airwaves had a lot of potential but they had only been utilized by the military or by ham radio operators who communicated between each other.  “However,” gives a sense of how the airwaves had not been exploited.  We simply need a word that conveys that nobody was taking advantage of the opportunity.

I’ve got to use this sentence to teach you something about the ACT English Test directions.  They stink!  In the directions, the test writers say, “Read the passage through once before you begin to answer any of the questions that accompany it.”  Having just done this question, you can see how dumb that would be to do that on test day.  Their “directions” aren’t even directions; they are test-taking advice and it is terrible advice.  On a timed test, what sense would it make to do what their “directions” tell you to do?  Almost all of the questions can be answered by just doing the question (as we did with this example).  For the few questions that require you to use the context of a surrounding sentence or two, just deal with those as you get to them.  My advice: just start reading at the beginning of the passage and deal with the underlined portions as you come to them.  That approach will greatly increase your speed and certainly won’t hurt your score.   It will raise it.  Shame on the test writers for giving you such ridiculous “directions.”

It’s Monday!  There are lots of things to look forward to this week for all of us.  What opportunities will the week present to you?  Take advantage of them.  For me, I have two SAT/ACT classes starting this week and Dr. Alexander and I are conducting three college admissions and SAT/ACT seminars for students and their parents.  I’m really excited and looking forward to these opportunities.

If you would like us to visit your school or other organization, just let us know and and we’ll see if we can find a time on our calendar to visit with you and your friends.  We are easily available in central and south Florida.  We will traveling nearly 13,000 miles this summer.  Maybe we will be in your community.  Let us know where you are and maybe we can visit with you.

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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