Mar 30 ACT & SAT Question of the Day

If you are reading this in 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. If you are seeing this in my blog, do the SAT Question of the Day by clicking on this link: (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.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know the routine: determine the topic of the sentence and predict a word using the topic as well as key words and phrases for the blank before looking at the answers.  “Rising temperatures” and “still warmer” are signals that tell us what “could result” in the future.  This sentence is all about predicting things to come.  I predicted a word that means “predictors.”  Let’s eliminate words that have nothing to do with predicting the future and if you are stuck on the vocabulary, don’t forget to use word parts, morphemes, to analyze the answers.  Answer A, polarities, has to do with poles, we can throw that out.  Answer D, counterexamples, doesn’t work with predictions either.  Examples are about existing things, not the future.  Answer E, aftereffects, has to do with outcomes, not the future.  That leaves us with B and C.  Now you have a choice to make between two words that many students don’t know.  (Less than 40% were getting this question correct when I did it.)  “Vestige” means a “small amount” or “leftovers.”  You can remember it by seeing the word “vest” in vestige.  A vest is a small jacket!  It is the leftovers after you cut off the sleeves and trim off some additional materials.  “Small amount” hardly has anything to do with predictions.  That leaves us with Answer B, harbingers. I remember that word because I see “bringers” in it.  (Reverse the r and the b.) When people are bringing a pizza over to my house, I can see what I will be eating for dinner in the future!

Yeah, I know–I’m a little on the flaky side because I don’t simply memorize the dictionary definition of words.  But I’ll bet you this, you’ll remember vestige and harbinger because of the way I described them to you.  It is easier to remember the definitions of words when you personalize them.  Make up a silly way to remember them when you can.  Some words are easier to do this for than others but when you can, you won’t forget them.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have for us this morning. (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 B.  The ACT and SAT folks love to include questions that involve unnecessary commas.  Whenever you see one that is underlined, be sure to check to see if you need it.  Often you don’t.  The comma in this sentence causes an unnecessary pause or interruption in the sentence.  Get rid of it.

I hope you’ve been reading my blog for a while and you know to disregard the ACT directions that tell you to read the whole passage through once before doing the questions.  Hogwash!  That’s a complete waste of time.  Almost all questions can be answered by simply reading the current sentence.  This question is a perfect example.  Just start reading the passage and doing the questions as you see underlined words and phrases.  That strategy will help you get through this section of the test more quickly and efficiently.  It will raise your score.

Enjoy you Saturday.  I hope spring has arrived in your neighborhood!

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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