SAT & ACT Question of the Day: Jan. 23, 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.)

The answer is B.

The key to Sentence Completion Questions is always to identify the topic of the sentence and then predict a word for each of the blanks before looking at the answers.  That is because the sentences will sound like topic sentences for paragraphs and the right answer will always sound like a word that belongs in the paragraph.

For example, in this case the subject of the sentence is Tom Whittaker and we are told that he was determined and did preparation for his climb of Mount Everest.  That’s the topic: the guy worked really hard.  We need to predict a word for the blank that is consistent with “a lot” of physical preparation.  (Notice I didn’t predict a fancy SAT word; I just came up with one that focused on the topic.)  Sometimes I just use a word that is in the sentence because then I know it has to be consistent.  How about using “unflagging” which means he did a lot of preparation and he did it consistently.  Either prediction is fine.

Which answer is a synonym for “a lot” or “unflagging?”  Even though you may not know some of the words, using your prediction, you should be able to eliminate words (and that’s a wonderful strategy).  Remember you only need to eliminate one answer before guessing at the remaining answers which will statistically raise your score.  Hopefully, you picked assiduous.  However, it may not matter!  Read on.

This is a tough question with vocabulary that most students don’t know.  (Only 35% of the students are getting it right this morning.)  That leads me to an important issue.  Have you set a target score?  What score do you need to accomplish your goal of getting into that particular school of interest?  Is there a special scholarship you want and does it require a specific score?  Do you need to meet NCAA qualifying requirements?  What were your PSAT scores?  The answers to those and similar questions will help you set your target score.

Your target score helps you decide how many questions you need to get correct on the test.  There are likely going to be many questions you can skip and/or get wrong while you still achieve your target.  Most students won’t need to get a question correct that is this difficult.  Why then should you frustrate yourself or even worry about this question or math questions that are at the same difficulty level?  Your time is better spent on questions that are at a difficulty level you’ll need to get right to achieve your goal.  You need to plan and practice accordingly.  Do you need help with setting your goal?  Watch Video #105 and you can also send me an email.  Best of luck.

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 C.  PICK works again!  Just Insert the answers and eliminate the ones that don’t fit.  Answer A disagrees because we know she wears a hat indoors and outdoors.  B adds because we are never told Ms. Sennett wants to look like a literary figure (although the narrator thinks of them).  D also adds because we aren’t told Ms. Sennett has a unique taste in clothing.  C is supported by the passage because we are told she has thin hair in lines 24-5.  It fits just fine which makes it insertable.

Always base your answer on what is in the passage.  It is the “cheat sheet” because the test rules require the answer to be supported by the passage and not other information you may have.  This isn’t school where you are often asked to relate what you have read to prior information.  If you do that when you take a reading test, you will hurt your score!  You must base your answer solely and completely on the passage.  Using PICK is the strategy that will help you avoid making the common mistake of using information other than the passage.  Practice it.

Stay warm today.  It is difficult to concentrate when you have a cold brain.  I’m looking forward to doing my seminar in Ft. Pierce at Trinity Lutheran Church tonight.  What are you looking forward to?

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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