Jan 3 SAT & ACT Question of the Day


Grandmother always said, “Give credit where credit is due!”  The SAT staff did just fine with their explanation this morning.  In this sentence, the phonograph isn’t an exception; so, except doesn’t make sense.  Rather, the author means “If it hadn’t been for” or “Without.”

Get your hands on a list of the common grammar and composition errors that show up on the SAT and ACT tests.  You’ll get one in my SAT and ACT prep course.  It is worth reviewing and it will help you prepare.

Let’s take a look at the ACT question.


Compurgation? It’s too early in the morning to see a word like that!  Its saving grace is that it reminds us that it would be a good idea to work on the skill of using context to figure out what words mean.

The ACT asks a few “detail” questions; whereas, the SAT rarely does.  This is a perfect example.  Line 17 answers the question: B.  The ACT explanation tells you where to go find the reasons why the other answers are wrong.  This question clearly points out another major difference between the two tests.  The ACT doesn’t provide us with line references for where to go find the answer to the question nearly as often as the SAT.  (You should read my “SAT & ACT” blog from January 2 for a list of other differences and how they can affect your score.)  On top of that, there’s no organizational pattern to how the questions are arranged.  That means you are going to spend a lot of time going back and reviewing the passage in order to find the right answer which leads to lots of students complaining that they can’t finish the reading test on time.

Here’s an important strategy for dealing with the challenge of timing on the ACT Reading Test: skip around.  I don’t mean skip around on the questions (which can help); I’m saying do the passages in the order you want.  There’s four passages and they always come in the same order: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science.  Start with the topic you find most interesting and end with the one that is most boring and difficult for you.  There’s no rule stating you need to do them in the order that they occur in the test booklet!

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

If you are getting ready for the SAT or ACT this spring, I hope to meet you in one of my classes, on my DVD set, or on the Internet.

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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