Feb 3 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130203 (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 E.  Let’s give credit to the SAT staff this morning; they did a nice job of explaining how to get the answer.  It’s one of their best explanations and is certainly better than usual.

Now I want you to learn a thing or two thing about the test from this question.  Always remember Pillar VI: Don’t be Intimidated, which I teach in my program.  Many of their function questions are simply asking you to read a graph—no calculations involved.  (I bet the Stars at CHS who I met on Friday remember me saying that!)  This is an example.  The easiest way to attack them is to remember that f(x) simply means y (and in this question they even remind you).  So, they are just asking how many times does the line pass through a place where y=0.2.  On the positive side of the x-axis, it happens 4 times.  Easy enough.

Have you ever thought about the value of doing practice questions?  It isn’t simply to see if you can get this question right.  It will never be on the test!!  The true value is to think about what it tells you about the test in general.  There are patterns that the SAT and ACT test writers employ over and over which makes the tests quite predictable.  If the tests weren’t predictable, I wouldn’t be able to offer a program that prepares you for the tests since I would not know what is going to be on them.  So, I want you to watch for these patterns as you do practice questions.  It is learning the patterns that will boost your confidence and lead you to my ultimate goal for every one of my students: No Surprises on Test Day.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have in store for us 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 J.  My students all recognize the technique for attacking this question: Change the Abstract to the Concrete.  When they don’t give you numbers and give you a rule that defines a variable, Ali knows to “just make stuff up!”  So should you.  a is a positive fraction.  b is greater than 1.  Substituting actual numbers allows us to use any numbers that follow the rule; so 1/2 times 2 works just fine and the answer is 1 (or ab).  1 is between 1/2 (or a) and 2 (or b).  We are all done.

Do you remember what I said about the SAT question?  Learn about patterns.  Both ACT and SAT test writers like to give you questions with variables that look a little difficult.  When they do, simply change their variables to real numbers by following their rules and turn the math crank.  Then substitute your mathematical answer into the answers on the test.  It works every time.

If you are taking the February ACT, time is running short. I recommend you watch my online Tips and Tricks videos to help you prepare. In addition to the free ones on the home page, it only costs $3 to watch an hour of my best test-taking techniques for taking the SAT and ACT tests.

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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