Dec 29 SAT & ACT Question of the Day

The College Board’s explanation is a perfect example of why I get up every morning and write another explanation.  As many of my students say, “Their explanations are harder to follow than their questions!”  While they don’t always obfuscate (perplex), sometimes they do confuse the situation with their answers, there are certainly easier ways to get the right answer (A) than the first explanation.

They put you on the right track by telling you to substitute a coordinate point but why would you run the risk of messing up the signs (+/-) by using the (-2,0) coordinate.  It is much easier to substitute (6,0) and avoid the pitfall.  They even know students are likely to make the mistake of goofing up the signs and that’s why answer E (+12) exists!

Their second explanation isn’t bad but they should warn you about that approach’s limitations.  All bets are off if the coefficient of x isn’t 1 or y is not equal to 0.  You can still do it that way but it is fraught (full of) with calculation perils.

Notice how I sneaked (or is it snuck–check some good vocab in this explanation for you?  Obfuscate and fraught are a couple of words you need to know.

Let’s see what the ACT has in store for us today?

The answer is B.  C and D make no sense because you learned early in your life the sun comes up in the east and travels west.  Plus, the tables support that based on the direction of the shadows.  One thing you need to remember is that the science explained in the ACT questions is never specious. (There I go again building your vocab: specious = false or misleading.)

Table 2 tells us the sun is in the north since the shadows point south: answer B.  I have to complain a little about their answers.  I thought originally “northerly path” meant the sun set more northerly on the western horizon than when it rose on the eastern horizon.  These answers (A and B) would have been more clearly stated “the sun is in the southern part of the sky” and “the sun is in the northern part of the sky”  respectively.  Oh well, it just cost me some time but on a Saturday morning that doesn’t matter much unless it is a Saturday morning during the real test!

Use this question to learn things about the ACT in addition to there is no apocryphal (There I go again: false or misleading.) science.  1) The science test is a reading test; so, be really careful with the nuances (subtleties) of the information and especially the answers.  2) Students’ biggest challenge for the ACT Science Reasoning Test is timing.  You have to go fast to finish on time.  Be sure you set a target score and do the passages in the proper order (and it isn’t from Passage 1 to Passage 7).  My main point is that you may not need to rush in order to earn enough points to get you the score you want or need.  If so, one of the passages is best put off until the end even when it appears among the first few passages in the test.  Which one is it?

There’s more about these points in my SAT and ACT course online, on the DVD set, and in my live class.  You could also improve your score by spending $2 or $3 and watch my Online SAT and ACT Tips and Tricks.  There’s even a couple of free ones on my home page if you haven’t watched them.

Be sure to do a free registration for my website and I’ll email you a link to the explanation every day.

I hope you find my tips and tricks helpful. If so, let your friends know about my blog.  Hopefully, I’ll see you in class or on the Internet.

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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