Question of the Day (SAT & ACT): Dec. 3, 2013

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The answer is D.  My immediate reaction was to do this question the “math teacher way.”  Starting with n students and 6 are seniors, then by subtracting n-6 I know that is how many are not seniors.  Then I have to add 7 juniors (not seniors) to n-6+7=n+1; so, I’m all done.

There’s another strategy that I recommend to do this kind of question that works really well and so I used it to make sure I didn’t make a mistake.  (It’s early and I was up late watching Monday Night Football and working on my SAT/ACT program which means I needed to check my work–and so should you!)  I call the technique a number of things: “change the algebra to arithmetic,” “convert the abstract to the concrete,” and “change the variables to numbers.”  No matter what I call it, the strategy amounts to doing the same thing.   When the test writers don’t give me numbers, I just make one up that follows the test writer’s rules.  They told me there are n students in the class.  I started with n=10 and got rid of n.  I then substituted 10 everyplace I saw n.  I started with 10, subtracted 6 to get 4 students and then added the 7 juniors which resulted in 11 students who are not seniors.  Since n=10, I substituted 10 in all the answers for n and the only one that gave me 11 was D.  That confirmed my original algebra calculation.

There are a lot of questions on the SAT (and ACT) that don’t give you numbers and have you start with a variable (or abstract) amount.  In this case it was n.  Oftentimes, it is easier to start with a real number and do arithmetic rather than algebra or be stumped by the question.  Go through a practice test and you’ll see what I mean.

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

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 G.  It’s a logic issue.  Paragraph 2 is all about the proliferation of radios which means the sentence is an appropriate conclusion to Paragraph 2 and transition sentence to Paragraph 3.  None of the other locations make any sense.  For example, it isn’t an appropriate topic sentence for Paragraph 2 because it would interfere with the flow from Paragraph 1 to Paragraph 2.

Enjoy your day.  Do something nice for yourself.  You deserve it.

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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