Question of the Day: August 28, 2013

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.)

Welcome back to my former students and welcome to all my new students!! This the place to get an insider’s perspective on how to think like the test writers and use your critical thinking skills to dramatically improve your scores.  I’m raring to go and hope you are too!

Occasional Words of the Day: consternation. a feeling of anxiety, dismay, dread, or confusion (World English Dictionary).  I experienced a great deal of consternation this morning because the College Board staff has changed the way they archive previous Questions of the Day and my web links required adaptation once I determined the new system. I had to figure out their new system so that my archives could be linked with theirs. Having done that, equanimity has once again descended upon the Wizard! (equanimity: calmness of mind or temper; composure (World English Dictionary)

To begin, one thing I’ve heard is that students who get the questions right sometimes don’t read my blog about the question. I strongly recommend that you read every blog. I not only explain the specific question but give you related tips and tricks you can use on similar questions that you’ll be seeing on test day. You never know–that tip may be the very one that gets your score to the next level.

Let’s start with the SAT Question of the Day.

The answer is D.  The SAT staff points you in the right direction for getting this question correct and they give you one way to fix it.  There are certainly others.  I probably would have edited it to say, “who ever used,” but that’s not actually important for this question because you just need to identify, but not fix, the error.

Take a look at my video on the Writing Test and companion student manual Demystifying the SAT and ACT.   You’ll see a list of common grammar mistakes that show up on the SAT and ACT tests.  The test writers have a limited number of writing errors that they use on the test.  It is in your best interest to know what they are and learn to recognize them.

I wonder what the ACT folks have in store for us today. (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, their archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)

The answer is F.  The ACT staff gives a nice explanation of how to do the question but what can you learn about the ACT Science test from doing this question?  Lots of stuff.  First, you don’t need to review any science knowledge for the test because they give you everything you need to know right in the passage and accompanying charts.  Second, you need to practice reading graphs and charts.  That is what the ACT folks are really testing: understanding the scientific process and interpreting data.  Third, for almost all students the big challenge is speed.  Work on it with practice ACT Science tests.  You’ll find them in your counselor’s office, online, and in “The Real ACT Prep Guide” (the only source for actual ACT tests–the other books are fake tests!)   There are some wizardly tips on the ACT video about how to improve your speed.  Be sure you take a look at those.

These were a couple of “gentle” questions.  They helped us glide with ease into a new school year.

Remember the key to raising your score is practice.  Reading my blog is going to help guide you in that process.  You’ll need to change some old habits in order to improve your score.  Einstein said it best, “Insanity is continuing to do what you’ve always done and expecting different results!”

Thanks for dropping by.  Enjoy your day.

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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