Question of the Day: May 31

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, dco 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 D.  If you can follow the explanation the SAT folks provide, you are a math genius and probably didn’t miss this question anyway!  There are certainly much easier ways to do it.  Since the SAT is the “Reasoning Test,” let’s just think about what we know about squares.

My mantra “The world of math is a world of patterns,” leads you to the right answer.  Think about the squares for 1, 2, 3, and 4; they are 1, 4, 9, and 16.  Look at the pattern.  When you double the base, the square is 4 times as big.  When you go from base 1 to 2, the square is 4 times as big.  When you go from base 2 to 4, the base is 4 times as big.  So when you double the initial speed the stopping distance is 4 times as big.  4 times 17 is 68.  Seems like I just used Staples’ “Easy Button!”  That was easy.

You could also use the miles per hour you are given.  When you square 20 mph you get 400; then square 40 mph for 1600.   It is easy to see that 40 mph squared is 4 times larger than than 20 mph squared.  So you multiply 4 times 17, and you get 68.  Bubble in and move on.

You might wonder if this always works — it does.  For example, let’s say the initial base is tripled.  1 squared is 1.  3 squared is 9.  So, if you triple a number the new square is 9 times as big.  Check it out. 2 squared is 4.  Let’s triple 2 and we get 6.  6 squared is 36.  36 is nine times as big as 4 (the square of 2).  Always remember, “The world of math is a world of patterns.”  It will help make the SAT so much easier.

Let’s see what we can do to demystify the ACT. (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.)

I’m sure tired of this question!  The first time I saw it I didn’t know the word “cumbrous” and had to use the context to determine the meaning.  Now I know what it means without checking the passage.  Maybe I just should be thankful to the ACT folks for introducing me to a new word.  However, it is just so cumbrous to have to keep writing an explanation for the same question all the time!  I guess I could look through my old blogs to find a previous explanation for this question and then just cut and paste.  That would be cumbrous too!

The answer is J.  The text tells us that there was an “exact” procedure that had to followed “without a mistake.”  (Sounds like doing a complicated ACT math question!)  That makes the meaning of “burdensome” a pretty obvious answer.  The other three possible answers don’t have definitions that are related to being “exact.”

Hope you enjoy your day.  For some of you, the school year ends today.  For others, finals will be starting in the next week or two.  Make the most of the time you have.  Do something that will put a smile on your face and don’t forget to help someone else smile as well.

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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