Question of the Day: September 6, 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.  Do you know what makes this question “hard?” (Less than half of 6,936 students have gotten it correct.)  It isn’t the grammar rule; it is that students expect a mistake.  When you take this section of the test, your brain says, “Oh, those tricky SAT people are going to have a mistake here that I have to find!”  Then you look for one.  Their trick is that they don’t put a mistake in about 20% of the questions (1 answer in 5).  This is especially true in the last several questions in each Writing Test format.  That is where the “hard” questions are and there’s a disproportionate number of questions that don’t have a mistake in them.  Students see mistakes because they are expecting one where one doesn’t exist.  Be careful.

I wonder what the ACT folks have in store for us today. (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, their archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)

The answer is C.  The passage is too narrowly focused.  If the assignment is “the development of modern technologies after the First World War,” then just focusing on radio doesn’t work.

I remember a conversation with my grandmother that would have done it.  She got married in 1916.  When I was a teenager in the 60’s, I asked her the very question the prompt asked!!  (Yes, my crystal ball worked even back then.)  Her answer was, “The kitchen.”  She talked and talked about all the advances she witnessed: running water, electric lights, refrigeration, etc. that made her life as a mom and housewife so much easier.  Rest her soul.

You need to talk with your grandma (grandpa and your parents too) about what life was like when she was a kid.    It will be a lot more interesting than a history book!  Let me know what you hear.



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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