Question of the Day: September 8, 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 B.  Use the topic of the sentence to make a prediction before looking at the answers.  I said to myself, the topic: “felt firmly convinced, the prediction: “being convinced.”  Looking at the answers, even though I may not have known the word “certitude,” I know the other words don’t mean “convinced” or “certain.”  Eliminate them and pick “certitude.”  Now I will check my work by reading the sentence using my answer.  Yep, that works–sounds good.

Learn word parts.  “Cert” sure sounds like “certain” and “itude” reminds me of “attitude.”  An “attitude of being certain”  sure should mean a word like “certitude!”

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 their question.  (If you’ve read the following two paragraphs before, skip down two paragraphs to where I start with “The answer is …)  The ACT staff will no longer allow me to display their webpage in a frame.  I wish they would use their time to improve ACT Question of the Day page rather than worry about issues like whether I help you to easily navigate the Internet by using a frame.  They do a better job in some respects than the SAT.  However, they could easily do a few minor tweaks and have a much better Question of the Day page than the SAT.  Right now they are lagging behind.

For example, 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 J.  Cool.  This question that has appeared on the ACT website at least 4 or 5 times before can still be used to improve our scores.  It is a great example of what I was just saying about today’s SAT Question of the Day.  What do word parts (morphemes) tell us.  Doesn’t “cumbrous” remind you of “cumbersome?”  A “cumbersome” task is a burden since it requires lots of attention to detail and may also require a lot of steps.  Why does doing the laundry come to mind?  There’s the answer–“burdensome.”

You should also always use the context of the word.  Especially on the SAT, similar “vocab-in-context” questions use words that have multiple meanings.  For example, “instrument” has several meanings and you don’t know which one it is unless you go back and reread a few lines above and below the word.  You need the context to make sure you are picking the right definition.  It is hardly ever the most common definition and is usually the least common meaning.

Keep practicing.  The tests will be here sooner than you think!

Thanks for spending some of your Sunday with me.



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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