Feb 4 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130204 (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 B.  You always start with step #1, the topic of the sentence when attacking SAT Sentence Completion questions.  What are you told about the subject of the sentence, Troy?  Nothing could be done to cheer him up when he lost the election.  He was sad and could not be made to feel better or consoled.  Then step #2 is to predict a word that is consistent with the topic prior to looking at the answers.  Poor Troy–he was in a deep funk!  He was “sad” would be a good prediction and keeping in mind that nobody could cheer him up will help.  Disconsolate matches our prediction.

Let’s dispel a myth that has spread like the flu in school hallways and classrooms.  Students sneeze it on one another all the time.  The myth is about how many answers you need to eliminate before you guess.  The answer is “1.”  Most students tell me “two” or “three” because that’s what they’ve heard from not so competent authorities like other students or Uncle Fred!  The truth is that if you only eliminate one and guess at the rest then statistically your score is going up.  Of course, you are better off if you can eliminate more but you really only need to eliminate one before the “guessing penalty” has become a “guessing reward.”  Let’s apply the technique to this question.

Since you know the sentence is about Troy being sad, how many answers do you know for sure that don’t mean “sad?”  Then there some other words that are still left–probably “unctuous” and even “ebullient.”  Even if you can’t define them, do they sound to you like words that have anything to do with being sad?  If not, throw them out.

A final issue is to dissect words and use prefixes, stems/roots, and suffixes.  In answer B, disconsolate, I see “console” which means to make someone feel better.  Dis means “not” or “apart.”  That tells us Troy was “not consolable.”

If you need a great list of prefixes, check out https://msu.edu/~defores1/gre/roots/gre_rts_afx1.htm.  There are links at the bottom of that page to roots and suffixes.  Thank you to MSU and Jessica.

If you want to learn even more about improving your performance on Sentence Completion questions, use my online program or check out DVD #2.

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 H.  Lines 7-9 and 74-6 answer the question.  Once you went back and found those lines, this was an easy question.  The hard part was finding the answers.

When you read passages, always keep the general structure of essays in mind: introduction, body paragraphs that support the main idea, and then a conclusion.  That will help find answers to questions on the ACT.  This question is about trials in general; so, it would be good to look in the introduction and/or the conclusion for the answer to this question about all trials.  You know the body paragraphs describe certain kinds of trials–use the topic sentences to guide you.  That clues you into the fact that a general question about trials won’t be answered there.  Reviewing the first and/or last paragraph leads you to the right answer, private person.

Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl.  I found the advertisements a bit disappointing last night.  The game was fun and I’m glad I didn’t turn it off when the score looked like it was out of hand.  I think the score was 28-6 at some point.  There’s a lesson to be learned here–don’t ever give up.  Even though San Francisco didn’t overcome the deficit, they sure came surprisingly close–very exciting.  Keep working at those SAT and ACT scores.  Aim a little higher than you need and even if you fall a little short, you’ll be fine.

Have a great week and thank your good teachers for being there for you.  Leave an anonymous note for your bad teachers and let them know how they could do a better job!  Be sincere and not nasty.

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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