March 3 ACT & SAT Question of the Day (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.  As usual, determine the topic of the sentence and then predict a word for the blank before you look at the answers.  Checking out key words and phrases in the sentence, you will notice “to some…” and “while to others.”  That means we need to find a contrast between the beginning and end of the sentence.  What are words or a word that means the opposite of “genuine?”  I predicted “not real.”  Any answer that does not have the same meaning as “not genuine” has to be wrong.

At this point, look at the answers.  Which answers do you know that have nothing to do with being genuine or real?  I bet you could at least eliminate C (spoilers) and E (inventors).   Maybe you had to guess at the rest.  Keep in mind that you only need to eliminate one answer before guessing.  Yes, that’s right.  If you’ve eliminated one answer, you should guess at the rest since statistically the odds are now with you and your score will go up.  The guessing penalty has become a guessing reward.

Have you ever heard the phrase “figments of your imagination.”  Hopefully, you have and you know answer D.  Often the words on the test are words you don’t use.   However, you have a latent vocabulary that is just hibernating in the caves of your brain.  Wake it up and use it by trusting your judgment.  You’ll be surprised how much this will help.  For example, read this sentence using the remaining answers after you’ve eliminated the ones you know are wrong.  Which one sounded best even though you didn’t know why?  Pick that answer and you’ll see your “guessing” be more productive.  It won’t always be right but you’ll be picking more answers correctly than random guessing.

Let’s see what the ACT folks are up to 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.)-

This question appeared about a week ago!  The ACT folks definitely need to get some new materials.  They repeat the same questions so frequently that I’m guessing students quit using their Question of the Day to prepare for the test.  Maybe the ACT staff is so proud of the fact that they have overtaken the SAT as the most popular college admissions test that they feel like they have won the “race” and can relax.  They need to realize they are simply ahead in the race and need to continue helping students with these questions.

The answer is B.  Hopefully, you can do the pre-algebra and recognize how to deal with exponents when they are multiplied.  That gets you the “math teacher” answer.

Let’s use the question as a simple example of my strategy “change the abstract to the concrete.”  Make up a value for x, changing it from algebra to arithmetic.  For example, x=2.  That means 2x2x2x2=2 to the fourth power=16.  Which answer is 16 when x is used in the answers instead of x?  Answer B.  All done.

While this is a simple example of the technique, you will find it a very valuable tool on test day.  When the ACT and SAT test writers don’t give you numbers, just make up numbers that follow their rules.  (In this case, it was to simply multiply the same number times itself four times.)  Use the real numbers to figure out an answer.  Then see which answer is correct by substituting the real numbers for the variable(s) in the answer.  It works every time.

Enjoy your day.  I hope you get all your homework finished for tomorrow!

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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