# SAT & ACT Question of the Day: Jan. 30, 2014

If you are reading this in an email you received from me, do not click the link to sat.collegeboard.org below. Use the link to my website that is farther down on the email.

http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?questionId=20140130&oq=1 (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.  This is a relatively easy question and nearly 80% of the students are getting it correct.  You need an appropriate preposition to complete the phrase that begins the sentence.  “As” does that for you.

Answer C is a little bit attractive but why is it wrong?  “It was” makes the phrase preceding the comma an independent clause because “It was” provides it with a subject and a predicate.  Then you would have two independent clauses which creates a compound sentence and the comma would have to become a semicolon.

Semicolons are powerful tools and you need to master their use.  Not only do you need to understand when they are used correctly for the multiple-choice editing questions but also you need to be able to use them.  When you write your essay, part of your score is based on using a variety of sentence structures.  Using one or two compound sentences and including a semi-colon will help provide the required variety.  Of course, you could use an appropriate conjunction as well; so, why not include two compound sentences and use a semi-colon in one and a conjunction in the other?  That will impress the readers!

Let’s see what the ACT folks have for us today.

The answer is A.  In order to have a product for a|b – 2| to be less than 0, negative, one of a or|b – 2| has to be positive and the other has to be negative.  Because |b – 2| is inside the absolute value bars, it has to be positive as long as b isn’t 2 which means a has to be negative.  Why can’t b = 2?  If it were, then the value inside the bars would be 0 and the product would have to be 0.  Now that we’ve done it the math teacher way by using all the math rules with variables, let’s try a way that may be easier for you.

Change the abstract to the concrete (Video #404).  For b, use any number you want other than 2 and try it for answer A.  Let’s use 1, which will give us 1 for the value inside the bars.  Now let’s use -2 for a.  -2(1)<0.  Answer A has to be correct.  Was that easier than doing it in the abstract using variables?  For most students it is.  Remember to use my strategy of changing the abstract to the concrete on test day.  I also call it, “change the algebra to arithmetic,” and “change the variables to numbers.”  Practice it so that you’ll learn when it is useful and watch your score improve.

I’m sure looking forward to this evening.  Dr. Alexander and I are going to be speaking with a group of high school students and their parents at Indian River State College.  We will be conducting a seminar on college admissions and standardized tests (SAT and ACT).  It is a free seminar that we conduct all over the US.  If you are interested in us coming to your area, let us know and we’ll see when we can include you in our future.  We are going to be driving over 10,000 miles this coming summer; so, maybe we’ll be coming your way.  Send us an email.

The SAT & ACT Wizard