Feb 14 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130214 (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 D.  Here’s a nice Valentines Day present, an easy pronoun/antecedent question!  For this SAT format, just go through the underlined sections of the sentence and check each one out for an error.  There’s nothing wrong with A, B, or C.  However, when you get to D, check out the pronoun and see if “it” agrees with the antecedent (noun that it represents).  First, check to see if the pronoun is supposed to be singular or plural.  That’s the problem in this question.  “It” refers to “handcuffs” which is plural; so, “it” should be “they.”  There’s the problem making the right answer D.  Had this not been a problem, the second thing to do with pronouns is check the “form” or  “case” (subjective, objective, possessive).  No problem here since it is subjective and goes with the verb requires quite nicely!   Then, third, check out the gender; masculine, feminine, or neuter.  Handcuffs are neither masculine/male or feminine/female since they don’t have a sex making them neuter/non-sexual.  That means we can’t use “he requires” or “she requires,” and “it” is appropriate for gender.

I explained the other problems with pronouns because you need to understand how the test works.  For each word (part of speech) or phrase that is underlined, you need to know the kinds of mistakes that the SAT and ACT assess.  You can see that there are three things that are tested for pronouns: singular/plural, form (or “case”), and gender.  Get your hands on a list of issues for each part of speech and be prepared for them.  I have such a list in my program materials and I would hope you could find them other places as well.  If not, check out my online course and the DVD set.

Let’s take a look at what the ACT folks have in store for us on Valentine’s Day.  (Don’t eat too much candy but you can never get too many flowers!)

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 D.  The ACT staff’s Valentine’s Day present is a nice explanation of how to fix the problem; so, I won’t bother to repeat it–just read their explanation.  Let’s use the question, however, to learn a couple of other things about the test.

First, the SAT and ACT tests use different formats to assess your grammar and composition skills.  Today’s SAT and ACT questions are good examples.  The SAT primarily uses single, stand-alone sentences that you have to fix and only has six questions that relate to a passage.  The ACT has all passage-related questions.  You may find one test format or the other more friendly or easier for you.  Only practice will tell.

Second, allow me to rant (as usual) about the ACT so called “directions” again.  They tell you to read the whole passage first and then do the questions.  That’s hogwash.  It wastes time and isn’t even “directions.”  It is advice and it’s bad advice at that.  It simply wastes time and time is a big issue for most students.  For a few questions, you may have to refer to an additional sentence to get an answer and rarely will you need to read a paragraph but never do you need to read the whole passage.  Just go through the passage doing one question at a time and if you need more than the one sentence, then take the time to look for help in nearby sentences.  We need to start a viral attack on the ACT people for being so misleading.  (Their directions aren’t such a sweet Valentine’s Day present; they are bitter.)

At least the passage is appropriate for the season.  Spring training starts soon!

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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