Jan 17 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130117 (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. However in my first few blogs, I didn’t use a date in my link and you won’t get the proper question. Sorry.)

The answer is E.  Focus, as always, on the topic of the sentence when you do an SAT Sentence Completion question.  What does it tell us about the subject, Alvin.  So, predict words that go along with the fact that Alvin is “unselfish.”   If you know the vocab, then E jumps right out at you but what if you don’t?  Read on…

When you have two blanks, you must make two predictions.  Looking at the column of words for the second blank, you’ll see easier vocab in this example SAT question.  I bet you could eliminate B and D.  If that’s all you can do, then you have to pick A, C, or E since you only need to eliminate 1 answer and you should guess.  Statistically, your score goes up when you eliminate one answer and you’ve already eliminated 2.  (By the way, “undermines” shows up on the test regularly; so, make sure you know what it means.

Do you know the words in the first column for A, C, and E?  They aren’t as easy as the words in the second column.  Opportunistic reminds you of opportunity.  This sentence isn’t about opportunities and is, therefore, not consistent with the topic–throw it out.  That leaves you with two from which to guess.  Take your best shot by reading the first part of the sentence and trying each word.  Does one just sound better?  Pick it rather than randomly guessing between the two since it improves your odds of guessing correctly.

Altruistic and altruism are common words on the test.  Be sure you know what they mean.

I wonder what the ACT folks are up to 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.)

I can see what the ACT folks are up to.  Can you?  The answer is J and they have an explanation that is more difficult than the sentence!

When you read the sentence, the word for just sounds bad–you don’t need it–shorter is better.  That eliminates answer F.  For answer G, “stronger than” what?  “One’s dream?”  Not a chance- because then you don’t know what can be attained.  For answer J, strongly is an adverb (notice the ly ending).  It can’t modify “will” which is a noun.

If you have been reading my explanations for a while, you could skip this paragraph because you know what I’m going to say now and continue reading with the next paragraph.  If you are relatively new, keep reading.  The ACT test writers tell you in their “Directions” to “Read each passage through once before you begin to answer the questions…”  That statement is NOT directions; it is advice and it is terrible advice.  I keep pointing out whenever they have a grammar Question of the Day, like today’s question, that you don’t need to do that.  If you do, you are wasting your time on a section of the test that many students can’t finish on time.  Yes, once in a while, you may need to read one or two sentences surrounding underlined material to answer the question.  On rare occasion, you even need to read a paragraph.  However, it will be obvious when you need to do that.  But I’ve never seen a case in over 20 years of doing reviewing ACTs that it was efficient to read a whole passage before answering any of the questions.  Shame on the ACT folks for deceiving you.  They need to fix their “directions.”

I hope my SAT and ACT Question of the Day strategies and explanations are helpful and, if so, spread the word. Tell your friends at school and social media friends.

If you are taking the January SAT, 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.

A special reminder to my Osceola County students: Be sure to remind your friends about our upcoming class on this Saturday. Do your assignment and email me so I know you’ll be attending.

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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