Question of the Day: September 17, 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 A.   Always start with the topic of the sentence.  Ask yourself, “If this were a topic sentence of a paragraph, what would the rest of the paragraph be about?”  Look for key words and phrases.  Then predict words for the blanks before looking at the answers.  Doing so will help keep you from being distracted by the wrong answers.

In the last phrase in the sentence we find out that Rivera wanted Mexicans to realize their history is “not remote and larger than life.”  We also see that their history is “human in scale” meaning it is not proportionally large or small.  Then very importantly there’s the key word “despite,” meaning the proportions of the murals are not consistent with what the rest of the sentence tell us.

For the first blank, I need a word that is the opposite of “human in scale” and “not larger than life;” so, I predicted “large.”  (There’s no sense in predicting a fancy SAT sophisticated word.)  For the second blank I predicted “close by” because I know it means “not remote.”  For two blank questions, do one word at a time.  Both A) monumental and C) vast mean “large.”  Eliminate the others.  Now I only have two second words to consider.  C) ancient has nothing to do with “close by” or “not remote.”  However, A) accessible does.  Answer A has to be right.

Here’s something I want you to notice about the test.  Look at the ten words in the answers.  How many did you not know?  I bet you know almost all, if not all, of them.  So, this question is not full of difficult words.  Yet, only about half of the students (54%) are getting the question correct.  My point is that often the difficulty of the words that causes a student to get a question wrong.  It is the student’s approach to answering the question.  Your strategy will help keep you from missing questions when you know the meanings of the words.  Be sure you identify the topic and then make a prediction and then look at the answers.  Check out Video #2 for more information about this issue.  I also address a very effective approach to improving your vocabulary.

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 D.  They tell you in the question the shadow has to be the same length as the stick.  In the first sentence describing Experiment 1, they tell you the stick is 1 meter tall (above ground).  Just find a shadow that is 1 meter long.  How hard was that?  Not very.  Too bad all the questions aren’t this easy.  What can we find out about the test from this question?

First, you are given all the science you need to answer the questions.  It is very rare to see a question that you have to use scientific knowledge that you aren’t given in the passage or charts.  Second, the questions require you to to use the science you are given in conjunction with the data in the tables and graphs to answer questions.  Practice doing that–reading the data quickly.  I simply scanned the table to find a 1.0 shadow length.  All done.

They key to raising your score is going to be practice.  Doing the Question of the Day is very helpful if you use them to learn things about the SAT and ACT tests.  These individual questions aren’t important because they’ll never be on the test you take.  However, they can be used to learn things about the test.  Use them to practice strategies that will be useful on test day.  Get yourself some actual, released tests and practice some more.  Free, real SATs and ACTs are available in your counselor’s office.  You can also buy the “Official SAT Study Guide” and “Real ACT Prep Guide” to get even more.  Practice your skills and seek the guidance of a skilled teacher and test taker for those questions that give you a problem.  You can even send me an email about any question in those books and I will respond:

Enjoy your day.

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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