Mar 24 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to sat.collegeboard.org below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email. If you are seeing this in my blog, do the SAT Question of the Day by clicking on this link:

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130324 (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 B.  Since Whittaker made it to the top of Mount Everest, we know the topic of the sentence is about his determination and preparation.  The word that describes his preparation has to be positive.  Notice you don’t even need to know words like “bolstered” and “unflagging.”  Often, the challenge with Sentence Completion questions is the difficulty of the  key words in the sentence that signal the topic but don’t be deterred by them.  As in this example, often you can get the sense of the sentence without worrying about what some of the words mean.  You can tell the topic is positive because Whittaker overcame quite a challenge.  His preparation had to be determined.  So, your prediction had to be related to determined or persistent.

Now the challenge of the question is the answers.  There are a few words that most students don’t know.  (When I did this question this morning, only 33% of students were getting it correct.)  Did you know any of the words?  If not, then you have to skip this question and move on.  However, if you just know one word, you could eliminate it if it’s wrong and then you should guess at the rest.  Many students will know heedless and expeditious.  Now they can guess at the other three answers.

Using stem words and prefixes always helps.  For example, did you see “expedite” (to hurry something up) in answer D.  Expeditious means to do something promptly.  That has nothing to do with determined or persistent.  Get rid of that answer.

A final thought about this difficult question is that most students shouldn’t worry about skipping or missing a few questions; you can get a fine score even if you get a surprising number of the questions wrong.  For example, for the Reading Test, if you skip 10% and miss 10% of the remaining questions you end up approximately in the top 10% of the test takers!  My point is that you should set a target score which will help relieve the pressure of doing all the questions like you feel like you must do in school.  Even an average score is achieved if you only get about 50% of the possible points!  Spend your time on the questions you must do to achieve your target or goal.  Don’t panic if you don’t get to all the questions.

Let’s see what we can learn about the ACT today.

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 D.  Here’s what you can learn about the ACT and SAT from this question: if you have trouble finishing on time, postpone questions with this format and do them last.  These are called “triple true/false” or “Roman numeral” questions.  They are really three questions in one and take as much time to do as three questions and you only earn one point.  That’s not a very good use of your time if you have trouble finishing on time.

The best answer and wrong answers can be identified by using the Wizard’s characteristics of right and wrong answers.  For example, if you start with “insertable,” you’ll notice that wrong answers add to the passage quite frequently.  You can see the full list of helpful characteristics in the online course or DVD #4.

Enjoy your day.

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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