Question of the Day (Both SAT and ACT): Oct. 18, 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.)

The answer is C.  I almost fell for A which means to keep it the same.  (Thanks, Ms. Murphy!)  This question is pretty tricky and involves an error that shows up on the test very frequently.  While it is clear that her “accomplishments” are being compared to her coach’s accomplishments, you have to decide whether it should be written as “those of her coach” or “her coach’s.”  Either one would be correct if it weren’t for the noun phrase that ends the sentence.  If you pick “her coach’s,” it implies her coach’s accomplishments.  That means the noun phrase “a former track star” serves as an appositive for accomplishments which is the antecedent noun right before the comma even though it isn’t there!  Her coach’s accomplishments aren’t a former track star; her coach is.  That means the noun right before the comma has to be “coach.”  That’s why Answer C is correct.

What I want you to learn about the test (and composition) from this question is that the test writers often use appositives and adjectival phrases to represent and modify nouns respectively.  They will both need  commas and refer to a noun that comes prior to or following the phrase.  Be sure that the phrase modifies the noun that is closest to the comma.  This question is especially tricky because the phrase as written modifies a noun that isn’t even there, accomplishments, not coach.  That is why it has to be changed.

Let’s see what the ACT folks have for us today.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day.

The answer is F.  This question exemplifies significant differences between the SAT and ACT: 1) the SAT rarely has “detail” questions (usually none) while the ACT has quite a few and 2) the SAT questions contain line references a majority of the time but they are only on a minority of the ACT questions.  Not having line references means that ACT test takers spend a lot of time going back to the passage and trying to find answers, causing many students trouble with finishing on time.

To help overcome this challenge, be sure to use my MOPP and FRaS strategies.  (See Video #3 or refer to the reading passages section of my website.)  The Organization of the passage is especially important on the ACT because you need to know where to look for the answers.  Using the Read Carefully strategy, you will pay careful attention to topic sentences which guide you to the details that are often important on the ACT.  In this case, the question is about ordeals and you’ll notice that the paragraph that starts on line 36 is all about ordeals.  That’s the paragraph in which you’ll find the answer.

After you find the right section of the passage, use the PICK strategy to eliminate the wrong answers and select the best one.  In this case, all the wrong answers violate the Insertable rule.  That makes the question very easy once you find the right paragraph.

What you should learn from this question is that it is important to approach the ACT and SAT reading sections with a specific set of reading strategies that are designed to make you a better test taker.  Practice MOPP, FRaS, and PICK.  They are winning strategies that have helped thousands of students.

It’s Friday!  Do something nice for yourself today.  You’ve worked hard all week and deserve something special!

The SAT & ACT 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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