Jan 31 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130131 (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.  For once, the SAT folks and I would give you almost exactly the same explanation–the first time since I started writing this blog.  So, take a look at what they wrote because they did a good job of explaining how to do the math.   Now for a trick that they and the ACT staff would rather I not teach you; I call it “common elements.”

“Common elements” doesn’t always work but it is a great way to guess when you have to since it will raise your guessing accuracy way above what you would get based on probability.  Remember: no random guessing on the SAT (you must eliminate one answer before you guess) and never leave a blank (even if you are randomly guessing) on the ACT.  Now, back to the strategy–

Look at the answers.  There are three answers that are “5:00” and two that are “1:00.”  The most common one is 5; so, eliminate the 1’s.  Of the 5’s, two are “a.m.” and one is “p.m.”  Pick “a.m.”  That leaves A and E.  Look at the days of the week–“Wednesday” is there twice and the other days are only listed once.  Pick Wednesday.  That means E has the most common elements (time and day in this case) and it is the right answer.  It doesn’t always work but it raises your odds of being right.  They hate it when I teach you this!!   Maybe they should get a little more creative with their answers.  What do you think?  (That’s a little humor to end the month.)

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 F.  This is what I call a “detail” question and you can find the answer in lines 54-56.  First, you should know that detail questions are rare on the SAT (doubtful you’ll see one) and much more common on the ACT.  Why?  That is because the SAT test has line references for most of the questions and the ACT doesn’t.  It is the lack of line references on the ACT that costs you so much time because you have to go back and find where the answer is in the passage.  That makes speed the ACT’s major challenge.  So, let’s talk about how to become faster at finding the answers.

Focus on the Wizard’s first magic reading word: MOPP.  (There’s more about this strategy in my materials and DVD #3.)  The “O” stands for organization which is very important on the ACT–more than the SAT.  “O” has to do with how the author put the pieces of the passage together.  It has to do with how the paragraphs support the main idea.  Focus on the topic sentences as you read; you could underline key words and phrases in each one.  For example, if you had done that with this passage (not on your computer screen but in the test booklet!), you would have underlined ordeal.  When you saw that the question was about “trial by ordeal,” you could come immediately to this paragraph and found the information you needed to answer the question.  Now you know why English teachers spend so much time talking about topic sentences.  Using them will speed you up.  Isn’t that clever?  I hope it helps.

Classes start in Dr. Phillips and Celebration this weekend. Some of you have called or emailed me to reserve a seat but remember I only guarantee a seat if you’ve completed and submitted your registration form. So, take care of that if you haven’t done so already.

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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