Mar 18 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

If you are connecting to my blog using an email you received from me, do not click the link to below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email. (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 D.  If you’ve been doing my blog for a while and read previous comments about SAT Sentence Completion questions, I hope you know what I’m going to say.  After all, the strategy is always the same for these questions and if you have the technique down, you may be inclined to go ahead and skip to the ACT question unless you missed this one.  Even if you got it correct, there’s something about this question that you can learn about the test.  I encourage you to read on.

Always start with predicting an answer based on the topic of the sentence before looking at the answers.  The vocab isn’t very hard for this question but I found a couple of answers that seemed to fit.  Rhythmic (answer B) is an attractive answer since the jellyfish is pulsing, which is a rhythm.  I was also attracted to  harmless (answer D) since the second half of the sentence starts with “but” and then says the jellyfish is poisonous.  I rather imagine students who are missing this question are picking rhythmic since pulsing is a rhythmic motion.  Why is the answer not B rather than D?

In the test writer’s mind, the sentence as a whole is about the jellyfish being an innocent looking critter that is just floating along BUT it isn’t so innocent.  That is, the word but signals a change in what we are told about the jellyfish.  The test writer is fond of directional clues and you have to be alert for them.  In addition, the word seemingly is very important.  That is the clue about the topic that should really clue you in to the fact that we are looking for a word that is the opposite of poison.

The word in the blank is about the drift of the jellyfish.  It seems innocent but it isn’t.  That’s the topic of the sentence.  It isn’t about the rhythmic motion or pulsing action which is simply describing the jellyfish.  The focus of the sentence is on the drift of the jellyfish.  The point is you must figure out the topic of the sentence as a whole.  Otherwise, you will make mistakes even when you know the vocabulary.  Over 40% of students are missing this question and you can see that the vocab isn’t very difficult and now you know why.   Learn from their mistakes.

Let’s take a look at the ACT question. (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.  Answers G and H are so far off base (pun intended) that they don’t make any sense.  That leaves us with two possible answers.  Ask yourself, “Which answer fits better with the context?”  You can eliminate J based on the very next sentence after the #2.  It is about how baseball is an appealing sport which is so attractive it could account for the professor’s behavior.  We need a sentence related to that and J introduces us to what a good job the professor does which isn’t part of the paragraph.  Baseball’s appeal is.  Pick F and move on.

Have a great week.

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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