SAT & ACT Question of the Day: Jan. 26, 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 D.

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 “Livingstone’s reputation” and we are told that “some historians revile him … while others ______ him.”  That’s the topic: historians have two opposite views of him.  We need to predict a word for the first blank that is consistent with “opposite reputations.”   I picked “different.”

For the second blank, we know they liked him.  I predicted “praised.”

Now for the trick–start with one of your two predictions and eliminate as many answers as possible for that blank.  Let’s start with the second blank, “praised,” because I feel really good about it.  Only A and D work!  I can eliminate all the other answers because none of them mean “praised.”  It turns out we don’t even need to worry about the first blank for Answers B, C, and E.  That sure saves a lot of time.  Between Answers A and D, “substantial” doesn’t mean “different” and I can eliminate it even if I don’t know what “dichotomous” means.

Sometimes using this strategy we get the right answer without even worrying about the other blank.  That is because only one of the five answers works.  You simply get lucky.  But in any case, it sure speeds you up.  Had you started with “different” for the first blank, you would have eliminated all the answers except D without even looking at the second blank.  None of the other answers mean “different.”  Often, both answers have synonyms and we don’t get this lucky but it is sure the best way to do these questions when there are two blanks.

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 ACT web staff members need to do their job.  We just saw this question a few days ago (January 22).  They are getting awfully boring.

The answer is F.  The hypotenuse has to be the longest side which means it is longer than 12 and 8 means it will be a few inches longer.  Only F works.  H, J, and K are shorter than 12!  G is only slightly longer than 12.  (It’s not even 13.)

Sure you can use the Pythagorean Theorem but why bother?  You have to do a bunch of extra work.  Then you have to factor 208 (8 squared plus 12 squared).  They give you a nice hint that 16 (4 squared) is going to be a factor that is a perfect square.  (See all the 4’s in the answers–that’s the clue.)

Look in my archive for January 22 and you will see a detailed discussion of this question.  That’s the most recent math question.  Why don’t the ACT folks get some new materials?  No wonder students quit using their QotD.

My heart goes out to BHS students who lost a close friend and I wish their gymnast well.  I am so sorry for your tragic experiences this past week.  Be there for each other and the families of the two students.  Life and health are all too fragile.  As a cancer survivor, I have to say that we should always be grateful for every day we have here on Earth to rejoice for the happiness in our lives.

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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