SAT & ACT Question of the Day: Apr. 01, 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.)

I’m hoping neither the SAT nor the ACT have an April Fool’s joke in store for us this morning!

The answer is B.  No fooling here!  Slope is a very common math concept that shows up on both the SAT and ACT quite frequently.  Often it shows up in the form of the slope-intercept equation.  Also, as is the case today, it shows up in the simple calculation of rise over run.

Because the slope of a line is calculated as the rise/run and the slope of this line is 3/2, the rise is 3 units for every 2 units of run.  You can see the rise (y-coordinate) goes from 1 to 7 which is 6 units or twice the 3 you are given for the rise.  So the actual run is going to be twice the value for the change in the x-coordinate, 2.  So the run is 4.  But be careful.  The answer isn’t 4!  The x-coordinate starts at 1 (P = 1,1); so, add the run of 4 to the 1 for the x-coordinate and you get the correct answer, 5.

If you’ve been doing my “Sample Questions” in either my free website or the Demystifying the SAT & ACT student manual, you will see a practice question with this same issue.  After calculating the length of the line, you have to add the length to the starting point.  That is why my sample questions are valuable.  I didn’t write them to be exact duplicates of SAT and ACT questions.  I wrote them to forewarn you of concepts that show up on the test and I especially had in mind the common mistakes students make related to the concepts.  The test writers know what these common mistakes are and they use them to create wrong answers.  For example, notice 4 is a wrong answer for this question in case you forget to add it to 1.  Do my sample questions and read my explanations on the website.  You will learn a great deal about being cautious regarding certain silly mistakes students make on the test.

I wonder if the ACT folks have something foolish for us this morning.

ACT Question of the Day: Use your “back” button to return to my website after reading the ACT Question of the Day.

Well, this is sort of an April Fool’s joke.  They’ve used this question so many times that students who have been doing the ACT QotD for a while are wasting their time by bothering to do it!  However, read my whole blog because I use it to still teach you something about the tests.

The answer is B.  PICK and Insertable strike again.  Answers I and III don’t fit into the story and are, therefore, wrong.  When you insert them they don’t fit; they disagree with the passage.  Lines 24-29 indicate there were “oath-helpers” involved and lines 36-37 indicate ordeals, not compurgation, were used for peasants or persons of bad reputation.

This question is a perfect example of why the ACT reading test can be more challenging for many students than the SAT test.  First, the ACT doesn’t have as many line references and you have to spend a lot of time looking for answers.  The SAT has over twice as many line references in its questions; so, you know where to look for the answers.  Second, there are detail questions on the ACT that require you to look in multiple places (lines 24-29 and lines 36-37) to find the correct answers.  Spending time looking for answers slows students down and they often complain about running out of time on the ACT but less often on the SAT.

In short, you need to try both tests to see if one of them is easier for you than the other.  Get a practice SAT and a practice ACT and take them TIMED at home if you haven’t already taken them for real.  Compare your scores.  Do you have an advantage on one or the other?  Most students don’t.  If you don’t, my experience is that it is easier to raise an SAT score than an ACT score.  Do not make your decision about which test to focus on based on rumor and baseless information you hear in the hallways and classrooms at your school.  Try both tests for yourself.  It could be a decision that will affect your life!  (Read yesterday’s blog.)

QotD Words of “Wiz-dom:”

“Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”  That’s an old adage that is appropriate today!  It also applies to improving your test scores.  Practice is going to show you the mistakes (often silly ones because you’ve been fooled) you make when taking the test.  If you make them when you are practicing, shame on the test writer.  If you make the same ones when you are taking the test, shame on you.

Bob Alexander, the “SAT and 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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