Apr 8 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=20130408 (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.  The topic and key phrase of the sentence tell us that we are concerned with materials that are at the beginning of the book.  The “preface” of a book serves as an introduction.  That’s a word most students would know but it isn’t among the answers.  “Prefatory” is the adjectival form of “preface.”

The other words are not ones students typically know; so, how could you make an educated guess?  Use the prefixes!  Do any of them mean “before?”  Proleptic does.  Prefatory does.  Redacted does not.  Orthographic does not.  Conjunctive does not.  You are down to two.  Time to guess.  You’ve eliminated at least one answer which turns the guessing “penalty” into a “reward.”  The odds are now in your favor.  In this case we are down to two answers: the right one is worth 1 point and the wrong one will only cost you 1/4 of a point.  Go for it.

I’m not a big proponent (fan) of memorizing words to improve your SAT or ACT scores.  The odds of one showing up on the test in a place that will raise your score aren’t very good.  It is more productive to memorize morphemes (word parts).  When you do so, you will learn families of words and will be able to “dissect” or analyze words so that you have a sense of their meaning.  That’s what we did in the previous paragraph.  Get your hands on lists of prefixes, stems/roots, and suffixes and go to work.  I happen to like one that is on the msu.edu website but just Google “Latin prefix list” and you’ll see a bunch of them.

Let’s go see what the ACT have for us today.

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 answer is C.  I think the ACT staff has been reading my blog.  This is the first time since I started doing this that they have used my strategy of “changing the abstract to the concrete” in their explanation.  The easiest way to do the question is to use real/concrete numbers rather than the variables.  Let’s convert n to 100 (since we are doing percents), p=25, and now we know 75 don’t play an instrument.  What happens when we substitute 100 and 25 into the answers for n and p?  Only C gives us 75.  We are all done.

This is a great strategy to use on the test.  There is a large percentage of questions on the SAT and ACT tests that don’t give you numbers.  You can certainly do them using algebra skills but it is easy to make a simple mistake.  If you “convert the algebra to arithmetic” (the same as “changing the abstract to the concrete”), you will usually find the question much quicker and easier to do.  It has the added benefit of you are checking your work at the same time!  You know what the answer has to be before you look at the answers (75 in this case).

On a rare question, you may get two answers that work when you substitute numbers.  When this happens, just change your numbers and apply them to the two answers that appear correct.  One will be eliminated.

Have a productive week.  Quit procrastinating and start that next project early.  The deadline will get here sooner than you think!


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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