Apr 5 SAT & ACT Question of the Day

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to sat.collegeboard.org 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:

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130405 (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 C.  Did you determine the topic of the sentence and then predict the words for the blanks before looking at the answers?  That is the best strategy for attacking Sentence Completion Questions.  Perhaps you didn’t know the word “altruistic,” in which case you wouldn’t know that Natalie is the opposite of her colleague who is in the business for the money.  “Nothing more than a source of income” tells us that her colleague is focused on earning money.  That key phrase tells us the second blank is related to money.  Even if you don’t know the word mercenary, I bet you know most, if not all, of the other second words.  You could eliminate them and pick the right answer, C. Even if you didn’t recognize mercenary, you may have seen or heard the word related to “mercenary soldiers” who will join any army to make a large amount of money.  Perhaps you don’t recognize magnanimous. Be sure to study Latin and Greek morphemes, word parts.  “Magna” means “large” and “animous” means “spirit.”  Those words aren’t related to money either.  That leaves you with Answer C.  Notice we haven’t even looked at the first word!

Usually we have to consider both words when there are two blanks.  However, each blank will usually get us down to two or three answers and sometimes it eliminates 4 answers.  When you are predicting words for questions with two blanks, start with the prediction that feels better to you.  In this case, I approached the question as if I didn’t know the word altruistic because sometimes it is the words in the sentence and not the answers that make the question difficult.  I demonstrated a strategy for working around that problem.  (It is difficult to make a good prediction for the first blank in this sentence if you don’t know altruistic.)  Starting with your stronger prediction will always help you eliminate a few answers and you can guess at the rest.  Remember even if you eliminate only one answer, you are statistically better off to guess than to leave it blank.  (Refer to DVD #1 and my online course for the details.)  In this case, the test writers made it easy — I eliminated all four wrong answers by predicting the second blank “has to do with making money” because only one answer is related to “income.”  I only use the the first word “lamented” to confirm my choice of an answer.  Don’t forget to check you work by inserting your answer and reading the sentence before going on to the next question.  Does it sound right?  Trust you judgment and then move on.

Speaking of “moving on,” let’s move on to the ACT question.

http://www.act.org/qotd/ (The ACT staff does not put a date on their questions so if you click on an archived blog, you’ll get today’s question and the old explanation. Sorry. The SAT staff has dated their questions; so, the archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)

The ACT staff needs to develop some new questions.  We’ve seen this question before.

The answer is F.  This is a “no-brainer” if you use my “Insertable” strategy.  Which answer fits into lines 69-83 without adding or disagreeing with the passage?  Answer F indicates the “Curley family cries” and the lines are all about crying.  Lines 81-82 give the answer away because they tell us that Papa and everybody else would cry if she didn’t come along.  The answer inserts perfectly because it neither adds nor disagrees with the passage.

When you insert the other answers into the passage, they can all be eliminated.  Answer G adds the notion of the narrator being jealous.  The idea that Mrs. Sennett is happy (Answer H) to leave the Curley family disagrees with the passage.  Answer J adds to the story becaise we don’t have any clues that Mrs. Sennett is returning to the Cape because she feels manipulated.  None of these answers fit neatly into the passage because they add or disagree which makes them poor answers.  Trust the power of insertable!  It will raise your score.

Happy Friday!  Do something to put a smile on someone’s face during the weekend.  (Surprise your mom and do an extra chore around the house without being asked.)  Better yet, surprise two people.  Doing so will make you even feel better than it will them.  Trust me.

The 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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