http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130104

The answer is 12 (A). This is a good question to make a very important point about SAT and ACT math questions: there’s always more than one way to skin a SAT or ACT question (or cat)! The test writers usually only explain it the standard “math teacher” way. But sometimes that process doesn’t come to you or you come up with a much easier way to do the question. Well, nobody cares or even knows how you did it; so, do it the most efficient way. Today’s question helps understand that principle. Go ahead and read their explanation. Now let’s take a look at a couple of other ones. My explanations tend to teach you strategies that make easier work of doing the question and are quicker. Let’s see if you agree.

One way to do it is just use the answers. Begin by getting all the units the same for the two machines which gets you to 2/second for the “inserter” and “stamper” can do 3/second. Since there are 18 “inserters,” they can do 18 times 2 = 36 envelopes per second. The stamping machines need to do 36 envelopes per second. Checking the answers, you can see that 12 times 3 is 36–you are all done.

A more mathematical way to do the question would keep the SAT test writer happy as well. “Inserters” do their job 2/3 as quickly as the “stampers.” So, you need 2/3 as many “stampers.” 2/3 of 18 is 12. All done. Move on.

Now ask yourself, “Are the SAT test writers’ explanations or the Wizard’s explanations more likely to raise your score?” Which ones make more sense and are quicker? If you like mine, then register for my SAT and ACT prep program or buy my DVD set.

What this question should teach you is that there’s always more than one way to do these SAT and ACT questions. Never worry how you do them–just find the right answer.

Let’s take a look at the ACT question.

Great–a graph question! Can you read graphs? If so, it will take a few seconds but the question isn’t hard if you use a Wizard’s strategy. Always pick a point on the graph and then find the corresponding point on the table. I saw on the graph that at a depth of 15cm the concentration is 3ppm. That is only true for CO_{2}. Then to check my work, I picked 0 depth and 1 concentration from the table for CO_{2} and saw that worked on the graph and that wasn’t true for any other chemical.

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind about the ACT Science Test. First, the science is almost always explained in the test booklet. So, don’t worry about not having taken a particular science class. Do some practice tests and you’ll see that what you mostly need to be able to do is read and interpret charts and graphs as you do for this question.

Second, the challenge of the ACT Science Test is timing. Most students complain that they didn’t finish this part of the test. Work on your speed and develop the shortcuts I teach in my SAT and ACT class that are related to going faster. The strategy I just used for this question is just one example.

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