ACT & SAT Question of the Day: Apr. 12, 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 E.  There are a couple of problems with the original sentence that need fixing.  First, there’s no predicate (verb) which means we have a sentence fragment.  Second, we have to make sure the adjectival clause describing the people from Siberia is close to “people from Siberia.”  So A is wrong.

B is wrong because while it provides a predicate, the adjectival clause is close to “continent” and not “people from Siberia.”

C is wrong because “was” needs to be replaced by a comma.  The phrase “First colonized by people from Siberia” describes the “North American continent.”  Therefore, it should be “First colonized by people from Siberia, the North American continent…”

D is wrong because it doesn’t have a verb that goes with the subject “sunken land bridge.”

E is the Goldilocks answers.  It is just right.

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.  The quick way to do this question is to “change the variables to numbers,” “change the abstract to the concrete” or “change the algebra to arithmetic.”  These are all the same strategy but I use different names for it at different times.  Remember and use the terminology that makes the most sense to you.  No matter what you call it, the strategy simply involves substituting numbers for the variables and solving the problem using those numbers.  Then check to see which answer gives you the same value when you plug your numbers into the answers.

Let’s do that for this question.  Because it is a percent question, let’s substitute 100 for n, the number of students.  Let’s say that 25 students play an instrument and substitute 25 for p.  By subtraction, we quickly know the correct answer would be 75 students out of 100 (75%)  if we didn’t have variables n and p and they were numbers instead.

Now we simply have to plug our numbers (100 and 25) into the answers for n and p and see which one gives us 75%.  That makes C the correct answer.

I love this strategy.  It is much faster than algebra and it helps eliminate silly mistakes.

Just remember: when the test writers don’t give you numbers, just make stuff up!  Pick numbers that are easy to use and follow any information you are given in the problem.  For example, if x is 2y, choose numbers that make x twice as large as y.  You get the idea.

Some of you are in a hurry to get to the ACT test center this morning.  I want to get this posted quickly.  So, there are no “Words of Wiz-dom” today.

I wish you well and I hope everyone has a great day.

Bob Alexander, the “SAT and ACT Wizard”



Tonight is the “night before the test.” Tomorrow morning hundreds of thousands of students will be taking the ACT. What should they do with their final hours?

First, don’t do any more preparing after dinner. If you don’t know it by then, whatever “it” is, you won’t learn it tonight! Relax. Watch TV, read a book, play a video game. Do something enjoyable. Get your mind off the test and you will sleep better. You need a good night’s sleep.

Second, don’t communicate with anybody! No phone calls, chat rooms, or text messaging. (Smoke signals from the driveway are also to be avoided!) Why do I say that? Nobody is going to tell you anything that can raise your score but you could hear something distressing that will keep you from sleeping and be distracting during the test. For example, a boyfriend (or girlfriend) could call to break up! It has happened. A cousin may want to cry about not getting into any colleges! It has happened. Maybe somebody has died! It has happened. These and many other pieces of “news” could hurt your score. So, relax and don’t communicate with anybody. The news can wait until tomorrow after the test.

Finally, get yourself organized tonight. Lay out your clothes. Put your ticket in the pocket of what you are going to wear. Change the batteries in your calculator. Grab your snack. Sharpen your pencils. Make sure you have your ID. Maybe you need to go shopping to pick up some of the breakfast items I recommended in yesterday’s blog. Make yourself a checklist of everything you need and post it where you can’t miss it (perhaps on the front door). Now that you’ve gotten yourself together, relax and get a good night’s sleep. Don’t forget to set your alarm and ask your parents to make sure you are awake.

Yes, I know it isn’t cool but ask your parents to drive you to the test. Use the ride to do a few “warm up” questions from your practice materials.

Leave for the testing center in plenty of time to be early.

Good luck.

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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