Question of the Day: September 9, 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 E.  Because there’s no error in this sentence, there is no grammar to discuss.  However, there is certainly something you can learn about the test.

Always keep in mind that there will be some “No Error” answers.  Students are so focused on finding a mistake that they forget that there will be a number of questions that don’t have one.  Be alert.  There will usually be a disproportionate number of “No Error” questions late in this group of questions.  They are organized from easy to hard and the late ones are “hard” sometimes because students are rushing and looking for mistakes where there aren’t any.

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. (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 the 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 one of my archived blogs, you’ll get today’s ACT question and my original explanation. Sorry. The SAT staff has dated their questions; so, their archive is helpful. If you click on an archived explanation for the SAT, you’ll see the original SAT question no matter how old it is!  Wonderfully helpful.  The ACT folks simply don’t do that for you even though they could.

The answer is B.  When the shadow points a certain direction, the sun has to be in the opposite direction.  For example, if the shadow points south, the sun has to be north of the stick in the ground.  In Table 1, the Northern Hemisphere experiment, there are lots of shadows pointing N, NW, NNE, etc.  That means the sun is in the south a lot.  In Table 2, the Southern Hemisphere experiment, there are lots of shadows pointing S, SW, etc.  That means the sun is in the north a lot.  That is why B is correct.

Because this question isn’t going to be on the test, let’s see what can we learn about the ACT Science Test in general from this question.  I laughed when I read answers C and D.  What?  Is Earth split around the middle at the equator and one hemisphere goes one direction and the other hemisphere doing the opposite? :-) That’s the only way those answers could be true.  So, sometimes on the test, the answers are so stupid that you can immediately eliminate them.  Also, notice how they like to give answers that are the opposite explanations.  A and B are opposites and C/D are opposites.  We’ve already eliminated answers C and D because they are silly.  That leaves us with A and B.  My explanation tells you how to pick between those two.

This question also tells us that trying to review science to prepare for the test is a waste of time.  You can never predict the science.  However, we can see that the test writer gives us all the science facts we need to answer the question.  The ACT Science Test is about understanding science and reading charts and graphs.  That is what you need to practice.  Get yourself some real ACTs and practice by using those passages and questions.  They will help you see the kinds of questions they ask and you’ll improve your chart and graph reading skills.  I recommend the “Real ACT Prep Guide” because it has actual ACT tests in it.  All the other prep books have fake tests.

One final point about the ACT Science Test–it is NOT a science fiction test.  The sun comes up in the east; so, answers C and D could never be true.  The test writers will never give you science that is not accurate.  The science information will be science and not fiction.  That means you don’t need to worry about them trying to trick you with things going “boom” in outer space* or other misrepresentations of science.  The ACT Science Test writers simply don’t make things up that are not scientifically accurate.

Here’s a big shout out to my students who have started my programs at LNHS, Stetson U, and BHS this past week.  Remind your friends to get registered for the websites.  Create study groups.  Let’s get to work.

Have a wonderful week.  Thank a few people around school for helping make your life a little easier.  Say “thanks” to the custodian who keeps the classrooms and bathrooms clean, the cafeteria workers who make sure there’s food at lunch, and the secretaries who answer the phones, greet school visitors, and do all that paperwork.


*Outer space is a vacuum (absence of matter) and, therefore, there can be no sound because movement of molecules is what causes sound.  So, all those noises you hear in space battles are fiction!


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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