Feb 28 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130228 (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.  Always figure out the topic of the sentence and use it to predict words for the blank(s) before looking at the answers.  In this case, we know the guy is inclined to succumb or fall for flattery.  Do you see how you can even use words that are in the sentence as your predictions?  Flattery is a great prediction for the second blank.  That leaves us with C and D.  Then his inclination means he is susceptible–answer C.

There’s something you should notice about the inclination of the SAT test writers.  They like to use wrong answers that are antonyms for the right answer.  So, be careful.  In this example, when you got down to cajolery and blandishments, resistant (D) was just the opposite of the correct answer: susceptible.  That is why my strategy is important.  Focusing on the topic and making a prediction before looking at the answers helps you avoid their inclination of using antonyms as distractors (wrong answers or traps)!

Let’s see what the ACT folks have up their sleeves this morning.

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 tells you to find the answer in lines 82-85.  However, proper reading strategies would have answered it much sooner.  Finding the main idea in the first paragraph or ASAP is critical to success.  Answers A, B, and C are eliminated by the time you get to line 7.  The passage says “permeated by religious and superstitious notions” in lines 4 and 5.  Of course, there are more details later that support the answer but the are a long ways away in lines 82-85.

Here’s my point: find the main idea quickly and use it as a focal point for choosing your answers.  Both the SAT and ACT test writers are inclined to design their “best” answers based  on it.  When in doubt about two answers, if one is more consistent with the main idea than the other, pick it.  Now don’t take me wrong.  This isn’t a slam dunk for all the questions.  It isn’t going to be a sure thing.  It is a strategy for choosing between two answers that both look good and will certainly raise your chances of being correct.  Of course, there may be additional evidence somewhere else in the passage but by the time you find it (in lines 82-85 in this case) you could run out of time.

There is a much more detailed explanation regarding this technique on DVD #3 and in my course.  The main idea should be used in combination with some other criteria that are described in my lessons.  I will describe the others in future blogs.  Try the strategy on some real practice questions and you’ll see how well it works.

Enjoy your day.

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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