Question of the Day (SAT & ACT): Jan. 17, 2014

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. (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 key to Sentence Completion Questions is always to identify the topic of the sentence and then predict a word for each of the blanks before looking at the answers.  That is because the sentences will sound like topic sentences for paragraphs and the right answer will always sound like a word that belongs in the paragraph.

The answer is D.

For example, in this case the subject of the sentence is the “jellyfish” and we are told that it is in a “graceful, seemingly _____ drift, but…”That’s the topic: the jellyfish is just floating along and appears peaceful/non-dangerous but…”  Sometimes I just use a word that is in the sentence because then I know it has to be consistent.  How about using “non-poisonous?”  Or I could have used a phrase like “not harmful.”  The key word is “but” which warns me the last part of the sentence will contradict the word in the blank.  Be sure you watch for and underline “direction” words.  “But” tells us there’s a change in direction from positive/neutral to negative.  However, on the other hand, contrary to, and nevertheless are some other words that signal a change in direction.  There are many others.

Which answer is a synonym for “non-poisonous?”  Even though you may not know some of the words, using your prediction, you should be able to eliminate words (and that’s a wonderful strategy).  Remember you only need to eliminate one answer before guessing at the remaining answers;  statistically that can raise your score.

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 J.  Cool, there’s our friend “but” again this morning!  After you read the sentence with 6 in it, you’ll note in the next sentence or two that the Radio Division had no control over radio stations.  So, “but” is signaling the change from having authority (license stations) to “no power.”   The alternate answers of because, since, and thus do not signal a shift in direction which makes them wrong.  BTW, do you know the difference between because and since?  It is a common mistake made by writers.  Because refers to a cause and effect relationship while since is related to  sequences related to time.   “He qualified for the job because he had the necessary training,” vs. “He has been working in the job since he completed his training.”

Durn, it is cold today!  What an awful day for my heater to go out.  Help is on the way.

Many of you have a day off after final exams.  Do something to treat yourself.  Hot cocoa would work–maybe put some marshmallows in it!  Dip in a cookie.  You deserve it.  When you finish your treat, go work on your grammar: is a good place to start.

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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