ACT & SAT Question of the Day: Mar. 21, 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 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. (Read the free website or watch the 200 Video series for a full explanation and do the related practice questions.)

The answer is A.  Begin with asking yourself, “What does the sentence tell us (the topic) about Allison (the subject) of the sentence.”  It says, “…only _____knowledge,” which tells us it wasn’t very much.  That’s the topic.  Then the topic is reinforced when the sentence says, “…she had glanced at a summary.”   Therefore, it makes sense to predict words like “minimal” knowledge and “read” the details.  Here’s the cool part: use one of the two predictions to eliminate as many answers as possible before considering the other blank. I started with “read” for the second blank.  Only Answer A, examined, and B, studied worked.  So, I only needed to check the first words for those two answers; C, D, and E are eliminated already and it doesn’t matter what the words are for the first blank.  That saves you a lot of time.  Looking at Answer A, superficial, and B, subjective, superficial is a synonym for my prediction, minimal.  All done.

As a side note, you could have started with the prediction for the first blank, minimal, and there are three possible answers: A, C, 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.

I wonder if the ACT folks have something new for us this morning.

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 B.  In the table, you can see the depth is going down 5cm each time you go down a row.  You can see the pH is going down 0.5 in each row.  To get to a depth of 35, you would need to add three more steps (rows) and that would mean the pH would go down three more steps, 3 times 0.5 or 1.5.  Then subtract 1.5 from 5.0 and you are ready to move on to the next question.

As I’ve said in many previous blogs, you don’t need to review science knowledge for the ACT; you need to practice using charts and graphs.  You need to work on your speed.  This question  supports my point.

This question also reminds us that there will be “missing” data point questions on the test.  Sometimes you will have to determine missing data points that are within the range of information you are given: interpolation.  Sometimes, as in this question, you will need to determine data points that are outside the range you are given: extrapolation.  Doing either one is pretty simple if you’ll follow my strategy of “check the trends” of the data displays.  When you initially look at the charts and graphs they give you, don’t worry about the specific amounts — check the trends.  For example, in today’s question, you could see the depth was increasing in increments of 5 and the pH was decreasing in increments 0.5.  That information was key to successfully answering the question.  In short, expect to see interpolation and extrapolation questions on test day.  Get ready for them.

Thought for the Day:

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  When you go to bed tonight, ask yourself, “What did I do today that is going to pay off in the future?”  One thing that should be on your list is you read my blog!  Doing so should help you be more prepared for the test.  What other investments in your future will you have made at the end of the day?

Bob Alexander, the “SAT and 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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